Our 1948 Packard Custom 8 Club Sedan has been a part of our collection for over 12 years. Any series '48-'50 Packard Coupe is rare, but the Custom 8 356 CID Coupe is extremely rare, so we moved quickly when this one became available. It was a one-family owned car with a little over 55,000 milesa true barn fresh car that unfortunately was from a barn in upstate New York, and its having sat for years on a dirt floor had rusted out the floor pans and some body panels. On the positive side, the car was complete and ran great! We decided to do a complete restoration including suspension, brakes, interior, chrome, etc., with the engine and drive train just needing freshening up and detailing. Comprehensive articles about the above can be read online at www.southernwheels.com, in the Archives section.
If the old Packard had been in better cosmetic condition, we would have preserved it and not restored it, but it wasn't. So, the restoration has been done to give the appearance of a well-preserved car. All of the interior details such as dash, chrome, horn button, window rollers, etc., were in great shape. All of the seats, door panels and headliner were all there and needed replacement, but were great for patterns. I found some exact tan wool broad cloth material and shadow cloth seat material (not made anymore). When the interior is completed, the gauge surrounds will be cleaned, faces left alone, and handles, etc., cleaned and polished. If there is a thin place in the chrome, for example, it will stay. The steering wheel has been re-cast along with the gear shift and turn signal knobs. We matched the original color, so they look vintage in a cream color with a slight amber cast. The horn button has just the right patina with a little crazing in the plastic.
With this kind of restoration/preservation on the interior, we wanted to get this look on the exterior as well. We wanted an exact 1948 Packard color, so we gathered paint chips and mixing formulas (formulas dont work with todays paint, but show what makes up the color). The Custom 8s were generally painted dark colors, and rarely two-toned. One of my favorite colors on old cars is Maroon, so I chose Cavalier Maroona low-metallic which will make it easy to touch up and there is very little metallic to distort when being color-sanded and buffed. Were using PPG's Delstar acrylic enamel (no clear). All of the chrome was removed, along with the doors, hood, trunk, all of the windows, and details such as the gas cap door, latches, handles, hood bumpers, etc. I wanted to achieve not only the right paint color, but the correct texture of the paint. Packard used nitrocellulose lacquer in '48. This paint has a deep, rich look, with good gloss, but not a wet look, and there is a little texture in it. Fortunately, we have a 1937 Packard Super 8 that has its original Indian Maroon nitro for us to compare the texture to. We have been able to achieve the nitro look with acrylic enamel. Unfortunately, PPG's Delstar and Dupont's Centari have been discontinued. But there is still plenty around. Email us for vendors.
To get the nitro look, we apply two double coats of color, then level that by blocking it down with 400 wet sand paper and applying three more double coats of color. It's a lot of paint, and it gives you plenty of paint depth to color sand and buff. We have published previous articles on color sanding a 1953 Buick, 1951 Packard (see Archives) and on those we wanted a show finish and started with 800 grit sand paper, ending with 3000. On this '48, we will start with a 1200 which will leave a little more texture in the paint, then we will use a Dynabrade orbital sander along with hand sanding to remove sand swirls. Weve found the Dynabrade to be one of the best and we use Model #58859 (12,000 RPM), along with 3M's Hookit I disk and paper pad #05776 (6 inch). We use an inline lubricator with a designated air line which supplies a continuous mist of tool oil to the sander. A maximum 25-foot hose was recommended by the lubricator supplier. When using a longer hose, the oil wont get to the tool. Here is how we color-sanded the car:
STEP ONE: Wash the car to remove all dust and residue. This is done with a bucket of clean water and a few drops of dish washing liquid, using a wash mitten. It is important to remove all of the dirt and grime, or it will leave swirl marks in the new paint. Then wipe off with wax remover such as PPG's Acryliclean. You are now ready to color sand.
STEP TWO: Wrap 1200 grit wet/dry sand paper around a flat paint paddle or sanding block, and sand all areas (tape any areas such as hood creases, door edges to avoid removing too much paint). We also sand in various directions to prevent removing too much paint in one spot. We use a shaped foam sanding block for curved or recessed part of the body (always change water in the bucket when changing sand paper grits.) Never sand without a block. Your fingers will leave high and low places in the paint. Sometimes we start with the Dynabrade to level the paint, but this time we wanted to hand-sand first to check for sags, runs, etc.
STEP THREE: Go over the car using the Dynabrade with 1200 paper.
STEP FOUR: Continue hand blocking the car with 1500 using a hose or spray bottle with water to keep the work wet, then 2000 and 2500 grit (stopping with 2500 fine grit left just the paint texture we wanted.)
As a final step, we wash down the car with soapy water and rinse. Wipe off, then wet down again. When wet, it will show up scratches and high/low spots in the paint.
The door jambs and fire wall will not be color sanded. They have a factory shine and texture without buffing out.
We will continue in an upcoming issue with buffing. Enjoy your cars, and keep 'em driving!