Monday, December 9, 2013

Go Biggs or go home: Achieving the exact Dino Ferrari wheel colour

This is a tale of a man beating a computer (in fact several computers) proving that there is still no substitute for the human eye. One of the huge challenges that Dino restorers face is getting the colour of the wheels correct. It may sound like a simple task but the particular shade of silver that wheel manufacturer Cromodora used in the 1970's is incredibly difficult to replicate using modern paints.

Even period photos are of little use because the colour changes dramatically with different photographic techniques and period brake pads were very dusty meaning that it was near impossible to drive more than a few miles without a coating of brake dust spoiling the colour.

Our journey began with locating some wheels with perfect un-molested original paint. To this end we generally looked at wheels under where the tire goes as this paint would have never been exposed to light. In addition we used spare tire wheels to ensure that temperature was not an issue either. In addition we were able to find an NOS wheel that sat in a box for decades. With our sample pool we were able to determine a consistency of colour on which to base our formulations. Here is where things get hard. After going to all of the major automotive paint manufacturers and having them digitally scan the wheels for colour we found none of them able to produce a sample paint that was very close to the look of original.

It was at this time that we were put into contact with George Biggs who runs a restoration shop just north of Toronto. While George has mainly done American cars he has recently turned his attention to European exotics restoring a Ferrari Daytona to an exceptionally high standard and currently working on several Dino's.

George has two main strengths. One is that he is always willing to listen and learn (a trait seemingly absent in most 'experts' we have met) and he does not understand what it is to quit. These qualities allied to our strong desire for perfection meant that we spent an incredible amount of time together over the period of almost a year to get the wheel colour just right.

Literally GALLONS of paint of wasted and probably close to a hundred paint samples were sprayed out until the colour was perfect. The problem was that as little as ONE DROP of the wrong toner in a quart of paint drastically changed the finish.

Once the colour was established, George and his crew took on the arduous task of prepping and painting the wheels. This is a time consuming process where workers were changed up once their fingers started bleeding (which was often). Particular care was taken to maintain the sharpness of the original lettering while maintaining original imperfections to make the wheels look freshly cast. Once prepped the wheels were painted using a rolling method to ensure even paint distribution. Believe me the work involved was extreme.

I know many of the blog followers now would like me to publish the paint formula but it is not ours to share. We did a deal with George that he owns the formulation at the end of the process and we are abiding by that agreement. This is more than fair as George can be well trusted to deliver a perfect result and should be allowed to recoup some of the free time he put into the project. He can be contacted directly at

We thank him for his involvement and enthusiasm and were happy to have him be a part of our restoration.

Now for some pics of the wheels. Please note that the wheels are very hard to get the colour right with the camera but in person they are dead on in both colour and gloss.



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