Classic Car Repair in East Grinstead | Accurate Colour Matching for Car Bodies and Bumpers

After more than 200 years in business, it’s safe to say we’ve encountered every situation imaginable. Hillary’s Coachworks started out around 1810 making horse-drawn carriages. Today, we’re better known in the nearby East Grinstead area as a specialist in classic car repair and classic car restoration. We do, of course, work on more recent models too, and our workshop has the facilities needed to repair any marque.

Accident repairs, crash repairs, dent repairs, car body repairs or bumper repairs; with Hillary’s Coachworks, quality always comes first.

Many years ago, we solely used cellulose primers and paints to try and keep classic cars as original as possible. Today, modern paint systems provide finished repair and restoration jobs with a tougher, more durable finish that withstands the impact of stone chips, traffic film and other types of abuse.

Where we must be more vigilant now is with the colour, in part because manufacturers often produce several variations.

Classic car owners from East Grinstead, and those with modern models who use us for accident repairs, car body repairs and bumper repairs as opposed to a more traditional service, will inevitably check the quality of the colour match against other panels when only having part of their car refinished.

With classic car repairs and classic car restorations, this is often less relevant because we perform a full respray. For one or two-panel jobs, our technicians must apply due diligence.

Colour Matching | Traditional Techniques

Most cars, even classic models, have different identification plates and one of the features on these plates is a colour code. Technicians can find this code in the engine bay, under the bonnet, the door shuts, the boot area of a car or on the inner tailgate. Familiarity with different manufacturers means that we will always know where to look for the colour code.

With accident repairs, crash repairs and car body repairs, we only refinish the repaired and adjacent panels, not the entire vehicle. With dent repairs, we can often keep to a single panel so long as the damage is localised to the centre.

Getting the colour code from a car, and then cross-referencing that code so we can match it up with a formula on our paint mixing scheme, is a critical part of the job and one that our East Grinstead customers naturally have concerns about. To make sure we have the correct colour, we also check the paintwork against ICI swatch variations and, if we have them in our library, against our own spray-out cards too.

This is less critical on classic car repairs and classic car restorations because, with age and damage accounted for, we usually refinish the vehicle in its entirety.

Colour Matching | Spectrophotometer

Sometimes, even a car with a code can throw up a blank search result. This normally happens if a car has undergone a full colour change in the past. Under such circumstances, a paint technician can use a spectrophotometer. This state-of-the-art equipment takes readings over multiple parts of a panel. In doing so, it makes the results more consistent. The technician then plugs the spectrophotometer into a computer system.

If you travel from East Grinstead to our workshop in Tunbridge Wells, you might see the estimator use a spectrophotometer.

With extra information, like the manufacturer name or the year the car came off the production line, the computer gives the technicians mixing formulas which match the readings. Car body repairs and accident repairs usually require us to blend into adjacent panels, so we always have an excellent chance of achieving a perfect match. With single panel and bumper repairs where we believe we have a perfect formula for matching existing paintwork, we can refinish edge to edge.

This type of equipment isn’t used as much on classic car repair or classic car restoration jobs because there’s no need for accurate matching when we paint the entire car. With the backing of an ICI mixing scheme and full support from our paint manufacturer, Hillary’s Coachworks can provide a service where accurate matching guarantees that quality comes first.

Call 01892 520500 for car body, bumper and classic car repairs. We cover East Grinstead and Southern England.