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Two Tone Paintwork

SETTING THE RIGHT TONE Published: 29th Nov 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Two Tone Paintwork
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Want to put a bit more colour into the life of your classic? Then why not two tone it! A cheap way to smarten up your car, we show why the benefits are more than skin deep

A contrasting shade gives a crafty optical illusion of a lower, sleeker and even classier car. Two toning is worth doing because apart from making a classic distinctive, it can also save you a fortune on a full respray – if you do it right.

A complete repaint costs thousands of pounds, especially if it’s a bare metal job, and for many the cost can outweigh the value of the car. As a part respray can make the car look like a Dalmatian, the cleverest and most cost effective solution may be to two-tone the body with a contrasting colour along the fl anks or roof.

Virtually any car made up to the 1970s can wear more than one colour quite comfortably and still look authentic and tasteful; it depends how you do it.

The secret is in the design and thanks to modern computer technology that you probably already have at home, you can easily re-colour your car safely at the click of a mouse before deciding whether to do it for real.

A different coloured roof is still the most simple and popular trick (witness the new MINI) as it can make any car look lower and sportier. But a contrasting shade down the sides has a similar effect too and can tidy up a dull looking car no end. Take the Triumph TR7 as an example – a curious mix of lumps and bumps if ever there was one. Yet by simply painting the lower panels under that odd swage line a different shade, the car can be made to look almost attractive!

There are loads of saloons around where a subtle two toning under a side trim strip or swage line can work wonders by breaking up that large slab of panel work; just look at a colour co-ordinated Silver Shadow or Spirit if you don’t believe us.


Considered brush painting at all? Don’t sneer, in days of yore coach painting was the accepted finish before the speed of car production demanded something swifter.

Special coach paints are still available (don’t try household gloss) but one of the most popular types on the high street is Re-Paint.

Now exclusively sold by Halfords, Re-Paint has been around since the ‘70s in a variety of standard colours plus Land Rover and British Racing Green shades.

Costing under £8 per tin, we’ve tried it… and so long as you take your time (painting a car is incredibly boring to do!) using quality brushes and prepare it as if you were carrying out an expensive pro respray, it can provide an acceptable finish while mixing it with the original can transform a tired classic all for under £50!


A trick worth remembering is to re colour your car, perhaps as a replica competition version. For example, Ford Escorts and Capris looked the part in their official blue and white shades – and don’t forget the red/gold/ green colours used by Lotus and Alan Mann during the 1960s or BMC works colours either. Matt back can be used successfully to replicate that competition look too, especially bonnets and roofs and best of all, the finish isn’t so critical.


Before you rush out, have a play to see what will suit your car best. Take some pictures of your classic from various angles and have them produced on A4-size paper or larger if possible. Steal your kid’s pencils or felt pens and carefully colour away before hanging them around the house, shed or garage for a while to see if you like the new look.

Of course, with home computers there’s a good chance the software includes colouring programmes. Take some digital images of your car, download them on to the computer and you’re away.

Failing this, then a local design studio or ‘colour house’ can provide some designs at a reasonable cost – but it’s more fun doing it yourself! And finally don’t forget that 1970’s style statement, the vinyl roof.

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