IPMS-HAMS

Houston Automotive Modeler's Society

 

 

Model Car Paints

Posted on August 25th, 2019 in Blog by Michael Stucker

 

Back in the “good old days” of modeling, we had three brands of paints available for painting our models – Testors, Pactra, & AMT – and very few if any of the paints were specific auto colors. Now, we have a plethora of paints available. So many, you may not have even been aware of some. What follows is an overview of the wonderful world of automotive model paints.

Now, of course, you can always go to the automotive supply store or on-line and buy spray cans or touch-up bottles of exact match automotive lacquers from Dupli-Color, PlastiKoat, and others. But I will be dealing with hobby paints here. (Many auto paints straight from the spray can go on too heavy for my taste.)

(Note #1: Company names in blue below are links to their respective web sites.)
(Note #2: Many of the airbrush lacquer paints require a primer coat before, and a gloss clear coat after, the color coats.)

Testors
Testors is still with us, but with a greatly expanded range of paints. They make both enamel and lacquer spray paints. Many are just standard colors but many are specific automotive colors. Some are sold under the Testors name, while others appear in the Model Master line.

Tamiya
Another company with paints in spray cans is Tamiya. Excellent acrylic lacquer paint, but they tend to produce colors for the kits they sell. If you are looking to match another company’s kit, you may be out of luck orhave to go with something “close”. They have announced that they will be selling their lacquer paints in bottles for use in an airbrush, but I have not yet seen this for sale anywhere.

Model Car World
Now we will be moving into airbrush paints, where there is a much larger selection. First up is an old friend of model car builders, Model Car World (MCW). They have a large selection of automotive lacquer paints that are mixed for the model builder. They not only carry auto manufacturers colors, but also many race car colors. Probably the “go to” source for paints to match ‘50s, ‘60s, & ‘70s era car colors. In addition, many of their paints can be purchased in spray cans, so that those without an airbrush can still have access to the same paints.

Black Gold
Another long-time supplier of model car paints is Black Gold in Grand Prarie, Texas, who re-bottle House of Kolor lacquer paints (for 1:1 cars) into smaller containers for modelers. They used to also sell it in spray cans, but not any more.

Zero Paints
Next up is Zero Paints out of England. Excellent lacquer paints to match mostly foreign subjects. Also a lot of racing team colors. They can be purchased in the US from Hobbyworld-USA.

Gravity Colors
Gravity Colors, from Spain, is another European supplier of automotive type lacquer paints. They have a large selection of European, Japanese and American paint colors, used on both street and race cars.

Splash Paints
Another of the new auto lacquer paint companies is Splash Paints, whom are located in Portland, Oregon. Excellent paints to match Japanese, European, and American street & race cars. They do use smaller bottles than Zero and Gravity, but it is just enough to paint a typical 1/24 or 1/25 model car.

Scale Finishes
Scale Finishes out of Salt Lake City, Utah, is another lacquer paint, but they have been around since 2008. They supply both lacquer and enamel paints for airbrushing. Street, race, and military colors, from the 1940s to today.

True Color Paint
True Color is yet another US company, this time out of Phoenix, Arizona. These are acrylic solvent airbrush paints that contain some acetone. Along with auto colors, they also have a large line of railroad and military colors.

There are many more paints out there that can be used by model car builders . You can always use craft store acrylics. (I know I have.) But what I’ve discussed above are automotive specific paints I’m aware of. Hope this has been of some use.

Happy modeling.

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