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Old 02-01-2021, 06:04 PM   #1
KNicholas2
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Default Is there a way to determine the original color?

I am new to this forum and studying to buy my first Model A. I am a "purist" and want to maintain a stock condition as much as possible.
I don't intend to obtain or restore top tier show car, but I want to stay true.

Is there a way from the car VIN/"A" number to determine what the specs were out of the factory?

Regards,

Kim Nicholas
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Old 02-01-2021, 06:51 PM   #2
Dean Lemoine
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

From the little I know, the serial number is a sequential number only. No information can be decoded from it other than the date the engine was tested and accepted.
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Old 02-01-2021, 06:52 PM   #3
Bob C
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

The Judging Standards and Restoration Guideline would be your best bet.
https://www.mafca.com/pub_standards.html
The frame number will get you within a few months of when the car was
produced then the Guidelines will show what was correct for that time period.
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Old 02-01-2021, 06:58 PM   #4
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

If you are looking for original color and are doing any kind of disassembly, look for spots that were never taken apart before. My car (had a rough black re-paint) parts of the gas tank once out indicated Andalusite Blue.
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Old 02-02-2021, 08:25 AM   #5
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

didn't we also have a discussion that the copra drab/chicle drab colors we have used are actually inaccurate?
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Old 02-02-2021, 09:14 AM   #6
Chris in WNC
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

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OK, ecir, let's partially hijack this thread.

Copra/chicle seem to have been corrupted over the years to three variations:
"brown", "greenish" and "greyish".
Based on a couple original cars I've seen, the brown variant might be closest to original.
I like the brown variant best.
Believe that is the one considered closest for fine point.
"your results may vary"
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Last edited by Chris in WNC; 02-02-2021 at 09:20 AM.
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Old 02-02-2021, 11:27 AM   #7
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KNicholas2 View Post
I am new to this forum and studying to buy my first Model A. I am a "purist" and want to maintain a stock condition as much as possible.
I don't intend to obtain or restore top tier show car, but I want to stay true.

Is there a way from the car VIN/"A" number to determine what the specs were out of the factory?

Regards,

Kim Nicholas
Kim - from the engine number/frame number, no. A lot of those records were destroyed in a fire that wiped out a lot of Model A production data. but as Mr. Moose said, one way to get an idea is to look for areas that were originally painted, then later covered up. Depending on how thorough a repaint was in terms of removing things before painting vs. masking in place, some places you might look that are relatively easy to get to:

  • Behind the fuel sediment bowl, you may be able to see original paint on the firewall if any repaint was done with the sediment bowl masked instead of removed. Firewall color may be the lower body color.
  • Behind the door or body side panels, you might be able to tease them away and see original paint if a repaint was done by masking them rather than removing them.
  • Underneath window moldings you might be able to see original upper body or at least door reveal paint (depending on your body style)
  • Underneath the spare tire holder if you have a car with the spare tire holder mounted to the rear body (not fender mount), you might be able to see original lower body paint.
  • Underneath rain gutters you might be able to see original upper body paint.

I'm sure other folks can offer additional suggestions, but the idea is to look at the body, think like a painter, and see what things would be easier to mask than to remove. Then remove them and see what's underneath. Obviously you're not going to do these to a seller's car but once you decide on one, anything is game. Mr. Moose's idea of laying on your back to look up at the front of the gas tank from inside is as good a non-invasive thing that you can do as any (hard area to get to during a repaint, but if the gas tank was removed it for a repaint will be the new color). You might also try looking at the bottoms of the doors to see if anything jumps out.

Good luck, and let us know what you end up with!

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Old 02-02-2021, 11:34 AM   #8
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

Only thing I can add to what Jay-Jay said is ti look at back side of gas tank.
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Old 02-02-2021, 12:04 PM   #9
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

By "front of the gas tank" I meant the firewall side (towards the front of the vehicle), which is what I think 29closedcabguy meant as "back" side.

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Old 02-03-2021, 08:17 AM   #10
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

I’ve never found much from a gas tank as they were painted in the car I believe
Getting behind previously unassembled areas works. Lightly sand door jambs but that does leave tracks if not going for full repaint
As to chicle/copra..yes common current formula is wrong: way too green tint
Saw a original car many years ago and it was much more taupe or faint brown tint. Green tint not there
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Old 02-03-2021, 08:37 AM   #11
john charlton
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

I removed the Briggs body tag from the firewall of a black 1931 de luxe phaeton to reveal Ford Maroon which was still glossy . This was on an export RHD car. I have removed data plates mostly to find black which I dont think was the original colour .Ford Maroon the identical shade was used by Ford in England into the early 2 thousands .

John in when will this lockdown ever end Suffolk County England .
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Old 02-03-2021, 12:32 PM   #12
Ted Duke
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

Original to THAT car, (look under something that is bolted on),


or original to what was correct for that model? The Judging Standards and Restoration Guidelines.
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Old 02-03-2021, 01:48 PM   #13
Chuck Dempsey
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

By all of this discussion, I assume the cars NEVER had a 'primer' coat?

Thanks
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Old 02-03-2021, 05:07 PM   #14
Doug Linden
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

Not primed as we think today, but unpainted bodies were treated to a process called Bonderizing which provided a surface for paint to bond to.
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Old 02-05-2021, 09:23 AM   #15
Ed in Maine
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

When I restored my 1932 Coupe, I found under the door panel some over spray of the original Washington Blue. What was really neat was that at assembly, a factory worker used a grease pencil and wrote "W Blue" inside door. It was kind of a "connection" back to the guy who painted my car. Ed
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Old 02-05-2021, 02:25 PM   #16
Bruce Adams
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

Model A Paint and Color Guide, available from the National Clubs, DEFINES proper colors, no matter what might appear to be from various ways such as looking behind the gas tank.
"VIN" number just represents what SEQUENTIAL ENGINE NUMBER down the engine line that went into the car.
Good Luck.
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Old 02-09-2021, 08:58 PM   #17
Vern
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

Kim, I sent you a PM, look in the upper right corner. Vern
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Old 02-16-2021, 04:28 PM   #18
Russ B
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

On my 29 cabriolet, I found body color in the creases of the A Pillar and behind the data plate. I recall also perhaps behind where the windshield opened. The color was Andalusite Blue, consistent with my father buying the car in late 1929, and a original b&W photograph that looked like the car was black. ...and my dad’s recollection of a dark blue color. I got it with the much damaged original paint in 1958-59, painted in 1963, and finally repainted it Andalucite blue post 2010.
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Old 02-20-2021, 04:57 PM   #19
Gene F
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

Can anyone help me with this paint formula question?

I have my brand, and paint formula that is on my car. Can someone help me identify the color, if I type it in here? I understand that this is working backwards from what we normally deal with...
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Old 02-22-2021, 12:34 PM   #20
JayJay
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Default Re: Is there a way to determine the original color?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gene F View Post
Can anyone help me with this paint formula question?

I have my brand, and paint formula that is on my car. Can someone help me identify the color, if I type it in here? I understand that this is working backwards from what we normally deal with...
Gene - Assuming that the paint is an original Model A color, your best bet would probably be to get a copy of the MAFCA Paint and Finish Guide (here's a link to the 3rd edition, there is a 4th edition recently released as well, not sure the suppliers are shipping it yet) and match to that color chip visually. You can look up in the color guide what are the "correct" original colors for your car and start there.

You might also look at this old list of paint codes and see if you can find something.

If you don't have an original Model A color, go to your closest dealer for that brand auto paint and have them look up the color code (I presume that's what you meant when you said "paint formula") and they should be able to tell you what the paint was used on and what its name(s) were.

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