Thursday, 05 April 2007 14:20

Seamless look in modified and custom painted Supra

Written by Rich Evans
 In a massive undertaking that spanned the course of a few months, the staff at Huntington Beach Bodyworks recently completed a 1995 Toyota Supra that required an entire, from-the-ground-up build. Toyota Supra has been a very popular project car for the past decade or so due to its lightweight appeal, good looks and high horsepower potential.
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After looking at the body kit mocked up on the Supra, the wheel wells needed to be extended.

 

A 4-inch wide area along the edge of the body was grounded to prepare for wheel well welding.

 

The area where the inner wheel well met the outer wheel well was filled with 18-gauge steel.

 Before the body was broken down, reference points were made on each panel with small holes to help with alignment.  
 Our first task was to modify the body of the Supra with a new wide body kit from TRD. Before breaking down the car, we mocked up the body kit to see what modifications we were going to make. At this point the customer had also decided to mold the kit to the body to give it a seamless look. This required some extra fiber glassing and bodywork.
Preparing for the wide body kit
  The reason for these wide body kits is obvious- to give your car a wider stance and appearance. It also allows you to extend the wheel wells to allow for wider and taller wheels. While looking at the body kit mocked up on the Supra, we decided that the wheel wells would have to be extended three inches.
 To begin with, we cut off the original lip of the wheel well and mocked it up from inside the wheel well so it sat out three inches from its original position. We then made a cardboard template to fill the area we needed. After the template was made we transferred it to a sheet of 18-gauge steel by tracing the template with a marker and cutting the outline. Then we formed it to the contour of the body.
 Before we welded in our new piece, we grounded a four-inch wide area along the edge of the body where our new fabricated wheel well would be welded in. We also grounded the areas where the fiberglass was going to adhere to the body of the Supra and the new body kit. We used 18-gauge steel to fill the area where the inner wheel well met the outer wheel well.
 To prep the body kit, we sanded the inside of the body kit with 36-grit sandpaper. This allowed for a proper adhesion to the body of the Supra. When our panels were mocked up to the body, before the breakdown of the car, we made reference points on the panels with a marker. We made at least three reference points per panel. Screws were used in harder to reach areas to hold the panels in place while the fiberglass was drying. Just remember to fill these holes later.
 We were fiber glassing this kit to the body, so we had a short window of time before the fiberglass began to harden. To allow for a quicker alignment of the body panels we used the reference points to line each panel with each other and to the car.
 Rich tip:  It’s always a good idea to mock up your new body kit before you break down the vehicle. As an alignment guide, we make holes with an 8-inch drill and use 8-inch rods to put panels back into place. With the car broken down and bumpers, interior, doors, etc. removed you will still know where everything goes.
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 Three heavy coats of polyprimer were applied. Once dry, a black guide coat was applied.

 White epoxy primer and 3 coats of white were then used. White brightens the color in sunlight.

 Factory Ferrari Yellow was sprayed on everything. This is a three-stage pearl paint.

 The final steps included four coats of clear and the usual color sand and buff procedure.

 
Fibrous filler resin added to grounded areas
 We applied Evercoat Kitty Hair over our grounded areas. Kitty Hair is a filler resin that has fiber strands mixed in with it. We had to attach the new panels onto the body before the Kitty Hair hardened up on us. So we had to move quickly. With the new panels attached to the car, we applied more Kitty Hair over the top of the areas that met up with the body. We smoothed out the Kitty Hair as much as we could with a spreader to leave us with less material to sand, but Kitty Hair can be a little hard to smooth out. With the body panels attached we held everything in place with cinch clamps.
 Rich tip: There were also a few areas that needed to be held down, but we could not fit a cinch clamp in there. Instead, we drilled a hole or two and used screws to hold them in place. Just be sure to fill those holes later on with fiberglass.
 Afterward, we quickly shaped our Kitty Hair with a 36-grit disc on a Chicago Pneumatic D.A. Sander. We feathered out all the Kitty Hair and shaped it to flow with the contours of the body. Next, we applied Duraglass over the Kitty Hair to shape and strengthen the areas where the panels attached to the body of the car. At this point we also attached the rear bumper and used the same Kitty Hair to mold it with the quarter panels.
 We also used Duraglass to help with the molding and shaping of the areas where the bumper met with the quarter panels. This same system was also used for molding the rocker panels and the front fenders to the body of the car. After smoothing everything out, we used 417 Poly Putty to fill any pinholes and deep scratch marks left by the Kitty Hair or Duraglass. The final shaping of the body was done with 36-grit and then 80-grit to get rid of the 36-grit scratches.
Epoxy sealer and primer creates project surface
 We applied a quick coat of non-sanding epoxy sealer to help with coverage and adhesion. For my sealer, I used PPG Non-Sanding Epoxy Primer. I mixed it with two parts primer, one part 402 catalyst, and one part DT885 reducer. Now it was time for some high build PCL Polyester Primer. This being a “non-sanding” epoxy primer, we went right into spraying our PCL Polyprimer. This is what is going to create the surface of the project and is what we are going to sculpt in the block sanding stages of this process.
 We applied three heavy coats of polyprimer. After it was dry, we applied a black guide coat and then blocked the car with 80-grit. We started with a long block first and then moved to different blocks as we moved into different areas on the car. Then we applied more sealer and three more coats of polyprimer. We sprayed another black guide coat and blocked the car again with 150-grit. Once again we sprayed another black guide coat and wet sanded with 400-grit and a block. Afterward, we sprayed a quick coverage coat of white epoxy primer (PPG DP48) and then three coats of PPG white.
 Rich tip:  I use white because it makes the color brighter in the sunlight. I always spray three coats when spraying basecoats. Just in case a repair or touch-up needs to be made, I know exactly how much paint is on there and that’s just a system I use.
Spray the pearl paint and the clear
 Next, I sprayed everything with a Factory Ferrari Yellow, which is a three-stage pearl paint. Finally I sprayed a coat of intercoat clear, just to re-wet everything then I applied four coats of clear. Afterward it was the usual color sand and buff procedure.
 There were many other steps and body modifications to this car, like spraying the undercarriage with black gravel guard and adding the Huntington Beach Bodyworks logo inserts to the floor of the car for recessed lighting. The complete drive train and suspension installation is notable as well. Although it took months to complete, the finished product was worth every minute.
 Rich Evans, owner of Huntington Beach Bodyworks in Southern California, is an award winning painter and fabricator. Currently he is offering workshops at his facility so he can share his special techniques to other industry professionals. Evans released a signature line of custom wheels, each unique design, a reflection of his trademark style. The wheels are  available nationwide. For more information, visit www.huntingtonbeachbodyworks.com
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