The re-creation of Austin (Sports) Atlantic Green

154615-zoom-2The exploration of a long-lost 1930s Austin colour came about through a part-finished Nippy whose log book listed the colour as ‘Green/Black’ – from its 60s shade of Racing Green. Whilst evidence of an older colour existed, even a photograph of the car prior to 1940 could not give an assurance of the original hue, and it seemed sensible to avoid having to make DVLA logbook changes.

The discovery – on the excellent web archive of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust – of an Austin Chart of Stock Colours from 1932 here, showed an Austin Sports colour – Atlantic Green  – which started several queries to the Vintage Austin Register and Austin 12 Club as to whether anyone knew of a car on which this paint had still partially survived in some original form.

From initial discussion with Neil Mosley, Registrar at the Vintage Austin Register and Phil Baildon, archivist at the A7CA, Tony Mealing (Austin 10 Drivers Club) alerted that he had a light green strip on this scan of a contemporary Austin swatch (below), Number 288091, which is only listed on the Austin Westminster 16 HP 1932-34 as coachlining. He stated that the scan doesn’t do the colour justice – and thus could be a possible – but we are still left with a colour that isn’t on a sports model that the original 1932 colour chart suggests.austin-green-001

Much activity has happening in the Austin 7 Clubs Association with the digitisation of archives and it seemed sensible to wait until several paint swatches were scanned, colour checked for screen viewing (being able to see the original swatches and observe a range of screen displays essential) and then uploaded here. No extant car with remains of this colour has presently been identified and, after the realisation that this colour was not represented within the A7CO archive swatches, a decision was made to recreate the colour from the best information available, which was from a 1930s print. If you know of a Belco/Austin swatch for 1932, purported to contain 65 paint samples, please make contact.

The BMIHT Archivist Gillian Bardsley and Lisa Hudman, Digitisation specialist in their Film & Picture Library, kindly made available a high-resolution scan for research purposes, making clear that it is using something that is several times removed from the original colour swatch as a paint sample – and not going to constitute a true representation of the original colour on metal. Normally, BMIHT would not offer a digital file for this purpose, but an exception was made in this case because of the age of the model and the difficulty of obtaining this type of information about it.

Using an unadjusted scan of the original printed colour card was the closest we were going to get – but the card and then the scan takes the colour two generations away from the original.

Firstly, selected ‘pipetted’ sections from the digital colour image were used to create something physical in oil paint, to provide a physical source for colour matching. 2016-06-05-09-08-58

Then random samples were taken from an enlarged section of the back of the car shown in the original printed material, scanned at high resolution.

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The match was then compared digitally to online databases (below) giving leads to existing physical colours, or rather equations for their constituent make-up which would mean that the physical paint swatch would not be necessary. These came close, but the wider RAL database offered even more choice.colour-green The entire background of the image above corresponds to a RAL paint code from their Design range. It matches one of the left hand selections perfectly. The RAL colour code was mixed by Arc-Rite Paints whose high build, Zinc Phosphate-rich, self priming Camo paint I’d used before and liked for its flexibility. The advantage with this it can be continuously overcoated and refinished. The variation in colour seen through the painting and finishing process is huge. Below is immediately after the brush application in early October 2016 – very glossy and over warm.

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The following image is in January 2017 after flatting back has been started.

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The bootlid is flatted to 500 grit and is now very different from the paint as applied. You can see the high points here emerging to the metal below – palette-knifing paint on to these bare patches, it can stay like that until the paint cures enough to properly finish – 6 months perhaps for the solvent to properly evaporate from a thick layer. The cost of painting the car in this way has been under £100 for paint and rubbing papers, but with a significant input of time. It is worth comparing the surface to professional £5000 spray jobs. This can be continually refinished when damage occurs and improved further over time.

If you hear of cars having remains of a hue that could offer a link to Atlantic Green, please make contact. This exploration was scientifically flawed but fun – and of use to alert others to the absence of evidence on this rare 1932 Austin colour.

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