Choose a colour; any colour! With Spray and Peel, the palette is limitless. Or, if protecting the car’s existing coachwork is paramount, the spray-on wrap is equally apt. Our project Boxster is car-ma chameleon.
Johnny Tipler’s Boxster undergoes a radical colour change and Chris Horton continues to finesse his 924S
Rhapsody in Blue? It wasn’t that obvious at first. An infinite range of available hues makes colour choice incredibly perplexing. Pulled this way and that by precedents and preferences, for instance The Peppermint Pig and a certain Zanzibar Red 996 GT3, I have spent many a long hour mulling over paint charts trying to pin down that special shade in order to effect the switch. So, when I heard of Spray and Peel and it became apparent that a thoroughgoing spray-on wrap was available, without committing to the permanence of a full respray, suddenly the methodology was clear. And yet, colour selection remained unsolved.
The main hurdle was the Boxster’s cockpit upholstery. It needed to be a harmonious, clash-free zone. Flesh-tone Terra Cotta is no friend of Lava Orange, say. But there is something to be said for adhering to traditional Porsche hues, and, having looked at current Zuffenhausen finishes, I began to narrow down the field. Graphite, like the Cayman that Antony Fraser and I travelled in to scale the Gaisberg Hillclimb, or Crayon, close to the 997 Sport Classic’s fashionably pale grey, were standouts. At Porsche Experience Centre Silverstone I’d recently seen Miami Blue bedecking a 991 GT3, and from then on I started to get the blues.
My Googling daughter Zoë spotted it first. A Pinterest post of a 1960 356B cabriolet in Etna Blue with Terra Cotta seats. And there it was, back then spelled Aetna Blue, and reinstated on the Zuffenhausen colour card a few years ago. This subtle, classic blue with a hint of grey was unquestionably the way forward. To be certain, though, other blues were strummed: Gulf, Riviera, Mexico, Mauritius, Teal, Tiffany, Sapphire, Cobalt – to name but a few. See what I mean? Spoiled for choice. And my 3.2 Carrera of yesteryear was Prussian, which I was fond of, and tonally not so different from Graphite. As for Mint? ‘You have moved on,’ said Zoë sagely.
Anyway, to business. I contacted Spray and Peel (also operating as Scratch and Peel) where principal John Isolda talked me through the process. He’d need the car for a week, so a date was set, I dropped the car off at John’s Hatfield (Herts) paintshop, along with my camera, and surrendered myself to the mercies of the rail network.
Here’s what happens. Firstly, the exterior is cleaned down, the front and rear bumper panels removed, light clusters, plates and door handles taken off, along with extraneous badging, the door rubbers peeled off so they can coat the door shuts, and the wheels and cabin thoroughly masked up. Then, one after another, eleven coats, no less, are sprayed on, with corresponding oven bakes in between each application. ‘The primer builds up the vinyl base,’ affirms John, ‘and then the waterbased products provide the colouring, and then we’ve got the activated material of the lacquer which goes over the top, and that is a clear gloss coat providing the protection.’ The bumper panels are treated separately but in the same way. ‘We pay special attention to the front and rear bumpers because they take most of the wear and tear on the vehicle.’
It’s not simply a matter of spay-painting the primer and colour coats and leaving them to dry; this is akin to a full painting process: ‘Baking time is actually a lot more involved than for a normal bake on a painted vehicle,’ says John. ‘Your car’s been baked several times. The first bake
takes 30 minutes at 70° degrees, and then it gets sprayed again, and it’s the same for each coat, then 60 minutes for the final top coat.’
Two technicians worked on my car. ‘One technician goes around taking off all the patina of dirt, tar and grime, so we’ve got a clean surface to work with, then we strip the vehicle exactly as if we were going to respray it for a manufacturer or an insurance job. Then it’s masked, and our painter James, who’s been doing it for 30 years, applies the paint material. This has to be sprayed through two separate guns, one for
It’s completely invisible Removal leaves no residue No joins, cuts or stress marks Needs no blade work Can be sanded, polished to mirror shine Self-healing Helps prevent stone chips and scratches Fuel resistant Available in matte, satin or gloss finish Strong, 200 Micron Plus gloss or matte finish coating that’s hydrophobic and completely seals the vehicle
You can have your vehicle in the latest manufacturer colour the base primers and one for the top coats. The air pressure has to be correct because it will make a difference in the way the material lies, and the nozzles of our spray guns have to be set up in a certain way because this material lies differently from a normal two-pack car lacquer. The Boxster takes around 50 man-hours to do, from start to finish, similar to a re-spray.’
John describes the other side of his business, Scratch and Peel, which employs the same techniques as Spray and Peel, but to more specific areas of the vehicle. ‘Again, this is an invisible flexible shield that can be applied to any part of the car. The front of your car, the bonnet, grille, bumpers and valance are the most vulnerable areas and susceptible to damage from common road debris, but the wheels and side skirts can also receive a battering, and our process protects against vandalism, scratches, scuffs and stone chips. It has a full five-year warranty, and, at the end of the day, it's completely removable.’ There’s also the bonus that, even with a car bought on a PCP scheme, if it’s been spray-protected using clear or coloured products – known as PPS (Paint Protection System), it can be handed back after three years, totally immaculate, without incurring financial penalties for damaged paintwork. You could have your car painted in the latest OE colour and, with a private plate on it, anybody would think that you’ve got that version of the vehicle, and that’s the beauty of the product, when you come to sell the vehicle you can put it back to the original colour, and meanwhile it’s been protected from stone chips and scratches. You could have your car treated like this every five years, and eventually if you came to sell it, you could remove the film and it’d be free of stone chips and scratches.’
As if the gorgeous blue Etna hue was not enough to inspire, to further prove the point, John produces a demonstration wing panel that’s been subjected to the Scratch and Peel treatment. He hands me a pound coin. ‘Try and scratch the surface,’ he goes. I play the vandal. No matter how hard I try to key the surface, it won’t mark it. He refers me to a stray edge at the corner of the demo spray. ‘Now see how readily it peels off,’ he says. And sure enough, I nip my fingernails on the corner edge and the cladding strips back just like a clingfilm
coating. Both aspects of this overlay are fascinating: the fact that it is so resilient to deliberate and randomly applied forces, and yet can be easily detached if no longer desired.
‘The quality of the spray protection finish is the same as a proper paint finish, and to a great extent that’s down to the skill level of the people that are applying the products; they finish it off and polish it by hand, so we pick up little bits of static and machine polish it, but you can get an even higher gloss finish than a normal manufacturer finish with that lacquer.’ And, what’s more, it’s selfhealing: ‘By applying hot water, any small chips or light scratches will disappear. It stays alive; it’s a really weird chemical, the way the lacquer is formulated.’ John is justifiably proud of the job he’s done. ‘At first glance you’d say that that vehicle has been painted in two-pack material and it’s had a proper re-spray, rather than a spray-wrap. You can always tell a wrapped car because you can see the cut-off lines and there will be blade marks in the original paintwork, too. Plus, you’ll never get this level of gloss finish from a regular wrap.’
Having helped choose the colour in the first place, Zoë is keen to see the finished article, so we convene at Broxbourne, Herts, where John’s main coachworks operation is located. It is interesting how the colour seems to change tones in different lights, especially inside and outside and in direct sunshine. In the paint booth it appears more like Graphite – not that I particularly mind – but in the great outdoors it is clearly Etna Blue. John is delighted. ‘It’s a great colour, and it really enhances the Boxster’s styling details.’ Indeed, somehow it has the effect of making it look like a much more expensive car, which is possibly to do with the combination of the terracotta upholstery and the classy blue exterior. The thing about opting for a later shade from the factory chart is that the car’s age becomes more ambiguous. Not only are parking blemishes concealed, the original ubiquitous silver is blanked, and the imagery is of something potentially much more recent. Or classic, if you prefer to look down the historical 356 route. Bring on those Fuchs wheels! Even Hexagon of Highgate Classics’ dealer principal, Peter Smith, who glimpsed the car at a recent photoshoot, assumed it was a later model.
And Zoë’s verdict? ‘It’s made it so that all the beautiful cues of Porsche design that make up this car, the subtle lines and curves, really come out in a way that they didn’t before in that silver. It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?’ I’d say that’s a wrap: my summertime blues are cured. PW
It’s a wrap, but not in the traditional sense. Colour is from the early Porsche palette and called Etna Blue
Application is essentially no different to a normal painted respray, with a primer going on first. The difference is, this can be removed entirely to reveal the original paint in perfect condition
The colour goes on and, with the primer and finishing clear coat gloss, no less than 11 coats are applied, together with corresponding bake time in the oven
Polished to mirror finish, the result is really very impressive and yes the Etna Blue does work with the Terra Cotta interior