Browse through the restoration processes performed by
Preparation & Paint
The first cars were rarely painted as most paints at the turn of the century did not have the weather resistance or shine required for outdoor use, especially on a very expensive rich man's toy. Most really early cars had a semi transparent coating of Japanning which is basically tinted shellacs and lacquers. These provided the shine and depth that was later replaced by nitro-cellulose lacquers.
In the sixties the car companies started to switch over to enamel paints, which were considered the salvation of the body men and preppers, because they no longer had to water sand everything as they prepped it.
Enamel paint has very good fill characteristics and although it does sink a little as it matures in the first couple of months, it is more forgiving.
The problem with enamels is that what you finish shooting in the booth is what you have to live with. If you get sags, drips, dirt or other imperfections in either lacquer or urethane paint you can water sand it out; with enamel you can't and must do it right the first time. Once satisfied with the paint, he then applies several clear coats on the car. When the clear coats have dried the car is then buffed and polished many times to achieve a brilliant shine. After the car has been buffed it is then reassembled. The seats and interior are installed and all wiring hooked up. Glass and mirrors are reinstalled and the engine hooked up.