GTE Paint


I sent a SI 250GTE off to paint a couple of months ago and have been consulting on the project. It was painted in a non-stock Ferrari color which I would have described as “poop brown metallic,” and the owner agreed it was time to paint this car a proper Ferrari color.


We were told when it received its last paint job, the car was rust free, and we were happy to see this description was accurate!


The rockers and supporting outriggers were solid and still showing the original factory applied lead. Although some of the floor pans were rusty, only the outer sections needed replacing because the rest of it was still intact and solid. If a GTE sees any amount of moisture in its lifetime, the floors will rot because of the design of the fiberglass sandwiched floors. This car must have been dry for most of its life.


The rest of the sheet metal was clean and straight, so very little prep was needed to get this car ready for paint.


The owner contacted Marcel Massini to see if he had any information on the original color of this car, and he said his records showed Oro Chiaro, a light gold color. As the car was stripped, we looked everywhere for signs of this color, but could not find any evidence of gold anywhere on the car. We found signs of a light blue metallic under the brown metallic, and even signs of silver, but no gold. One part on a GTE that is often not removed is a trim strip at the base of the A pillar and this car still had the piece when I went to inspect the work. Taking the two sheet metal screws off revealed more silver paint and what looked like factory caulking.  Records from Italy are not always accurate, but it would have been nice to have confirmation of the gold, but I suspect silver was what was original.

The owner did not want to paint the car Oro Chiaro, and I felt he has a right to paint whatever he likes. My advice is to paint it in a vintage Ferrari color, but choose what pleases the owner.


The owner really likes Grigio Fumo, Smoke Grey, and wanted to do a metallic color. Coincidentally, the paint shop is painting a Maserati 3500 in the same color. Four corners of this car were painted for the owner of that car to choose, and I took the opportunity to pick for the GTE.


During our discussions with all parties involved with painting this car, I explained there is a lot of subjectivity when it comes to picking paint colors. Despite what the modern paint companies will tell you, their references to older colors, and accuracy with digital scanners are not as accurate as they say. The Vintage cars were painted with Lacquer paints which was a single stage paint, where the color was in the top coat of color sprayed on a car. Modern paints are largely two stage paints, where a clear coat paint is applied to a base color coat. Getting a modern two stage paint to look like a single stage paint is not easy if impossible. Some shops are going so far as to spraying single stage paints again, but there are still differences that we won’t get into here.


Add to the choice of choosing a metallic paint, and the decision gets even more complicated, but one absolute task was to look at the colors and spray outs in person. ALL photography is not accurate at representing what our eyes see, and trusting a photograph is the worst way of making a decision. Looking at colors during an overcast day versus a sunny day can also change the look of colors and metallics, but we managed to find a good Grigio Fumo metallic.