Paint Codes & Paint Instruction Drawings
By Stephen Kassis
Early Chevrolet passenger cars from the 1930’s and later, have Paint Codes stamped into the aluminum Fisher Body ID plate on the firewall. This code identifies the paint color combination of the vehicle.
Paint Instruction Drawings are engineering drawings that show placement of paint on the body. They also show pinstripe details for each vehicle. We were fortunate to find original artwork for many of these rare drawings. It’s like a “Paint by Numbers” for your restoration. Used in conjunction with the Duco Paint Specifications, it is possible to get a very accurate idea of the original paint scheme of your old Chevy.
Chevrolet cars & trucks in the 1930’s used nitrocellulose lacquer for exterior finish paint. Though this paint is easy to use, environmental issues have made it difficult to find and all but extinct. Modern paints may have to be substituted and are more durable than nitrocellulose. With that said, it will be a challenge to match original paint colors to modern paints.
The first step is to decide if you will paint the car back to the original color scheme. General Motors had a staff of artists that decided paint colors and positioning of colors on the car. These were professionals that decided what colors worked well together. They went into great detail to make sure that cars were painted to accent the contours of the body making it pleasing to the eye. However, this is YOUR car and YOU get to decide how to paint it! What is offered here is merely a guideline to show how the cars were painted originally, under guidance from the GM professionals. What you do with this information is up to you.
Locate the aluminum Fisher Body tag on the firewall of any Chevrolet closed car (this tag was not used on roadsters, touring cars or trucks because they were not built by Fisher Body). Find the Paint No. code on this tag. Refer to the Duco Paint Specifications chart and find the matching paint number to determine the original colors used on your car. This will specify the original color layout and each area is described along with the paint name and placement on the car.
Compare the Duco chart to cross reference the Paint Instruction drawing for the individual body style of your car. These drawings show exact placement of the paint color on the body. Also shown is the pinstripe detail for the car. Proper pinstripe accents the paint and makes a huge difference in the appearance of the overall paint job.
The Paint Instruction drawings are inexpensive and suitable for framing. Our drawings are digitally enhanced reproductions of the factory engineering drawings used by Chevrolet. If you are doing a show car or just trying to make your restoration as accurate as possible, this drawing will help to get the details right. They are available in two sizes: 12′ x 18″ and the original size of 18″ x 24″. These drawings also show dates that changes were made in the production year. For example, the hood louver pinstripe was discontinued during the 1930 production year. Early 1930 models should have the louver pinstripe, but after July 30th these were removed. The date that this took place is shown on the drawing. Using the Duco paint codes and the Paint Instruction drawings will allow you to get a totally accurate paint scheme for your old Chevy.
If you don’t see your model listed, keep checking back as we have over 100 drawings to make available in the future.