I have mixed feelings about matte. Not Matt; he seems a nice enough guy, but matte better known to some as flat.
When I was 8 I stole a Matchbox Car and in fear for my life, and my ass, I ran it through an impromptu chop-shop that consisted of some nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, and cotton swabs. The once pristine canary yellow Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 was now pot metal grey with some white primer and faded yellow left in the creases. I think I may have at that moment invented the intentional patina look.
No intentional patina could ever match this natural “Bird Poop Look” patina.
It was cool and tough looking, but as a friend pointed out you could still see what color it used to be. Much to my surprise a few blasts of rattle can primer turned the once muscle car classic into a Raceway Park late model wanna be.
A few years later my dad restored a 66 Mustang for my sister and after a winter of turning three junks into a working car it was ready for paint. I still recall that the flat grey primer looked better to me than the burgundy that was the final color. It looked…race car.
Back in those days matte primer was the mark of ‘Rust repair; bondo lies beneath’, or a replaced door or fender. Get in a wreck? Simply replace the fender with whatever you could find, but first primer it, because if the color didn’t match people thought you were stupid. If you primered it; it at least looked like you planned to paint it to match, even if you didn’t.
Memories of those days is what gives me indecision in regards to the “Carbon Look”.
Chicago’s south side was a quilted patch work of grey fenders, black hoods, and flat red doors. So for me matte became a symbol of cheap repair or low class winter cars.
It seems those days are officially gone. No longer is matte the color for that Ford Probe around the corner that acid rain pealed the clear coat. No longer is it reserved for the local ‘Dooms Day Prepper’ or 24 hour of De LeMons racer.
Times have changed and everywhere from the internet to your favorite video game is wash in matte Lamborghini Aventador’s. That is until recently.
Last Saturday I was surprised by two matte cars. First was at Cars and Coffee Indy, where just as I thought I saw all the Vipers and Corvettes I could stand for a day a show stopper pulled in. A matte red Ferrari FF.
You heard me right. Ferraris’ Super Hot Hatch sans the classic red.
This stunner owned by a local IT executive drew a crowd of fan boys that would make most Jaloponians think of Taylor Swifts’ list of boyfriends, but I’m not that crude, but it was a lot. The FF left me with feelings that, let’s say, a Stance car would give. It’s not how I would do my car, but I appreciate and respect the owners’ taste, the cost involved, and the desire to be unique.
As it turns out that Saturday was a big day for matte. Later in the day my wife and I went for a walk on the MONON trail. It’s an old rail bed that’s been paved for walkers’ bicyclists and everything self-powered. We left the Miata in Castleton and meandered our way towards Broad Ripple. While the path is wooded on both sides where it enters town the trees thin out and there is a parking lot behind an art school. I happened to scan the cars as all car lovers do and right in front of me was something truly unexpected…A matte black Jaguar.
“Hold on honey I’ve got to look at this car.”
Not just any Jag, but a XJL! Seriously.
I looked and looked until my wife sighed. It wasn’t a sprayed on mask that would wash off. It wasn’t a vinyl overlay. It was just matte.
There are some places that flat paint is ok, and the first one that comes to mind is Kurt Busch’s NASCAR Chevy SS in ‘Outlaw’ black. It suits his personality and the low budget of the Furniture Row racing team for whom he drives.
I still don’t know how I really feel about matte but I guess like beauty it’s in the eye of the beholder.
all photos were taken by the author blah blah legal speek