The MGA With An Attitude

Contrary to many comments on bulletin boards and email groups, cellulose paint is still available and is not illegal to sell or use. It is sometimes restricted to use on vintage cars and other special applications, generally not to be used on modern cars.

For the curious, cellulose is a natural organic polymer, the most common one in the world. It is a major constituent of cotton and wood fibers. You can Google the word "cellulose" for more information.

On 6/16/2014, Timothy Trevithick wrote:
"Re: original spec paints for those who want to do spot repairs on original paint cars: I ordered some chariot red paint from William Wolf and Co in Ohio today ( They keep UK sourced nitro-cellulose lacquer in stock, and they have the mixing formulas for the MGA colors. There is one caveat..the original white pigment is no longer available..consequently, they have told me that grays, blue-grays and other lighter shades can by slightly 'off' where they were originally In any case, fading is highly probable, and batches of paint varied slightly when new. With that in mind I purchased set of 'tints' from UK, quite reasonable at approx $35 inc P+P.

Contrary to popular opinion nitro-cellulose holds up well. It is essential to wax it regularly however. It can be slightly porous otherwise. One small pinhole in a less then dry climate can be the beginning of problems.

The nice thing with both cellulose and acrylic lacquers is they are easy to apply in the home garage and very forgiving. Since the solvents eat into the paint below, they are also easy to blend in for spot repairs. The downside is, they are not tolerant to other coatings (cannot be sprayed over enamels for instance) and highly sensitive to any contaminants on or below existing surface with which, some quite violent reactions can take place. The key to it all is taking ones time. Light coats with sufficient time to dry (at least overnight) between each coat produces the best results. Imperfections are very easy to sand out. Back to bare metal is essential for a trouble free repaint of the car is anything less than completely original.

There are other sources for nitro-cellulose. Guitar refinishers and cabinet makers use it too, Quite a wide array of colors are available for guitars. It has been outlawed in UK for car use for many years now, but still readily available for model builders etc from normal automotive paint suppliers there. It is illegal for them to sell it for car application (in the UK). Water based paints are now the norm there and require the use of ovens to dry them". -- Regards, Tim.

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