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Is Polaris Metallic Paint (060) really metallic paint?


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When I wrote to BMW archives I received an email back that the original color on my '74 was "Polaris Metallic" (Code 060), which makes sense to me as that is more or less the current color. However, I am perhaps being stuck on the word "metallic". If I have a look at my car right now, it seems silver/gray, but I don't see it as true metallic paint. I know my car was repainted once in the past, maybe they didn't use the right color? Also, I know from searching on this site that Polaris had variants of names "neu, PVC, etc..."

 

Anyway, I bring this up as I'm getting the car repainted soon, and I'll be asking for Polaris, paint code 060. Should my expectations be a metallic paint? From my research, it seems @Conserv is an authority on the matter, does anyone happen to know?

 

Thanks, 

 

Ric 

Edited by ricsix
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I work in the automotive finishes industry, so I can say Polaris is absolutely metallic, contains aluminum flakes to give that effect. Will also contain a pinch of carbon black and potentially some other "shader" pigments to give the correct look. 

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All the variations of Polaris, since its introduction in 1964, were metallic paints. Most of the early versions were single stage — as two-stage automotive paints had not yet been invented — but, at least beginning with Polaris PVC-frei (introduced during the 1973 model year), Polaris was a two-stage paint.

 

All Polaris paint failed. Period. BMW and Glasurit could not create a Polaris paint — or any metallic paint — that didn’t craze, crack, and, eventually fall off, at least from areas that were exposed to light. Underhood areas turned golden yellow while trunk interiors often survived intact.

 

That said, not all metallic paints are equally metallic — I suppose it depends on how well those tiny metallic particles are suspended and distributed in the paint. I’ve long viewed the silver paint BMW used on their steel rims as just barely a metallic paint, which I thought was a bad match for the full-metallic Polaris used on the body.

 

The failing metallic paint issue is, or at least was, an enormous issue for me. I had a 30-year feud with BMW — unbeknownst to BMW 😯😙 — particularly because the metallic paints always represented an optional cost extra on BMW’s. For them to charge me more, and then walk away when the paint failed after four years, was unforgivable in my view. My anger was particularly bitter because BMW was willing to repaint a friend’s father’s Anthrazitgrau-metallic ‘76, because its paint failed within 36 months of purchase — that car was never garaged, while mine was always garaged. In effect, BMW said to me, “You took excellent care of your ‘02, so we’re going to screw you while rewarding those who didn’t give a rat’s ass!”

 

After the “bad paint issue” I had with the ‘76, which began with the paint’s failure in 1980, I did not buy another BMW until 2010. At about the same time, 2011, I started the restoration of the ‘76, and spent a large multiple of the car’s original cost to have it painted in a paint that will not fail after four years!

 

The first photo is of the original window sticker, showing the metallic paint option for $244 (sizable on a $7,000 car). The second and third photos are of the car in April 1977, its paint still looking excellent. The fourth and fifth photos are of the car in June 2017, fresh from its re-painting. The sixth (last) photo shows the car in October 2020, still looking good. I’m keeping my fingers crossed! 😉

 

By the by, my car was repainted with a PPG version of Polaris metallic. It was what my painter preferred to work with.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

 

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To add to Conserv's comments on the "metallicness" of a finish, its the type and dimensions of the aluminum flakes that are responsible for that. Larger diameter and thicker flakes create more sparkle (think more area / angles to reflect light), and smaller diameter / thinner flakes can give more of that continuous metal look with less sparkle. The binder systems from the old days were mostly responsible for the failures around metallics, not the aluminum flakes themselves. Great choice in using PPG to refinish your '76 Conserv, that would have been my recommendation :).

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When did BMW start doing two stages paint jobs? I know some metaliics in the 70's BMW used two stage with pretty poor results. Not talking about two stage lacquers either.

dlm ny country

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1 hour ago, Conserv said:

All the variations of Polaris, since its introduction in 1964, were metallic paints

Steve, thanks for taking the time to give such a thorough and helpful response! Exactly the information I was looking for. 

 

And man, after the repaint (and even in the 2020 photo) the Polaris is looking amazing

 

Ric 

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50 minutes ago, dlmrun2002 said:

When did BMW start doing two stages paint jobs? I know some metaliics in the 70's BMW used two stage with pretty poor results. Not talking about two stage lacquers either.

dlm ny country


The metallics were converted to two-stage either with the PVC-frei formulation (1973) or the immediately-preceding formulation (1970-71?). When I needed my ‘76’s right front corner re-painted in 1978 — yes, my bad — there were virtually no body shops in our area (southeast Pennsylvania) that had experience with two-stage paint, or were even willing to try a two-stage paint.

 

Of course, all BMW’s single-stage metallics had already failed by that time, which is why they, BMW and Glasurit, were searching for a better option.

 

The non-metallic paints remained single-stage lacquer during the entire ‘02 era.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

 

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It wasn’t just BMW that had teething pains with metallic finishes.  My parents new 78 Honda Accord (silver metallic) didn’t hold up well.  Their 81 Civic sedan was also silver metallic. I drove that car during my college years. The horizontal surfaces were almost gritty even though I kept it clean and waxed at least once a year.   Lots of Mercedes were painted silver metallic and they didn’t hold up well.

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2 hours ago, jgerock said:

It wasn’t just BMW that had teething pains with metallic finishes.  My parents new 78 Honda Accord (silver metallic) didn’t hold up well.  Their 81 Civic sedan was also silver metallic. I drove that car during my college years. The horizontal surfaces were almost gritty even though I kept it clean and waxed at least once a year.   Lots of Mercedes were painted silver metallic and they didn’t hold up well.


Thanks for this, Jim. I was aware of Mercedes-Benz’s problem, but I had no idea that Japanese manufacturers shared the problem!

 

Best regards,

 

Steve

 

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Steve I always enjoy looking rather wistfully at pics of your 76, it's truly a gem. Someday I hope Survivor will look near as good only in Granat Rot metallic of course.

Base/Clear paint has come a long way since then, hopefully.

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and then GM transitioned right into adhesion failures in the '90's and 2000's with waterbased paints...

 

To add to a metallic's pain, the method of application also affects the 'lay' of the flake in it-

 

if you spray it wet, the flake has room to stand up, particularly if there's an electrostatic charge between

the gun and the car (moving air loves to create static) and you can even watch it 'wave' as the gun goes by.

It's phreaky.  If you're consistent, the flake will then all 'fall' in the same way, giving a pretty neat effect.

But it's stupidly hard to do, and the larger the flake, the more apparent it (and your inconsistency) can be.

 

I once had shop space in the back of a body shop, and the painter at the time overmixed for a job-

so he dragged me over to watch, and then try it.  The flake looked so big, I couldn't see it coming out of a 1.8mm nozzle-

but it did.

 He, then I, tried to get different looks and patterns.  I made some nice hangers.

He had some luck- but by far, his best effect was spraying it dry, then quickly getting a wet layer of clear over

it.  As the base melted into the clear, the flake 'rose' into it in some of the best metallic effect I've seen on anything

that wasn't obsessed over (motorcycle tank, helmet, etc) for weeks.

 

t

my liver's as hard as a rock.

Edited by TobyB
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4 hours ago, tech71 said:

 

... Base/Clear paint has come a long way since then, hopefully.

 


And this is my hope!

 

With multiple coats of clear, and 40 years of technology advances behind it, the 2015-17 repaint yielded a much deeper finish than BMW’s first “go-around” in April 1976. It should also be the last re-paint for a long, long time.

 

Thanks for your kind words!

 

Best regards,

 

Steve

 

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8 hours ago, jgerock said:

It wasn’t just BMW that had teething pains with metallic finishes.

GM, Ford and Chrysler also had metallic problems--especially in the mid-80s when they were forced to change over to water-based paint.  All the horizontal surfaces on my wife's dark metallic blue, bought new, 85 Buick Century started crizzing (clearcoat got rough-feeling and developed tiny cracks, eventually failing) within 18 months of purchase, and it was garaged daily.  Buick wouldn't do anything about it--and that was the last (and only) adventure with a GM car in our family.  I remember both Ford and Chrysler cars of the same era--especially silver and metallic blue--doing the same thing.

 

My Delfingrau E30 beater had clearcoat failure on every horizontal surface--but it took 15 plus years and sitting outside a lot.  I used old credit cards to carefully scrape off the failed clearcoat, and invented the "frozen" look--years before the factory did.  

 

And even when new, 2002 Polaris--both the original and the two stage--was a very subtle metallic--almost like a slightly darker version of the Krylon Dull Aluminum spray paint I use on my steel wheels.  Not nearly as "metallic-y" as contemporary US cars painted silver.

 

mike

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