By on May 28, 2013

Matte BMW Courtesy gumtree.com.au

I do not understand the attraction of matte finishes on new cars. Most luxury automakers offer this ugly flat paint option, charging upwards of $5,000 over a standard finish. It is all the rage here in Southern California but I am here to tell you: matte ain’t phat.   

I suppose driving around looking like your body shop went bankrupt after priming your car has a certain stealthy, edgy appeal. The problem is that upkeep on the paint is a pain if you want to keep your car looking as dull as new. Automakers prohibit you from taking your vehicle through a car wash. You may not polish or wax the finish. If any road or bird gunk hits your car, it must be cleaned immediately. If you rub too hard, it will damage the paint. BMW makes buyers sign an agreement acknowledging that they will adhere to the upkeep guidelines.

Matte Malibu Courtesy autoweek.com

Want to matte your Malibu but the factory does not offer it? No problem, there are a host of specialty paint shops that will apply a matte wrap for a couple thousand dollars. The wrap is actually a series of removable vinyl stickers typically used to turn vehicles into rolling billboards.

Tangerine Wrap C250 2 Courtesy MBZlongbeach.com.jpg

Many automobile dealers have turned to selling aftermarket matte wraps rather than profiting the piddling markup on the factory flat paint. This is a lovely $2,500-cost wrap job that a dealership is charging $4,995 for on a Mercedes-Benz C250.

1996MysticCobra2 Courtesy themustangsource.com

Matte finishes are more peculiar than the “Mystic Paint” that was available on 1996 Mustang Cobras, a shade that changed color from green to purple to blue depending upon the light. According to a post on the 1996 Mystic Cobra Forum, that paint now costs $8,000 per gallon.  The current Manheim auction price for a 1996 Cobra in average condition is $5,567. You do the math.

I have concluded that customers who buy matte finish vehicles reinforce that old car dealer adage: there is an ass for every seat.

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15 Comments on “Tales From The Cooler: A Primer On That Primer-Like Paint...”


  • avatar

    Z06 clearcoat costs more than that!

    Ask Daimler about producing the seat for every ass.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Yeah, MB really loves matte these days. Black and silver don’t look very good that way, but they have a coppery bronze matte that looks amazing on a compact-size vehicle. Smart offered matte pea green and sky blue options which look rather nice on black and silver tridions, respectively.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    The infamous auction site has rolls of vinyl for the DIY’er for $200-300 depending on the size of car.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Often times it isn’t even paint, it’s actually Plastidip. Peel it off when you’re sick of the color and spray something else on again later.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      This is common with the kids around these parts. PLASTI DIP THE EVERYHING! is their motto.

      Little do they know, peeling it out of every crack and crevice is quite the ordeal, and they never seem to get it all on the cars I’ve seen.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        Seeing how the rear backup sensors are covered on the rear bumper, I’m thinking this is a dip job. Also, the decklid isn’t covered for some reason. You can tell by the reflection on the trunk.

  • avatar
    rainless

    My university recently replaced the car they use to chauffeur the dean and various VIPs around: From a S-Class to a 7 series BMW – painted matte light grey. While I have to admit that it doesn’t look that bad, the choice is simply preposterous for an academic institution that is more than 550 years old. It’s an embarrassment. When your uni is sporting the matte-look, what has jumped the shark? Matte paint or the university in question? My money is on both.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I see “half mattes” 2-tones quite a bit, they hardly really add to a cars presence since they’re placed in pretty plain ways on top of plain colors.

    Full mattes tend to look cheap due to their apparent sandbox-like texture, black matte has a bit of a bonus since you can find it on every “ratrod” on craiglist.

  • avatar
    4LiterLexus

    $5000 for a paint job that looks like it came out of a $4 Wal-Mart rattlecan. This trend needs to die already.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    When this silly fad is over, can the next owners of wrapped cars restore them to all their shiny goodness?

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    Stupidest trend ever — I see a lot of these, and the most egregious may have been a new 650i with a crappy matte paint job. I never realized that the paint was so fragile, but it makes sense with how that car looked.

    The plastidip thing is also quite cheesy. But the kiddies love their “murdered out” look, no matter how ridiculous it looks.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I have a really pretty gun, finished in “satin nickel”. Looks great when new, or when it spends it’s life sitting in a case, but when it it’s actually used, it soon develops shiny spots all over it. Just cosmetic, doesn’t affect anything important at all, but it makes the gun not as pretty as it was originally. They can only be removed by having the gun replated. I bought this gun very cheap, already complete with shiny spots, so adding some more doesn’t concern me, but if my car did the same thing, I would be pissed. I don’t see how these flat finished cars can be expected to stay flat for too long. Along with the giant wheel craze, I guess I’m too old to understand it.

  • avatar
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