Marc Christ
Brand Manager, Modified Mustangs & Fords
January 16, 2014
Photos By: Matthew Laszaic

Over the past few issues, we’ve been juggling following both the engine build at Jon Kaase Racing Engines in Winder, Georgia; and bodywork and paint at Spike’s Performance in Ocala, Florida, all the while biting our nails as the countdown to the SEMA show seemed to tick by faster everyday. Our original plan was to be finished with the engine in May and be finished with paint by June. Yeah, right.

Turns out, both would be finished in September, leaving us only weeks for the entire assembly of our Fox, which had to be on the transport truck by the last week of October—show ready. It all turned out well in the end, and we made our date with Reliable, the transport company, but it wasn’t without many late nights, long days, and a little stress. In fact, your author is writing this as I sit in my Las Vegas hotel room awaiting the “we’re here” call from Reliable.

For a project of this caliber to come together in such a short time, it takes a stellar lineup of top-notch people and businesses working together toward the end goal. Thankfully, we were able to compile such a group. Putting in more hours, blood, sweat, and tears than anyone else has been Dean “Spike” Santiago of Spike’s Performance. Santiago is a paint and body master, and we wouldn’t want anyone else holding the paint gun.

Just Like Glass

When we first met Santiago, he had just launched Spike’s Performance. He had already painted Andrew Kelly’s ’86 LX coupe, which we spotted at NPD’s big show at Silver Springs two years ago. NPD’s Matt Laszaic introduced us, and before long, Santiago had possession of Editor Smith’s Coyote coupe. You may remember the beautiful blue paint job he did for us on it back in 2012.

So when we began making the plans for Hypersilver, Santiago stepped up to the plate and took on the job without hesitation. But he knew this one would be different. This Stang wasn’t just another MM&FF project—it was going to stand in honor of all of our previous projects over the past 25 years, and it was destined for the Central Hall at the 2013 SEMA show in Las Vegas.

So Santiago began prepping the body as we ordered all of the paint and supplies that he needed to make this paint job as smooth as glass. That’s the kind of paint job everyone wants, right? To help us achieve this goal, we called up Wanda, an Akzo Nobel brand. Wanda may not be one of the big brands that you see on car-resto TV shows but the quality is certainly TV- and SEMA-worthy.

“Wanda is an automotive refinish brand from Akzo Nobel Coatings,” said Mark Rapson, our insider at Wanda. “Originating in Brazil, the brand was developed in 1934 by Roque Montesano (he named the brand after his daughter Wanda, who was born the same year). Because of its simplicity, ease of use, and superior color quality, it quickly became a top refinishing brand throughout South and Central America. In 1974, Akzo Nobel purchased the brand and established Wanda as one of its global platforms. The brand is still synonymous with and positioned on a core brand proposition of simplicity, color, and value.”

But more importantly, why did we pick Wanda for this project?

“Wanda fits perfectly into the enthusiast and grassroot car segments based on its proposition—high-performance products, great colors, ease of use for the do-it-yourself enthusiasts or professional shop, and reasonable pricing without sacrificing quality,” Rapson added. So in other words, it’s the perfect product for just about anyone to achieve the best possible paint job, without paying $1,000 per gallon.

So we picked our color, an Aston Martin hue called Lightning Silver. It’s not your everyday silver. It has a lot of metallic and pearl in the mix, but it’s not a tri-coat. It’s a basecoat/clearcoat, so when we scratch or dent it, the repairs are much easier. “Wanda has all the car manufactures’ colors within ColorPro, Wanda’s color retrieval system. All you need to do is take the car or the factory color code to a Wanda distributor and the crew can mix the exact color to the car,” Rapson added.

Or, if you want a custom color, it can do that for you as well. “Custom colors can be made from factory formulas, or selected from the Wanda ColorMap and mixed using ColorPro,” said Rapson.

What you get is high-quality paint that’s easy to use, has great color, isn’t too expensive, and you can pick just about any color you want. And if you’re not ready to tackle your own paint job, then go to Wanda Refinish for product info and a dealer locator.

1. Last time around, we fitted the Cervini’s body kit. After disassembling the body again (with the exception of the doors), Santiago began applying primer inside and out.
2. He and Marco Lorenzo prepped the body panels using Summit Racing’s sandpaper, body filler, and sanding blocks.
3. Santiago’s father, Paul Santiago, is seen here sanding the Cobra side skirts.
4. Since this whole car was bare metal, we had to do something with the underside as well. Santiago masked off all of Demon Motorsports’ chassis work in preparation for undercoating.
5. He applied a few coats of a strong primer, supplied by Wanda.
6. He then applied the undercoating. This isn’t your everyday undercoating—it’s more like the rock-chip guard that you see on rocker panels. It’s not too gaudy, but will provide us with plenty of protection from rocks and other debris that we may pick up on the road or track.
7. Santiago then applied basecoat and clearcoat to the underside, making it all shiny and show-ready.
8. Back on the outside, he began mixing the primer. “This primer is just as good as the expensive stuff,” said Santiago, “but it’s about a third of the price.”
9. With the primer applied, Santiago and Lorenzo blocked the entire car. They repeated this process at least a half-dozen times to ensure the body was perfectly straight. Ninety percent of a good paint job is prep, and Santiago and Lorenzo didn’t cut any corners.
10. Lorenzo uses a light to look for any imperfections before rolling it back into the paint booth for the last time.
11. Santiago uses a pre-cleaner to prepare the surface for basecoat.
12. This pre-cleaner is another budget-minded product and was supplied by Summit Racing Equipment. Summit has everything you need to paint your car, except for maybe a spray booth. Lucky for us, Perfection Collision gave us and Spike’s Performance full use of its state-of-the-art facility and paint booth.
13. Santiago mixed up the Wanda basecoat.