1976 Corvette Rear Bumper Cover Repaint

If color-matching is some kind of a magical process, then, unfortunately, we're out of modern-day alchemists who have mastered the craft.

Charlatans, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen, and the two photos below prove my point.

As one of my Instagram followers commented, they probably didn't even bother to spray a test or spray-out card before painting the whole bumper.

You don't have to be an automotive paint expert to see the color-matching fail depicted above. And the photos are forgiving. In real life, the mismatch was worse.

It all started with a poor DIY repair attempt by my Corvette's previous owner. He applied Bondo® without properly preparing the substrate which resulted in cracks to which he applied more and more paint. Most likely with a brush.

For starters, you need the right product to fill and repair urethane, but I digress.

I removed the bumper skin off of my Corvette (click here for that article) and took it to an auto body shop near Orlando, Florida.

The first red flag was when the manager said that you have to use fiberglass to repair urethane. Wrong! A plastic filler like PolyFlex or Fusor 142 is the right choice. But I chose to ignore his comments and that was my big mistake.

The second red flag happened when he called me asking for the paint code they gave me when I had my car's air dam painted. I told him several times it was close to the mysterious shade of red my car was painted back in 2002 or thereabouts, but it was NOT the right color.

Besides, they had the bumper with the actual paint which they were supposed to have scanned. So why call me asking for the wrong paint code?

It didn't matter. They obviously wanted to do a quick job and, unfortunately, chose to half-ass the most important part. And if you look at the photos above, the difference in the shades of red is obvious.

But they did not care.

Instead, they gave me a "great" $350 deal, and basically ruined my rear bumper cover by painting it an orangy-red instead of the original darker shade.

Don't get me wrong... the topcoat finish was good, although they did not prep it very well as there were a couple deep scratches they just painted over.

And this, mind you, was done at a self-proclaimed "car restoration paint shop." I guess you can call yourself whatever you please.

When I sent them images of the mismatch, the shop manager told me to reassemble the car and bring it back so they could "blend" the colors.

I am not an automotive paint expert, so I loaded the bumper cover and the gas door (which had the original red the rear bumper used to be) in my truck, and drove down to Color Recon in Orlando to hear their professional opinion.

"You cannot blend it," I was told.

But I wanted a second opinion, so I stopped by R&D Autoworks in DeBary, about two miles from my house.

Above: Dave of R&D Auto Works, DeBary, buffing the bumper cover.

Rick, one of the owners, looked at the freshly-painted bumper and gas door and corroborated what I'd heard at Color Recon. Too much of a color difference.

So I decided to have a quart mixed at Ben's Paint Supply in DeLand, and they did a pretty decent job considering that all they had was the gas door as a reference.

I was back at R&D Autoworks the next day and they said it would take about a week.

Exactly one week later I picked up my freshly repainted bumper cover.

Is it perfect?

No. To my untrained eye, there's a slight tone difference, but I can live with it.

The moral of my story is—and I'm sure you've heard this one before...


If it's good and fast, it won't be cheap. 
If it's cheap and good, it won't be fast. 
If it's fast and cheap, it won't be good.

Ah, the joys of classic car ownership. (Can you hear the sarcasm?)

Thank you for following my '76 Vette Blog!


  • ColorRecon
    2205 Forsyth Rd Ste A, Orlando, FL 32807
    Phone: (407) 678-3368
  • R&D Auto Works
    643 S Charles Richard Beall Blvd, DeBary, FL 32713
    Phone: (386) 668-0509

Product Links... (#sponsored)

• How to Restore Your C3 Corvette: 1968-1982
• 1968-1982 Corvette Restoration Guide, 2nd Edition
• Corvette Black Book | 1953-2019
• 1976 Corvette Assembly Manual