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Can’t Fake The Flake: History of Metalflake Paint

In 1959, Barris Kustoms debuted their futuristic air car, the XPAK 400 at the New York World’s Fair. The XPAK 400 featured 35 coats of nitro cellulose lacquer, that, according to a press release by Barris Kustoms, contained a million particles of chromed aluminum called “Metalflake”. The press release could further state, that Metalflake was a revolutionary new development by the Bobeckmun Company, a Division of the Dow Chemical Company. The particles were precision cut, coated aluminum foil that gave a metallic finish, and it was supposedly the first time the product was available for commercial use.

George Barris’ XPAK 400 ‘air car’

A trial was offered to George Barris for the XPAK 400 since it was going to be displayed at the National Car Show in Detroit. George used plain silver flake for the body. The overall reflection quality of the flake was softened by the addition of a small amount of pearl. “George’s early experience with the flake proved that it would be a wild finish, subtle and velvet soft in the indirect lighting, yet extremely lively where the strong light is directed”. The fins featured 30 coats of imported Swedish pearl of essence, which was made of crushed fish scales and crushed diamond dust. It was also painted in Kandy translucent red, white and blue… read more >

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