Bobby Alloway is the Undisputed King of Black Paint
By Tommy Lee Byrd – Photography & Videography by Ryan Foss
Ask a bodyman or painter and they’ll tell you that black is the most challenging color to master. The color itself doesn’t prove to be daunting, as it sprays out of the gun like most paints. However, it’s the underlying prepwork and the color sanding and buffing that separates the men from the boys when it comes to a show-quality black paintjob. Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop, led by longtime hot rodder Bobby Alloway, is known for building cars with a wild stance, big horsepower, and impeccable bodywork, most often accentuated by a flawless black paintjob.
Bobby has been building hot rods for more than 40 years and always had an affinity for black cars. During the ’80s, magazine photographers were not keen on photographing black cars. Bright colors photographed better and were more popular at the time. Bobby decided to go the popular direction and built a bright red ’33 Ford Victoria. That car took home the coveted Ridler award at the Detroit Autorama in 1985. After building numerous cars for himself and for customers, Bobby started Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop in 1991 and never turned back. His goal was always to build hot rods and muscle cars with serious attitude, even if they featured bright colors and flames, but the black really enhanced the bold style that put Alloway’s on the map.
Black is the ultimate test of skill and patience when it comes to bodywork and paint finish. You can’t rush it—every rushed moment will show up in the finished product. Bobby and his team at Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop have nailed down the process for a flawless finish, and it’s something they’ve repeated countless times. Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop uses PPG paint products, which is a key part of the formula. The products provide consistent results, and Bobby shared his favorite PPG materials for the perfect black finish. Bobby says, “We use a PPG Deltron Black, the ol’ 9700, and it’s probably the blackest black I’ve ever found. Over the black basecoat we use the PPG 2002 clear.”
The DBC9700 black basecoat is part of the Deltron NXT product line, as is the DCU2002 high solids clearcoat. Regarding the clearcoat, Bobby says, “We generally put about five to six coats on it, all at one time. Some might frown upon putting that much material on a car, but the 2002 clearcoat handles it well, with no solvent pop or other issues.”
From there, the materials are color sanded for a perfectly flat and slick finish. The secret to removing the texture from the clearcoat is “cutting it flat,” meaning the use of a relatively coarse grit. Bobby and his team start with 600-grit, which removes a lot of material but provides that perfectly flat, mirror-like finish. The downside to cutting it that hard is the sand scratches, but the use of finer grits will remove the scratches. It’s important to take it slow and never skip a step. Grits get progressively finer with each cycle of color sanding: 600-, 800-, 1,000-, 1,500-, all the way to 3,000-grit. Then, the buffing and final polishing begins. Even though this process can be duplicated, it takes true finesse to produce the results that roll out of Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop.
Although it wasn’t originally a popular color choice when Bobby started building hot rods, he and his shop have built a reputation for perfect black paint. Part of the formula is PPG paint products mixed with a tremendous amount of experience and skill to produce a showstopping finish that leaves a lasting impression. If you want to learn more about Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop, check out allowaysrodshop.com, and if you’re interested in researching paint for your project car, go to ppgrefinish.com.