Rich-very nice of you to take the time to post your snaps-much appreciated. The 55 with clear, even in this 'raw' form looks terrific. I'd like to go that way.
All your spoon samples clearly (pun intended) show how the base makes a huge color difference. With clear added, the light reflections are pinpoints-very nice.
Although I can, I'd rather not use a polishing kit to 12,000 on the final coat. So if I can get a color + clear topcoat to look like that, I'm a happy dude.
Pat-I agree and 'got' that quite a while ago. Less paint is 'more'. My last project, my GT-40 was done in Tammy lacquer and needing no filler. I just primed, scuffed to 2000 and misted enough color to get even coverage. Masking and shooting the stripes was another adventure but the BMF masks left nearly no edge. What I had, I cut flat with 6000 but did not clear over or polish. Then I weathered the front, sides and bottoms and only the roof and hoods are as-shot color. Wanted it just like race cars were shot in the '60's- shot in the shop, put on the track and run hard.
For this project I need a concours finish and am using the totally different enamel system. The clear added looks attractive and will spoon test.
Differences aside, I've gotten great answers and alternatives in this thread and really appreciate all who chipped-in. This next job should be better than anything previous I've done.