Steve...are you decanting / thinning and airbrushing most of your materials? If not, how do you manage to not fill all the details with primer / paint? Whatever you do, the results are always stunning...especially for 1/25 scale.
Very fine indeed...but that's what we've come to expect from you. I always knew this horrible old mess could make a beautiful model with enough applied (and highly skilled) effort, but all I've ever used it for is the basis for customs, and a parts source. Your work here is the inspiration I've needed to make a pleasing stocker from it. And thanks for showing us all so much about how you achieved it.
Seems like a reasonable conclusion, but unfortunately, you are not in possession of ALL the information. "Styrene", or more correctly "polystyrene", is available in literally countless formulations. Some are harder and more brittle and more chemical resistant, and some are softer and more pliable and much less solvent resistant. I have some Johan models from the early 1960s that are entirely resistant to the HOTTEST real-car paint products on the market. Rattlecan SEM-brand self-etching primer won't TOUCH the surface of these things, and can be shot wet enough to flow out slick. The shot below is HOT HOT HOT SEM black self-etching primer on a 1961 Johan model. Look closely at how smooth the black is.
But shoot that stuff "wet" like that on a current-production Chinese model car body, also made of "styrene", and the surface WILL wrinkle like you hit it with a torch. The crazing WILL be so bad that the model is only suitable for the rusty rat-rod treatment, or the trash. Mr. Guthmiller builds a lot of early Johan and AMT-based models, presumably made of the much higher-quality "styrene" from years past, so he may not be experiencing the full impact of the problem with poor solvent-resistance of the recent bottom-of-the-barrel "styrene" formulations most manufacturers are pushing on us these days. And rather than using higher quality materials and instituting some kind of minimum quality standards for kits, SOME MANUFACTURERS ARE NOW RECOMMENDING THAT YOU PAINT THEIR MODELS WITH WATER-BASED ACRYLICS ONLY. What you're experiencing IS INDEED CRAZING, no doubt about it...and one reason I haven't been building much lately is that I got so disgusted by the poor solvent-resistance of recent kits that I put a moratorium on building until I worked out a foolproof system of prep and paint, one that works as well and as predictably on the new CRAPP "styrene" we're getting, as my old time-proven materials and techniques worked on the older, harder plastics. Bill Geary (MrObsessive) has had some success using a specific hardware-store sealer as a barrier to combat this problem. Hopefully he will chime in here. Here is a thread I started some time back that discussesthe issue in some depth...
I agree with MOST of what Steve says, however, having been painting REAL cars with automotive lacquer for over 40 years, I have to say that the true "automotive lacquers" are NOT intended to be primarily 2-part systems. The basecoat-clears most painters are familiar with today are urethanes, not "lacquers". That said, many METALLIC lacquer colors don't like to be color-sanded and polished, and will definitely benefit from a clear topcoat prior to polishing...IF they're sprayed clean with minimum orange peel. SOLID "lacquer" colors don't need a clear topcoat. They can be sanded and polished to a high gloss with no adverse effects. Part of the idea is to get as LITTLE paint material on the modea as possible and still get the gloss you want. This avoids the "dipped in syrup" look. You must also be wary of how you shoot multiple "light coats" of paint. Done wrong this is a recipe for horrible orange-peel. Practice and experimentation is the ONLY way to develop your skills and painting technique. Steve Guthmiller's work is exceptional and consistently beautiful, and you can do well by heeding his advice. I only made the above comments to eliminate the possibility of confusion about terminology.
Very simple: if you're getting the "imprint of the paper towel design on the roof of the model", your paint just isn't dry enough to handle safely. Fully cured paint will NOT fingerprint or take textured imprints from other materials. For final assembly, I'll often use the inside of old fleece sweatshirts on the bench. Just be sure you don't let any bits of plastic or metal contaminate it...or you WILL get scratches.
What are you using to thin your paint? Both the roof of the model and the spoon appear to have solvent crazing. A thinner or solvent that's too "hot" will attack the surface of the plastic, causing paint to go dull and "blotchy" as the solvents evaporate out during drying. The fact that you primered the hood more, and the problem isn't as severe, would be consistent with that. The additional primer blocks the solvent from getting to the plastic...but burying the model in primer isn't the solution, as it obliterates fine details. In general, the plastic that models are made from has been cheapened recently, and solvent resistance is poor. Many of us have noticed this, and it has been discussed at length. I would also respectfully recommend two things. 1) Practice your spray technique until you don't get orange peel. It's not necessary, and burying it in clear isn't really the right way to deal with it. 2) Make 100% certain of your materials and techniques BEFORE painting a model you care about. Another word of advice: spoons may NOT be the same plastic that models are made from these days, and what works on a spoon, though it's widely recommended by "experts", may very well NOT WORK THE SAME ON A MODEL. Once you get your technique perfected, your paint should look like this with NO clear or polishing.
Wouldn't building the model square be more to the point? I can certainly see fastening a model to the bottom of a case for transport, as I've done it myself with light wire and holes...but it would never occur to me in a million years to correct a wonky build by gluing the tires to the case.
Yeah, the major talent in the Barris family was definitely Sam. A lot of customs are just different for the sake of being different, but they rarely are more beautiful than the cars they started with. Sam usually got it right...very very right. If that Buick roadcrusher had a forward-raked B-pillar, I'd give it 100 out of 100. Foose is also capable of making major mods to an existing vehicle, and making it look better than the original, while keeping the basic design intact.
Enamel over lacquer is usually safe (depending on several factors). Lacquer over enamel is asking for lifting, wrinkling, etc. Enamels also often have a "recoat window" that varies from paint to paint, and with temperature, humidity, etc. The general rule of thumb is that you can recoat enamel with enamel before 1 hour's drying, or after 48...but this needs to be verified experimentally for each paint you use. Shoot enamel over uncured enamel too soon, you'll probably get wrinkling too.