Today, you might see a car on the road that doesn’t have the same glossiness as the other cars, it looks like it has a matte finish. This type of finish, when achieved intentionally, is colloquially called “Hot Rod Black”, sometimes also called satin black. Unintentionally, this same sort of look may be the result of weathering if a car has been given a faulty regular finish.

This matte look has been on the market for decades, being a popular treatment for classic cars. The Hot Rod Black treatment is also used to create a specific “rat rod” style look. More recently, this type of finish has become very popular, moving beyond it’s beginnings in classic car and rat rod enthusiasts. Some OEM manufacturers are even offering Hot Rod Black as a finish on modern cars.

If you’re looking at aftermarket coatings, there are several ways they may be used to achieve a Hot Rod Black type effect. The usual approach is as follows: A single coat of paint is applied. This paint is often a 3k urethane or enamel formulated to have a low gloss look once it has set. This is dues to specialized pigments and additives in the paint. “Blitz Black” is an example of an inexpensive enamel based paint. However, this finish is likely to quickly fade and chalk giving whatever it has been applied to a worn and unappealing look.

If you’re looking for another process, the second most common way to get a Hot Rod Black look is to apply a regular gloss black paint combined with a flattening agent. To achieve this specific low gloss finish, the painter or technician must use precise ratios and measurements- or risk getting the wrong effect. This can be a difficult thing to do consistently, leading to a mismatch coating when a new batch is created to coat a replacement part or a scuff.

Compared to gloss finishes, it can be a challenge to get a perfect low sheen finish. It’s very common, and experienced painters know, that it is all too common something will get on or into the paint sometime during the process- be it dirt, plant matter, insects, grit or something less common. Wet sanding and polishing are tactics used to get these sorts or things out of gloss finishes. If these methods are used on low gloss, however, you may get the defect out, but the area will, under most circumstances, become glossier than it’s surrounding, unpolished finish. This sheen will highlight the area and typically ruin the desired Hot Rod Black effect. It’s very important, then, to consider when and where you will paint your car- so you can get it right the first time. If you put in the effort, you will be rewarded. Hot Rod Black is a very unique, noteworthy finish- due to draw admiration and attention.