Thursday, April 6, 2017

Talking Gallant Gray with Mobsteel’s Adam Genei

By Nancy Lockhart, Axalta Color Marketing Manager

Detroit native, Adam Genei knows cars from the inside out, he is the owner of Mobsteel, a custom car business in Detroit, and the Detroit Steel Wheels company, which makes steel auto wheels, or “steelies,” for vehicles of any size.

Detroit’s own Adam Genei at the Mobsteel Shop

You may know Adam, his wife and business partner, Pam and their team of awe-inspiring employees from a reality series titled, Detroit Steel on the History channel (

Axalta enjoys a fun and collaborative relationship with the Mobsteel crew. One of the highlights of that association came to life at the 2016 SEMA show in Las Vegas, when Axalta and Mobsteel introduced the Artist Signature Series – Cromax® Mobsteel® Midnight CFX™ Candy Colors line. Mobsteel and Axalta color designers worked together to refine this vibrant set of custom colors. The colors, including “8 Mile Maroon” and “Motorcity Sunset,” are part of the dynamic series that appear to be a shade of black but under light, reflect rich reds, purples, golds and more.

“This line is exciting for both Axalta and the artists with whom we work. I’m thrilled that Mobsteel founder, Adam Genei, and his team helped to reveal this exciting new collection in the Artist Signature Series,” said Harry Christman, Axalta Cromax Brand Manager at the unveil. “We are extremely proud that this talented design/build team uses Axalta refinish products in their shop and that they partnered with us to create a line of colors inspired by their city of Detroit and their craft.”

Nancy Lockhart, Axalta Color Marketing Manager recently sat down with Adam to talk about color, inspiration and the Motor City. 

Nancy: Adam, back in January you and the guys gave the full Mobsteel treatment to a kid’s pedal car and painted it in Axalta’s Automotive Color of the Year 2017-Gallant Gray. The paint job got rave reviews and the project seemed like such a natural fit for you. Did you have a pedal car growing up? What automotive themed toys did you grow up with?

Mobsteel sprayed a pedal car in Axalta’s Automotive Color of the Year 2017-Gallant Gray

Adam: As a kid, I knew someone who had a pedal car and I remember going down the sidewalk in it.  It’s a good childhood memory for me.  We didn’t have the luxury of such expensive toys.  Star Wars was popular but I remember playing for hours on the floor with my matchbox cars.  It was cool to build up new tracks and jumps for the cars, I loved it.  Still today, I keep matchbox cars around me all the time.  I have a bunch at the shop I like to give out when kids come by.  

Playing with cars and being around cars is just in my blood.  I grew up in Detroit, Dad worked in a shop, my grandfather was an auto supplier, my other grandfather worked in a dealership.  Many of our friends and extended family had connections to the auto industry either on the line, as mill rights, electricians or other.  My dad would fix up old cars and tractors or anything mechanical in our garage.  We would also go out and look for free snowmobiles, then we would fix them up and turn them into dune-buggies.  Just crazy stuff like that was normal fun.

Nancy: What are your thoughts on Axalta’s Automotive Color of the Year 2017- Gallant Gray? What do you think of the blue glass flake technology in the coating?

Adam: It is super cool.  When Axalta approached us to spray a pedal car in the Color of the Year we were excited to see what it was.  We weren’t let down.  We had plans to do a bunch of stuff on the car but once we laid down the paint and saw the color we took a step back and said “let’s not ruin it.” The color was so powerful that we thought doing anything else would diminish the look. That is not always the case with all colors.  A red Ferrari is great not because of the color, but because of the car.  Gallant gray was cool because of the color.   

The color has so many different layers to it.  The blue flake with the gray paint gave it so much character and depth.  The appearance changed when we took the car around the shop under different lighting.  A great product with unique characteristics helps make the job easy.

Everyone knows paint is the most important part in a build.  It’s the first thing you see.  It’s got to be good and high quality.

Nancy: We love what you did with the pedal car. Is this an example how the Mobsteel brand can transfer to other segments even outside of automotive?

Adam: Human beings are born to create things.  I love to dream and create.  Not just automotive or things with gears and wheels. I have designed and built furniture, artwork, even sculptures. I enjoy seeing something made with quality and care. I enjoy watching a project come to life. I really enjoy putting myself back in time to capture what someone dreamed up in a different era.  It is a challenge to preserve the heritage of the piece while making it my own and paying respectful homage to the original design.

For instance, when I see a car that I love, I think “Why do I love it? How can I keep the essence of it but make it my own?” and “How do I retain the unique allure that attracted me to it?”  The Gallant Gray pedal car was a perfect example. Pedal cars have a unique history and allure. I think what we did with the car was keep that authentic old school feel with crisp, simple lines. The blue glass flake in the Gallant Gray provided the modern twist.

Adam Genei with his 1966 Lincoln Continental in a gray body color and Radiant Red roof

Nancy: What do you like about restoring cars?

Adam: Being in Detroit, I find it really cool that I can drive by the plants and offices where the car I’m restoring was originally built and designed decades ago. You just breathe in that history in this town. And in the same regard, it is insane to think that these spaces and the industry has changed so much in the same amount of time. 

Skilled trades have more tools and technology today but older cars have some of the best build quality and are beautifully designed. It is amazing some of the car designers could dream that big back then.

Nancy: How do you decide what color to put on the interior and exterior of a vehicle?

Adam: Mobsteel is known for spraying a lot of black Lincolns. Black is an appropriate color on an old Lincoln and it looks great. But there are many factors to consider when choosing an exterior color, including what year the car is, the lines and curves on the chassis, historic connection with a particular color etc. At the end of the day, it must feel right.

We start with the outside of the car and work our way in; the exterior color influences the color choices on the rest of the car.  Influences come from everywhere but the exterior paint plays a large role in determining the interior color.

Thank you to Adam for his insights and for sharing his story, and don’t forget to check out Detroit Steel on the History Channel.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Gallant Gray Days and Nights at the North American International Auto Show

By John Wray, Axalta Marketing Manager

The 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) took place in January and featured key introductions from auto manufacturers. Not to be outdone, Axalta had its own new reveal to celebrate during NAIAS’ media and industry preview week, with the launch of its Automotive Color of the Year 2017-Gallant Gray.

Gallant Gray is a luxurious color enhanced by blue and silver flakes that produce a unique sparkle effect and dark undertones that enrich the finish, adding sophistication. Daily inspirations coupled with extensive research, helped Axalta color designers and product experts select Gallant Gray as the Automotive Color of the Year.

Gallant Gray made its first splash in the Detroit Free Press with a feature article titled, “Color of the Year: One Shade of Gray.”  Writer, Brent Snavely’s article quoted Axalta’s Nancy Lockhart as saying, “Color is starting to come back, but for right now, gray is the new silver.”

The first Gallant Gray event during NAIAS, aptly named, The Main Event, took place at Detroit’s historic Orchestra Hall. The exclusive and popular, multi-faceted event celebrates the start of NAIAS, recognizes industry innovators, and showcases the latest inspirational fashion designs on a live runway. Axalta debuted three Gallant Gray pedal cars at The Main Event – two painted by Detroit-area Roseville High School students and one painted by Detroit’s own Ron Cohen of Mobsteel. As Gallant Gray is designed to be spectacular on any size vehicle, you can imagine how good the pedal cars looked. One lucky event attendee won a raffle and took home one of the Roseville High School pedal cars.

More than 5,000 members of the media from around the world converged on NAIAS, and they each received a taste of Gallant Gray. Literally. Axalta greeters in Gallant Gray scarves and pearls welcomed show attendees with Gallant Gray mints.

Axalta sponsored the annual EyesOn Design awards, the official design awards for NAIAS. These awards honor the best production and concept vehicles that debut worldwide at NAIAS. The Axalta Award for Best Use of Color, Graphics and Materials went to the impressive Nissan Vmotion 2.0 concept vehicle. At the awards, Axalta also premiered a video detailing the science and art behind the Color of the Year.

Axalta also served as the Presenting Sponsor of the NAIAS Charity Preview, the largest single night fundraiser in the world, which benefits 11 children’s charities. Attendees were again greeted with Gallant Gray mints and enjoyed a Gallant Gray drink (Grey Goose, ginger beer, lime).

After NAIAS officially opened to the public, kids had the chance to take part in the Axalta Coloring Contest. Children earned daily prizes for decorating a custom Axalta coloring sheet with a car image designed by renowned local artist, Brook Banham.

NAIAS was a great venue to kick-off the year-long celebration of Gallant Gray and the attendees there really enjoyed the color. Stay tuned to Axalta’s Color Blog throughout 2017 for more Gallant Gray updates.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cromax Restores Beautiful 1923 Bugatti with a Brilliant Shade of Blue

By Frederica McCauley, Axalta Marketing Communications Specialist

As loyal Cromax® customers for nearly 20 years, the team at Goldmark Body Works in Queensland, Australia trusted no other brand when they restored Mick Freestone’s rare 1923 Bugatti Type 13 – a 50-year family heirloom.

The Type 13’s lightweight design and remarkable craftsmanship left all naysayers speechless when it took the top four places at the Voiturette Grand Prix in Brescia, Italy, in 1921.

Nearly three decades after its last coat of paint, selecting the perfect blue proved to be difficult, explained Goldmark owner, Scott Millington. Historically, Bugatti’s were painted in honor of the French national racing color – but the official color is unknown, because it was matched to the cigarette packet favored by inventor Ettore Bugatti’s wife. “The blue changed over the years, depending on the color on the packaging,” said Millington. “But we could have matched it if we had the right packet.”

Bugatti’s were painted in honor of the French national racing color – but the official color is unknown.

Instead, Millington color-matched a photo of a European Bugatti. After stripping the car to bare metal, the Goldmark crew used the Cromax 840R VOC Epoxy Primer-Surfacer and the LE2004 high build primer to prepare the surface for the blue basecoat.

Attaining an authentic vintage finish also presented a challenge. Modern paints are glossier than the finishes available in the Bugatti’s racing days, so Millington experimented matting out the gloss by mixing the Cromax 3050S clear coat with AU175 flattening binder. “We did quite a few spray outs to make sure Mick was happy,” said Scott. “We were able to work with him to give him exactly what he wanted, and how he wanted it done.”

With the Bugatti reassembled and ready to return home, Millington is happy that in the hands of his experienced crew, Axalta’s Cromax paint delivered an impeccable and authentic finish for his customer. “It was a privilege to work on a vehicle of that calibre,” said Scott. “And the finish is beautiful, as we expected.”

Mick is also thrilled with the results. “Being a very old and unusual car, the finish of the paint was important. I couldn’t be happier with the result. It’s authentic, and still looks like a top restoration project.”

We think you’ll agree that this car is a brilliant blue success story.

Fast Facts About the Type 13

Totally unique in its design, the Type 13 surprised the world of racing when it took second place at its French Grand Prix debut at Les Mans in 1911.

Created by Italian-born Ettore Bugatti, the distinctive Type 13 bucked all the popular trends for appearance, and was one of the first race cars to feature four valves per cylinder instead of two.

The Type 13’s lightweight design and remarkable craftsmanship left all naysayers speechless when it took the top four places at the Voiturette Grand Prix in Brescia, Italy, in 1921.

It’s estimated only 2000 Type 13s were produced, and today the model is so rare that the whereabouts of each is recorded.