Q: Hi Greg, I appreciate all you columns on the old cars. I’m an older car and truck enthusiast and I remember fondly all those great Earl Scheib car painting television commercials and newspaper advertisements. Back then, Earl Scheib could paint any car for only $29.95 and have it ready in one day! I’d love your memories of Earl Scheib. I know getting a car painted costs a lot today, but I do see some Earl Scheib paint centers are still in business.
Also, I have a 1959 Chevy pickup that I’m going to need some help with finding the correct touch-up paint. Any recommendations? Yours truly, Carl R., email from New York.
A: Carl thanks much for your letter. Believe it or not, I had a very close friend named Woody Hatten who died way too soon while editor of a custom car magazine in 1989. He was in the middle of a great career.
It turns out my friend Woody worked for Earl Scheib near Alexandria, Virginia in the 1970s, and he was also known nationally for his work in Super Stock & Drag Illustrated magazine as a drag racing writer and photographer. Notable is that Woody Hatten was also the elusive and always unnamed “Agent 1320” for Super Stock magazine for many years.
As for the Earl Scheib Paint Centers, to make a long story short, there are no longer any original Earl Scheib paint centers, but there are many independent Earl Scheib centers still in business as you note.
Let me explain.
Earl Scheib opened his first paint center in Los Angeles back in 1937. The business grew quickly after World War II and Scheib even expanded his shops into Europe by 1975. Scheib also grew to own a subsidiary that produced his own brand paint, so things were going good. He initially started his ads at $19.95 for a complete paint job, then $29.95 and then the price went up as the years went by. He even offered “medium” and “premium” paint jobs for additional money.
However, when it came to quality or lack thereof, Earl Scheib’s famous reputation came more from his large newspaper ads and 60-second television commercials than his automotive paint jobs.
Woody Hatten told me quality wasn’t usually in his formula as Scheib promised same or next day service and utilized what he called a production line painting system. As one employee striped, a second masked, a third sanded while a fourth sprayed the paint...all as quick as possible. Scheib’s goal was at least five or six cars every day per center.
Woody said that although Scheib’s company wasn’t the most respected paint center nationwide by the “real” paint and custom body centers, Scheib’s was the place to go if you wanted a lower-level paint job. Woody also tipped me that if you did a little pre-work yourself, like removing side stainless trim, hubcaps, car logo letters and then cleaned it up, you got a better paint job as more time was spent applying the paint. In the end, Woody summed that an Earl Scheib paint job was a good example of “getting what you paid for.”
Scheib died in February 1992 and his official Earl Scheib paint centers lasted until July 16, 2010. After that, and a most notable move I might add, the company rewarded its Earl Scheib shop managers with the opportunity to become small business owners. Specifically, the company offered them the rights to purchase all the equipment and fixtures in their shops and, most important, use the Earl Scheib name for their own business.
Many managers took advantage and agreed to the terms, resulting in today’s independent Earl Scheib paint centers. These modern Earl Scheib centers now offer decent paint jobs at still attractive pricing and most of today’s Scheib shops also offer custom painting, collision repair and pin striping. Thus, the employees who took a chance and went into business have now upped the value of their shops and added some needed quality to the Earl Scheib reputation.
As for a touch-up paint recommendation, there are many companies that provide good touch-up paint for cars and trucks. However, the company I use is called Automotive Touchup. All you have to do is go online and enter your car’s year, make and model and then select your paint code from the information and color links listed.
It’s truly effortless, as Automotive Touchup will then ship whatever you need directly to your home with all necessary supplies. I’ve used their products on my 1999 BMW, 1994 Trans Am, 1980 AMC Concord and 1959 Edsel with great results as the colors match perfectly. Pricing starts at $9.95 for a small touch-up bottle for those little rock chips or small fixes. You can also order a bevy of quality paint products in all sizes for smooth application and long-lasting results. Automotive Touchup also offers body and bumper repair products, sanding supplies and spray can triggers. Check them out at automotivetouchup.com and get started. (Disclaimer: I’ve never received anything free from Automotive Touchup or even a discount on their products.)
In all fairness, remember there are many places you can acquire touch-up paints, like Touch Up Direct, Auto Zone, Advance Auto, NAPA and the many other auto centers that cater to car enthusiasts.
Thanks for your question Carl and for bringing back those Earl Scheib and Woody Hatten memories!

— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other Gatehouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions on old cars, auto racing and auto nostalgia at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, Pa. 18840 or email at greg@gregzyla.com.