The genesis required to create a mirror smooth, high gloss finish began by
sanding the Ferrari 458 Italia with aggressive 1500 grit sand paper to level the
paint. In addition to palm sanding, various sanding blocks were used to navigate
the 458’s body panels. In order to protect the thin paint covering the Ferrari’s
sharpest edges, each body line was covered with masking tape.  With each finer
grit of sand paper a thinner piece of tape was used,to allow the proper blending
of the body lines while maintaining ample thickness.

Once level, the paint was re-sanded with a finer abrasive in a cross-hatch pattern
(in this case: 2500 grit) to remove any marking from the coarser grit paper. Care
was taken to smooth out any groves caused by the 1500 grit abrasives, Some
grooves required extreme patience to remove.. The paint surface now had a dull
but extremely smooth appearing finish. Average paint thickness removed during
this step: less than .2 mils  
The final step in the leveling of the paint was to use a dual-action sander and a
very fine abrasive (3000 grit)  to eliminate any marks left behind from previous
sanding.  The dual-action sander moves the abrasives in a random pattern,
eliminating any fine groves and texture caused by hand sanding in a single
direction (often only visible from less then an inch away). This creates an
extremely
uniform finish. At this point the paint system had a semi-gloss finish.  Average
paint thickness removing during this step: less then .1 mil. Total average paint
removed to this point: .25 mils
Because sandpaper has a tendency to follow the texture in the paint
particularly as the clear coat is made smoother, it is impossible to determine
the exact finish until the surface gloss has be restored. After restoring reflectivity
to the Ferrari’s paint, the uniformity of the finish was carefully inspected. Any
areas that did not appear uniform to the adjacent areas was carefully and
meticulously blended by hand, before being cut and inspected again. It is the
time consuming process of double and triple checking the work that ultimately
separates a great finish from an amazing finish.
I choose to apply the previously listed steps one section
at a time, working in a counter clockwise direction
starting with the passenger side rear corner. Each
section (numbered for reference to the left) was  
completely leveled and cut individually  to avoid
being overwhelmed by the scope of the project and to
keep focus on creating perfection; one area at a time.

The diagram to the left shows the basic route followed.
In total it took roughly 40 hours over three and half long
days to precisely level the paint
An additional 5 hours were spent inspecting and
touching up any areas that needed massaging in order
to reach their full potential.

To avoid the accumulation of abrasive dust and to
keep the working surfaces clean (an absolute necessity
when sanding paint) the Ferrari was washed often. The
surface was continuously wiped down with diluted
isopropyl alcohol in order to verify that  the progress
was accurate.
The first section leveled (1) was the passenger side rear fender. This was the
area where the leveling process (above) was dialed in. The main challenge
with this fender was the gas cover lip area. As the cover was located in a
prominently visual position the edges it provided created a challenge to work
around.
The leading
edge of the
door blends
into a scoop
which
culminates
with a vent
at the rear
the Ferrari's
fenders.
These vents
are
responsible
for cooling
the clutch
and gearbox.
In order to continue refining the Ferrari's paint, the switch from sand paper to
liquid abrasive polishes. Applied with a high speed polisher and aggressive
pad, these 'compounds' restored the surface gloss to the Ferrari's paint by
further leveling the sanded paint. The Italia's amazingly hard paint and
complex body lines required patience and focus. The paint required 3-4
applications to refine gloss. Average paint thickness removed during this step:
less then .1 mil. Total average paint removed to this point: .3 mils
Page 3) Leveling the Texture
PREVIOUSLY FEATURED DETAIL:
ORIGINAL PAINT 427 SHELBY COBRA
                                    
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