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It's a rare event when I can't find the English equivalent for an Italian expression. It's even rarer when that Italian term consists of one word, but in English I have to build an entire phrase.

That's the case with the Italian verb verniciare which can be translated as "to varnish" or "to paint". But what about sverniciare? A single word that means to take off the paint or varnish from something.

I am particularly interested in knowing if there is a one word equivalent for:

  • to strip a car of its paintwork
  • to strip the paintwork from a car

Do the above sound "natural"? I don't think anybody would be confused but perhaps there is some jargon or slang that is commonly used among car mechanics.

And after the paintwork has been stripped off, what is that car called? I keep thinking of naked car, nude car and even raw car but that can't be right.

So I would also like to know if there is a word, or short expression for:

  • a car whose paintwork has been stripped
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    A bare-metal restoration involves stripping the vehicle of all it's coatings, but bare-metal doesn't exclusively mean 'a car stripped of it's coatings'. – Frank Feb 24 '15 at 13:11
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    Adding to Frank's suggestion: We took the car down to bare metal google.com/… – TRomano Feb 24 '15 at 13:27
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    Not quite no. taken down to the bare-metal is OK. I would probably use unprimed in your first sentence ...in the garage I saw the unprimed car. Of course that doesn't make it clear it had previously been taken back to the bare-metal, because that info is not important. – Frank Feb 24 '15 at 13:42
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    I really don't think there is a single word that means remove all the coatings from a car in English. Stripped works for lots of things meaning had the paint/varnish removed but stripped for cars means all ancillary parts have been removed. – Frank Feb 24 '15 at 13:45
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    @Mari-LouA - how much simpler in Italian in this case: sverniciare una macchina, una macchina sverniciata!! – user66974 Feb 24 '15 at 14:10
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For a single word, one could use denude and it's various forms.

[OED] denude.
1. trans. To make naked or bare; to strip of clothing or covering; spec. in Geol. of natural agencies: To lay bare (a rock or formation) by the removal of that which lies above it.

However, if you were to take your car into a garage and ask them to denude it, I suspect they'd all glance at the Pirelli calendar hanging on the office wall before taking a deep breath in through their teeth and saying Could be quite costly.

Another possibility is strip

[OED] strip
11. a. To remove (an adhering covering of skin, bark, lead, paper, etc.); to pull off (leaves, fruit) from a tree, etc.; to remove (paint or varnish) from woodwork, etc. Also to strip off. Cf. stripped ppl. a. b.

However, if you were to ask your local garage to strip your car, they would immediately set about removing any part of the car than can be removed, leaving you with a large pile of parts and a car body that is still completely covered in paint.


If we are not restricted to a single word then bare metalled seems to be term used occasionally in the body shop community.

The only term, that I'm aware of, that is used by body shop people for removing paint from a car is to take it down/back to the bare-metal. This usually involves sand blasting the coverings from the metal (glass beads these days for health and safety reasons). Some images can be found here http://the2cvshop.co.uk/shotblasting_1_classic.html

With thanks to Janus Bahs Jacquet, it seems that bare-metal can be verbed into bare metalled.

[SPR Coachworks Ltd] at https://www.facebook.com/SPRCoachworksLtd/posts/683435985028935 Porsche 356A has now been bare metalled.
We then applied an Epoxy coating to protect the bare metal from corroding.

and

[DasRestohaus] at http://dasrestohaus.com.au/gallery2/v/Type+2/Jacks+59+11+window/Oct29+nose+bare+metalled.JPG.html
Oct29 nose bare metalled
The nose was taken back to bare metal to do some repairs (yep even new panels are not perfectly straight)....deoxidine applied first to condition metal

Once you have it at the bare-metal stage, the next stage is to prime it, so you could say that the car is unprimed.

[OED] priming
4. concr. a. The substance or mixture used by painters for the preparatory coat. b. A coat or layer of the substance. Also fig.


Humorously (or humourlessly) you could perhaps coin DeLoreanated with reference to the DeLorean DMC-12 which has a completely unpainted body shell

  • Good answer...my only doubt is about 'unprimed car', an expression I cound not find in google. – user66974 Feb 24 '15 at 14:25
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    Having never had the, erm, fortune to set foot in a body workshop (or just a garage in general, really), I have no idea if this works … but could bare-metal not quite easily be verbed? Instead of saying they took the car back/down to the bare-metal, could one not just say that they bare-metalled the car, and that the car was therefore then a bare-metalled car? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 24 '15 at 14:30
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    @Mari-LouA primed means it has a coat of primer on the metal; to prevent rust and provide adhesion for the following coats. – Frank Feb 24 '15 at 14:32
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    @JanusBahsJacquet bare metalled is not a term I've personally heard (having spent too much time with old cars) but it seems it is in use - see facebook.com/SPRCoachworksLtd/posts/683435985028935 "Porsche 356A has now been bare metalled." – Frank Feb 24 '15 at 14:36
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    We would not say "reduced". When a car is reduced to metal it is chopped up into small bits, and melted down. – TRomano Feb 24 '15 at 15:53
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For a one-word-request I'd suggest "sanded", "sandblasted", or maybe "acid-dipped".

  • To blast a car, and a sand blasted car also work, don't they? – Mari-Lou A Feb 24 '15 at 21:20
  • I don't know car-related terminology very well, nor what difference there may be between American and UK English. I think I'd prefer to say "took the paint off", "stripped the paint", "removed the paint", except that those wouldn't answer your 'single-word-request'. – ChrisW Feb 24 '15 at 21:26
  • I did ask: ".. if there is a one word equivalent", but expressions, idioms etc. are just as welcomed. Thank you for posting your suggestions. – Mari-Lou A Feb 24 '15 at 21:29
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I don't know how the original Italian sentence reads, or who is speaking: the proverbial little old lady who drives her car only to church on Sunday, a collector of rare automobiles, or a street punk who races his hotrod down near the river where the cops don't patrol very often.

Bare-metalled might be something a street punk, or someone who restores cars, or perhaps even the body-shop workers might say. It sounds like argot.

But in a neutral register, we'd say The car was taken down to bare metal for a new coat of paint and I saw the car sitting in the body shop; it had been taken down to bare metal.

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