Prefix Coatings Adds Jobs with Seamless, Premium Finish on SRT Vipers

The SRT Viper GTS

-“ You wouldn’t think there is any connection between a gleaming 2013 SRT Viper and Kmart Corp.’s old Blue Light Special. But there is. In a converted Kmart retail outlet in Auburn Hills, Mich., Prefix Coatings is applying a show quality finish to the roadsters through a 100 percent manual process.

The result is Vipers with flawless finishes and seamless interfaces with the racing stripes. No hard edge and no wax build up when they are lovingly waxed by proud owners. The result is also 125 new jobs for the area at full production.

All the painting is done by Prefix Coatings before the cars are finally assembled in Detroit. The advantage is a premium finish that is clear-coated and hand polished before shipping to the Conner plant for assembly.

“Now that we are doing the stripe as part of the entire process before assembly, you get a smooth transition from stripe to body color,” explained Eric Zeile, Chrysler program manager, Prefix Corp. “We paint every single Viper here, stripe or no stripe. The finish is just gorgeous.”

Eric Zeile and Eric Foster.

The entire operation is done by hand -“ from the initial sanding prep work to the manual striping, painting, wet sanding and final polish to achieve the flawless finish. Prefix says the final product is finest production paint finish on any vehicle in the world. Prefix has already hired 50 employees in advance of the program being launched to open the facility and to develop and prove out the process.

Prefix Corp. on Nov. 10 hosted about 300 Viper owners and industry guests to announce the grand opening of Prefix Coatings and to show off the facility. Viper owners and their families strolled among 2013 SRT Vipers  -“ sitting in what was once the Kmart garden department — and toured parts of the plant.

In previous model years, Rochester Hills-based Prefix Corp. was the supplier for the production striping programs for the Dodge Viper and the Dodge SRT Commemorative Edition Vehicles. When Chrysler put the 2013 SRT Viper Paint Program out for bid, Prefix was awarded the contract. One of Chrysler’s key specifications was to create a No. 9-plus orange peel final finish that provides a superlative near mirror surface.

“Viper owners are an enthusiastic crowd and love their Vipers, however one of the biggest complaints was when they waxed their Viper the wax would build-up on the edge of the stripe,” said Zeile. “With the new process, we’ll bury the stripe under the clear coat providing a smooth transition.”

Viper paint stripe alignment fixture.

Prefix Coatings opened the 129,000 square foot paint facility in August. A majority of the facility will be used for the Viper program. The facility is partitioned off into separate areas, including a self-contained prep room where the parts will be hand sanded to prepare for priming and paint. Two paint operators will be in each booth to circle each other for better quality. Prefix also built the armatures that hold the parts in place during prep, paint and polish.

The facility also features a stripe room and polish room, as well as six 48-foot tunnel paint booths with ovens at the end of each booth. The paint booths are manufactured by Garmat USA, located in Colorado.