Sweet History of Candy Paint: Larry Watson to Modern-Day Popularity

If you’re a fan of cars or custom auto detailing, you’ve probably heard of candy paint. This type of paint job is known for its vibrant, translucent colors that sparkle in the sunlight. But where did candy paint come from, and how did it become so popular in the automotive world? In this article, we’ll explore the sweet history of candy paint, from its early beginnings to its modern-day popularity.

The Origins of Candy Paint

Candy paint has its roots in the early days of custom car culture, back in the 1950s and ’60s. At the time, hot rodders and customizers were always looking for new ways to make their cars stand out. One of the techniques they developed was to layer translucent colors of paint on top of each other, creating a rich, lustrous effect. This technique was called “candy coating” or “candying,” and it quickly caught on among car enthusiasts.

One of the early pioneers of candy paint was Larry Watson, a customizer based in Bellflower, California. Watson began experimenting with candy colors in the late 1950s, and he soon became known for his striking candy-coated cars. He used a technique called “fadeaway,” which involved blending one color into another to create a seamless transition. Watson’s candy paint jobs were so popular that he became known as the “King of the Fadeaways.”

CCC larry watson rainbow 07 W
Larry Watson’s fadeaway
Photo credits: Custom Car Chronicle

Candy Paint Goes Mainstream

By the 1960s, candy paint had gone mainstream, and it was no longer limited to the custom car scene. Auto manufacturers began offering candy-colored paint jobs as an option on their production cars. One of the most famous examples was the 1965 Ford Mustang, which was available in a range of candy colors, including Poppy Red, Twilight Turquoise, and Honey Gold.

Candy paint also became popular in the world of lowriders, which emerged in the 1960s and ’70s. Lowriders were customized cars that had been lowered and fitted with hydraulics, creating a distinctive look and style. Candy paint was a natural fit for lowriders, as the bright, reflective colors added to the cars’ eye-catching appeal.

candy paint history 1970s low rider

Candy Paint Today

Today, candy paint is still a popular choice for custom car enthusiasts. Advances in paint technology have made it easier to achieve vibrant, long-lasting candy colors. And with the rise of social media and car culture influencers, candy paint has gained a new generation of fans.

In recent years, candy paint has also found its way into other areas of popular culture. Rappers and hip-hop artists have embraced candy-colored cars and clothing, making it a symbol of wealth and style. And in the world of art and design, candy colors are often used to create bold, eye-catching graphics and installations.

The Future of Candy Paint

As long as there are cars and enthusiasts who want to stand out from the crowd, candy paint will remain a part of custom car culture. But like any trend, its popularity may ebb and flow over time. One thing is for sure, though: the sweet history of candy paint is here to stay.

Benefits of Candy Paint

  1. Unique Appearance: Candy paint creates a unique appearance that is unlike any other paint job. It has a deep, translucent finish that gives off a liquid-like shine, which is perfect for those who want to stand out from the crowd.
  2. Customizable: Candy paint is highly customizable, as it can be mixed with different colors and flakes to create a wide range of effects. This means that you can create a paint job that is truly one-of-a-kind and tailored to your individual preferences.
  3. High-Quality Finish: Candy paint is known for its high-quality finish, which is glossy, smooth, and long-lasting. It is resistant to fading, chipping, and cracking, making it a great choice for those who want a paint job that will last.
  4. Increases Resale Value: A candy paint job can increase the resale value of a car. The unique and eye-catching appearance can attract potential buyers, and the high-quality finish can show that the car has been well-maintained.
  5. Enhances Car’s Appearance: Candy paint can enhance the appearance of a car by giving it a more dynamic and three-dimensional look. The deep, translucent finish can make the car look more sleek and stylish, and it can also hide imperfections and blemishes in the bodywork.

Drawbacks of Candy Paint

While candy paint may look stunning, there are some drawbacks to consider before investing in a candy-coated car. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Cost: Candy paint is generally more expensive than traditional paint jobs due to the additional materials and labor required to achieve the desired effect. The price can vary widely depending on the size and complexity of the project, but it is generally not a budget-friendly option.
  2. Maintenance: Candy paint requires more maintenance and care than traditional paint. It is more susceptible to scratches and fading, so it may require more frequent touch-ups and repairs to maintain its appearance.
  3. Limited color options: While candy paint can create a wide range of colors and effects, the options are still more limited than traditional paint. This is due to the fact that candy paint relies on light and reflection to create its stunning effects, so certain colors may not be achievable.
  4. Difficult to repair: If your candy paint becomes damaged or scratched, it can be difficult to repair. The translucent nature of the paint means that the color and effect can be hard to match, so it is best to have repairs done by a professional auto body shop.
  5. Not for everyone: Candy paint is a bold, attention-grabbing choice that may not be to everyone’s taste. It can also attract unwanted attention from thieves or vandals who are drawn to the unique and eye-catching appearance.

Candy Paint Maintenance Tips

If you have a candy-coated car or are considering getting one, it’s important to know how to maintain it. Here are some tips for keeping your candy paint looking its best:

  • Wash your car regularly with a mild soap and soft sponge or cloth. Avoid using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals, as these can damage the paint’s finish.
  • Wax your car regularly to protect the paint from UV rays and other environmental factors. Be sure to use a wax that is designed for candy paint.
  • Avoid parking your car in direct sunlight or extreme heat, as this can cause the paint to fade or crack.
  • Be careful when washing or working on your car around sharp objects or abrasive surfaces, as these can scratch or damage the paint.
  • If you notice any scratches or damage to the paint, have it repaired by a professional auto body shop as soon as possible to prevent further damage.


Candy paint has a long and sweet history in the world of custom cars and automotive culture. From its origins in the 1950s to its modern-day popularity, candy paint has remained a popular choice for those looking to make a bold statement with their cars. While it may require more maintenance and care than traditional paint, the stunning effects of candy paint make it a worthwhile investment for those looking to stand out on the road.

What is candy paint?

Candy paint is a type of translucent paint that creates a lustrous, sparkling effect. It is often used on custom cars and other vehicles to create a bold, eye-catching look.

How is candy paint applied?

Candy paint is typically applied in multiple layers, with each layer adding depth and richness to the color. The paint is often mixed with a clear coat to create a glossy, reflective finish.

How long does candy paint last?

With proper maintenance and care, candy paint can last for many years. However, it is more susceptible to scratches and fading than traditional paint, so it may require more frequent touch-ups and repairs.

How much does a candy paint job cost?

The cost of a candy paint job can vary widely depending on the size and complexity of the project, as well as the materials and labor involved. It is generally more expensive than traditional paint jobs, due to the additional materials and techniques used.

Can candy paint be applied to any type of car?

Candy paint can be applied to almost any type of car, although it is most commonly used on custom or modified vehicles. It is important to consult with a professional auto body shop to determine the best approach for your specific car and desired look.

Is candy paint more difficult to maintain than traditional paint?

Yes, candy paint requires more maintenance and care than traditional paint. It is more susceptible to scratches and fading, so it may require more frequent touch-ups and repairs to maintain its appearance.

Can candy paint be repaired if it becomes scratched or damaged?

Yes, candy paint can be repaired if it becomes scratched or damaged. However, it can be difficult to match the color and effect of the original paint, so it is best to have repairs done by a professional auto body shop.

Are there any limitations to the colors that can be achieved with candy paint?

Not at all. With Cande Shop‘s line of Cande‘s you can intermix them to create almost any color you can think of, from slime green to black.

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