A Brief History of Paintless Dent Removal

The principle advantages:

  • Vehicle repaired without the need to spray
  • Maintains the original condition of your vehicle and rust proofing
  • Fast – in many cases same day repairs
  • Economical (compared to traditional methods)
  • Can be carried out at your home or place of work

The PDR (paintless dent removal) system of repair has it origins dating back more than 80 years, when car makers such as Porsche, Ferrari and Bentley devised this form of repair.

 

Massage away imperfections

When the manufacturers noticed dents during assembly they would use steel rods and special lighting to massage away the imperfections. For many years this remained their secret.

These days you can enjoy this unique way of removing dents outside the factory that made your car. In fact, your car may already have had this treatment without you ever knowing!

In reality there are now many technicians carrying out this type of repair throughout the world. We at Learn PDR Secrets.com are specialists in the art and have taken the original concept to greater levels than ever before.

We have been asked by several students to expand a little more on the history of PDR.

So this will hopefully answer a few more unknowns.  We say unknowns because many dent techs have their own unique version, or story they like to tell.

We are not historians but care very much about preserving the history of the original pioneers of this fascinating trade.

If anyone wishes to contact us with their personal experiences, or facts, about the history of paintless dent repair we would be vey happy to include them here on this page.

 

Early fluorescents & monocoque

The overhead lights (early fluorescents) you see on the photos on this page indicate that reflection has long been a way to pinpoint dents and imperfections, look at the overhead lights on the black and white pictures and then fast forward to the 21st century. Look at the Lamborghini, more lights but the principle remains the same. Reflection, reflection, reflection.

One thing for sure there are as many different ideas on PDR origins as there are ways to remove a dent.

During our infamous PDR travels to many countries we realised that in one shape or another paintless dent repair has been alive and well for well over half a century, but really only got going in its present form with the introduction of the monocoque shell i.e. cars without a proprietary chassis.

Prior to this ingenious monocoque vehicle construction method, car body work was generally considered too thick to perform quality paintless dent repairs (we can argue this point to some degree as we have witnessed PDR carried out on the thickest handmade car panels imaginable, but those are the exception rather than the rule).

 

Origins of modern PDR

So, mass production monocoque cars is really where the modern origins of PDR can be considered to date from, late 1950's but really mid 1960's would be more accurate, for the majority of todays car brands, as we know them, both in the US and the rest of Europe.

As mentioned, many theories exist on early PDR but we have seen evidence and talked to some real old timers, still able to demonstrate PDR using tools that frankly no longer resemble anything the modern dent tech would ever consider useful !

If one considers the gauge (thickness of metal) was much tougher to move in the early days, then this would explain the difference in tool design needed to move old gauge (thick), as opposed to modern gauge (thin steel sheet) being used today in the manufacture of all modern car designs.

 

The technique

In essence the technique remains the same...find the tool movement behind the panel using your preferred relection and push up the low areas and knock down the highs, whilst attempting to keep the paint finish 100% intact.

Looked at this way we can see that really it did not take a genius to work out that PDR could be used for small dents and imperfections on the early assembly lines.

So, we see that really PDR is a kind of panel beating with a mind to preserve the original paint finish.

After successful experimentation within the coach builders and later on the factories and assembly lines, each car maker would begin to experiment repairing other small knocks and dings off site, with the cars on transit to dealer networks or their esteemed customers.

These off site paintless dent repairs would be carried out, in most cases, by the same in-house panel tech (a very careful panel beater !). He would work his magic and would be held in very high regard by his peers. You need to think 1950's and 60's Rolls Royce, Bentley, Alvis, Daimler...Park Lane, Mayfair, London... aristocrats, lords and toffs, these were the type of people he would be doing the work for in those days.

The dents would be carefully removed and gradually the secret was out (so basically we have the high standards demanded by the coachbuilders and their customers  to thank for creating the original concept of onsite PDR, because the first time the 'old school' dent man left the coachbuilders location, whichever one it was, and travelled with a cloth sack of secret tools the art of modern  PDR was born). And after that ?

 

The little Italian man

Gradually stories would be told of a little Italian man (stories vary here !) working for Fiat in the 1970's who would come over to the UK for a week to work the London dealers 'dented-in-transit' stock All now classics of course, like Fiat 131 Mirafiori Sports, Dino Spiders, 124 Spiders and not forgetting the ubiquitous 130 Saloon and a little later on, the very fashionable X-19. All of these cars would have been very much in vogue in their day, aswell as being very expensive, so our little Italian friend would have been kept very busy de-denting the cars as they rolled off the ferries and transporters on their way to the 1970's show rooms.

Little by little others learned his skills and techniques, but remember these were the early days of PDR so there was still much to learn and accomplish.

 

PDR for generations to come

The fact that so many people still know nothing about the art of PDR means it remains the last unexploited area within the motor industry today. Amazingly many private individuals have never heard of PDR. That represents a wonderful opportunity to really bring it into the mainstream.

At present PDR remains an alternative dent repair method, albeit a very profitable one. It seems as if paintless dent repair is destined to remain a skill that, once learned, nobody wishes to share. We at Learn PDR Secrets predict that it will stay that way as it remains incredibly difficult to learn, unless you are let in to all the trade secrets from the start.

The best secrets, the ones that will enable you to carry out the really big dents, have remained largely a mystery over the years.

But like everything, if you know where to look you can find people with all the knowledge willing to share.

We understand that sharing all the important trade secrets responsibly with anyone that really has a passion to learn this trade, will build a network of incredible talent for future generations to come.

 

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