Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Olivetti Lettera 35 - Revisited and reinvented in RED

If you have been fortunate enough to receive Christmas greetings from our own esteemed Richard Polt, you would have noticed that he is once again showing off his prowess in customizing timeless classics - his '58 Hermes 3000 is painted a stunning silver. I shall leave it up to him to display this on Writing Ball, while offering up our latest in-house work painting an Olivetti Lettera 35.

This is one of the typewriters we've been looking to part with, and we decided to see what it looked like in bright red. It's a natural color for this machine, I think - Olivetti offered several red typewriters including the Lettera 25, the Lettera 31, and of course the Valentine. Pink Lettera 22s, while rare, have been occasionally spotted. Besides, red is a classic Christmas color and very apt for this time of the year. Here's what it looked like before:

And now, after:

The Lettera 35 has a clamshell body that is fairly simple to take apart and put back together, making it an excellent candidate for a paint job. The original dull taupe color is the perfect base on which to apply a vibrant hue of your choosing. We just happen to think everything goes well with red! I think it makes for a pretty original gift idea.


  1. Very nicely done. I don't know how much of the Lettera's body is plastic, but if all of it is you could also stain it with automotive vinyl stain. I haven't tried this, but it won;t chip or flake like some paints. There are also some really interesting plastic-bonding paints out there. The world is a colorful oyster for typewriter customizers.

  2. A vast improvement! Nice.

    I will post something on WB soon about the Hermes.

  3. Ryan - the Lettera is all metal, I'm afraid, and heavy moulded cast aluminum at that. The spray paint worked quite well here. I have other plastic typewriters that I've been wanting to try the plastic-bonding paints on, but haven't quite worked up the nerve. In any case, I didn't see many options in the local d-i-y shop besides gray and black (they were in the auto section), so I'll keep an eye out.

    Richard - that Hermes color is so... unexpected! It reminds me of your nickeled Oliver no. 5, somewhat. Very interesting choice.

  4. I once had an Underwood 319 which was the same style and color as this Lettera, and it was one ugly machine. Your red paint job really improves this 1,000 percent.

  5. This thing looks awesome. Which kind of color did you use to achieve this shiny metal red?

  6. That's great Now I can go to my local retro dealer who has one on glorious beige, and say that "actually, these came in all kinds of colours, red, racing green etc" and get him down from the stupid 45 pound sterling he thinks he can get to a more modest 10 (which is probably much closer to what he bought it for)... don't hold yer horses though!!! :-)

  7. Hi. I'm planning to paint my Lettera 35 as well. What did you do to prepare the metal? Did you just lightly sand it? Prime it? Degloss it before all that? Any other potential issues I should watch out for before I take off the metal body? Thank you, and sorry if you get this twice!


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