First, welcome to the "Do-it-yourself" club
Now, to get the finish of your 550, you're going to hear all kinds of advise on stripers. While a chemical soloution is faster, I have found that half a day and a sanding block to produce the best results.
I would recommend this, because it sounds as though you are going to re-paint. You will not need to strip the body to bare wood. All you'll need to do is remove the clear coat layer.
Start with 100 grit. The sides and cut aways will have to be done by hand and this will take some time.
Once the clear coat is removed, switch to 200 grit and spend some time with it applying light pressure. You will notice in some spots that you are removing some color. Don't panic....there is still a sealer coat beneath that. It's OK.
Then switch to 300 grit as a final sanding before applying the new color. Again, let the weight of the block do most of the work.
As for the color you describe, try satin black. will you be clear coating? I would let the pros do that, but some here have done it with great results.
Good luck and show us some pics :biggrin:
(Edited by Jimm VeuCasovic at 9:30 pm on Dec. 30, 2000)