How to wrap a car: the art of transforming the car wrapping

Thirty years ago, if you wanted your Ford Sierra or Vauxhall Cavalier stand out, to have reached for a roll of pinstripe.

Body panels were not curvy, so it was easy to apply. I remember, as a car salesman in 1988, the application of parallel lines of gold ribbon on a new Fiat tipo 1.4 to Kermit green. It looked like a proper eyeful.

Around the same time, 100 miles away, south of London, a guy called Sean Davis was around to car dealers and pinstriping car from the back of his van. A Ford dealer wanted him to stripe 100 Parties had called ” Hip, Hop, Pop’ special.

Davis must have been pretty good, because, three decades later, is still sticking stuff to the car, only the rolls of pinstripe have given way to huge sheets of coloured vinyl, and the engines are a little more expensive. When I visit him at his business, Creative FX, with headquarters in the old Lola works in Bromley, his team is finishing up a new Audi S5 wrapped in Nardo Grey. To my eyes, it is quite sad shadow; but, for the car owner, it is worth every penny of the £2600 it cost him.

“He loves Nardo Grey, but it is only available on the RS 5, so he had to have it as a wrap,” explains Davis.

Audi official optional colours and finishes for the S5 has a cost of £645, and then, you can take the wrap has a cost of £2000. The work is guaranteed for five years.

Personally, I would have spent the money for the S5 is optional the Light and Vision pack (£750), and the Comfort and Sound pack (£1295). But in order not to lose the point of winding, that is to get noticed.

It is so popular in the UK, a couple of years ago, the DVLA has ruled that the owner must notify by wrapping the entire vehicle.

Every year, the world’s best wrapper, to compete in the Fespa World Wrap Masters Series. Jonas Sjöström won the title this year and a cheque for £2500. Part of his challenge was to wrap both of a Formula 4 race car and one side of a boat in 60 minutes.

Davis installers take a little bit more: depending on the job, about three days to make a machine. Work alone or together, you will be at the head of six this week. Last week, they worked from Monday to Sunday, from 8am until 8pm. Alongside the S5 is a Mazda MX-5 RF undergoing a bright green, satin wrap. It’s called Pure Luck, and Green, as Nardo Grey is very popular. It is applied by the equipment assistant Stuart Roberts, under the watchful gaze of his manager, Tony Cook.

I am amazed that to wrap the MX-5, Roberts has removed the door handles, wing mirrors and front and rear bumpers – but, says Tony, is the only way to ensure proper coverage and a perfect fit. It also means the wrap can be cut in a discrete manner between the panel gaps and soft panel seams hidden from view, rather than on the bodywork.

Where the cut such as this is not possible, using knifeless cutting tape, such as Cooking shows on the Huracán has been partially winding. He wrapped part of the door where the angle changes. Cutting here will mark the paint but there is a wire that extends from the head. Bake the rolls, and, like a cheese cutter it slices cleanly through the vinyl for a perfect finish.

The MX-5, S5, Huracán – you’d be forgiven for thinking of vinyl wrapping was invented for the entertainment of people in search of attention. In fact, it started in Germany in the early 1990s as a way to meet an old law requiring all taxis to be beige colored. The first vinyl has arrived, taxis are sprayed beige, only for it to be resprayed more attractive colors when it was time to sell.

The arrival to the packaging to avoid all that hassle because now you can order taxis in an eye-catching color from the factory and then give a beige head. At the end of the car’s working life, it is simply peeled.

If a Stuttgart taxi driver… I interrupt Roberts to ask him if I can wrap up the MX-5, with the rear wing. He hands me a roll of vinyl, a squeegee and a bottle of detergent. Call my best pinstriping skills, I have skillfully work the vinyl over the surface, stroking away air bubbles with the squeegee. Things are going well until I noticed a crease developing that, if correct, will leave me short of the wheel arches. Is that my phone ringing?

Roberts says he likes the sense of satisfaction when a difficult to wrap comes the good. You need to be agile, however. In addition, the Huracán, Cook was lying on the floor for 15 minutes, patiently for the packaging of one of its rear air ducts.

His owner will never know how cleverly his Lambo was wrapped. On the other hand, unless Roberts can cover my tracks, the owner of the MX-5 will be coming after me with something harder than a roll of vinyl.

It’s a wrap (more or less):

Wrapping a car is a job best left to the professionals who have had years of training. Something can go wrong. If the car has been resprayed or has rust patches, there is a danger that, when the vinyl is removed, you can take the paint and paint. If you overheat the vinyl when posing, you could burn the paint, causing it to lift. Clumsy with a knife? You could cut your fingers to ribbons with the blade. Still, if you have an old banger to practice…

Make sure that the room is between 18-24deg C, well lit and clean. The panel can be cleaned with an alcohol based cleaner to ensure that the vinyl sticks. Take your pre-cut wrap – ideally, a service of high quality, non-porous cast vinyl – and lay it on the panel.

A little, smooth down the vinyl with a spatula. To encourage the vinyl to stretch and sit tight on any side dishes, warm briefly with a heat gun. Remove any excess with a blade. You’re trying to score, not cut, using the weight of the blade. Cut to the inside of the panel gaps and the seams, rather than on the edge of gaps or on the surface of the panel.

John Evans

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