Paint Is Dead: Wrap It Up!
text size: A- A+
But first ask yourself this: in a perfect world, are not all cars supposed to be just as unique as their owners? Of course they should be, but in reality all we get for our money is a bunch of graduated grays with stupid names that hide a distinct lack of imagination.
And even when we’re offered a choice of more interesting colors, they come with a huge additional cost for the buyer. Even for a relatively affordable Renault Clio RS, special paint can cost well over €1,000. Yes, or as much as a bad second-hand car just for a some paint on a hot supermini. And don’t get me started on the way the Germans do business.
You just click a button for another shade of color in the configurator, and it instantly adds €5,000 to the list. Aren’t cars supposed to come with paint anyway? How can they charge so much!
And yes, I know that every new color has to be first approved by a committee, then engineered, batch tested to ensure it covers both metal and plastic, and afterwards worked into an assembly line. But what if there was another way!
From Russia, to Dubai and Miami, everybody is jumping with joy because the aftermarket industry offers a really cool alternative to paintjobs. It’s called vinyl wrapping, and from chrome to matte finishes, the possibilities are endless.
Of course, the process isn’t perfect, but then nothing is, and you have to see this as a new industry. Companies that used to wrap commercial vehicles into rolling billboards are common and while they have some experience, we would strongly recommend a true specialist, the kind that deals with Astons and Ferraris. You don’t need any big logos, no Japanese graphics or dragons. Just add color and enjoy!
We’ve had one of our own vehicles wrapped in matte black. The overall look is imposing, but the execution is, of course, not without flaws. We called this a learning experience, but let’s consider the alternative for a second. With a non-factory paintjob, you have to worry about the paint running if the mixture is too thick, that the wet sanding will burn it, and let’s not forget about paint blisters.
No such problems with wraps. All the big sheets of vinyl are made in the same factory under the same conditions. If you damage a fender and have to paint it, matching tones of paint is a nightmare, but you can forget about all that with wrap.
Manufacturers are jumping onto this bandwagon as well. The limited edition Ford Focus RS500 was wrapped, not painted, in matte black, while BMW wrapped one of its special editions in “Frozen Red” because it couldn’t get the matte finish with paint.
Sometimes, there are finishes you can’t get with paint - gold, chrome, brushed aluminum or even alligator skin imitation. I believe that fluorescent materials are viable, and it’s only a matter of time before supercars glow in the dark.
Painting a car in you wife’s favorite shade of pink is a very nice gesture, but also stupid financially speaking. In some cases, a car’s resale value can even be halved by a stupid paintjob, but with wraps you can just rip them off and the paint is intact underneath. Word of warning though: I’ve heard of cases where the material just wouldn’t come off, so make sure you go to the pros!
The way I see it, some people… some rich people just need something that makes others go “OMG, what’s that?” but don’t necessarily want to stick with Kermit The Frog Green or Army Camouflage forever. If they don’t like it, they can just pull the vinyl off.
As far as I know, wraps are already a big thing in racing, as they allow quick changes in sponsors. If it’s good enough for a 458 Challenge, it’s good enough for a Ford Mondeo, I think! We’ve only just begun to see the possibilities, and I expect in a couple of years everybody will realize the benefits.
I don’t want to take away from the fantastic finishes on some of the exotic cars out there. But paint only needs to be a base coat to protect the metal if you want it to be. You should just be able to go to that Renault dealer and ask him to make a photo collage of all your Facebook friends instead of him charging you €1,000 for some yellow paint.
UP NEXT: Lada Uses Active Aerodynamics to Stop [Video] Tip: navigate with ← and →
Cars we've tested recently
all testdrives →