It’s been almost three weeks since I bought this new Camaro. As regular readers know, this was my second choice car since the one I ordered was not able to be built. While the Rapid Blue Camaro I ordered would have been unique, this white one does allow me to add some personal touches. This is important because not everyone can own the car of their dreams. What you can do, though, is make it one!
Last week I shared a cheap and easy way to change the color of emblems on your car. This week, I’m adding some custom graphics using the same vinyl that professionals use to wrap a car. Like the emblem color change, this modification is inexpensive. It takes a little more patience and imagination, but is doable for any skill level.
Find Your Inspiration
Inspiration comes from many places when you embark on a custom design for your car. I always start with the manufacturer’s website to see what factory designs are available. In my case, Chevrolet offers several vinyl graphic options, however, none spoke to me.
Etsy is another great site to check. Many sellers offer great options for your consideration. If you find one that suits your needs, buy it. You are halfway there to having a new look for your car.
When I was a teen in the late 1970s, my favorite car was the Z28 Camaro. I really liked the 1978 model, which was the first year Chevrolet included the louvered vents on the fenders. Those vents filled the big void between the door and the wheel opening, and looked cool as well. This design feature has been stuck in my head for years, so it made sense that I take it and evolve it for the modern day Camaro.
Materials and Equipment
For more than five years, I have been using a vinyl wrap made by VViViD Vinyl Wrap. They offer many color and sheen options for a reasonable price. I typically buy their wraps in the 12” x 60” rolls, which are available through Amazon.com for around $10. That’s a great deal!
The VViViD wrap is extremely easy to cut and apply, In fact, it is designed so that you can reposition it and smooth out any wrinkles during application. Once in place, it has great holding power.
In addition to the wrap, I like to use single edge razor blades to cut the vinyl. You can find these blades at any hardware store or online. That works great for straight lines when using a ruler or other straight edge.
For curves, buy a high quality pair of scissors. You’ll thank me later. Be sure to use a cutting mat to ensure both a smooth cut and to protect your furniture. I bought the Fiskars Self Healing Cutting Mat and love it.
For my project, I used three different colors for the stripes. I cut a three-inch wide strip in each color, then taped them on the area to be customized. The blue painter’s tape is ideal for this step–it peels away without leaving a residue.
You will likely move your design around before making the final application. After using the blue tape to mark my base, I tried different stripe locations along that tape until I got the spacing right. I walked away a couple of times to get a fresh perspective, and even called my wife out to the garage for her thoughts. Once I felt good about the stripe location, I removed the backing paper and applied the vinyl.
Be sure to clean the area where the vinyl will be installed. I use rubbing alcohol to remove grease and wax. This will insure good adhesion of the vinyl.
Final Thoughts & Questions
I’m pretty happy with the results, and feel I achieved my goal of blending the original fender vents design from the 1978 Z28 with a modern fender hash mark. For the eagle-eyed reader, I also added the “2.0T” badge to the hood bulge. I found that on Amazon.com for $13 each (I bought three–two for the hood, one for the rear bumper).
The beauty of vinyl wrap is that it can be removed at any time without damaging the paint. That usually involves a little heat to soften the adhesive, but nothing too crazy. Based on my track record, it is very likely I will make design changes in the future.