I was heart broken when I overheard a five year old who was pointing at my car in Sainsbury’s carpark in Stroud: “Dad, Dad, look, a racing car!”
Then Dad says, “That’s just a wrap, son.”
Let’s be clear. This is not a wrap. It’s paint. A bit of blood, sweat and tears too, but mostly paint. But ok, it’s not racing car either, really. Until I race it that is.
The great thing about my job is I get to collect and deliver customer’s cars. It means I get to test out whether a car drives as well as it looks. For a while now Jim and me have been looking for a MkI Audi TT. I’ve loved the style and lines of that car, since it first came out over 20 years ago. We think it has stood the test of time too. Having repaired a few (bodywork), driving them always seemed to put a smile on my face. Jim was very keen to remap the 225bhp engine and use the car to promote his skills. It ticked all his boxes – it was German, turbo-charged, and a tried and tested engine that had been used in lots of VAG applications (Jim’s words not mine 🙂 ).
Once we discovered what good value they were, finding a good one became the focus of my next project. I was particularly keen to find one with an unusual body kit, and this one didn’t let us down. The kit was huge, and although the alloys were not exactly to our liking, they were black and mean. I decided that I wanted to increase the black along the arches and sills on one side. I was also looking for an asymmetric look – so it looked like the car was being thrown around a corner. I taped out the lines I wanted to use and photographed it.
Using a very crude computer tool, I drew on some colours. Well – black, grey and light grey. There was two things I was keen to do: use up obsolete paints (rather than chuck them into land fill); and practice my ‘smoke/flames’ skills. Having sprayed a whole Jaguar with flames, I wanted to make reference to it somehow.
Learning from the Jaguar experience, I knew that respraying a whole car, all at once, was a real challenge. Especially as we don’t have a spray booth. We are ‘SMART’ repairers, and as I am always telling my customers, we don’t do full resprays and we rarely do bonnets or roofs because of this. By dividing up the panels leaving one inch gaps down the lines, I could use regular masking tape, and work on the car, a section at a time.
(Oh and we mounted a second crazy spoiler on the back, just in case anyone accused us of taking ourselves too seriously!)
Another reason that I kept the plans fairly monochromatic was because we were waiting for our branding agency to come up with some cool colours for our mapping business, Miles Better. I decided that I would use tape in the inch wide gaps in whatever colour the company would become. The smokey flame sections were made using freehand strokes with a 0.4 tip in my Iwata LPH80 gun, combined with French curl stencils.
After a few weeks the paintwork was finished. Jim remapped her and she accelerated beautifully with her 260 horses under the bonnet. I began applying the tape in the gaps. Cheap tape from China at first. Then more expensive 3M tape. Some reflective tape. Nothing worked at all. It just wouldn’t bend around the curves – even the narrowest tape. Nevertheless I added the decals for both our businesses, and a few more besides. And got new curb protectors in orange – the new accent colour for Miles Better.
Although the car didn’t look half bad in photos, close up the finish was bad. My son started calling it my “Shittape car.” Not good. Luckily the lacquer had cured long enough for me to re-mask the whole car and having colour matched a reflective orange (from my favourite tape), I made the paint up by eye and sprayed the lines up instead – using a red translucent pearl coat on top at the front for good measure.
The picture below is of the Shittape car – I have yet to do a proper photo shoot of the car (I am waiting to take her on a track and race her) – but look out for us driving around Stroud (it is currently our daily runner) but please, please, don’t call it a wrap!