The Odd Couple

Paint and wraps can not only co-exist; they can even be friends.
Vehicles + Vinyl: Palmer Signs, Wraps Ink prove paint and wraps can co-exist

As far as most shops are probably concerned, wraps and paint occupy opposite ends of the detailers’ arena. Customers typically choose one or the other. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Paint and wrap vinyl can get along, and in some cases– as in the ’60s film and ’70s television series – become best buds.


Having been hooked by Palmer Signs’ (Roseville, CA) social media, longtime ’67 Mustang tribute car owner Matt Harms came calling for a wrap to complete his vehicle’s recent restoration. “The exterior of the car was unpainted when we received it,” shop owner Tony Palmer said. “We [then spoke] several times on the phone about the best way to wrap a classic car.” The challenge with most classic cars, as he explained, is the lack of body seams to break the wrap material. Many classics sport fewer total panels, or their panels are wider than 60 in. “So we find creative or strategic ways to hide the seams,” Tony said.

But that wasn’t going to be the only hitch. Though settling on the main color (3M’s 1080 G13 Gloss Hot Rod Red) presented no trouble, Tony discovered during one conversation that Matt intended to race the car. “Knowing the door jams would be exposed to lots of abuse,” Tony recalled, “we suggested he just paint the door jams to match the Hot Rod Red wrap.” This required the rather unusual sequence of a paint being mixed to match an existing, glossy color-change film, then applied to the door jams, and inside the hood and trunk lids. Doing this ensured a perfect match and great longevity in these high-wear areas, Tony said.

Then it was on to hiding the seams. In this case, the Palmer Signs team used rally stripes made of 3M 1080 Satin Black to overlay the seams on the body. The resulting combination of paint, vinyl and stripes created a beautiful, durable wrap that will race through the smoke and fury of the track and still look like wet paint up close. 

“These cars are always a puzzle,” Tony said. “The one thing I have learned with the classic car people is to charge 30% more than you would on a regular wrap. That way you are not frustrated with the attention to detail some clients have.” Oh, really? “Trust me,” Tony said. “They are ecstatic to pay $5-6k for a nice wrap when they were ready to pay $10-12k on a paint job.”


Wraps Ink wrapped this GMC Yukon in time for the vehicle to appear at the local NASCAR race.
Wraps Ink wrapped this GMC Yukon in time for the vehicle to appear at the local NASCAR race.

Even simpler jobs can see paint and vinyl as not only compatible, but as the perfect blend. Fayetteville Motor Speedway, a dirt track in North Carolina, sped over to Wraps Ink (Murrells Inlet, SC) in their 2012 GMC Yukon for a wrap in time to appear at the Coca Cola 600 in neighboring Charlotte. “The customer had a tight deadline and a smaller budget,” said Brent Tatum, owner of Wraps Ink. “He said he ultimately would like a complete wrap on the vehicle, but had not really planned for it in their budget for that year and asked what other options he had.” Knowing the vehicle was black and their logo was red, white and black prompted Brent to offer a partial wrap that still would present the visual impact of a full one.

“Going into the design process, we knew there were areas of the truck that had to be avoided to save on time and material,” Brent said. “In this case, we used the color of the truck to our advantage by incorporating black stripes throughout the wrap. This allowed us to have the actual wrap covering only 75% of the vehicle.” Wraps Ink designed with a BadWrap template in Photoshop, then moved into SA International’s Flexi to scale it up and print it on Avery Dennison MPI 1105 film using the shop’s HP Latex 365. They then applied Avery Dennison DOL 1300Z laminate via their enduraLAM cold laminator.

Even at three-quarters coverage, the shop’s prep and install time were only half that of a full wrap. “We didn’t have to remove much of the hardware that we normally would on a complete wrap,” Brent said, noting three key areas that take a lot of time: the front and rear bumpers, and the hood. 

The average person really can’t tell the difference between a well-designed partial wrap and a complete wrap, Brent said, so using a vehicle’s original color will save your shop time and your customer money. Not such an odd couple after all.