Written by Raymond Chan
Photography by Justin Sung and DJ Moto
One of the most dramatic things one can do to change the look of their car is to undergo a colour change. Some of the boys, in an effort to spruce up their fairly well-known cars for The-Lowdown’s Showcased event (September 8th, 2013) decided to do just that, and being the notorious “House of Last Minute”, we set ourselves a deadline of a week to complete an entire colour change on not only one, but three cars. We all knew fairly well that our panel-beating and spray-painting skills weren’t up to par to do entire resprays, so we decided on trying the latest modifying trend to rise in popularity – vinyl wrapping.
Kennedy, Alan and Joshua all knew quite well what colours they were gonna go for:
The hardest thing was probably picking the colour. There were heaps of S14s out there with many different colour schemes, but I wanted to be original. My first thought was teal, which in my eyes was quite hard to find in the right shade; the second choice was a cream colour. I started off my fascination with car modifying by playing with Civics and one of the colours which stood out for me was a cream which was a factory colour for the EF Civic. After long, comprehensive searches over the internet, I couldn’t find any S14s with that colour, so I finally made my decision with a beige/cream gloss wrap.
My fascination with mint green started mid last year upon seeing a picture of mint green Vans shoes. It quickly became my favourite colour as I spotted more and more pictures of mint green items (mostly clothing) and ultimately it became the colour that I eventually wanted to respray my car. Fast forward a year and here I was, holding a roll of mint green vinyl wrap in my hands and staring at my car not knowing where to begin.
Initially, I had planned to wrap the car gloss purple, inspired by Junzo’s widebody R32 from Japan. After days of searching, I was unable to find a shade of purple that really caught my attention. Next in line was a type of anodized, satin blue colour. I was really unsure from the pictures provided from the suppliers, but with time quickly running out I had to take the risk. To my surprise, I fell in love with the colour as soon as I pulled it out of the packaging. The pictures definitely did not do them justice!
So the order was made and we all had our fingers crossed hoping that they would come in as early as possible, so that we could get started on the wrapping straight away. Every day of the week, different members rolled up their sleeves to help out, even if it meant going to work or study with three hours of sleep, or for some of us on certain days, no sleep at all.
After all our struggles throughout the week, we ended up finishing the cars on the day of the show (two of the cars missed the previous day’s bump-in). A huge thanks goes to Sammy and Sebastien of Fitment First for taking their party time out to help us complete the wrapping! Sammy’s a signwriter by trade so wrapping was essentially his day job, and what we did in 7 hours he accomplished in 1.5 hours. You guys are always welcome in Sydney anytime!
Not even a day in, we were already annoyed by how temperamental working with vinyl was. It was all our first time at it, and armed with what little knowledge we had from researching DIY articles and YouTube videos, we just jumped straight in.
We had squeegees at hand, but ill-equipped with a blow-dryer on the first day while we waited for some of the other boys to bring in their heat guns.
Dem feels when the vinyl starts crinkling up.
Essentials for working long hours on the car.
The fifteen52 Mk5 bolt-on flares were not only the first set to land in Australia, but the first set that was actually sold by fifteen52.
They provided extra clearances of 55mm for the fronts, and 35mm for the rears.
Tony recently sold his purple EK and bought this clean NB MX5. He used some left over wrap to add eyelids. Not sure if serious…
The majority of the wrap jobs were done at the bottom level of Josh’s apartment complex carpark, five levels below street level. No reception, no distractions.
Sleep was a luxury, unless you’re Josh – ProMaster Level Wrapper.
Tools of the trade.
Left over wrap put to good use.
First few panels done!
Josh’s OSiR carbon fibre rear valence, to finish off the CF-look.
After untold hours of wrapping, we got some Pelicana fried chicken delivered. No photos of chicken as they were absolutely demolished.
Team work was essential for the perfect wrap job.
Raymond brought some of his RAW Works projects down to work on while there was idle time.
Even with half our members sick, and working full-time jobs or studying, wrapping nights usually ended around 3-4am every night for the entire week leading up to Showcased.
Concentration was needed in abundance.
Unforeseen hurdles were encountered, including prying out several smaller parts (lever and spring mechanisms from handles, antenna bases, stubborn trim clips etc.) which made the whole experience that little bit more sour.
All panels needed to be cleaned then wiped down with wax and grease remover to provide the vinyl with a good base to stick to.
Using the heat gun required experience. If you don’t heat the vinyl enough, it will not stretch as well, and will not lay down as cleanly. If you overheat the vinyl, it becomes too stretchy, and the vinyl becomes too thin, and excessive stretching introduced a mass of crinkles, discoloration and, in the worst case scenario, tear a hole right through.
There were times when we just had to sit there and think what the next step was going to be. Keep doing what we were doing and we would just be making the same mistakes time and time again.
Low cars have another benefit – roofs were relatively easier to wrap.
Sammy later told us that it was easier doing small sections at a time.
We tried our best tucking the vinyl into the door jambs.
There were times when Josh’s neighbours had to drive their cars in and out of their parking spots (where we were working), which made for some unwanted and disruptive delays.
At the end of each night (or should that be the beginning of each morning?), we still had to pack and clean everything up, as it was still a carpark used by all residents of the apartment complex. It was an unwanted necessity, as it dug into our working time.
There’s no other word for it; some panels were just a bitch…
… but there were times when shit just works out.
Ken and Lam’s better halves helped out too whenever they could.
It’s easy to get carried away and just wrap everything. Certain parts of the car received black accents, like the grille of Ken’s S14 in this case.
Ken’s car was the first to finish.
Driving into Showcased, Alan expressed the feeling that we all had: “… after all that, I stand back, look at my car in its complete entirety and think to myself, all this hard work has finally paid off!”
Regardless of the struggles and hardships encountered, we not only gained a wealth of valuable skills and techniques in the process, but we also bonded closer and worked as a team. When it comes to the scene that we are in, it extends further than just the cars we drive, but the people we drive our cars with, making the end product that little bit sweeter.