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Five steps to adding pinstriping services to your shop

Friday, July 21, 2017 - 06:00
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American motorists looking for a standout, one-of-a-kind ride face an interesting dilemma. On one hand, the U.S. auto market is built on selling individuality. With several dozen automotive brands typically offering an average of ten models, each with available sub-models and styling packages in a host of colors, buyers are almost guaranteed to find a unique vehicle to park in their driveways.

At the same time, with millions of consumers purchasing millions of vehicles, all this uniqueness quickly recedes once similar cars and trucks invade the neighborhood. Add to this picture the fact that most automotive styles fade in distinctiveness over time, and these same motorists usually are left with a once-terrific looking vehicle that just doesn’t inspire the awe it once did.

Owners can pump new oomph into these vehicles with custom paint or wheels or other aftermarket offerings, but costs here can put those solutions beyond many drivers. For these folks, another potential answer remains—pinstriping.   

(Photo courtesy of Dodge Media) New and newer vehicles with throwback looks like the Dodge Challenger are prime candidates for pinstriping services.

Once mainly a hallmark of the custom hot rod crowd, pinstriping is making a comeback in the traditional vehicle market. With many newer models providing throwback looks or edgy styling cues, pinstriping can be just the ticket to refreshing the appearance of a hot vehicle, dressing up an aging ride a proud owner wants to hold onto to and putting some juice into the dependable family hauler being handed off to a less than enthusiastic new driver.

Better yet, it’s affordable, and your shop—with a little guidance—can be offering this service tomorrow. Here are five steps to adding pinstriping to your arsenal of awesome appearance enhancers.

Step 1. Reset your thinking. Pinstriping involves far more than simply applying stripes to a car or flames on a street rod. The Eastwood Company has spent years selling pinstriping equipment. They break down pinstriping into three different methods.

Mechanical. Automation meets artistry with mechanical pinstripers that help ease some of the physical stress associated with this service. Best suited for trucks, vans and larger vehicles, a mechanical pinstriper allows workers to apply stripes of consistent width so they can focus more on keeping stripe contour aligned with the vehicle surface.

Stencil Tape. Stencil tapes can be used for practically all striping services. As their name suggests, these are stencils you apply to a vehicle and then paint within before removing the tape. Stencil tapes come in a variety of colors and styles and can be applied while other stripes are drying, greatly reducing service times.

Freehand. The most difficult and advanced method, freehand provides the most options and artistry since it allows shops to move beyond standard stencils and stead create stripe designs that are limited only by the imagination.

There’s also the type you’re probably most familiar with—traditional adhesive stripes, especially those made of vinyl. With many DIY kits available and these stripes sometimes available from dealers as part of new car packages, your best bet probably is to cover as many pinstriping options as possible.

Step 2. Hire the right pinstripe artist. The term artist isn’t a mistake. You’ll want pinstripe services to be performed by someone with some artistic flair who can both work with customers to determine the best options for their vehicles.

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Michael Murray, a pinstriping expert who’s been in the business for 59 years and recently was asked to pinstripe a 1903 Ford (the oldest model in existance) for an international exhibition, notes that certain pinstripe colors are better matches for specific vehicle types. “For classy cars let's say a dark blue Benz or BMW I'd use a medium grey single stripe. For a hot rod, you want light it up: Lime green on black, or I could use red, orange or medium blue,” Murray explains. “The darker the background the more color choices you have. For pin stripe designs on hoods, trucks, over the head lights, etc., I use two and three colors. Flames can be outlined in one or two colors.”

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