Car Skins: Reversible Cosmetic Surgery?
When we live in an age where a seventh of the earth’s population is living vicariously on Facebook, the most savvy of marketers understand their goal lies in how best to exploit the power of narcissism and celebrity obsession through social and popular media. That means they also know how there is virtually no one today who’s interested in looking just like everybody else. Being able to personalise the way we live or look today is paramount to presenting our unique identity to the world, to express who we think we are or wish to become.
Our world is changing so fast that one re-invents themselves daily beyond just our outer physical appearances. Nearly everything in our possession seems to need a new shade or design for each day of the week depending on our moods. Everything from nail art to mobile phone and iPad skins are helping to keep consumers from the doom of banality.
And in the auto world, you can now personalise the original appearance of your vehicle with new interchangeable skins—step into the world of CAR WRAPS. Who can forget the 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse that gave Vin Diesel a run for his money…literally? Driven by the late actor Paul Walker, it featured a bright neon green body, a striking blue and white brush stroke resembling an eagle’s wing on its doors extending to its back, meeting the spoiler. The success of the Fast & Furious movie franchise lies in scenes like that—ridiculously sleek, mean, striking-looking airbrushed high speed racing cars in rainbow colours doing their ridiculous stunts. We all love some unreal frivolity that have us craving for more eye candy…in the form of awesome graphics or special effect colours on our cars. How did you think this craze started?
We’ve all probably been exposed to printed vinyl wraps on transport vehicles longer than we’ve cared to notice—on our buses, trains and most commonly, taxis. The idea of a car wrap is similar, but stemmed from similar technology. Decades of installing eye-catching graphics on large mobile billboards are today still proven to be an extremely effective advertising medium.
But what if we focus on car wraps for purely (non-commercial) cosmetic reasons as opposed to thinking of a car paint job as the only means to customise the appearance of a car? Or a boat, or truck or bike? Like the rising popularity of cosmetic surgery to rectify physical flaws, why not the same for vehicles that did not come factory-fitted in the colour or texture one prefers.
Love it or hate it, what used to only be a common sight on super performance wheels, custom car skins have become a blazing trend for the ordinary road motorist. What is a car wrap? It is simply a non-permanent surface treatment in the form of a heavy duty vinyl covering that either partially or completely covers the exterior of a vehicle by changing the finish, colour or design of its existing panels. Interior wraps are also offered but they are less popular. The question remains—do custom car wraps really beat custom paint jobs in durability, quality, cost, turnaround time, resale value and maintenance?
Car Skins and Wrapping Materials
Professionally applied car wrap vinyl materials have come a long way and now claim to rival a custom paint job, with 3M leading the market for car wrapping customisation in the form of either digitally printable graphics or colour swatches and special effects to suit every taste and vehicle design. You can now create a distinctive ‘skin’ over the surface of your original vehicle colour with wrap films that are available in amazing choices. Car wrap films have varying degrees of warranty and quality proportionate to your wallet size and come in a dazzling array of colours and textures—e.g. high gloss, matte colours, brushed metal and even those that mimic carbon fibre. Matte black is reportedly very popular for its ‘stealth’ look, followed by shiny reflective chrome, a favourite for sporty exotic models. My favourite must be the ‘variochrome’ range of chameleon-like colours that could go all the whole spectrum of colours from brown-gold to blue-green-pink. There are frosty or brushed metallics and everything in between from pearlescent hues to gunmetal matte metallic and countless more.
Test of Durability
High quality materials and professional installation will help ensure your new ‘second skin’ will withstand the abuse of scratches, grime and road tar, including resistance to fading and oxidation under harsh weather conditions. Slight damages are easily repaired by sections at a much lower cost than a re-paint job. Warranties vary as widely as the spectrums of quality you can find but on average, four years is a good ballpark life expectancy of a daily driven wrapped vehicle. Some can last up to as long as 7 years or more, depending on storage as well as wear and tear from daily use.
Again, the question of money varies depending on the quality of the wrap film brand and how professional the installation gets. A high-quality custom paint job could cost up to $10,000 or more, and the price climbs higher with airbrushed graphics. These days a wholly custom-printed vehicle wrap with graphics is a great substitute for the expensive airbrush job, at only a fraction of the cost of real paint. Besides, it is much less complicated and quicker to have it changed like the skin on your mobile phone!
A paint job can leave you grunting on public transport for up to weeks as your vehicle is garaged at the paint shop. Why put up with it when you can drive away your spruced up wrapped car within a couple of days at most.
What’s involved in maintaining your beautiful new skin? These days, quality finishes like UV protection is added to wrap films to ensure protection from harsh elements. What’s more, you’ll never need to wax it again!
Preserve Your Vehicle & Its Resale Value
Any permanent cosmetic changes applied to your vehicle will greatly affect its future resale value. Even a colour change could swing the buyer toward or away from the purchase decision. It’s been said that no matter how repulsive the original colour, a vehicle repainted with colour change will almost never increase the value of the car. Here’s the added beauty of your new car wrap. It not only helps conserve the original paintwork of a vehicle and its finishes, its non-permanent nature ensures you’ll be preserving your resale value. All it needs is a speedy unwrapping to get back to its pristine original colour.
Looks like a custom wrap is the way to go doesn’t it? Well, as with everything, nothing is perfect and it has its lows. Vehicle wraps require a dip in your pocket for quite a substantial upfront ‘after-market’ investment depending on your needs. If the job is complicated enough, it can stretch your budget to parallel a paint job. They also need proper care and ‘touch-less’ washing if you’re using commercial washing services. The more precious your vehicle, the more you’ll want to ensure it is in the good hands of qualified specialist technicians. The risks of removing individual panels and components like door handles, lights and other electronic parts for a quality wrapping process can become a real issue unless the installer you’re using is certified to handle your exotic or luxury vehicle.
To wrap or not to wrap, that is the question. Our advice is to shop well before you commit, just as you should before deciding on the best car financing options for your customised car of choice. There is after all, definitely one to suit not just anyone but you. Call one of our consultants at 360 today.