Style is such a personal thing. It can be bold and funky or classic and minimalist. It can look like a tailored suit or a striking tattoo. Most of us pay some attention to style in our wardrobes and homes, but what about boosting the personal panache of your vehicle? Vehicle wrapping allows you to do just that. And, unlike a custom paint job, it’s a temporary affair, so as your style evolves, so too can your car’s.

One of the best things about vehicle wrapping, says Tyrone Carboni, founder and owner of GFX Design, is that the only limit is your imagination. “Wrapping is huge in the US market,” he says. “We’re still a bit behind in South Africa, but we’re catching up. People are definitely becoming more adventurous.”

He says the trend in South Africa for privately owned cars (as opposed to business-use vehicles) is currently still towards changing a vehicle’s colour (for example, taking a white car to matt black or satin blue). There are literally hundreds of colours available from reputable wrapping film suppliers like 3M. However, a solid colour is not the only option – Carboni says that his company recently did a white-to-black-fade wrap, and that car owners can literally have anything they want printed on to a wrap, whether it’s a camo print or a custom design. “You also don’t have to wrap the whole car,” he says. “You could just do a racing stripe or a die-cut design of your choice.”

Chris Leeson, owner of Cazz Mania Signz, says that vehicle wrapping is a quick, easy and fairly cost-effective way to customise a car. His company has done wraps for the likes of Cassper Nyovest (who has a preference for Bentleys), DJ Fresh and Black Coffee, among others. “It’s a bit different in South Africa to the US or Europe, in that our wrap shops here offer a turnkey service, whereas over there you’ll have three different companies working on one car – the design shop, print shop and wrap shop,” he says. “It’s a bit more time-consuming the way we do it, but it means one point of contact for the customer, and we try to make it as easy as possible, so we’ll send out a flatbed truck to fetch their vehicle and then deliver it back to the customer when the vehicle is complete. Make sure that you get a referral for a good wrap shop, and ask about training and accreditation.”

He adds that wrapping is not just for the exterior of the car. “We can also wrap interior components and panels, so if you want a carbon-fibre look or your kids’ favourite cartoon characters on your door panels and steering wheel, we can do that for you. We can even wrap your boat or your fridge!”

We can also wrap interior components and panels, so if you want a carbon-fibre look or your kids’ favourite cartoon characters on your door panels and steering wheel, we can do that for you.

What you need to know

Carboni says that when it comes to wrapping, it’s important to use a quality product and have it applied by someone who knows what they’re doing. “Ask about the films that the company is using – what the warranty is on them. Do your research and talk to a few companies, and ask to see examples and references. In this industry, we get what you pay for. Bear in mind that what you want will also impact the cost. To wrap a BMW 3 Series in a standard metallic colour, you’re looking at roughly R17 000 to R19 000. For the same car, a gloss black metallic wrap will cost in the region of R20 000, and a gloss black chrome wrap will be somewhere between R50 000 and R60 000.”

Leeson adds that the film is only about 60 microns thick, so while it will protect your car’s paint from UV damage, it won’t save it from stone chips. He says, however, that many insurers are now offering the option to insure your car’s wrap for a small extra monthly fee. It’s important, he notes, to flag the fact that you have wrapped your car with your insurer. “If your car gets stolen and it’s listed as a white Mercedes, but you’ve had it wrapped in matt blue, your insurer needs to know.”

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Leeson says that for specific hard-wearing applications (for example, on a racing car that’s had its catalytic converter removed, which means the bodywork is exposed to corrosive fumes), products are available to protect the wrap, such as a paint-on ceramic coating.

You can literally have anything you want printed on to a vehicle wrap, whether it’s a camo print or a custom design.

Important

While wrapping can add personal flair, it’s not a quick fix for problematic paint. “People think they can hide damage to a car’s paint with a wrap, but it actually accentuates it,” Leeson says. “If the integrity of the car’s paint is already compromised, wrapping can cause further damage.”

Carboni says it’s important for customers to disclose as much information as possible to the wrap shop. “If your car has been in an accident and been resprayed, it’s important to let us know, or if you’re going to park your car outside in full sun every day, which can cause fading,” he says.

UV desaturation (aka colour fading) is more problematic in colours in the red spectrum (browns, oranges and reds), on paint and wraps. But, Carboni says, if you take good care of the car – park it under cover and wash it once a week – a quality wrap can last for five to seven years. The beauty is that if you get bored of your wrap after three, you can remove it or even choose a new one completely.

For inspiration on what’s possible with vehicle wrapping and customisation, check out Skepple or Google the Gumball 3000.

Get in touch

GFX Design: Tyrone Carboni, 084 528 7528, ty@gfxdesign.co.za, www.gfxdesign.co.za

Cazz Mania Signz: Chris Leeson, 082 602 1836, chris@cazzmania.co.za, www.cazzmania.co.za