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Everyone knows the coolest car in town is one of those limited-edition, factory specials. Unfortunately the reality is, they’re typically not much more than a seat insignia, a set of re-styled wheels along with a custom stripe or accent package.

Sure these factory specials have added panache, however it’s hard to justify the big jump in sticker price for such a modest array of options? Worse still, you soon realise, Knuckle Head up the street, has the exact, same Limited Edition as you! Don’t fret, thanks to Designer Wraps, DesignLine Knifeless tape and bit of imagination you can add some attention grabbing custom stripes or accents and create your very own factory special for a fraction of the cost. A true one-off, with excellent bang for buck; talk about win, win!

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DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Straight up, those cars with full body wraps – forget it. That’s a very, very difficult undertaking and should only be attempted by experienced professionals. Even a full bonnet wrap is probably best left to advanced, or experienced DIYers. On the other hand, an innovative set of stripes or accents is well within the scope of a handy DIYer.

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MAXIMUM IMPACT

The key to creating a set of killer custom stripes or accents, capable of transforming your ride into the envy of everyone, is coming up with a good design – which requires inspiration. This is a tough ask for many of us mere mortals, here’s where existing factory designs can be a great starting point. There’s no harm in flat out copying your favourite design, however you can often use aspects of their design to get your creative juices flowing. The internet is another great resource, with literally thousands of designs to inspire you. Typically, the best-looking designs follow the car’s natural body lines – complimenting them, rather than clashing with them. A good tip is to take some photos of your car, print them out and break out the coloured marker pens.

Think laterally. As well as traditional mono-colour stripes and accents, trend setting, two-tone designs can also be achieved using the innovative DesignLine Knifeless tape (see step-by-step). As well as being available in an array of matt and satin colours, another key feature is Designer Wraps’ range of carbon fibre and brushed-metal textured finishes – try finding something like that on any of those premium-priced factory specials!

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SMOOTH APPLICATION

Thanks to the film’s innovative, pressure-activated, Controltac adhesive, it’s very forgiving. The vinyl can be lifted and repositioned a number times during application without issue, only taking full hold once firm pressure has been applied. It’s also highly conformable, allowing it follow complex curves, while its invisible air-release channels allows air bubbles to be squeegeed along the vinyl and escape out the edges – making wrinkles and bubbles a thing of the past.

The Designer Wraps Panel and Accessory Packs both contain a padded applicator, snap-blade knife and informative instruction manual. The only other installation gear you’ll need is; isopropyl alcohol (IPA) cleaning spray (available at you Designer Wraps retailer – see website), Wax ‘n’ Grease remover, masking tape and a microfiber towel – that’s it!

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FEATURE PACKED

When properly installed and cared for, Designer Wraps will last up to ten years – and comes with a five-year extended warranty. Better still, if you want to change your design, the Controltac adhesive allows Designer Wraps to be removed without damaging the paint or leaving a residue.

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So how much? Designer Wraps is available in two retail formats; Accessory Pack (from $79RRP), containing a 1.52m x 0.50m sheet and Panel Pack (from $219RRP) – 1.52m x 1.80m sheet. These sheet sizes are quite generous and somewhat larger than many others – especially the Panel Pack. The accessory pack is ideal for custom stripes as well as interior accents. When designing your stripes, it’s important to take into consideration vinyl’s overall width so that you make maximum use of the material.

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So there you have it, with Designer Wraps, DesignLine Knifeless tape and a bit of creativity, you too can create you’re very own racy factory special that has maximum impact.

HOW’S IT DONE?

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Step No.01 After cleaning the panel with IPA, use masking tape to lay out your design. For straight lines; tack one end of the DesignLine Knifeless tape (see Step No.04) and pull it taut as you lay it down. For curved edges (shown here) lay the tape in flowing, fluid movements to create smooth flowing lines.

 

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Step No.02 Before removing the backing, cut the vinyl roughly to size. Once the backing is removed it becomes electrostatic and attracts floating debris. To safeguard against this, lightly tack a small section to the panel, then peel away the remainder while laying the vinyl down.

 

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Step No.03 By lifting and pulling taught, eliminate as much trapped air and gathering as possible. Then using only the padded side of the supplied applicator, squeegee out any bubbles or wrinkles, starting from the middle and working outwards. Ensure not to crease the vinyl as this is very difficult to remove.

 

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Step No.04 The DesignLine Knifeless Tape features a polymer filament. As this filament core is extracted, it cuts up through the viny from underneath, giving a clean, sharp accurate edge. The knifeless tape can also be applied over Designer Wraps vinyl allowing you to create trend-setting two-tone designs.

 

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Step No.05 After extracting the knifeless tape’s filament core, the excess wrap can be removed. Note how cleanly the knifeless tape cuts Designer Wraps. Wherever the knifeless tape overlaps itself, always remove the top layer first.

 

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Step No.06 The design on this Toyota 86 called for a black carbon-fibre inlay down the centre of each main stripe. The width of the masking tape along with several measurements were used to create a constant-width border that acts as a guide for the re-application of DesignLine Knifeless Tape.

 

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Step No.07 After repeating steps 2, 3 and 4, excess wrap is peeled away revealing these stripe’s dual-layer design. Apply firm hand pressure over the whole area to properly bond wrap. Running over the wrap with a heat gun or parking the car in the sun will fully cure the vinyl and ensure many years of enjoyment.

 

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BEFORE/AFTER LOOKIN’ good! Toyota 86 coupes have a very sporty look about them, however the addition of the carbon-fibre stripes, with red highlights, has certainly given it a more purposeful persona. With some careful planning and by following the detailed instruction manual included in the Designer Wraps retail packs, or watching the detailed ‘How To’ videos on the Designer Wraps website, there’s no reason you too can’t create an equally-stylish custom stripe or accent package on your own ride.