MX-5, S5, Huracán – you’d be forgiven for thinking vinyl wrapping was invented for the amusement of attention seekers. In fact, it started in Germany in the early 1990s as a way of satisfying an old law that demanded all taxis be beige coloured. Before vinyl came along, the taxis were sprayed beige, only to be resprayed a more attractive colour when it was time to sell them on.
The arrival of wrapping avoided all that hassle because now you could order the taxi in an appealing colour from the factory and then give it a beige wrap. At the end of the car’s working life, you simply peeled it off.
If a Stuttgart taxi driver can do it... I interrupt Roberts to ask him if I can wrap the MX-5’s rear wing. He hands me a roll of vinyl, a squeegee and a bottle of surface cleaner. Summoning up my best pinstriping skills, I deftly work the vinyl onto the car’s surface, stroking away air bubbles with the squeegee. Things are going well until I notice a crease developing that, if corrected, will leave me short at the wheel arch. Is that my phone ringing?
Roberts says he enjoys the sense of satisfaction when a difficult wrap comes good. You’ve got to be supple, though. Over by the Huracán, Cook has been lying flat on the floor for 15 minutes, patiently wrapping the inside of one of its rear air ducts.
Its owner will never know how skilfully his Lambo has been wrapped. On the other hand, unless Roberts can cover my tracks, the owner of the MX-5 will be coming after me with something considerably harder than a roll of vinyl.
It’s a wrap (sort of):
Wrapping a car is a job best left to professionals who have had years of training. Lots can go wrong. If the car has been resprayed or has rust patches, there’s a danger that, when the vinyl is removed, it may take the lacquer and paint with it. If you overheat the vinyl when laying it, you could burn the paintwork, causing it to lift. Clumsy with a knife? You might slash your fingers to ribbons with the cutting blade. Still, if you have an old banger to practise on...
Make sure the room is between 18-24deg C, well lit and clean. Wipe down the panel with an alcohol-based cleaner that will ensure the vinyl sticks. Take your pre-cut wrap – ideally a top-quality, non-porous cast vinyl – and lay it on the panel.
Bit by bit, smooth down the vinyl using a squeegee. To encourage the vinyl to stretch and sit tight on any contours, warm it briefly with a heat gun. Remove any excess with a blade. You’re looking to score, not cut, using the weight of the blade. Cut inside panel gaps and on seams rather than on the edge of gaps or on the surface of the panel itself.