With the performance improvements for our C5 Corvette complete (if not yet tested), we decided it was time to update the car's image as well. And what better way to make a statement than with a graphic treatment that complements the Vette's upgraded dynamic capabilities?
When it comes to stripes and other visual enhancements, there are a number of different options available. Most of the Corvette mail-order catalogs offer packages that consist of precut decal appliques. Alternatively, you can have your local graphic designer prepare custom decals based on your own artistic concept. Another option is to have your stripe laid down with paint. Modern basecoat/clearcoat-system stripes can be sprayed over the top of the existing paint, or applied over the base and sealed beneath the clear. For this article, we chose to perform a custom application over our Corvette's existing finish.
Custom striping begins with laying out the design in tape. This "rough in" stage will allow you to familiarize yourself with the look of the stripes before you begin cleaning and sanding. Start by marking the centerline of the car with tape or a permanent marker; this will help you keep everything symmetrical. Next, rough-in your custom stripe with fine-line tape. If you're unhappy with the outcome, the tape will allow you to make any necessary corrections. Once you've perfected your design, snap a quick digital photo. Now you're ready to get to work.
As you follow along with us, keep in mind that there are two different techniques you can use for the final clearcoat process. The first is to clearcoat only the stripes themselves. This is the easier and quicker method, but it will leave an edge where the stripes meet the original paint. The second technique (the one we chose) includes clearcoating the entire hood and bumper. This procedure is more involved, but the result will be seamless. Remember, if you choose the first technique, you will need to lay down the stripes first and sand only the areas that will be painted.