Friday, March 15, 2013

Baby blue; the Color of Racing Pedigree...

Well, we promised future updates to our client's 2013 Aston Martin Vantage S a few weeks and blog entries back and here we are delivering. As soon as he picked up the car, our client was already brainstorming ideas for a vinyl wrap on the vehicle. After conferring with him through the countless 3M and Oracal colors available in vinyl (it is really amazing how quickly new colors are coming out these days), he began narrowing down his favorites. When he finally told me he wanted to go with 3M's Gloss Sky Blue (baby blue) I was stunned and excited. Anyone who is into racing, knows that Baby Blue is a legit man's color in terms of endurance racing. Gulf Racing made it famous and it is making a serious comeback at LeMans over the past few years becoming the official racing color of Aston Martin. This plus the fact my old BMW M5 was Silverstone (baby blue) makes me very keen on anything baby blue. So I ordered a roll of Sky Blue vinyl and started planning the best course of action on vinyling the Aston's sultry curves...

The Victim:

The Vantage S has only 500 miles on it when it is dropped off for the vinyl wrap. But as always with this vehicle, it snowed the day of drop off (this has happened 4 times already in 2 months). We have since named her "Snow White" due to her affinity for the snow. Preparation is key to ensuring a good outcome in everything, and this is multiplied when it comes to vinyl wraps. The best outcomes always occur when panels are disassembled as much as possible and prepped. The first step is to wash and clay the car to remove all dirt and rail dust embedded into the paint surface.

(Snow White getting a bath and prepped for klay)

(Klaying the surface with our mixture of lube that provides max lubricity with minimal scratching)

After washing, klaying and drying, I always like to go over the surface again with a microfiber and quick detailer to go through all jams and odd crevices are cleaned of dirt as well. There is nothing worse than dirt under a piece of vinyl, it sticks out like a sore thumb and can completely ruin a perfectly installed piece. In order to stay on schedule and keep things as clean as possible, I had decided to attack the roof and hood first. These panels not only dry faster due to being flat, they also were straightforward and got us in a good flow for the project.

Starting with the roof, we got lucky in that nothing needed to be disassembled or removed. After a quick spray wax of Optimum Car Wax (love this stuff), we cut our sheet of vinyl and got to work. In order to ensure no cut lines into the car paint, we used knifeless cutting tape on the weld line of the roof and pillars to ensure a clean cut and pristine paint underneath when the vinyl is removed. A little heat, a little patience, a lot of hands, and a lot of swearing later, it was down and looking good. Moral was high and Tiff and I were ready to hit up the hood. For the hood, we removed the hood vents, Aston badge, and front grille. This provided a flatter surface to work with and ensured a factory look as the vinyl goes under all attachments making it appear more like paint. The picture below best describes the hood installation...

(anatomy of a hood wrap)

(end of day 1, blue and white combo looks good in its own right)

(badge reinstalled over the vinyl wrap- looks factory)

Chop Shop Time:

Day Two started early (6am) and was going to consist mostly of stripping all the parts off the Aston that we needed. Rear trunk badges, lights, side blades, etc. This is where I learned a lot about Astons. Do you know they bolt every reflector on the car with 2 lock nuts?! What a pain. What should have been a 5 minute removal turned into a 2 hour torture session of me cutting my wrists wide open trying to undue these nuts in between the bumper skin and intake tubing's sharp edges. We also removed all the wheels for detailing and fender lining to ensure our vinyl went up and under the lining. The last piece taken off was the rear lower diffuser. Held on with 6 nuts, this unit was filled with water thanks to 2 decent sized holes left in the corner of the mold. Whether this is by design or not I am not sure but decided it was best to leave the holes exposed in case they are there for ventilation.

(Carleton using compressed air to blow out the water inside of the rear diffuser)

After getting everything removed and then doing a road call in Boston for a C63 AMG, Tiff and I wrapped the front bumper that afternoon. Bumpers are a large piece of vinyl and really require a cautionary aggression. You need to stretch the material to fit without making it too thin causing discoloration. Removing the grille and lights made this a lot easier and we were both pleased with the final outcome.

(Tiff laying down vinyl on the bumper in her "junk" Chrome Hearts work sweater.)

Day Three began with us working on the rear bumper. Like the front, this requires the same techniques and precision to get a proper install. This went pretty well as I got the job of stretching while Tiff directed and laid down the vinyl. Soon we were onto the front fenders...

The front fenders required us to remove the interior wheel well liner, side signal, and side blades. These were also stuffed in some tight quarters. We quickly removed the side signal, but the blades proved quite stubborn. Aston likes to make sure their carbon fiber side blades are held in tight, so they use 5 nuts to hold them in place! I was able to completely remove the driver side blade, but the passenger side blade was placed about 1/8inch away from the cars ecu. After some careful thought, we decided it best not to mess with the ecu and try to work around the blade on the passenger side. To ensure we would get full coverage we used some extra vinyl inside the blade recess before wrapping the fender. We used the knifeless cutting tape to make a clean and matching cut on both sides. 

(applying the knifeless cutting tape around the passenger blade recess)

(vinyl installed and ensures we have full coverage before fender is wrapped)

(fender wrapped)

Day Four consisted of the rear quarters and having the front and rear carbon fiber accents all wrapped in clearbra to protect them from chips and people who park by feel. This XPel is clear coated and all cut in one piece to look invisible while offering full coverage. This Vantage S was going to be fully protected from the elements when we finished. The rear quarters are usually the largest piece on any vinyl wrap as they include the side pillar. It is a 3 person job to even hold the vinyl up before being attached, so we had to call Tim into action as a vinyl holder. 

(finishing down the edges of the largest panel on the car)

After finishing the rear quarters, we attacked the rear diffuser and got the freshly sealed and waxed wheels back on so we could get the Aston off the lift and back on the ground. 

(British cousin from Coventry visiting for a quick clean up that afternoon)

Our last day of wrapping consisted of doing the doors, side sills and trunk. While the doors and side sills are quite straight froward, the trunk on the Aston Vantage S is a pain due to its convex curves on both sides. After trying to do one piece on it 3 times, we were experiencing too much trouble with the vinyl bunching up and discoloring, so we made the executive decision to wrap it as a two piece panel. We again used the knifeless cutting tape to make sure the seam would be right on a visual edge as to not be noticeable to the normal eye.

(start of day five)

 (door wrapped, almost done)

(knifeless tape at work on the trunk)

The following day we touched up some of the finer details, waxed the car, and moved her out in the natural sunlight for the first time. The results were stunning. Looked like we were on the Circuit de Sarthe at LeMans...

We were all very pleased with the results after the hard work put in thanks in all part due to our great team. This job couldn't have come together without the help from Solar Solutions Tinting, Autoband North XPel, our client, and of course Tiff and Tim. These are the projects you enjoy and feel a sense of accomplishment when done, and take pride in the fact that you are bringing some serious baby blue racing heritage to the Boston streets.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Quiet class...

It has been a long two weeks here since the last blog update. The combination of weekly snow storms dumping heavy snow on a regular basis and lots of sports cars in the shop has made for some tricky situations (especially when it comes to maneuvering them).

We were called by a great client a few backs to tell us he had just picked up a new Porsche Carrera S 991 and was looking to add some quiet carbon fiber accents and touches to spruce up the notoriously Germanic styling. I was very excited to get my hands on the 991 as I had yet to drive one with the new PDK transmission and electronic steering.  Overall, I was very impressed with the vehicle. Very fast for a Carrera and seem less aggressive shifts. The car has really taken leaps over the old 997 in terms of everyday drivablity. Smooth, quiet and very relaxing to drive, this car will be a huge hit for Porsche. Of course after enjoying a nice drive back to the shop, I was greeted by the hill from hell (at least that's what you call it when you are at the bottom of it in a sports car with summer tyres or have to clean the snow off it).

(stuck and sliding in the snow)

After spending a couple hours getting this car up into the garage thanks to T and Tim, we started to get cranking on the car. We immediately started disassembling the interior for some carbon fiber wrap on the door sills, sports chrono, and gear shift. As far as the exterior we removed and shorted the rear trunk badge to say just 911S and added carbon fiber trim to the rear diffuser, deckwing, front blades, and side mirrors. To give the car a more aggressive stance the owner decided to add a Porsche OE sportkit front wing which we also installed carbon fiber vinyl too. The results came out well and really helped make this 991 C2S look more fitting of the performance it possesses. 

(some carbon fiber vinyl touches really make the 991 a more sporty place to be)

(side sills wrapped as well)

 (sports chrono a cool Porsche touch)

(plastic mirror base covered in carbon fiber)

(Porsche OE sportkit front splitter wrapped and installed with matching wrapped front air inlet blades)

(rebadged to be a bit less winded)

(rear wing removed and underside wrapped to look like factory option)

(Porsche 991 C2S is a gorgeous car)