If you visited the Johannesburg International Motor Show a little while ago, you probably saw our Project Terios at the Leisure Wheels stand. And you would also have noticed that it sported a rather snazzy green wrap. Wrap Vehicles was the company behind the job.
With our Project Terios just about ready for its grand debut at the Johannesburg International Motor Show, one crucial modification still had to be done: the body needed to be glammed up a bit to match the impressive off-road accessories.
Time was running out – just a few days remained before the start of the show – so we were beginning to doubt that anyone would be able to help us get the Terios ready in time.
Thankfully we stumbled upon a company called Wrap Vehicles, which was willing to help us in the little time that was left.
Technically, Wrap Vehicles isn’t a stand-alone company – it is a subsidiary of the printing company, Fineline Design.
Fineline was started in 2003, and focused mainly on large-format printing. Pretty soon, however, owner Manny de Souza noticed there was a gap in the market when it came to vehicle wrapping. More and more companies and individuals were interested in vehicle wraps, but not that many people were offering the service.
“We started very small,” says Manny, “just doing the odd wrap when there was a request. We also did a lot of research, finding out what worked best.”
The practice and research paid off, and soon Fineline had a steady stream of vehicle wrap customers.
So what exactly does wrapping a vehicle entail? “We begin by meeting the client and finding out exactly what he or she wants,” says Manny. “Once we know what the requirements are, we start on the design.”
As soon this is complete and has been signed off by the client, the vehicle is brought to the company’s workshop. The first step is to strip the car of as much as possible (bumpers, mirrors, etc.), since this makes it easier to wrap the vehicle neatly.
Once the vehicle has been stripped, it is cleaned, and the wrap is applied. Unsurprisingly, wrapping a vehicle tidily is quite tricky, and requires knowledge and experience.
“We have six technicians who do the wrapping, and they do about 40 vehicles a week,” says Manny. “We also send our wrap installers to be certified by Avery and 3M – manufacturers of the wrapping material.”
Fineline/Wrap Vehicles have been doing vehicle wraps for about seven years now, and have also learnt how to ensure that wraps continue to look good, even after they have been on a vehicle for years.
“Firstly, we only use the most advanced materials from Avery and 3M, but we have also realised that it is best to make use of cold lamination for the finish of the wrap,” says Manny.
Cold lamination is essentially a transparent film that is placed over the wrap to protect it from damage and the sun’s harmful rays. Some companies make use of liquid lamination, which is sprayed over the wrapping material, but that doesn’t work well on vehicle wraps.
“It doesn’t last long,” says Manny. “It becomes brittle after a while, and doesn’t look good.”
So why do some companies still use liquid lamination?
“It is much cheaper,” says Manny. “Covering a square metre of wrapping material with cold lamination costs around R75. Covering it with liquid lamination, however, costs only R5. So, by using liquid lamination, companies can save a lot of money.”
Manny says Fineline doesn’t use it because the company wants to ensure customer satisfaction. “We try to give our clients a great service at a great price. We use top-quality products, and assist with a specific design free of charge. Some companies might seem cheaper on paper, but they charge quite a bit for the design.”
The question still remains, though: why would you want to wrap the exterior of a vehicle?
Of course, some people do it because the procedure allows them to change the look of their vehicles, giving them that “extreme” touch. Others regard it as a business decision.
“By wrapping your vehicle, you can transform it into a moving billboard for your company,” says Fineline’s Sandra Ferreira. “It is one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising.”
Another interesting use of wraps is to allow a vehicle to blend in with a natural environment. “We have clients such as game reserves that wrap their game-viewing vehicles in suitably subdued colours,” says Sandra.
But for private owners, it holds other benefits. For example, a wrap protects the paintwork. The day you take off the wrap, the vehicle looks as good as it did when it left the showroom floor.
For off-road enthusiasts, who regularly head into the bundu, where thorny trees tend to scratch the paintwork, a wrap makes a lot of sense.
If you’ve always been tempted to opt for a striking colour scheme but were worried that you might tire of it, or that it might adversely affect your 4×4’s resale value, a wrap is also a great idea. You can purchase a conservative white model and deck it out in an eye-catching wrap.
But how long does a wrap last before it starts looking a bit rough around the edges?
“There’s no reason why a wrap shouldn’t last for at least five years, and we offer a three-year guarantee against popping, peeling and fading,” says Manny. “We also do our best to help clients maintain their wraps, should something go wrong. If a wrap is applied properly, it is surprisingly long-lasting.”
Visit www.wrapvehicles.co.za to see more of Fineline’s designs. You can also contact them on 011 794-4929.