Poor vinyl. It’s developed a horrible reputation to a lot of us. One need look no further than the circa-2000 import scene for proof: vinyl-painted interiors, two-toned vinyl seats, played-out vinyl manufacturer roll calls under side mirrors . . . and Fast and Furious/Troy Lee-style exterior graphics that are still, still, to this day mistakenly used to identify us. It’s not that vinyl’s all bad, either—it makes our lives easier in ways few of us realize. It just never seemed to find a place in our circle. That is, until Meguiar’s dropped their matte-black Wraptivo CR-Z at this year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas.
You should already know who RJ DeVera is. As the very first show registrant of Ken Miyoshi’s legendary Import Showoff held in SoCal over 15 years ago (way before HIN), RJ’s been in the scene literally since day one. From big-budget, corporate-sponsored show-car builds, to RO_JA wheel development, to the aforementioned Hollywood flick, and even a little drifting and road racing, he’s done it all. Needless to say, he and vinyl go way back. So when RJ greeted us at Wraptivo’s SEMA booth—where this CR-Z held a crowd for four straight days—and broke down its mods and the advantages of its exterior appearance in plain-speak, we were sold.
Yes, this car is wrapped entirely in vinyl. But not just any vinyl—high-performance vinyl developed by 3M, perfected by the car-care specialists at Meguiar’s, and adapted by the enthusiasts at Wraptivo to do virtually anything paint can, but better and easier. “It’s not like ordinary vinyl,” RJ says. “First, it’s easier to apply. Wraptivo is way more flexible than traditional vinyl, is shrinkable with a little heat, and is actually porous to let air out during application. Plus, it holds up way better to sun, cold temps, rock chips—whatever.”
But why would anyone want to wrap their car in the first place? “It just doesn’t make sense to repaint a car with perfect paint to begin with, and be married to the new color,” he says. “With Wraptivo, you can change colors in a day—no sanding and buffing, either.” But the two biggest bonuses might be the most overlooked. “The track guys love it because it’s easy to replace. You never need to worry about color-matching replacement parts or spraying that matte texture just right; wrap it and you’re good to go.”
He goes on to tell that the concept of the car was to invoke the notion of fun, which lies at the core of the CR-Z’s DNA. His use of genuine Honda accessories, along with other aero components from Rando/Tracy Sports Japan, is complemented with a design package created to give this concept a special uniqueness; more aggressive, yet still in an image that’s not too far gone from OEM styling.
That aggression carries over to genuine performance mods underhood, with an HKS-developed prototype GTS 4015 supercharger system and Silent Hi-Power exhaust that bring a serious bump in horsepower and, more importantly, for a 1.5L engine, torque—an increase of 88 hp and 95 lb-ft of torque, tuned by Hondata. Like the power gurus who worked the engine, flexmasters at Tein developed a full coilover system for the car, while an off-the-shelf (yes, for the CR-Z) Brembo brake package featuring six-piston calipers and two-piece floating rotors can now be found behind those lightweight Volk G2 alloys.
The interior was refined accordingly. Red Recaro Sport seats, mounted by SPD Metalworks (builders of Dai Yoshihara’s Formula D S13) can be found surrounding an HKS limited-edition shift knob and a bunch more genuine Honda optional equipment implemented “to give the driver a sportier experience for fun excursions,” says RJ—excursions like time-attack, we’re told. There’s a reason he combined all those performance mods with removable audio components from PAC, Phoenix Gold, and Stinger: NASA HPDE drivers, as well as Japanese and European circuit junkies, are already racing CR-Zs regularly and dedicating classes to the new car exclusively. RJ’s hoping he’ll have a chance to enjoy this CR-Z in a similar fashion once all its media/show obligations have been fulfilled, proving all the performance benefits of Wraptivo. It just might be enough to legitimize vinyl in the minds of the purists, once and for all.
Behind the Build
Car care maestros
swingin’ the bling
Bringing flat back
2011 Honda CR-Z
Engine HKS prototype supercharger kit (GTS4015 supercharger, Super Megaflow Reloaded intake, tubing, injectors, self-contained lubrication system, F-Con IS, OS-C fuel management), Silent Hi-Power exhaust, Super Fire racing spark plugs, radiator cap, oil filler cap
Drivetrain Open to suggestions
Suspension Tein prototype adjustable coilovers
Brakes Brembo two-piece, cross-drilled, floating-rotor system, six-piston mono-block calipers (front)
Wheels/Tires 18x8.5 +44mm offset Volk Racing G2 wheels; 215/35-18 BFGoodrich G-force Super Sport AS tires
Exterior Honda Accessories front chin, side skirts, rear diffuser; Rando/Tracy Sports front lip, side sills, GT wing; Wraptivo Matte Black Designer Car Wrap (body), Carbon Black Designer Car Wrap (roof and partial hood)
Interior Recaro Sport bucket seat; HKS limited-edition shift knob; Honda Accessories center armrest, compass rearview mirror, illuminated door sills; custom Alcantara-covered panels and trunk audio enclosure, Wraptivo Carbon Black-covered rear audio enclosures
Audio PAC VCI-MC1 rearview camera, SWI-RC steering wheel control interface; Phoenix Gold SD800.5 five-channel amplifier, Ti6CS 6.5-inch component speakers, 6.5-inch coax speakers, 12-inch subwoofer; Pioneer Bluetooth-equipped AVH head unit; Stinger SPP680 (x2), SPC505 five-farad hybrid capacitor, SPW14T four-gauge red and black wiring; SGP90801 80-amp circuit breaker, SGP38 80 battery isolator, SVMB digital voltage readout, SPS40 40-amp power supply, SCM digital monitor module, SPI6312 six-channel pro RCA
Gratitude Our media partners: Import Tuner and motorworldhype.com; Technology partners: Honda Accessories, Wraptivo/Meguiar’s, HKS, Volk Racing, BFGoodrich, Tein, Brembo, Recaro, Rando/Tracy Sports Japan, Stinger, Phoenix Gold, PAC, street Concepts, Evasive Motorsport, Audiofonix, Jarboe Designs; and everyone who followed the build.