For those of you who don’t recall, our trusty ’08 WRX project car came with a silver coat of paint from the factory. The editors at Sport Compact Car, who previously owned the vehicle, decided to paint it flat-black as an homage to a previously built SCC Subaru STI that was rattle-canned flat-black in 2004. This time around, though, there would be no spray cans — instead, a professional paint shop applied BASF flat-black paint to the car and made it look superb.
Fast-forward three years and the flat-black paint job isn’t what it used to be. The problem with painting a car a matte color is that any oil, bird droppings, solvents and so on will damage the paint if not removed right away or properly. Rubbing off bird poop will leave a mark, and forget about trying to remove an oil stain by washing the car. It’s going to take some alcohol and very light scrubbing, and that isn’t always a sure thing.
As you would guess, with numerous track days and constant day-to-day driving, our WRX has seen more than its fair share of stains and blotches on its flat-black finish. It was becoming a real eyesore for me. For months, I talked about painting the car, but there wasn’t any specific color I had in mind, and while I hummed and hawed about it, Wraptivo came along. All over a sudden, I knew there was no better candidate to get a wrap job than the WRX.
In my specific case, I was looking for a permanent solution to an aging and fading paint job, but the true beauty behind a complete vinyl car wrap is that it’s removable. If you’re bored with your car’s color but don’t want to deal with the hassle of painting it, or maybe you’ve leased a vehicle and need to return it in original condition, or if you’re like me and wanted a unique-looking color that can’t be achieved with paint, then Wraptivo is the answer.
There’s no way I would paint a car flat-black ever again, but I can achieve the same look using a Wraptivo matte vinyl wrap and not have to deal with the constant upkeep that comes with matte paint. When I do get a blemish that won’t clean off the vinyl, it’s not that difficult (or expensive) to have it rewrapped.
I’m not saying that vinyl is immune to nicks and stains, but it’s much more manageable than a paint job. After experiencing both, I would choose matte wrap over a matte paint job any day. Wraptivo provides small pieces of its vinyl in a wide assortment of colors and finishes (like carbon fiber) so you can wrap roofs, side mirrors, spoilers and so forth. You can do this by yourself with some patience and trial and error, but for a complete car wrap, you need to go to an expert who can do it right.
A good installer will make the wrap job invisible — you would think the car was painted even when you walk up to it. What you don’t want is exposed paint of a different color being seen, so choose your wrapper carefully and ask for examples of their work.
If you’re in the Southern California region, then you can go off my recommendation and have your car wrapped by Daley Visual. Josh Daley, who owns the company and does the wrap work himself, has mastered the art of automotive vinyl wraps. He makes it look easy, but let me tell you, it’s far from that. I tried to wrap my front grille on the WRX and made a mess of it. To wrap a car with a sheet that is nearly the entire length of the car is something that takes years of experience to perfect. As you can see in the photos, Josh strips the entire car down to its bare bones to ensure the wrap doesn’t expose the paint underneath. He takes tremendous pride in his work and doesn’t cut corners, which is why it takes several days to complete. Josh also wanted me to mention that he doesn’t only do cars but bikes, trucks, trailers — if it needs a wrap, no matter what it is, then he can take care of it, and I think the results speak for themselves.
I really didn’t know what to expect going into this process; I knew the car’s exterior would change dramatically, but I didn’t expect it to turn out this good. I absolutely love the new Wraptivo matte-white color that I chose — it’s such a welcome change from the flat-black. The finish still has a tiny bit of shine to it, but the white retains a flat-looking texture. It has to be seen in person to be appreciated.
To help set off the white-and-black color combination the WRX has going on now, I tinted the windows and added some black Volk Racing flat center caps and Muteki close-ended lug nuts to match the black wheels. It’s commonplace to run no center cap at the track, but on the street the center caps and matching lug nuts complete the overall look much better than before.
A mod you may not notice are the 5mm Wheelmate rim spacers added to all four corners, effectively changing the +42 offset 18x8.5-inch Volk CE28Ns to +37 offset. This brings the wheels out just enough to where the tire isn’t rubbing the fenders and eliminates that sunken-wheel look.
Aesthetically speaking, project WRX is a new car. I feel good driving it again and it’s renewed my enthusiasm to keep building this car. Expect to see a big brake upgrade in the near future, as that is the one area where the WRX is severely lacking right now.