Accent your old car with pinstripes

By Gerald Perschbacher

You can accent your favorite vintage car with new pinstripes, and all it takes is a little preparation, some research, a few tools, some special tape and time. All pinstripes were put on the featured vintage luxury car in less than eight hours! It may take even less time if you are striping a 1970s or 1980s car using these tips, too.


Step 1 —A collector car, regardless of vintage, often needs an extra touch of pin- striping to cap off a restoration and give the car a striking appearance. This car, vintage 1925, had been pinstriped by brush about 30 years ago, but not very well. Before new stripes were added, the areas were cleaned of dirt and polish.

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Step 2 — Painting pinstripes takes great care and seldom turns out right the first time. Many people use pinstriping tape instead. It’s important to buy a good grade of quality tape. It can be ordered in rolls of 150 feet or less; check with an auto accessories store. Select the color you need, and measure the areas to estimate the length required.


Step 3 — Sometimes a car calls for a single stripe, but the tape comes in parallel stripes of differing widths. Simply cut the clear adhesive section to separate one from the other. Keep your hands clean at all times when working the tape, and avoid kinks or pulls that will stretch it. Save what you don’t need by rolling it back.


Step 4 — A steady hand, warm temperature, dry conditions, good natural light, no wind, no distractions, and a good eye for a straight line are important qualities. It’s best not to talk when working. Peel the backing, press the tape in place, then peel off its top layer. If the line needs to be re-stretched, do so before it is rubbed firmly on the surface and before the top layer is removed.


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Step 5 — When working an edge between body and door, you can wrap about a quarter inch of tape around the panel. Slice with an X-acto knife, and press flat with a steady hand. The tape should be rubbed in final position with a clean, soft cloth. It may take 72 hours in sunlight and warm temperatures for the tape to bind with the surface.


Step 6 — Here is an area around exterior door handles that begged to be restriped. The old painted striping is faint and was unevenly applied. The color was lemon yellow to match other accents on the car. The same color was available in pinstriping tape on special order.


Step 7 — The same area is shown after applying the tape. The heavier line was added. Before doing the work and ordering the tape, check references to verify the location and width of pinstripes. On Classic cars, this often was optional to the whim of the buyer.


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Step 8 — Don’t go wild with pinstriping, but use it sparingly and where appropriate. Many vintage cars with louvered hoods carried stripes in various locations. Check with factory literature, owners of similar cars, and experts in the hobby if you have questions.


Step 9 — When finished, you could be amazed at the results. This car took on a neatness it never had since new and was made to look sporty, even though it is a sedan. Pinstriping accentuates the lines and curves of the body. Now you’re ready for the next show! See if anyone notices the change.
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4 thoughts on “Accent your old car with pinstripes

  1. Brett Mason

    Tape pinstriping on a vintage car. Are you kidding? We love are old cars because they a piece of art. Tape pinstriping is not. Hand laid lines with a brush only!! Thank you very much. Brett

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