You’re driving down the road in your beige sedan, just another mundane motorist in a sea of white, black and silver cars … and all of a sudden this giant cupcake whizzes by.
Then a bigger-than-life bikini-clad woman winks at you from your rearview window.
And ahead of you, the 3-D image on the back of the box truck is so realistic it’s like looking through the door of your dream kitchen.
What’s up with that?
Clingy zingy full-body vinyl wraps.
Advertising at its ingenious adhesive finest.
Businesses use vinyl wraps to turn their vehicles into billboards on wheels to promote products and services. The graphics are amazing. The fit is as sleek as skinny jeans on a supermodel.
So why not pimp your personal ride with a flashy vinyl skin?
That’s what 19-year-old college student Harman Hothi did.
A vinyl wrap transformed his big sister’s hand-me-down car into a dude mobile. The 2008 Infiniti G37’s original grayish-blue finish is concealed under a red camo print enhanced from a swatch Hothi snatched from Google images.
“I get a lot of stares and head-nods,” said Hothi, a 2014 Kamiak graduate. “And thumbs-up on the highways. People will slow down. Their faces are like ‘Whoa!’ The faces are priceless. People take pictures, videos. People touch it. They feel if it’s paint or not.”
Vinyl wraps are used to snazzy up boats and motorcycles, but its use extends to the home and body. Customize a fridge or a wall with a wrap from a digital image. Prosthetic limbs? No problem.
Hothi paid more than $2,000, and his parents matched the amount, to have the car wrap professionally done (don’t try this at home). “My dad liked it,” he said. “My mom said, ‘What did you do to this car?’”
He said the revamp even took him by surprise at first.
“I was about to do a simple color, like matte orange,” Hothi said. A cousin visiting from England convinced him to go for gusto. “He said, ‘Do this,’ and I said, ‘OK.’”
Then the cousin went back to England, leaving Hothi with a car that means giving up anonymity. You have to be wildly confident about your driving skills to have a car like this.
“It’s an easy eye catcher for the police,” he said. “I haven’t been pulled over. I follow the rules.”
When he’s at the Mukilteo Y or beach or Cascadia College campus, everybody knows. Even people he doesn’t know.
“I go to the mall. They say, ‘Yo, I’ve seen this car like everywhere,’” he said.
He added custom rims and a personalized plate that says “Mr. Hothi.”
It’s pronounced Ho Tee.
But he gets called Hot Hi. Or Hottie.
His friends have cars in regular colors.
“Mine is pretty old. It wouldn’t look good,” said his friend Manveer Singh, owner of a white car. “It fits him. He is pretty unique. He likes to stand out.”
The wrap requires TLC. “I have to hand wash it. You can’t let dirt sit on it for a long time. I use a microfiber cloth.”
The vinyl wrap lasts about five years and shouldn’t affect the paint when removed. Then what … could Hothi ever go back to a naked car?
“Probably not,” he said.
— Andrea Brown (@reporterbrown) July 2, 2015