The Graphics Car
by Terese Mac Davis
When I first saw this car, it didn't look like this! I noticed the top as I came up the driveway and mentally added it to my list 'needs top'. I walked up to
it from behind and went around the bumper, the passenger's side and the front ... very nice .. then I came around and saw the driver's side. There was
a two inch wide scratch down the whole side of the door and going into the rear panel. The guy had sideswiped something.
So I added 'needs body work and paint' and continued with the inspection. The interior was real good, the body was perfect, except for the scratch,
and all the lights and lenses and badges were fine. It also needed tires, badly.
Then I started it up and listened and looked intelligently at the engine running and checked a few things, closed it up and took it for a ride, with the
owner to make sure I didn't get lost.
A little tip that my first partner, Bill, taught me from his Corvette days. If you have the guy in the car taking a test drive, he can't talk to anyone else. So
he would drive the guy around until he'd made a deal for the car.
This car was one of those that you hope for. It was strong, straight, quiet, soothe, strong clutch, tight all over and it had a killer stereo. The timing
belt and water pump had been done and it had 124k miles on it (a '91). There was no doubt that I would buy it. The question was, what was I going to
do with it?
There are three common but major expenses that I run into all the time: Paint, top and tires. Of course there are many more expenses, but if I can get
by with only one or two of these, I can usually make the budget. This car needed all three.
The top and tires had to be done. We were able to replace the back window instead of the top, and then put on some Toyo tires.
Now the thing was what to do with that huge scratch down the side. Miracle Auto paint charges abour $200 per panel to pain (and we had two
panels), but he will usually paint the whole car for just a little more. So that was at least $400. I couldn't do it, with the top and tires and the other
Something that I'd always kinda liked were the 'wraps' they were putting on cars, usually advertisements of the person's business. However, the old
time graphics are better than ever. You still see the flames, racing stripes, dragons and surfboards, that are purely decorative. We've come a long way
from racing stripes!
I stopped into a graphics shop (I had seen his truck, wrapped) with the car just to check it out. As I talked to him and looked at pictures, I realized it's
not so easy to find something that looks right on your car. The guy snuck out and took a few pictures of my car when I wasn't looking and put them
on his computer. Then he showed me all the graphics I was looking at, on my car! I finally picked one that looked good and covered the scratch. I
brought the car back and he put it on. He says the graphics will last about eight years in outside conditions (in California) and they never fall off. I loved
it! True, it wasn't quite as nice as a pristine silver car, but it was a whole lot better than a damaged-looking car. It was $125 vs $400. I could afford the
So I finished the restoration and got everything back into excellent condition. I thought it looked pretty good, and it was agile and quick and had plenty
of power. It was a very nice little car. I sure would have driven it up to the high school, with the top down!
I ran ads on it and almost the first thing everyone said was, "Can the graphics come off". I ran into the same reaction with pinstriping. I explained the
situation of the scratch and then people seemed to think it was kind of clever.
One dad was looking for a Miata with his 15 year old son. They called on the silver one and of course asked if the graphics could come off. I explained
again and they decided to come take a look. I could tell that the dad was impressed with the design and condition of the car. I took him for a test drive
while the son with stayed in their truck. The man drove it and I could tell that he was really impressed with how well it handled. Then I took his son
for a ride and put the car through it's paces and talked about it with him. He was reserved and a little quiet or shy, but I could tell he was sooo excited!
He reminded me of myself getting my first car.
The kid kept talking about taking off the graphics. I got him and his dad to look at it and showed them where the scratch was. You could see tiny bits
of the scratch around the graphics. I could just imagine them getting it home and the kid starts taking it off passenger side first.
He and his dad talked it over and walked around the car a few more times and felt the panels. They finally decided the grahics were kinda cool and it
was a one-of-a-kind car.
Then came the few minutes when everyone's so happy and excited and shaking hands and smiling and sometimes even hugging. And that's why I do it.
Copyright@2011 by Terese Mac Davis