Vehicle Wrap of the Day: Palmer Signs Unveils Beastly VW Beetle for Desert Racing

Graphics overlaid on matte-black film

From its initial worldwide launch in 1938, the Volkswagen Type 1, affectionately referred to as the Beetle, has gained a tremendous worldwide following. According to the car’s Wikipedia listing, the more than 21 million Beetles produced established a world record for the most cars produced with a single design (the last Type 1 rolled off the line in Puebla, Mexico, in 2003). The Beetle’s air-cooled engine made an unmistakable, high-pitched squeal, and it was the hip car of 1960s counterculture. (The first vehicle I remember is my father’s bright-orange 1972 Beetle with black, vinyl upholstery that, in summer, sometimes required a spatula and Crisco to extricate my legs from the sticky surface.)
Desert Dingo Racing took the Beetle’s granola-munching, tree-hugging image and stuck it on its ear. The Northern California-based racing team outfitted a 1970 VW Beetle for Valley Offroad Racing Assn.’s Class 11 (stock Beetles) competitions and rebirthed it as “FrankenBeetle”. The cars race over short-track and desert courses, and are only allowed roll cages and minor engine and suspension modifications.
They wanted to protect the vehicle surface, while giving the car a fierce personality and plugs for its sponsors. To create the wrap, they enlisted Palmer Signs (Roseville, CA) to shroud the FrankenBeetle for battle. According to Palmer Signs designer Justin “Juice” Lee, the shop has been wrapping vehicles for 15 years, and they represent approximately half of its business. Desert Dingo provided the car-ID and sponsor logos for the vehicle, which co-designer and shop owner Tony Palmer tweaked to contrast well over flat-black media using a combination of SA Intl.’s FlexiSign®, CADlink’s SignLab® and Adobe Photoshop® software.
“The driver, Brian Wallentine, contacted us a few years ago about wrapping one of their racecar shrouds in camouflage film,” he said. “No one else would do it. Since then, we’ve been his go-to shop.”
Palmer Signs wrapped the vehicle in 3M’s Scotchprint 1080 Matte Black wrap film, which the company produced on a Mimaki CG-130FX vinyl-cutting plotter. The overlaid graphics were printed on 3M Controltac IJ180-10C air-release vinyl with a Mimaki JV-33 solvent-ink printer, and protected for runs on off-road terrain with 3M Scotchcal 8518 glossy overlaminate applied with a Royal Sovereign RSC-1650HR heat-pressure laminator.
Given FrankenBeetle’s grueling racing conditions in the Baja Desert, its paint job arrived in roughshod condition. A thorough degreaser scrub and denatured-alcohol wipedown were required. Palmer Signs wrapped each individual body part with the 1080 material with Yellotools magnets, propane torches
and heatguns, and economy-grade squeegees.
“Dealing with the dents and paint scratches was quite a challenge,” Lee said. “The Matte Black material, because of its gloss-free finish, was great for concealing surface imperfections.”