With the birth of the hot rod and truly custom automotive modification came the need to add finishing touches to one’s car. Back in the day, there was no vinyl, no stickers. Any and all custom art was hand painted by the true artists of the era.
You see, there’s an entire artform caught within a past era of automotive modification. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. It’s called pinstriping, and unfortunately for you, whether you care or not, it’s dying. It all began with the likes of Kenny Howard, Ed Roth, Dennis Gibbish, and Dean Jeffries, and they all stemmed from sign painting. That may not sound very important until you pause to consider that every piece of storefront logo art, every advertisement and bilboard… they were all done by hand. These artists took their brushes to their cars, and it wasn’t long before every car of the time had stripes on it.
Until you see pinstriping done, it’s hard to truly appreciate. Of course anyone can admire the lines and symmetry of a well painted piece, but there’s something entirely enchanting about watching an artist sweep his brush across a magazine page with countless strokes, all to get that perfect amount of paint on the brush.
Then, and only then, does he take his paint brush to your perfect glossy (or not, I suppose) paint job. It all comes down to trust, and it’s because it’s all about the details.
Pinstriping is All-American. It was American-born, American-raised. It’s something to call our own, and it can never be taken from us. It’s our permanent mark on the automotive world, forever leaving pinstripes on the edges of American history.
With that said, however, it is slowly dwindling away as the group of guys who modify the cars of our fathers gets older or more sparse. Too many of our own generation are focused on the latest and greatest fuel-injected 4-bangers. Of course, if that’s your thing, that’s all right, but there’s something to be said about those still willing to get their hands dirty on steel a bit older than a couple of decades. Even outside of American muscle, it all comes down to preserving what once was and what is responsible for what is.
Pinstriping is just part of what made cars unique, and it’s something I want to see continue. I’m not suggesting you pinstripe your Nissan– I’m merely suggesting you get more creative than slapping box logo stickers on your rear window at a 45-degree angle. Cars have never been about brand association: it’s about culture and expression. It’s about the people, the scene, the community, and friends. Pinstriping embodies that culture, and I beg that we embrace it.