Racing stripes have long been a part of motorsports, although it’s unclear when and where they began. References to national racing colors and chassis becoming hidden over time by the bodywork suggests that when that occurred, stripes became one way to identify the vehicle or team’s country of origin.
While there were some road cars in the U.S. that had stripes in the early ‘60s, none seemed to earn them in the same manner as the late Carroll Shelby did. This Texas poultry farmer-turned-racer was best known for his Shelby Mustangs, limited production specialty vehicles he produced with the Ford Motor Company starting in 1965. Those iconic stripes distinguished his cars from any run-of-the-mill Mustang, and it set the tone for other musclecars of that era who also used distinctive stripes as an indication they were serious performers, too.
Big Worm Graphix, a Texas-based purveyor of vinyl stripe kits for 2005 and newer Mustangs, Challengers, and Camaros, has followed in Shelby’s footsteps by using its graphic kits to underscore the performance found in these modern musclecars. We queried David Moderow, the founder and owner of Big Worm Graphix, as to why he started the company, and what differentiates his firm from others that produce vinyl graphics.
StreetMuscleMag: How long has Big Worm Graphix been in existence, and has it always been in Ft. Worth?
David Moderow: Big Worm Graphix has been in business since 2000, or 15 years. It started in Azle, Texas, where I live, and then moved to Fort Worth once I could afford to buy a building.
SLTV: Big Worm is certainly an unusual and somewhat unforgettable name. Are you an angler, or are there a lot of big worms in Texas? Exactly how did the name come about?
DM: When I started the business, I specialized in dirt track car racing graphics. A couple of friends and I came up with the name over the winter while we were playing poker, and it stuck. It’s been Big Worm Graphix ever since.
SLTV: You are the owner and installer too? How many people do you employ? Is Matt, your on-camera guy, also one of your installers?
DM: I’m the owner, one of the installers, and the designer. We have a total of four people here. Matt is actually a full-time country singer who appears in our videos because no one else in our company likes being in front of a camera. He was born to perform, and has no qualms about being center stage.
SLTV: You use 3M 1080 cast vinyl on some of your kits, and Hexis HX20000 as well. Any difference in these two companies, or are they very similar in product quality, longevity, and ease of installation?
DM: We really like the Hexis vinyl, but they have a limited selection of colors so we use 3M 1080 for the colors they don’t offer. While they are very similar materials, Hexis is more forgiving during the installation, and it seems to take abuse a little better. They are both three mils thick cast vinyl with an air release backing for an easy install.
SLTV: It says ‘professional installation recommended,’ yet your kits are sold to end users who often do it themselves. Are they difficult to install if they follow the directions in your kits? Do you recommend having more than one person to do the install, to help lay them out and keep the stripes straight?
DM: We include complete instructions and a squeegee with all our orders, but installing vinyl is something of an art; it’s similar to working on cars in the fact there are tips and tricks that are learned best by experience. The install will also turn out a lot better if you have a dust-free indoor installation area instead of trying to do it outside or in a parking lot. Even if you only have a limited amount of experience, we make all of our kits as easy to install as possible for the end user.
SLTV: Are all of your kits cut using a plotter/cutter, and made of automotive grade high quality vinyl?
DM: Correct. All of our kits are made of automotive grade, high quality cast vinyl, as I mentioned before. Unless listed, all sections are computer cut to length with finished corners. Some customers who have added aftermarket spoilers or hoods may need to trim our striping accordingly, because those additions can change how the stripes fit.
SLTV: With the striping precut, I assume you’ve taken into account hood scoops and/or trim, spoilers and any other sort of restyling products. What if I add a 3dCarbon spoiler to my Camaro’s deck lid, for example — do I just let you know that when I’m ordering my kit, or is that something I’m going to have to adjust for myself, or do I modify the closest existing kit?
DM: Good question. All of our kits are based on factory available options. If a customer has any exterior aftermarket parts, they should check with us before ordering. Some items won’t affect the stripes, some can be made to fit, and some won’t work at all. We go to shows like SEMA and others so we can see the aftermarket parts for ourselves. We have had experience with most of the parts that are currently available in one way or another.
SLTV: You have instructional videos for installing paint protection film and tint on headlights and taillights on your website, and there is a video on installing stripes on a new Camaro. Are the installation procedures for any of your stripe kits pretty much the same for any car, or do they vary?
DM: They do vary depending on which of our products you’ve chosen. We’ve tried to pick items that were easier to install for the videos since a 30-minute video might get boring. We also wanted to show items that end users could install on their own with limited experience. The videos do have some basic install tips that would apply to a lot of products though. We plan on doing more videos after our 2016 Camaro arrives, and we will have videos on all three of the new Mustangs, Challengers, and Camaros.
SLTV: How long does the vinyl typically last? Does the vinyl fade, lose the shine, or delaminate over time?
DM: If installed properly and cared for, the stripes will last anywhere from five to nine years, depending on color. The matte colors last longer. This really depends on how the car is cared for; washing the car on a regular basis and keeping the car indoors when it’s not being driven will help a lot. If you live in a hot climate like Arizona the stripes will not last as long, just like the original paint.
SLTV: Once applied, what is the best way to preserve the striping? Do you wash and wax them just as you would the rest of the car, or is there some other product you apply over the stripes?
DM: We recommend using a spray wax on the car after washing it. Buffing the vinyl will destroy it within months because it removes the UV coating that protects the vinyl from the sun. Paste waxes will dry out the vinyl or stain it. We use Meguiar’s Ultimate Quik Detailer at our shop because it helps the vinyl last longer and look like new.
SLTV: You offer installation services in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, or for any customer willing to make the drive, right? How many cars do you typically do in a month, and of these, are most of them for individual owners, or do you end up doing a lot of them for car dealers in your area?
DM: We’re happy to do the installation for anyone that wants to come to our shop. It works best if you let us know in advance, since we have a full shop some days, and on others we may be empty. Most of our installs are for individual owners and not car dealers. Most car dealers want you to come to them, which does not work well for quality installs.
How many cars varies quite a bit; some months we have lots of installs, while other months we won’t see anyone for days. The weather affects the amount of installations we do, and when it’s nice we definitely do more installs. We get customers come from all over the country. Our location is ideal for people who come to town for other reasons, and then decide to have a kit installed while they are here. We are about 15-20 miles south of Texas Motor Speedway, and there are a lot of hotels in the area.
About Big Worm Graphix
Big Worm Graphix is a late model musclecar graphic striping specialist. They like all sorts of other cars and trucks, but at present have not had the time to develop and test products beyond the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, or Dodge Challenger. All of the kits come with complete instructions, and any order placed before 2:00 p.m. Central Time are shipped the same day, Monday through Friday.
They install what they sell, and installation is available on all of its products at the Fort Worth, Texas, location. Colors may appear different on the website depending on the color of the car, the graphics that were installed, and the lighting conditions when the images were taken. Moderow advises customers to either call 817-876-2269 or email him at [email protected] for free color samples. You can check out all of its current applications on the Big Worm Graphix website. They will be adding the 2016 Camaro graphics very soon so stay tuned.