In our latest car care article, we sat down for a virtual coffee with Alex Wright of Vivid Vinyl to talk PPF. He's also offered a great prize in our latest competition where we will offer one very lucky car owner the chance to have their car protected with PPF (paint protection film). The prize will be a front end package comprising bumper, bonnet and wings. Click here to enter.
This innovation in protecting your vehicle's paintwork from damage due to stone chips, scratches and other debris is something many will have heard of but how does it work and what does it do?
Tell us a bit about the history of PPF and how it can protect a vehicle
The car care industry is a well-established one. It can trace it roots back to the dawn of the motor car with manufacturers using products such as wax to provide protection from the elements. Companies such as Meguiars and Turtle Wax have been making these products for decades and have been joined more recently by Autoglym and in the last 10 years Gtechniq who use synthetic polymer and ceramic coating technology.
So where does PPF fit into this picture? Interestingly, it isn't a brand new product or idea and its origins can be traced back almost 60 years to military and industrial application where a replaceable transparent film to protect sensitive or fragile components was a cheaper option then replacement.
The automotive sector quickly realised that there were applications for vulnerable areas of a vehicle's surfaces and PPF as we know it today began to be used on vehicles. Perhaps one of the most well-known examples is the rear wheelarches on a Porsche 911 where film was installed at the factory to ensure that the area remained free of unsightly chips to the paintwork.
One of the downsides to factory installed film is that it can yellow over time and some of the earlier types, whilst providing protection, were thick and very visible.
Over the last 10 years or so, PPF technology has moved at a pace with many manufacturers developing films which, whilst thinner, work even better at protecting against damage which might otherwise necessitate repainting. Some films even self-heal after an impact!
What does your working day look like?
A typical working day is all about cleanliness, when applying PPF everything needs to be spotless in order to not get any dirt or dust under the material which would be visible on the final product.
What brought you into the car care sector?
I work in the car care sector as I have been surrounded by fun cars in some way or another for my whole life and have spent many years attending car shows where everything is all in the details.
What are the benefits of applying PPF to your vehicle?
PPF has many benefits, not only does it offer superior protection over any wax or ceramic coat it also adds shine and requires zero maintenance.
What conditions are needed to apply PPF correctly?
Clean and dust free are the critical elements but temperature also plays a part. If it is too cold or hot then the film can be awkward to handle and install.
How has Covid affected your business and how do you see it evolving in the coming months?
I have been lucky that Covid has not affected my business too much, obviously car dealerships have been shut and they were a good part of my work but as a lot of people were not commuting to work their vehicles were free for me to have in to work on. As for the coming months, dealerships are back open and customers seem a little less worried about spending money now so I see things staying pretty normal.
Where do you see the industry heading? With PPF becoming more widely used, do you think other traditional paint protection products will continue to evolve?
I think even though PPF is a fantastic product there will always be a place for traditional waxes and also sealants even though sealants are also relatively new on the market. Car waxes have existed for as long as cars and they will always be around.
What do you do when you're not working on cars?
When not working on cars I enjoy gardening and socialising, less of the socialising in the current climate sadly.
Do you own a classic car yourself?
I have a 1982 Mk1 VW Golf. I've owned it for about 18 years and it started life as a cheap daily driver, albeit with a tuned engine. Loads of fun but sadly it suffered from rust. I made gradual improvements, removing the rust and upgrading the wheels and suspension and using it every day until the engine decided enough was enough and spun a bearing. The engine was repaired and sold and I sourced a supercharged VW 1800cc engine which I installed myself in my single garage.
I love these engines and with some slight tuning will make just over 200bhp which in a Mk1 Golf is a lot of fun and the car stayed this way for some time.
I then found myself in a job where I didn't need to use the car every day and I then took it to the next (perhaps slightly extreme) level. The original 8v G60 engine had developed a common fault and sadly needed a new crank so I saw this as a chance to build my dream VW engine and what is considered as the holy grail of the VW G60, a 16v G60.
The 16v G60 was built for VWs rally team back in the 1980s and 81 production cars were fitted with this engine. I decided to take the custom route using my 8v G60 parts and a 2.0 16v engine along with a significant amount of costly custom items to build my own 16v G60 engine. Now this engine makes 270bhp and will rev to 6800rpm so added with the supercharger and now considerably lowered chassis the car gets a lot of attention on the road. Also at the same time as doing the 16v conversion the car was fitted with some BBS Magnesium racing wheels from mid 80s and lowered significantly by raising strut towers and narrowing wishbones amongst other things to make the wheels fit.
The car has been featured in numerous magazines and online write ups and has really helped me make great friends over the years but also helped me gain business also.
Favourite car and why?
Favourite car is a Ferrari F40, they are just wild and raw with no driver aids so you really need to know what you are doing to drive them.
Favourite car event and why?
Any car event held at Goodwood motor circuit is always fantastic, it's a fantastic place in a lovely part of the country.
It was great to learn a bit more about PPF and it's always good to meet a fellow petrolhead. Alex has generously offered one lucky winner a full front end PPF installation. This will consist of bonnet, bumper and wings – what a fantastic prize and a great way to make sure that your car stays protected and looking its best.
You'll need to deliver your car to Vivid Vinyl's premises in Birmingham city centre and they'll need it for up to a week. The prize will be drawn on the 1 September and is valid for up to 12 months from that date.