FLAT ROCK, Mich. - The 2013 Mustang Shelby GT500 is as close a street-legal vehicle can get to being a race car. In addition to being the most powerful production V8 in the world, the Shelby gets some extra race car flare from the team in the Striping Room at AutoAlliance International (AAI).
According to Plant Manager Tim Young, the stripe package that is offered on the 2013 Shelby is one of the most complicated production stripe applications in the automotive industry and a significant design identifier of the vehicle.
The team follows a very specific 14-step application process that begins with the removal of any surface dirt or debris. Also, in order to ensure conformability and initial adhesion, the team uses infrared heat lamps to get the body surface between 68 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
After the six steps of prep work are completed, the team uses jigs to align to the center of the Shelby, which provides a guide for application. The adhesive liner is removed and the stripes are carefully applied to the Shelby.
“They are kind of artists,” Kevin Downey, striping supervisor, said of the team in the Stripe Room. “It is a very tedious task that takes about 2 hours for two people to put stripes on one Shelby.”
Once the stripes are on the Shelby, team members use rubber squeegees and an air gun to remove any bubbles or imperfections that may have formed in the application process. They keep the stripe moist using a soapy lubricant which makes it easier to remove the other side of the liner.
After removing the liner, the team squeegees two more times to seal all edges and to remove any bubbles that weren’t visible under the liner. This time, the squeegees are covered with vinyl in order to prevent scratches to the stripe.
Next, the team improves adhesion by heating the body surface again using the heat lamps. The lamps are set at about 120 degrees Fahrenheit and the vehicles spend about 14 minutes in the heat.
Finally, the vehicle is parked outside the striping room and undergoes a final quality check where a team member runs their hands across the stripes, feeling for any bumps, rough edges or imperfections. Once the stripe quality is verified, the grill, Shelby decals, antenna and all other parts that interfered with striping are installed.
The team at AAI started striping about 7 years ago when Mustang production began at AAI. According to Steve Reed, team leader, the striping process has really evolved and progressed over the years and is stable and effective.
AAI’s team helps bring a distinct personality to the Shelby by adding the stripes with precision and skill. When the striping team is done, the Shelby has the race car look to match the race car power.
“Our Stripe Room operators are accomplished and skilled craftsmen and craftswomen,” Young said. “They deliver superb quality and add a hand built touch to our vehicles.”