Home » Which Car (or Truck, or Van) Graphics Go The Hardest?

Which Car (or Truck, or Van) Graphics Go The Hardest?

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Know what the car biz needs a whole lot more of? Rad graphics. Big, bold factory sticker packages were huge in the 70s and 80s, and the era produced such all-time greats as the screaming-chicken Pontiac Trans-Am, Ford Cruising Wagon and Cruising Van, and soooo many pickup trucks with absolutely killer door-to-tailgate stripes and graphics. Even humble vehicles like the Toyota Tercel SR5 wagon could be had with dynamite decals that totally went for it.

Jeep Honcho

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

From the grille to the tailgate, yesssss. Jeep Honcho, crushing it. Image: Stellantis 

Ford Cruising 1

Come on Ford, give us a Cruising Explorer with wrap-over stripes and a bubble window. We promise, it’ll sell. Image: Ford

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Sr5 2

Spotted this SR-5 wagon on Cars and Bids. What an absolute beast! Image: seller.

Trans Am Chicken

We can’t talk over-the-top graphics without including this guy. May the chicken forever scream. Image: GM

2023 F 150 Raptor R Exterior
Rad graphics are mostly a truck thing these days. Ford gets it! Images: Ford

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So tell us, what are your favorite sticker-slathered looks from the go-hard era? Or any era, right up to now–there are still some bangers out there in 2023. Let’s talk about them. To the comments!

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JDE
JDE
1 year ago

You guys are forgetting about the most prolific, long lived and greatest graphic of them all…..wood.

https://www.caranddriver.com/features/g15376986/against-the-grain-21-woodies-that-werent-station-wagons/

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 year ago

Not a factory option, but my lesbian aunt’s red F-150 with giant rainbow swooshes along the sides was, in retrospect about as badass of a decal ensemble that I can think of. That truck had to be the brightest thing in all of rural Vermont. And we’re talking 1997 here people.

Great memories of that truck, and it’s definitely the reason why I hold the ovals era F-150 in high regard.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 year ago

I had one just like it.
https://th.bing.com/th/id/OIP.htfqNLQrgMn8ptS8tO2JWwHaFj?pid=ImgDet&rs=1

(and I just lost whatever credibility I had around here.)

DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
1 year ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

It adds a little flare…

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 year ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Not with me, that’s pretty much exactly what I’m looking for in a used car. If I lost any credibility for saying that, I didn’t know I had any in the first place.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this and the woodie were OEM accessory kits, right?

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Yes, they were. There was also an “extreme” flame decal package that I can’t seem to find any pictures of. Very few takers. It was a pretty flamboyant red/yellow flame that I may have only been available on black cars. At least, I’ve only ever seen it on black.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I don’t think this is it, but it looked very similar.
https://www.autotrimdesign.net/images/products/graphics/vehicle/ATD-CHRYPTGRPH003.jpg

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Wow. I guess I’m surprised by the non-extreme version then, as I’d only seen pics of the full-on-Ed-Hardy-looking one.

I was always surprised I didn’t see more of the woodie package, as it pretty much replicated the general surf-wagon ethos that many people had in their mind when they thought of the Cruiser.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I liked the subtle look of the non-extreme flames. The woodies seemed be pretty popular when they came out. For whatever reason not very many seemed to have survived the years. All those special packages were only available for a couple years early in the car’s model run. Pretty sure they were all gone by the time the mid-cycle refresh came along.

DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
1 year ago

Someone mentioned The Judge, so I’ll go with Lancia’s Stratos. It may not have the graphics of other vehicles, it is unique in it’s own way.

JDE
JDE
1 year ago

the late seventies were pretty ripe with them. some could say the numerous Bicentennial Jingoistic affairs were perhaps interesting, but man for the money, Dodge trucks in the late seventies had quite a few variants. I liked the 78 Ramcharger with fully removable roof, roll bar and Top Hand Graphics. I think 78 was the last of the 340 headed 360’s too, but I am hard pressed to find out if these Ramchargers ever got them. https://barnfinds.com/top-hand-edition-1978-dodge-ramcharger/

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
1 year ago

I suspected the graphics on the Tercel are aftermarket, and apparently Doug D. does to (or whoever ghostwrites his comments box on the C&B auction pages)…

I’ll go a step further and hazard a guess they were installed new by the dealer seeking to pad profits during the voluntary-quota era. Between the chip shortage and the fact so many cars are coming through in dull non-colors like Fleet White, Settle-for-Silver and Trying-Too-Hard-To-Look-Badass Black I’m surprised we haven’t seen a lot more such mandatory addons.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago
Reply to  Nlpnt

They are and are not. The graphics on that one are taken from a render that’s been floating around for several years, which is actually based on the Taco graphics package.

But anyone who tells you the Tercel 4WD had no graphics is wrong. It was a factory option on the SR5 4WD. Toyota felt the black rubber extremely low belt line was ugly (they weren’t wrong) and the car needed spicing up, so there are TWO factory graphics options – high stripes and low stripes.

Here are the factory correct low stripes:
https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fi198.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Faa84%2Fcar_pic_addict%2Fcars%25203%2F101_0689.jpg&f=1&nofb=1&ipt=9d6692fac5d494e8c317e7e8c934a9c4eea0d1ff509f7019a0c941fc33c7ba9d&ipo=images

The factory high stripes is basically a pinstripe just above the door handles along the high cutline.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 year ago
Reply to  Nlpnt

There’s a new Ford Bronco at a local dealership with a graphics package added on. It’s a light yellow with red, orange, and brown stripes along the sides. I don’t think it’s replicating any specific graphics package, but it does look extremely 1970s and rules IMO.

Mazzaratti5
Mazzaratti5
1 year ago

While not exactly flashy graphics, classic shelby (or viper, etc.) racing stripes do it for me, with or without white out number panels.

https://classic-recreations.com/classic-recreations-models/shelby-csx-427-s-c-cobra/

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 year ago
Reply to  Mazzaratti5

Saw a silver Volvo with blue racing stripes at the grocery store today. I think they may have been applied by the owner, they weren’t quite right. It was unexpected and very cool.

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
1 year ago

We need more Starsky & Hutch in this conversation.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 year ago

While the exterior graphics are a bit ho-hum for the period, the interior graphics of the Javelin Pierre Cardin edition are peak 70’s!
https://www.motortrend.com/vehicle-genres/collectible-classic-1971-74-amc-javelin/

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago

I’d never seen this. What really makes it for me is how they’re on the headliner too. So it’s like you’re enclosed in the 1970s.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
1 year ago

If you are old enough: Daisy Duke’s Jeep.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
1 year ago
Reply to  Rollin Hand

Pretty much any GM pace car replica goes so hard you almost have to exclude them from the conversation. Pace cars are a whole different breed.

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

Speaking of different breeds….

https://i0.wp.com/www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/1979MustangPaceCar04.jpg

I don’t even count the Trans Am pace car, as much as I love it. That’s just a white Trans Am with words on it.

Come to think of it, the black and gold one went hard too…

https://www.pontiactransamforum.com/media/1980-pontiac-turbo-trans-am-black-gold.861/full?d=1586733868

Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
1 year ago

We all know who has the best Rush tribute murals on their 1978 GM G-Series conversion van, Dr. Algernop Krieger.
https://archer.fandom.com/wiki/Krieger%27s_Van

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
1 year ago

In addition to those already mentioned:
Chevy El Camino “Black Knight”
Jeep Wrangler Islander
Dodge Shelby Charger (most of it was paint, but still)
And last but very much not least: the Nissan Desert Runner.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 year ago

1969 AMC SC Rambler.

“The air knows where to go, we made a sign for it”

JDE
JDE
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

I think those were actual paint jobs, decals that size in that era would not have lasted more than a year or two.

Jonee Eisen
Jonee Eisen
1 year ago
Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonee Eisen

Hell yeah…luv it

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 year ago

Early 70s Barracuda.

XXLTall
XXLTall
1 year ago

The 1990 Chevy Barretta Indy is one that went as hard as you can in teal.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 year ago

’77 Trans Am SE takes the cake for pure impact and notability. Not only did the film make it famous, it boosted TA sales so high that Chevy had no choice but to resurrect the Z28 package on the Camaro. No other decal package can match it.

JDE
JDE
1 year ago
XXLTall
XXLTall
1 year ago

That turbo diesel International Scout David found was best of the uncommon ones for awhile.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 year ago

The Pinto Cruising Wagon was going to be my mention. You beat me to it.
But wasn’t there also a Rallye one, too?

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
1 year ago

Plymouth Roadrunner
Pontiac Judge
Any 80s truck graphic that matched the speed boat it’s towing

Last edited 1 year ago by Icouldntfindaclevername
Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 year ago

That last one reminded me of a terrific rig owned by my neighbor down the street back in Portland: an early 70s pre-“square body” Chevy K5 Blazer, butterscotch yellow, with black tape stripes, full-length convertible soft top, and rollbar, sitting on big ol’ 35s or so on chrome wagon-wheel rims – with a matching trailer, same rims, same tires, same paint and graphics, made out of a similar year Chevy pickup bed, with a camper shell painted to match.

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
1 year ago

I loved the 100% 80s decal kit on my 83.5 monte carlo ss. Nice tri color blue/gray, wide, low stipe; topped off with MONTE CARLO SS across the door. Cooler than the later, more understated one.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago
Reply to  Unclewolverine

Yes to this. It was such a wonderfully 1980s style too, which increases the cool.

As a little kid, I always noticed these on the road b/c of it.

Dennis Birtcher
Dennis Birtcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Unclewolverine

Having an 83 SS in my garage right now, I agree.

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
1 year ago

I regret ever having let mine go. I kept it mint, the succession of owners after me destroyed it. I’m sure it ended life as a track or derby car ????

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago

I offered this during the Plymouth Volare NASCAR-gasm discussion, and I stand by it:

The 1978 Ford Mustang King Cobra has the best worst hood graphic ever.

Take the Pontiac firebird’s idea and then increase the crazy by 5 with psychedelic flaming snake.

Max Headbolts
Max Headbolts
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Came here to say this, but you were faster and better at it!

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
1 year ago

This is one of those times where’d it be great to be able to comment with pictures.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 year ago
Reply to  BolognaBurrito

^^^^^^^^^^^^ Yo DT you on this? ^^^^^^^^^^

Saul Goodman
Saul Goodman
1 year ago

I think that the ford pinto wagon’s graphics are so peak malaise era. I can’t comprehend how groovy those graphics are.

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