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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FlavouredMilk
FlavouredMilk
11 months ago

1991 MX-5 Let Man’s Edition, which was draped in a full Renown style livery to mimic the 787B.

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRzChL9kMdJea6jBTmkigWro5IHVXaFCIW0Ew&usqp=CAU

Hondaimpbmw 12
Hondaimpbmw 12
11 months ago

In the 70s (I’m gonna guess late 74-75), I was working in a Civil Engineering firm in San Jose. A graphic artist there claimed he ”invented” the Cruisin’ Pinto wagon. Now Ford had an assembly plant in the area that (among other things) built Pintos. It is sorta conceivable that an enterprising customizer could have built a cool car and taken it buy or have been seen by some executive who ordered the car be built (after all the story goes that was the genesis of the 94-96 Impala). In any case, either my workmate was either a genius who got it done or delusional and trying to spice up his life.

Greg Winson
Greg Winson
11 months ago

The 1977 Buick Nighthawk had a neat trick: gold stripes that only showed up at night! https://i0.wp.com/www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/buick-skyhawk-nighthawk.jpg

MikuhlBrian
MikuhlBrian
11 months ago

I love so many of the graphic packages from the 70s/80s. One of my favorites is the Plymouth Road Runner stripes from the 1977-1979 Volare based Road Runner:

https://cdn.dealeraccelerate.com/flemings/1/5401/83372/1920×1440/w/1977-plymouth-road-runner-pro-touring

I loved that so much that I patterned the stripes on my Magnum SRT8 after it:

https://photos.smugmug.com/Automotive/Automobiles/That-70s-SRT8-Magnum/i-PfFKxWF/0/84ff6fca/L/70SRT8Sept-2138-L.jpg

Karl Bonde
Karl Bonde
11 months ago

I am wrong that 1970s through early 1980s VW Rabbits used to have a decal of the running rabbit on them? I cannot seem to find images of them anywhere.

Matt Wishart
Matt Wishart
11 months ago

My very own ’77 Chevy Monza Spyder!. Standard (for the time) stripes/graphics and stylised ‘Spyder’ along the sides and hatch, along with a massive, vinyl Arachnid on the bonnet/hood, complete with pinstriped fangs.

Sly Clydesdale
Sly Clydesdale
11 months ago

1969 American Motors SC/Rambler. Not only is most of the car covered in graphics, from the dorsal and roof stripes to the giant bodyside graphics, the hood gets a giant blue arrow pointing straight into the scoop that says “390 CU.IN.” and “AIR” emblazoned in huge letters on the scoop itself. TWICE.

No other stripe package goes harder.

Last edited 11 months ago by Sly Clydesdale
Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago

Loved the crazy Isuzu Amigo stripes along with bright interior, with a great blue base.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I recall the very rad “AMIGO” decals prominently high on the sides, seemingly always in teal b/c ’90s!

MrLM002
MrLM002
11 months ago

Wood (both real and fake) paneling > Graphics

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
11 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Obligatory Tim Wilson comedy bit: “Hot-Ass Station Wagons”

https://youtu.be/gXyyJj8qLOQ

MrLM002
MrLM002
11 months ago

Thanks for the chuckle.

Ricki
Ricki
11 months ago

Y’all. C’mon. The 1978 Mustang King Cobra. Massive hood decal? Check. Pinstripes? Triple check. Name decal on the side? Of course. T-Top pinstripes? The Trans-Am only wishes it could have as many.

The BUMPERS had pinstripes.

The 1978 King Cobra is the car that all other factory jobs look to and say “Yeah, you can in fact go too far, please back up.”

Bobfish
Bobfish
11 months ago
Reply to  Ricki

Winner, with the gulf between performance and flamboyance being the true “crowning” “achievement”

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago

Bring back 2.7 RS/997.1 RS/Cayenne Transsyberia-style script, Porsche!

It predates rad era, but goshdarnit, it’s a classy one.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

I saw a Boxster the other day with the more sedate rocker panel striping of the ’60s variety (aka the Mustang-looking ones) and was impressed with how good it looked.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

There’s a lot of newer Porsches with the subtle Porsche block script in the line going down the side, and that’s a good look, too. I just like the big script the most, heh.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Agreed..the in/out Carrera is beautiful to my eyes. It’s the juxtaposition of the free flowing, non-Teutonic look with the rest of the machine that just makes it.

Cerberus
Cerberus
11 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

I always liked that script. I wanted to something in that style for the GR86, but I think the upsweep in the sill design would clash.

SparkySparkington
SparkySparkington
11 months ago

It might not go as hard as some of the ones already posted in the comments, but I have to mention my favorite appearance package for the M300 Chevy Spark: the Swiss-market-only Summer Edition.

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
11 months ago

Good grief, those wheels are poorly Photoshopped on. They don’t even have the correct number of lugs!

I managed to find images of the real car, though, and I dig it.

Jordan Anderson
Jordan Anderson
11 months ago
Hotdoughnutsnow
Hotdoughnutsnow
11 months ago

How about Renaut’s “Le Car”… it proudly told the world what it was. (Ironically, one English translation of Le Car is “The Bus”)

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
11 months ago

Honorable mention to the Toyota Truck and Van of the 80s/90s.

Mike S
Mike S
11 months ago

Early 80’s Oldsmobile Omega Sport had some pretty impressive yellow and orange side stripes with big ol “Sport Omega” callouts on the doors

Walky_talky20
Walky_talky20
11 months ago
Last edited 11 months ago by Walky_talky20
MissAllyBlue
MissAllyBlue
11 months ago
Reply to  Walky_talky20

When you pay your marketing team by wordcount.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
11 months ago

I liked the late 70s early 80s multi colored z28s.

The firechicken is a good example of other top/

A van from this era without a wizard, rainbow, and unicorn looks wrong.

Bob Rolke
Bob Rolke
11 months ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

I agree the various 70’s-80’s stripes were fantaskic, but the firechicken rules them all. In the end there can be only one.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
11 months ago
Reply to  Bob Rolke

Yup!

Robert Pridgen
Robert Pridgen
11 months ago
Hondaimpbmw 12
Hondaimpbmw 12
11 months ago
Reply to  Robert Pridgen

OMG!

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
11 months ago
Reply to  Robert Pridgen

Whoa

Kevin Baggiore
Kevin Baggiore
11 months ago

I have always liked the 78 Dodge Macho Power Wagon! They are very 70s without being too overdone.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago
Reply to  Kevin Baggiore

Rick Simon agrees; AJ however is more a Camaro kinda guy.

Bob Josephson
Bob Josephson
11 months ago
Reply to  Kevin Baggiore

Count me in for overdone, the 79s are a bit much more (personal preference)

Maymar
Maymar
11 months ago

For a newer, cheap car, the Mazda 2 Yozora makes sure you know what kind of car it is. There’s also one near my kid’s daycare, so it might just be top of mind because I see it frequently enough.

https://www.motortrend.com/uploads/sites/11/2010/04/33214455.jpeg1.jpg?fit=around%7C875:492

Elduchey
Elduchey
11 months ago

98 Corvette pace car is probably the wildest but my favorite has to be the 77 Wrangler Golden Eagles. I still have fond memories of Daisy Duke rockin that white and gold one…

Marc Fuhrman
Marc Fuhrman
11 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Ames

I prefer the ’76 Buick Indy pace car myself.
https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/4369706314_9cdbe2d6c2_b.jpg

Dennis Ames
Dennis Ames
11 months ago
Reply to  Marc Fuhrman

OH! my eyes!

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
11 months ago

Hard to say what “went hardest” since a lot that is subjective, but if we’re not giving the Trans Am the Go Hardest Lifetime Achievement Award, then I don’t understand the question. I mean the T/A basically originated the category, with a screaming chicken in ’73 that Bill Mitchell didn’t even want.

Top of that heap has to be the 10th Anniversary Trans Am of ’79, although the black and gold Special Editions are more iconic thanks to a certain Hal Needham movie.

Dennis Ames
Dennis Ames
11 months ago

A vote for the AMC Scrambler. The hood has an arrow telling the air where to go in

https://blog.1aauto.com/69-amc-scrambler/

Farty McSprinkles
Farty McSprinkles
11 months ago

The screaming chicken is hard to beat. I hate fake badges (ie putting SS on normal cars), but I would be lying if I said I would not probably put one of the decals on a non-se TA.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
11 months ago

It doesn’t have to be an SE Trans Am to get the chicken – it was an option on all T/As.

On the other hand, putting the chicken on a base Firebird? That’s been a lame move for five decades. See also: fake TRD badges, fake M3 badges, etc.

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