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Pinstriping - Lost Art

As a kid, I was always fascinated by pinstriping on cars. It didn’t seem possible that a human hand could be so steady as to paint straight lines on car bodies. Just for the heck of it, I researched the art of pinstriping and found out some interesting things. First, it hardly was used just on cars. It goes back into antiquity. Hundreds of years ago pinstriping appeared on everything imaginable. Carriages, pianos, wagons, picture frames...the list is endless.

Back in the early days of automotive production, most of the car manufacturers employers “liners” who’s job it was to pinstrip the cars after they were painted. The lines were a thick single stroke of paint that were used to accentuate curves of the car. At the Ford Motor Company, liners were paid one dollar more per day than the typical assembly worker as they were considered highly talented individuals. The art started to fade away in the late 1930s.


There were many sign artists who also were excellent pinstripers too as the two crafts were considered similar. The mark of the striper was evidenced in his style of design scrolls and monogramming. The intricate weave of letters by different artists displayed their talents in a way as unique as a person’s handwriting.

The 50’s and 60’s arrived with a renewed interest in the art. It sprouted in California with a many artists plying their craft on hot rods. Each had their own style and a following that produced reputations bigger that life itself.


Today the art has evolved into a very sophisticated form. The stripers are faster utilizing very distinct styles and colors. It seems that the big story California guys have faded into striper obscurity and the more serious minded business people seem to be the norm.


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