Laurie Slawson
March 1, 2005
Photos By: Jim Smart

During the '68 model year, Ford offered an exterior C-stripe as part ofthe GT and Sprint equipment packages that accented the sweeping designof the side-body sculpture. What many of you may not know is areflective C-stripe was available on the GT models with the purchase ofthe Reflective Group option, which also included special reflectivepaint on the styled steel wheels. Available C-stripe standard colorswere black, blue, white, red, and gold; reflective stripes could beordered in all but gold. Whether you're doing a concours restoration oradding a little visual excitement to your daily driver, C-stripeinstallation is easily done in your garage.

Stripe Installation

For Project KISS, our budget '68 Mustang hardtop, it was decided a blackC-stripe would offer a sharp contrast against the Candyapple Red paint.Mustangs Plus provided us with the stripe kit to do the job. There aretwo different ways to apply a stripe kit. We followed the manufacturer'sinstructions to align the stripe, use masking tape to hold it in place,peel off the adhesive liner, and press the stripe in place with thesqueegee provided. however, a much easier way to do this is to putstripes on wet with a soap and water mix. Mix a few drops of liquiddishwashing soap in water and put it in a spray bottle. Wet the surfacearea and the stripe down with the soapy solution. This will allow you tomove the stripe into place for easy adjustment. Any air bubbles can beremoved with the squeegee. After about 30 minutes, the protective layerwill be dry and can be peeled back easily.

The C-stripe decal kit consists of vinyl stripes, a protective cover,and an adhesive liner, which must be removed carefully to avoidstretching or tearing the decal. Use your fingernail to separate theadhesive liner from the protective cover. Do only a small section at atime as you work with the stripe. For best results, peel the liner awayfrom the stripe slowly by pulling it back on itself, not at an angle.

No matter which technique you use, it is essential to do three thingsbefore you begin applying the stripe kit. First, make sure thefender-to-door alignment is correct, and all bolts are securelytightened. Second, sweep the work area around the car to remove any dustor dirt, and, if possible, water down the floor to control the dust.Third, thoroughly clean and degrease the area where the stripe will beinstalled. If your car is freshly painted, you won't need to worry aboutremoving wax. If wax is present, it must be removed or the stripe won'tstick properly. Wash the area with dishwashing detergent to remove thewax. Finally, even on a new paint job, degrease the area before applyingthe stripe. Either a naphtha- or alcohol-based cleaner will do thetrick. An excellent product for this purpose is Grow Automotive's 1705Grow Super-Klean, which is a naphtha-based product that is available atmost auto paint stores. Super-Klean is safe on all paint types, and itremoves grease, wax, and silicone. All you do is wipe the product on,and, while it is wet, wipe it off with a clean cloth. be careful not totouch the areas where the stripe is going to be placed as the oil fromyour hands could cause a problem. The wearing of latex or nitrile gloveseliminates this concern.

A final comment about stripe kits--this is one product where it isrecommended you buy a reproduction kit, such as those carried byMustangs Plus. Many people have paid a lot of money at online auctionsand elsewhere for N.O.S. kits, only to find the stripes crumble as theyare unrolled; they are discolored; or they won't stick because the gluehas deteriorated. There really is no benefit in using an originalC-stripe kit, even on a concours restoration.

Quarter-Panel Segment

Begin by applying the C-stripe on the quarter-panel. This is the largestpart of the stripe, which means it will catch people's eyes first. Thealignment of the stripe around the scoop area will determine its balanceand placement down the length of the car. The stripe should followaround the contours of the simulated sidescoop. The wide stripe shouldbe no closer than one-eighth of an inch away from the radius of thescoop. Before peeling away the adhesive liner, place the stripe on thecar to ensure you have the right alignment. Use masking tape to hold itin place where necessary.

Once you're ready to proceed with the stripe application, remove theadhesive liner, starting at the doorjamb with the upper portion of thestripe, slowly working your way around the scoop. Be sure to press theupper and lower edges of the stripe down around the edge of thedoorjamb.

As you press the stripe into place, use the squeegee to press out anyair bubbles, but use only enough pressure to get the job done. Too muchpressure, and you'll stretch or tear the stripe. If you get a stubbornair bubble that won't come out with the squeegee--and you can count onthis--use a pin or point of an Exacto knife to pop the bubble and thenfollow with the squeegee to press it in place.

Before beginning the door segment, make sure door-to-fender alignment iscorrect. Any offset between them will be magnified by the stripe. Usemasking tape to hold the stripe in place as it is aligned with thequarter-panel segment. The wide stripe should be one-eighth of an inchabove the beltline radius. Once the stripe is taped in place, step backand doublecheck your alignment from several angles.

Upper Door Segment

The upper portion that goes along the door is the next portion applied.Because the stripe extends from the quarter-panel to the front fender,it is essential all final door-to-fender alignment has been performedbefore applying the door stripe. If you have to realign the door afterapplying the stripe, it will be very noticeable if an offset occurs inthe stripe alignment.

Carefully peal back the adhesive liner and work your way down the doorstripe using the same technique as before--moderate, but even pressurewith the squeegee to remove any air bubbles. Gently pull the stripestaut as you work across the door, which will ensure good stripealignment. Working your way down the door, look under the protectivecover to check your clearance from the beltline radius.

As with the quarter-panel segment, first do a trial fit of the doorsegment by holding it in place with masking tape. The stripe should beplaced one-eighth of an inch above the beltline radius of the door andin alignment with the quarter-panel segment. After taping it in place,step back and take a good look at the stripe from different vantagepoints. Make sure you're happy with what you see, and make anycorrections to its placement now before you go any further.

Once you're satisfied with the stripe alignment, remove the adhesiveliner and proceed as you did on the quarter-panel segment. Press thestripe into place with the squeegee, while using moderate pressure. Inaddition, keep the stripe taut, but not overly tight, while pressing itinto place. This will help keep the alignment nice and straight. Just becareful not to pull it too tight because the decal could stretch, tear,or wrinkle. As you work your way down the door, lift the protectivecovering occasionally to check on your distance from the beltlineradius. Again, use the squeegee to remove any air bubbles as you workyour way down the door. The edges of the stripe should wrap around thedoor at both ends.

At the fender, follow the same procedure as with the door andquarter-panel. First, check door-to-fender alignment, then position thestripe with masking tape. Keep the wide stripe one-eighth of an inchabove the beltline radius. Once you're satisfied with stripe alignment,carefully peel back the adhesive liner. Using moderate pressure,squeegee to remove any air bubbles. Again, gently pull on the stripe tokeep it aligned, but not enough to stretch the material. Be sure to keepan eye on your clearance to the beltline radius as you work your waydown the fender.
The tip of the stripe should be within one-half of an inch of theheadlight door. Be sure to keep the stripe straight as the adhesiveliner is removed.

Fender Segment

The fender segment of the stripe is applied the same way. Double checkfender-to-door alignment. Then, position the stripe in alignment withthe door segment one-eighth of an inch above the beltline radius usingmasking tape. Then, step back and have a look. The stripe should endabout one-half inch from the headlight door. If everything looks good,peel the adhesive liner off and begin pressing the stripe into placewith the squeegee. As with the door stripe segment, keep the stripe tautto help keep it straight. Occasionally check your beltline clearance.Again, wrap the rear end of the stripe around the edge of the fender andpress into place.

After you install the lower segment of the door stripe, squeegee theentire C-stripe to ensure adhesion and remove any air bubbles. If anystubborn bubbles remain, carefully use a pin to pop them, then squeegee.

Lower Door Segment

The last section of the C-stripe installation is the lower door segment,which is applied using the same techniques used on other segments. Oncethis stripe is installed, go back over the entire C-stripe with thesqueegee to make sure that the stripe is adhering well, and that no airbubbles are present. Use a pin or Exacto knife as needed, and press thestripe down firmly.

Beginning at the front end of the stripe, use your fingernail tocarefully lift the protective covering and peel it back slowly andgently. Don't pull at an angle. Be sure to pull back straight inalignment with the stripe to avoid pulling the stripe off. Once you'veremoved the protective film, use a clean, soft cloth to rub out thestripe, pressing it down firmly as a final step to ensure good adhesionand to remove any small air bubbles that might be present. Make sure youpress the edges around the door openings and onto the doorjamb. A dab ofclear fingernail polish will help keep the ends in place.
The final product--a great low-cost accent for a '67-'68 Mustang thatgives it a fresh look.

Finishing Touches

Beginning at the front of the fender, carefully separate the protectivefilm from the stripe by using a fingernail. Peel it back on itselfslowly and gently, while keeping a light pressure on the section justrevealed. Unlike removing masking tape, don't pull the protectivecovering at an angle. This can tear or stretch the stripe decal. Takeyour time, pulling evenly and slowly. Be especially careful when goingaround curves.

Once the protective film has been removed from all segments, take aclean, soft cloth and rub out the stripe by pressing it down firmly toensure good adhesion. This also removes any remaining air bubbles. Takeextra care to press down the edges along the doorjamb and openings. As afinal step, use a small dab of clear fingernail polish on all of theends to keep them in place. Let the stripes sit for 24 hours beforeapplying wax.