All DMs are not created equal. Getting a direct message from Snoop Dogg about a vintage car? Cooler than most.
And that’s how it began. With Snoop, the all-time rapper/pop-culture icon, DMing Huntsville car-customizer Spokes-N-Vogues’ Instagram account about a 1970 Buick Skylark they’d posted a pic of. The Skylark was candy-greenish at the time.
Snoops’ message read something like, “I want to buy it but I want your flavor on it,’” recalls Spokes-N-Vogues’ “Big Lee” Adams. Snoop then messaged Adams his number for him, Adams says, to work out the details over a phone call.
The Skylark was with one of SN-V’s clients over in Gulfport, Miss., and the rapper tasked them with purchasing it for him. Within 24 hours or so, he sent the funds to do so.
“We went and got the car,” Adams says. “And he was like, ‘Man, I want one of those wraps. I want to blow everybody out the water.’”
Chrome vinyl wraps for cars are Klieg-light-hot now. It’s a technique in which vinyl wrap — similar to that used to add logos to company vans, food trucks and other commercial vehicles — is applied to a consumer car exterior to imbue a slinky metallic look. A vintage meet futuristic shine.
The wrap for Snoop’s Skylark was done in a color called “tangerine orange chrome.” The “Gin and Juice” legend liked his new ride’s new hide enough the Skylark’s in the next music video from his rap supergroup Mount Westmore, for the song “Motto.” Mount Westmore also boasts Ice Cube, Too Short and E-40. No cars less an awesome allowed in that company.
Spokes-N-Vogues collaborated with Madison-based Barnes Signs for Snoop’s project. Barnes Signs did the work in their garage, housed in a humble warehouse space where rap-rock by the band 311 blares on the stereo. Out back, there’s a basketball hoop. The shop’s owned by Huntsville High grad Blair Barnes. Barnes Signs is a family affair. The shop’s four or so employees include his Barnes’ wife Julie and their nephew of him.
It took about a week for them to do the Snoop project. Applying chrome vinyl wrap involves removing all a vehicles panels and bumpers off so the wrap can be applied to each individual exterior piece.
“Chrome’s extremely difficult to work with,” says Barnes Signs owner Blair Barnes. “It doesn’t want to bond and hold like normal [vehicle wrap].” Still the result’s worth it, Barnes adds. “When you see it going down the interstate with the sun hitting it right it is incredible.”
Drawing from Houston car culture and skills in wheels and tires, Adams’ Spokes-N-Vogues has evolved into a facilitator too, around 100,000 followers on Instagram. Others who collaborated on Snoop’s Skylark include AutomworkZ, a Huntsville shop that applied a protective/enhancing ceramic coat to the exterior. Tatum’s Upholstery (out of Houston) worked the exterior.
There’s funk inside the trunk, too. When the Skylark’s trunk is popped, the inside of the lid displays the name of Snoop Dogg’s 1998 album “Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told” in neon letters. In Texas car culture, this is called a “pop trunk.”
Spokes-N-Vogues has steered car customizations for other rap stars, including UGK and Paul Wall. They’re in talks to do a car for a certain flashy legendary defensive back turned rising college football coach, too.
Aaron Maday is the lead installer at Barnes Signs. On a recent afternoon he’s taking a break from doing a hot pink wrap job on a Tesla brought in by a local female customer. In addition to their commercial vehicle graphics work, Barnes Signs has wrapped local clients’ upscale cars including Lamborghinis.
According to Maday, the allure of vinyl wrapping is it’s more affordable than repainting, protects the existing/factory paint and can be swapped out easily. Want your car to be metallic green one year and purple chrome the next? It’s (relatively) easily done. Plus, Maday says, “You can definitely stand out and be unique.”
For Adams and Barnes, who grew up listening to Snoop Dogg’s puff-puff cadence on hit albums like “Doggystyle” and Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic,” it’s surreal to be working with him now. As Adams puts it with a laugh, “People in Alabama gonna do a car for Snoop?”
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