It's pretty common for us enthusiasts to assume that the art of pinstriping is contained solely in the realm of the hot rod world. Heck, I'll bet I wouldn't be far off the mark in guessing Von Dutch was the first thing that popped into many of your minds at the mere mention of the term. Well, as much as pinstriping and hot rodding are synonymous, they're really not. In fact, believe it or not, pinstriping as an art form actually dates back to the days of the chariot-though when you think about it I guess it could be said the chariot very well could have been civilization's first hot rod-heavy stuff, huh? Freehand-painted stripes and designs have appeared on almost everything imaginable over the years. Signs, pianos, furniture, wagons, stage coaches, railroad engines, and railroad cars are just a smattering of examples and a complete list would likely be near endless. Though pinstriping found its way into the realm of cars and trucks early on, Henry Ford was a proponent, too, and countless Model As were treated to striping at the factory. I even heard these early stripers (or "liners" as they were called at the time) were paid a buck more a day than the average assembly line worker.

During the '50s and '60s, interest in the art of automotive pinstriping became extremely popular among enthusiasts who wanted to individualize or set apart their hot rods from others. It's said to have gained its initial popularity in California with a quite diverse selection of artists plying their craft on all manner of hot rods and show cars. Over time each artist developed their own unique style and with that a loyal following that shaped reputations and created a plethora of interesting stories and entertaining lore. As time passed and pinstriping grew in popularity, the art form spread from a more or less regional phenomenon to a hot-rod hallmark accepted across the country and the world. And, of course, as pinstriping's popularity grew, so did the number of artistically-inclined enthusiasts who began to lay lines on sheet metal.

I think it'd be pretty safe to say that most rodders have owned cars, trucks, and perhaps motorcycles that have been graced with a helping of pinstriping or lettering at one time or another. And it is just as likely that we've developed a preference for a particular style of adornment and/or a particular artist's work. I know that in my particular case I enlisted the talents of a local New England striper, a gent named Fred Luck, to stripe my first hot rod, and ended up using him exclusively for years after that. Since those days I've used the services of many different pinstripers and still find the process both entertaining and fascinating to watch

I recently had the good fortune to be introduced to a prominent member of the SoCal pinstriping fraternity during one of our many working lunches here at the STREET RODDER world headquarters (working lunch means our leader Brian Brennan picked up the tab, by the way). Brian has known Jeff "Styles" Overman for years and thought I'd enjoy the chance to meet him and talk striping. Well, Brian was correct and I really did enjoy myself. Jeff ended up being as friendly and informative as he is talented and, by the end of our lunch. "Styles" and I had made plans to meet at our Tech Center so I could watch as he laid a few lines on one of our project cars, and perhaps get a few pointers in the art while he was at it.

When I arrived a few days later I was pleasantly surprised to find that Styles was as excited at the prospect of teaching me a bit about striping as I was of having the chance at a bit of tutelage. In fact, Jeff had hit his Summit Racing catalog a few days beforehand and had ordered up a pinstriping teaching aid just for me! What he presented to me upon my arrival was the Kafka Pinstriping System (a great hands-on tutorial that includes everything a novice would need to be introduced to the art).