While there isn’t one specific origin for adding flames to your ride, the earliest known photo was a car in the 1934 Indy 500. In the late 30’s it was popular to race hot rods in the California desert, and many of these cars were decorated with flames. In those early days it may have been to make a car easier to identify in a pack during a race, or as a way to rebel against the norms of the time.
After WWII, flames on cars became more popular, possibly becasue of the flame paint jobs on fighter planes. In the 60’s antiestablishment counterculture was in full swing, and flames were not only painted on cars but on custom vans and chopper motorcycles as well. This was they heyday if classic cars, and when many of the flame styles we see today were developed and widely used.
By the 70’s flames on cars became mainstream with the stock paintjob on the Pontiac Firebird. The symbolism became less about rebellion and counterculture, and became more about power and speed. With the rise of the classic Muscle Car, your car could convey that feeling of power without any additional modifications, and custom paint jobs dropped in popularity.
In the 80’s three things combined to revive car painting culture. As cars became more aerodynamic to increase fuel efficiency, they also became more generic, and people were once again looking for a way to stand out. At this time, airbrush art was very popular, and the airbrush itself became a commonly available art tool. This coincided with breakthroughs in paint technology that saw an explosion in metal flake and candy paint options. These things together helped fuel the popularity of custom art on cars, including the classic flames.
The early 2000’s saw a wave of realty tv shows about customizing cars and motorcycles. This brought the idea of customization from the edges of counterculture straight into our living rooms.
These days, flames on cars can be considered high art, with complex layered paint treatments and detailed pinstriping. But flames can be added to anything you might want to add a touch of “speed” to, from bike helmets to golf carts, with easy to apply decals.
At Seward Street Studios we have a large selection of Flame Decals to match your home’s style. Our flame decals come in a wide variety of styles and sizes so you can hot rod your kids bike all the way to a fully dressed motorcycle. All of our flame decals can be made in genuine 3M Scotchlite reflective vinyl, combining the safety of increased visibility while adding style to your ride!
Every design on our web site is available in
Genuine 3M Retro-Reflective Vinyl
No matter your style, you can add reflective safety to your gear!