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How Does Car Camouflage Work?

Posted on Wednesday, July 6, 2011

car camouflageAnyone in the automotive industry will know that spy shots of camouflaged cars being tested are incredibly frustrating since they give a fleeting glimpse of what is come without revealing any tasty details. You’ve no doubt been perplexed in the past by busy black and white patterns adorning what is rumoured to be the next big release from a major manufacturer. Camouflaging cars in such a way serves two functions;

car camouflage

• Primarily, it is designed to guard against rival manufacturers getting an idea of what the car in question looks like, the shape and proportions of a new model are very sensitive and with the design and manufacturing might that auto firms have, replicating a rival’s design could take a matter of days.

• Disguising a car can also have the exact opposite effect, the motoring press are always hungry for a new story and manufacturers are well aware that the sight of a vividly decorated, albeit disguised car driving on public roads will generate massive buzz and online and print news coverage

So the motivation behind manufacturer enshrouding their precious prototypes with layers of distracting pschyadellic tape or low-key matt black paint is clear, but can a mere layer of paint really throw savvy onlookers off the scent? With clever use of patterns and some decidedly low-tech techniques, it is entirely possible.

car camouflage

In Cognito

Even the slightest hint towards the shape of a new car’s headlight, or the angle of the crease running down the length of the body can blow its cover. For this reason, many manufacturers won’t stop at inconspicuous paint jobs, padding will actually be added to the body in order to hide key design features before a layer of paint is applied.

Paint is actually an old trick when to comes to travelling incognito. More manufacturer’s these days prefer to use a thin, adhesive tape that’s slapped straight on to the bodywork. The material made by 3M is no ordinary roll of masking tape however, it is special designed to mould around every subtle contour and is decorated with a ‘disruptive’ pattern that allegedly distorts the eye’s perception of shape

car camouflage

The shape pattern used of often involves concentric circles or spirals that resemble whirlpools, because this is in opposition to the straight, angular regimented lines of a car’s body and is therefore effective in disrupting and distracting the gaze.

In all seriousness Ensuring that high impact new models remain a closely guarded secret until their launch is essential. The grand unveiling, of say a new Ford Fiesta is a global news event that has massive implications for the manufacturer, a leaked image of the new design can undermine the mystery surrounding a launch and potentially cost a manufacturer millions of dollars.

Joe is an automotive blogger who uses Spy Equipment to catch his own shots of prototype cars in disguise!

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