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  • Scott

19 - I Blacked Out for a Couple Weeks

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

For much of my life, I’ve been quite the pack rat regarding shiny things on cars. My good friend used to love harassing me about the fact that I’d chrome anything I could get my hands on, then bolt it onto any open real estate on my car. For a long time, he was spot on. However, with the Tesla, I felt a little different. I was older and probably not wiser, but definitely lazier. Wasting a bunch of time polishing chrome doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend my weekends. Also, the chrome trim that came with the Tesla wasn’t going to mesh with the black/carbon fiber theme I was molding.


Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Final pictures of the car in Dana Point California after all chrome delete items have been installed. Front driver side profile.

The Long and Boring History of Why Chrome Sucks


For years, chrome was kind of the gold standard (pun intended) for automotive and motorcycle décor. The more chrome you had under the engine compartment, the more you built your street cred as a real gear head. But, as time went on, that started to change. In the 1990s and early 2000s, alternatives emerged and became popular. Anodized and polished aluminum started to become more common. Blacking out parts that used to be chrome also gained momentum. Why, you ask? Chrome is amazing, and it’s so shiny that car guys are attracted to it like moths to a flame.


What my Dart looks like if I don't polish the chrome for a week.

But, to be honest, chrome is a giant pain to maintain. If it chips, it has to be re-chromed, which even 25 years ago was expensive. It turns purple and loses some of its shine if it gets too hot. Even high-quality chrome oxidizes quickly, unless you’ve got a good layer of chemical protectant on it. Every time you take the car or motorcycle out, you need to clean it all off or risk pitting or other permanent damage. If someone dings your bumper, it has to get straightened and re-chromed. The list goes on and on…


Alternatives that Suck Less

Chrome looks great, but besides highly polished aluminum, it’s hard to find anything that will give you a mirror-like shine on your motorcycle or classic car. But, as I spent the last 38 minutes complaining about, it’s a bear to maintain. As such, I’ve shifted to aluminum, painting, or blacking out/wrapping parts that I would have been ecstatic to chrome just a couple of decades ago. For example, I had polished aluminum Cragar SS-style wheels on my 2011 Dodge Challenger RT Classic, and it was hard to tell the difference between those and chrome when they were all clean and polished. Those wheels were also super forgiving. If they got a nicked or curb rash, you could polish them out on your own at almost no cost in 30 minutes. If the same thing happened to chrome Cragar’s, you’d have to dismount them from the tire, repair, and re-chrome them, and it would probably cost at least $250 per wheel to have all that done.


2011 Dodge Challenger RT Classic Toxic Orange with polished aluminum wheels.

Painting some after-market parts can also be easy and forgiving. If something gets chipped or nicked, you can just rub it out, or sand it down and repaint it. It all depends upon the part, of course, but this can also be an easy path. For example, I started painting chrome bumpers on cars 20+ years ago because it was much less work to maintain and a lot cheaper. There are also many plastic/rubber-like coatings available that do the work paint, or powder coating would do, at a much lower cost. Powder coating is another alternative to paint. During powder coating, the part is blasted to bare metal, electrostatically charged and painted, then baked in an oven to cure. It’s almost like a rubbery surface when done right, and it can last forever. But, in my experience, most powder coaters don’t prep, coat, and cook them well enough for some parts to endure. So, you’re just paying for a really expensive paint job that can be a bear to repair.


The last option that has become really popular and economical in the previous ten years is wrapping parts or entire cars in vinyl. The technology has come very far and is durable and safe for almost all surfaces. Wrapping is generally easy to do and can be pretty forgiving. Most wrapping is relegated to body panels and trim, but I’m sure anyone could get creative. Wrapping would be the ideal solution for eliminating the last vestiges of chrome that adorned my husky red beauty.


Picking the Kit

When it came to selecting a brand/style/weight/etc. for my wrapping material, I was at a loss. A good friend of mine, who’s also a Tesla aficionado, overall fast car guy, and owner of EVskins.com, recommended I get a high-quality 3M pre-made kit. He told me not to skimp on the quality of the vinyl, or it would come back to haunt me later. He was spot on, don’t get cheap. Buy a high-quality product because it will last longer and look better than cheaper alternatives. It will also lessen the likelihood that you’ll want to inflict self-harm at installation time. He ordered a kit from Nikola Pro and was very happy with it, so he recommended I try Nikola Pro as well, and I did. I did a small amount of research and ordered a kit the next day.


At this point, that probably seems counterintuitive, I know. I wrote a novel about finding side skirts, but I ordered the first blackout kit someone recommended. At the time, the universe of vinyl blackout kits was relatively small. There are only 3-4 high-quality types of vinyl out there. So, it was easy to just go with my buddy’s recommendation. However, a healthy combination of; not too many options, and general laziness, made it a fast decision. Between the two primary companies I found, the price difference was negligible.

All joking aside, I did some research and found a few other kits on the internets. So I’ll share a few options with you and quickly run through some of the vinyl brands and types.


Nikola Pro

This is the brand I chose. I’ll talk about the overall quality in more detail later. For now, I’ll just share some highlights. First off, I liked the installation videos they have. I felt like I could be capable of installing a kit after spending 5 minutes watching their videos. I also liked that all-inclusive kits were offered, and they included a heat gun and installation accessories. They use 3M 2080 vinyl, an excellent product with a 5-7 year life. One of the other key selling points was they provided two kits. This was a huge selling point because I assumed I’d screw up something during the installation process. I didn’t want to get nickel and dimed because I had to order and ship replacements. I also didn’t want to look like a schmuck with a half chrome/half blacked-out car while I waited for missing pieces to arrive. Their premium kit costs about $179 at the time of this article.



TesBros

This is another brand that has a very well-done website. It’s savvy but folksy. They have a lot of authentic customer images of their products in action, which always instills some confidence. They use legit photos, unlike the thousands of Amazon products that are photoshopped into stock images. 😅 They have a wide variety of videos, and the quality is good. They get up close to the parts you are wrapping and show good details. The minutia is essential when wrapping because many parts are oddly shaped, and the vinyl placement isn’t always intuitive. They also use 3M 2080 vinyl, so the kits should be durable and will probably last a while. From what I could tell, it looks like TesBros sells their kits through a few Tesla-specific accessory websites. So if you see a kit for sale on one of those sites and the pictures look like the ones from TesBros, it’s probably a TesBros kit. Their kit cost about $199 at the time of this article.



Amazon, eBay and Other Options

I've searched for complete Model S blackout kits at different points, but I haven't come up with much. There are some more generic listings on Amazon and eBay. But, the listings I saw on both platforms didn't instill much confidence and didn't seem as comprehensive as Nikola Pro or TesBros kits. You could also piece together your own kit by purchasing individual pieces from eBay, Amazon, and other sellers, but that seems like a lot of work. It may not be worth the small savings in time or money. You could also DIY your own complete kit by purchasing your own sheets of vinyl, but it's also probably not worth the time or effort. Nikola Pro and TesBros have probably spent a lot of time and effort trying to get the fit right for their kits. If you try to do it independently, you may have to make all the mistakes they did to get the vinyl to fit right on awkward pieces. None of that would be worth my sanity. It wouldn't be worth the swearing and thrown objects. And it wouldn't be worth the inevitable trip to urgent care because I sliced my hand open as I tried to cut a piece of vinyl to exacting OCD-induced specs. It'd probably cost me more because of trial, error, and doctor bills. Also, it would probably take longer than watching some YouTube videos and following their instructions.


 
 


Unboxing

I ordered the kit from Nikola Pro, which shipped promptly and arrived quickly, less than a week later. However, one piece did get damaged in shipping, a very minor issue. I emailed the company, and they sent a replacement piece out the same day. What’s cool is that I had two of those pieces from the onset, so I could start installing the kit immediately. In addition, I didn’t have to wait for the replacement piece to arrive.


I ordered the kit with the heat gun, and they included some trim tools that help with the installation. Adding the heat gun for a few bucks is wise because you don’t have to chase around the right heat gun with the proper heat levels and all that stuff. Instead, they send you a heat gun you know will get the job done, without any other research or effort on your part. I’m a lazy perfectionist, so that’s really appealing to me.


The kit is well-organized, and all the support materials are professional and clean. You’re prompted with a card right away that tells you if you need replacements, contact them. There are also good notes, tips, and guidelines posted inside the box and on the reference cards they provide. All the small pieces are separated and included in a small envelope so they don’t get lost. Each piece is methodically labeled with part numbers on the back. The part numbers indicate the side of the car and use a letter and numbering system that is consistent and easy to understand. At the beginning of each installation video, they remind you of key points and specifically call out the part numbers you’ll need for the video. I also ordered a little generic installation kit to help me along if I needed more tools at my disposal.


Here are some of the extra items I ordered, in case I needed them:


 
 

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Unboxing.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Unboxing.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Unboxing, first open.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Unboxing, first open, taking out two boxes.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Unboxing, first box contents..

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Unboxing, first box contents.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Unboxing, first box contents, showing the vinyl and replacement card.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Unboxing, first box contents, showing the vinyl pieces.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Unboxing, first box contents, showing the heat gun.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Unboxing, first box contents, showing the vinyl labeling system and slightly damaged piece.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Unboxing, first box contents, showing a slightly damaged piece.

Some Background on Vinyl

Quality vinyl can be pretty forgiving if you've never worked with vinyl before. It allows you to lay it down, then pull it back up, while retaining the original tackiness. It's also very elastic, so you can pull and stretch it, and it doesn't bunch up as much as you'd think. The key word in the previous statement was "quality" vinyl. I don't have much experience with other vinyl. But from my research, I learned that 3M 2080 and Avery Dennison appear to be the gold standards. After working with the 3M 2080 in the Nikola kit, I'd assume that lesser brands probably aren't as forgiving or elastic. So if you're considering trying a lesser brand for a significant project, I'd reconsider. Unless you are either a very lucky or very talented novice, you may spend as much on wasted vinyl for a cheaper brand as if you had just paid full price for a quality brand. I'm not an expert by any means. But, after laying the vinyl on this car, I can only imagine what a frustrating time suck it could be to try and apply cheap unforgiving vinyl.


3M 2080 Color Chart

Installation

I took time installing the kit, working 2-4 hours daily over two weeks. I started with the sizeable driver-side trim that encompasses both the front and rear side windows. It's a massive section to cover. Once I started, I was convinced I would completely destroy this kit as I installed it. I expected this to look like an amateur job by the time I was done. So, I followed the instructions closely and first cleaned and prepped all the chrome. Next, I queued up the video on my phone. I watched the whole thing, then watched it incrementally in 10-20 second spurts. I followed the directions to a "T." I had some issues with the rear-most section at first as I adapted to the tackiness of the vinyl. It took me a couple tries to get the placement right so the vinyl would lay across the long segment uniformly. Finally, after some perseverance, I found a groove that worked, and the vinyl started to go down with only a few starts and stops. Once I finished the driver's side, I wrapped up the passenger side. It probably took half the time to wrap the passenger side that it took to wrap up the driver side.


Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side window installation. Driver side before install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side window installation. Driver side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side window installation. Driver side up close after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side window installation.Passenger side before install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side window installation. Passenger side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side window installation. Passenger side up close before install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side window installation. Passenger side up close after install.

After the side windows were wrapped up, it was time to move on to the strips above rocker panels. Those strips were relatively easy to wrap and didn’t take very long. I was glad I ordered a few extra tools from Amazon because they let me wrap the ends of the chrome strips quickly. I could really get into the tight spaces on the end to seal the vinyl. My only complaint with those strips is they don’t wrap completely on the inside. The vinyl leaves about 3/8” of chrome unwrapped inside the door jamb when you open the door. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t really care, and no one but the person wrapping it will probably ever know the difference. Still, it would be great if the vinyl piece was cut a little bit deeper to cover that strip.


Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side rocker strip installation. Driver side before install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side rocker strip installation. Driver side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side rocker strip installation. Driver side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side rocker strip installation. Passenger side up close after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side rocker strip installation. Passenger side after install.

Once I finished with those strips, it was time to move on to more complicated pieces, the base of the side mirrors. I had been dreading these because the chrome pieces below the mirror are pretty intricate and have a lot of surface area. Because of the broad surface area, any errors would be unmistakable and probably stand out to the discriminating connoisseur. Also, there were 6 pieces involved in the mirror wraps, so I was concerned the overlapping portions would look bad if I didn’t align things correctly. It would be a tough wrap session, but I figured digging in and not overthinking it was probably the way to go.


If you’re a professional wrapper, using six pieces of vinyl to wrap a compound object like a mirror is probably excessive. A professional could probably use just a couple pieces to cover the mirror base. Knowing the stretching and adhesive tolerances of the vinyl probably makes all the difference in the world. But I’m just some chump with a kit and a $5 heat gun, so 6 pieces and a lot of patience is how this was going to get done.


Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side mirror installation. Driver side before install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side mirror installation. Driver side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side mirror installation. Driver side before install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side mirror installation. Driver side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side mirror installation. Driver side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side mirror installation. Driver side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side mirror installation. Driver side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side mirror installation. Passenger side before install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side mirror installation. Passenger side before install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side mirror installation. Passenger side before install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side mirror installation. Passenger side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side mirror installation. Passenger side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side mirror installation. Passenger side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side mirror installation. Passenger side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side mirror installation. Passenger side after install.

With those mirrors wrapped, I moved on to the retractable door handles. I only had to wrap the top and bottom. I didn’t need to wrap the face of the handles because I have fancy stickers on the front of my door handles. Wrapping the handles also went well, the pieces are complex with many fold points, but they were cut well and accurately. My only issue with the handles is a small one. No matter what you do, there will be a small gap between the top of the handle and the door. Also, this will be hard to describe, but the vinyl doesn’t wrap all the way inside, so if you look in the pocket where you put your hand, you’ll see chrome. Also, no matter how much I heated it and applied pressure, I still had some gaps in that inside handle area. So, I used an Exacto knife to slice the vinyl, which helped. There was a drawback to my pseudo-carbon fiber stickers being blended with vinyl. On the face of the handle, where the vinyl meets the sticker, there were small gaps all around where chrome shined through. I just colored it in cheapo style with a sharpie to reduce that effect. What respectable car guy doesn’t use a sharpie to patch up spots of black paint? But, again, these are also minor complaints. They’re really more like observations than complaints.


Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side retractable door handle installation. Driver side before install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side retractable door handle installation. Driver side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side retractable door handle installation. Driver before before install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side retractable door handle installation. Driver side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side retractable door handle installation. Driver side before install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side retractable door handle installation. Driver side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side retractable door handle installation. Passenger side before install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side retractable door handle installation. Passenger side after install.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side retractable door handle installation. Passenger side after install, up close.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Driver side and passenger side retractable door handle installation. Passenger side after install, up close underneath.

Next on the task list was the large chrome piece where the rear diffuser sits. Unfortunately, this piece is not a part of this kit or other kits I found. Nor could I find a stand-alone piece. So I had to order off the menu and customize a piece to fit. Since the overlapping process seemed to go so well, I just measured and cut several pieces to match the different compound curves on the large chrome piece. It took some time and patience, but I could cobble something together that looks pretty good to the casual observer. I figured that, as long as the piece you see when looking down at the car's rear is seamless, I could create a giant mess underneath, and no one would ever know the difference. I think it worked out alright. Take a look at the pictures and judge for yourself. The piece in the line of sight is seamless, but the underside looks like a Christmas gift wrapped by a 3-year-old. Hopefully, if I accidentally run someone over, they won't notice the mess I made wrapping that chrome piece. And if they do, and complain about it, I may just have to let the car roll forward a bit more to silence said criticism.


Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser before installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser before installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser before installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser during installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser during installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser during installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser during installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser during installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser during installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser during installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser during installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser during installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser during installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser after installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser after installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser after installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Custom DIY underbody rear diffuser panel installation. Diffuser after installation.

Now that my foray into custom wrapping was done, it was time to go back to the instructional videos and wrap all the bits on the front end. If I was going to screw anything up, I knew all the thin pieces on the front would be my first real victims in this wrapping process. The nose cone came in several thin and long overlapping sections. I took each piece slowly and methodically. I made sure the vinyl was centered on the part vertically so I wouldn’t end up with chrome lines on the top or bottom. Once I figured out where to start each piece, balancing it in the vertical center of the chrome was the only challenge. Once each piece was lightly tacked in the center, I went back and pushed the vinyl into the grooves created where the chrome met the nosecone. The video instructions are great, but it still takes some guesswork to ensure you’ve got the pieces positioned, so you don’t end up short. While down there, I also wrapped the louvers on the left and right. By comparison, they were pretty easy to wrap. All said and done, it looked great afterward, despite all my apprehensions during the installation. You may be asking why I left the “T” chrome. The answer is, I don’t know. Since I couldn’t eliminate the chrome within the headlights or foglights, the chrome “T” seemed like a nice compliment to the chrome I couldn’t get rid of, and it really stands out as a focal point now.


Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers before installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers during installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers after installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers before installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers during installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers after installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers before installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers during installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers after installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers after installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers after installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers before installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers after installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers before installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers after installation.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Front nose cone and bumper louver installation. Nose cone and louvers after installation.

That brings us to the final leg of the long and tedious narrative about wrapping my Model S. Last on the list was the Tesla trim piece across the tailgate. I was fortunate that a previous owner had already blacked it out. They used Plastidip or something similar to paint the chrome black and the Tesla letters red. Sounds great, right? Why fix it if it ain't broke? Good question. Glad you asked. Well, it looks great from about 20 feet away…until you get within spittin' distance. Then you can see the giant drip marks in the Plastidip on the black parts of the trim. It's bad enough that just about anyone would notice if you looked at the tailgate for a minute.


Unfortunately, my neurosis wouldn't allow me to keep drip marks on that trim piece. So, I had to do something. So, there's an easy solution, right? Just buy a used piece, wrap it, yank the old one off, toss it, put the new one on, and Bob's your uncle. It'll just take a minute to pop those pieces on and off. You'll be cruising in style right quick. Well…it doesn't quite work that way. That piece can't really be removed without breaking it. Doesn't make sense to me either, I agree. So, unless I wanted to go down a crazy rabbit hole, the best solution was to strip the Plastidip off the old piece and wrap it. Sounds easy enough…well, you'd think so. But, that wasn't the case. That Plastidip was a giant PITA to remove.


Once I started sanding on the Plastidip, I knew I was hosed. The layers were coming off ok, but since it's much thicker than standard paint, there were many more layers. A lot of layers. Since the piece is on the car, I had to take it slow and steady or risk scratching that beautiful red paint, but it just wasn't working. I didn't want to use chemical strippers and risk damaging the paint. Since sanding nor stripping were efficient options, I knew I'd have to just peel it off. Occasionally I'd get a cathartic moment where some Plastidip would fracture, and I could peel off several inches, but those were rare. But, those moments were fleeting. I had to pry most of it off a fingernail full at a time. There are few things more gratifying than peeling a long chunk of paint off a piece- while knowing you won't have to spend 30 minutes scratching at it millimeter by millimeter. It took a few hours, but I could scrape, peel, and pray my way through all that Plastidip.


Now that I had a clean piece of chrome to work with, there was only one snag- what was to be the bane of my existence for the next couple of days. The piece looked fantastic. Some residue was left, but some elbow grease and rubbing alcohol made short work of it. I was proud when I stepped back to admire this newly shiny piece of chrome. It was restored to its original glory, save for one imperfection. On the right-hand side was a pit in the chrome, which seemed odd considering it was a desert car with a waterproof coating. The pit was big enough that I was worried about how it would look with a gloss wrap sitting on top of it. I didn't want to go through all that work to get rid of drips only to have a pernicious pit uglifying up my newly wrapped trim piece. So my strategy was simple: sand it, fill it, sand it, fill it, and move on with my life.


Unbeknownst to me, that pit had other plans. To test the extent of my neurotic tendencies, I grabbed a piece of vinyl wrap, stuck it on there, and stood back to assess the damage. Unfortunately, it was pretty obvious there was a pit there. I couldn't take the lazy way out. I masked everything off to preserve the chrome around the pit, then I started sanding. All went well, and when I was done, I cleaned up the pit with a fresh cloth and some alcohol. Then I went and got some JB Weld to fill the pit. That turned out to be a poor decision. The pit was so small that it was tough to get enough filler in there; without creating a large bump I'd have to massively sand down later. It was going to be quite the task.


Over the next grueling 24 hours, I filled, sanded, filled, sanded, filled too much, sanded too much, threw some wrenches, and finally ended up with a smoothed-out pit that wasn't perfect, but was good enough for my level of OCD. Now that I had the pit filled, I could pull together the last big piece of this wrapping epic. I took my time, followed the directions, and slowly laid down the wrap, placing each cut-out around each raised letter of the Tesla moniker. It was a pretty slow process. Getting the wrap to sit perfectly around each letter's edges was almost impossible, even with some toothpicks and multiple tries. It looks great, but if you get up close, you'll see the black wrap leaves space around each letter. Once that was all settled, I placed some red vinyl lettering from RPM Telsa over the raised tesla letters, and I was all set. It looks great, but if I had to do it over again, I'd pay someone to paint the trim piece black and the letters red. It looks much cleaner than the wrap because the paint can get in all the nooks and crannies, and it just looks more professional.


Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip before removing plastidip.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip while removing plastidip.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after removing plastidip.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after removing plastidip, up close.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after removing plastidip, up close.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after removing plastidip.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after removing plastidip. Small blemish in chrome.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after removing plastidip. Small blemish in chrome.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after removing plastidip. Repairing small blemish in chrome.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after removing plastidip. Repairing small blemish in chrome.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after removing plastidip. Repairing small blemish in chrome.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after removing plastidip. Repairing small blemish in chrome.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after removing plastidip. Repairing small blemish in chrome.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after removing plastidip. Repairing small blemish in chrome.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl. Lettering up close.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl. Lettering up close.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl. Lettering up close.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl. Lettering up close.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl. Lettering up close.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl. Lettering up close.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl. New red vinyl lettering up close.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl. New red vinyl lettering up close.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl. New red vinyl lettering up close.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl. New red vinyl lettering up close.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl. New red vinyl lettering up close.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl. New red vinyl lettering up close.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Rear decklid / trunk chrome strip installation. Chrome strip after installing new vinyl. New red vinyl lettering.


Well, that’s my harrowing tale of wrapping my Tesla Model S. It took about 2 weeks to wrap everything, but it was spread out over a few hours a day here and there. If I rolled it all into a weekend, I probably could have wrapped it all in a day, maybe less. I give a lot of credit to Nikola Pro for putting together a great kit. The process went shockingly well between their well-designed kit and the detailed videos. If you’ve got the time and patience, it’s something most people could probably do. Of course, you’ve got to be willing to place and re-place the pieces repeatedly to ensure you’re judging the spacing correctly, so you don’t end up short. Nevertheless, it was a fun project. Order a kit today and save yourself $500+ to wrap your chrome.


Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Final pictures of the car in Dana Point California after all chrome delete items have been installed. Driver side profile.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Final pictures of the car in Dana Point California after all chrome delete items have been installed. Rear driver side profile.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Final pictures of the car in Dana Point California after all chrome delete items have been installed. Rear profile.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Final pictures of the car in Dana Point California after all chrome delete items have been installed. Rear passenger side profile.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Final pictures of the car in Dana Point California after all chrome delete items have been installed. Passenger side profile.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Final pictures of the car in Dana Point California after all chrome delete items have been installed. Front view.

Tesla Model S chrome blackout / chrome delete kit from Nikola Pro for a custom red 2016 Tesla Model S P90D / P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Final pictures of the car in Dana Point California after all chrome delete items have been installed. Front driver side profile.


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