Remember when stripe kits were A Thing? I mean, they still exist to some small degree for cars like the new Ford Bronco, but there was once a time when someone’s mom might drive a Toyota Corolla liftback with gleefully huge and colorful hockey-stick-shaped stripes. That was just how the world was, once upon a time. I want to focus on one particular stripe kit, one that’s clever and unusual, and, I think, has never really been replicated. But maybe it should. That stripe kit was the Arrow Jet package for the Plymouth Arrow.
In the incredibly unlikely circumstance you’re unfamiliar with the Plymouth Arrow, all you really need to know to appreciate this particular story was that it was a Mitsubishi Lancer Celeste that was imported and re-badged by Plymouth so they’d have something at least somewhat smaller and fuel-efficient for buyers in the late ‘70s, though these cars were actually decent performers, and not just economy cars.
The front engine/rear drive Arrows were pretty fun to drive, and in the Fire Arrow trim, had one of the better power-to-weight ratios of cars of the era.
The light bodies and rugged suspension also made them popular choices for conversion into drag racers and funny cars, as highlighted by this ad featuring drag racing legend Don “The Snake” Prudhomme:
Holy shit, I didn’t realize it was time for those end-of-the-model-year deals! I hope I’m not too late — it’s only been, what, 43 years?
Okay, the Fire Arrow is cool and all, but I’m here to tell you about another Arrow trim package, the Arrow Jet, which shows up in this commercial:
While the Fire Arrow had some real performance enhancements, the Arrow Jet was really just a paint/decal package, but hot damn, what a package it was. I mean, look at it, here in its 1978 guise:
The basic Arrow Jet package was just the red/black paint scheme with the red grille and wheels, along with blacked-out bumpers and mirrors. But what made the package special were the 12 special extra decals you could choose to add (1979 version shown here):
Taking cues from military fighter aircraft, the decal package had a bunch of labels for parts of the car, to give it a fun, high-tech, sort-of industrial/military sort of look, but all pretty tongue-in-cheek.
Look at the door handle with LIFT and an actually, probably useful LOCK and UNLOCK direction indicator on the lock. The tire pressures could be called out on the body (again, kinda handy), and there’s HOT EXHAUST warnings and AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY on the doors.
It’s fun! I especially like the radio antenna having the AUDIO RECEPTION AM/FM label.
Why hasn’t anyone resurrected this idea for modern cars? I feel like this concept would work great on modern Jeeps or Broncos, or hell, what an amazing way this would be to completely change the character of a minivan like the Chrysler Pacifica?
I mean, Chrysler is a surviving relative of long-dead Plymouth; wouldn’t a Pacifica Jet package like this be fantastic? Here, let’s mock this up, quickly and sloppily:
Immediately this no longer feels like something you had to get to “settle down” because you had a family. This feels like a choice.
And I just threw some basic stencils on there; a modern car has so many possible techy-sounding features that could be listed on the body, like the version of Bluetooth or the ECU system software revision or the tire monitoring system (TMS) wireless protocols, whatever — you could really go nuts with this kind of thing.
Hybrids could have both FUEL and ELECTRICAL INPUT 240V/30 AMP or whatever labels —man, so many options.
Maybe some aftermarket company will offer this kind of decal kit if no OEM have the guts anymore? It’s important to remember, though, that once, at least one of them did, and it was glorious.