Last decade, the wrap industry, which is still doing extremely well (thanks for asking) decreed that paint is dead, at least as far as custom rides that turn heads go. Fortunately for our eye candy passion, that didn’t happen. Paint is very much alive in the 2020s, with the standout work of a graffiti artist known as Kbmer being one of the most striking examples of this.
This isn’t the first time we mention American artist Kyle Bryce Monteiro (@kbmer) here on Carvibz, as we listed his pioneering efforts when featuring the anime prototype wheels Japanese developer Enkei showcased earlier this year. However, we’ve returned to focus on the color master’s efforts, more specifically the cars he paints as if they were taken straight from the pages of the Initial D manga.
Even when parked, the vehicles that Kbmer hand-paints look like they’re sprinting down the freeway at triple-digit speeds. It all starts like a regular respray, with the vehicles being sanded down.
Nevertheless, his freestyling technique involves multiple steps, such as playing with various shades of the same color and drawing black “speed” lines using markers. Of course, the clear coat at the end ensures the elaborate work makes it past the vehicle’s next trip to the car wash.
Given the manga roots of this visual style, which, by the way, German artist Alexander Bloch (aka stilbruch_lack) also uses for some stunning vehicles, you would imagine that Kbmer’s clientele is comprised almost entirely of those who own JDM machines.
Rainbow Manga C5 Corvette
And while that assumption is partially correct, you may be surprised to see the diversity of the machines the artist gets to paint. In fact, his latest work is a Rainbow C5 Corvette.
As the final ‘Vette generation to sport pop-up headlights, the C5 (built between 1996 and 2004) is now a modern classic. This particular car has left its stock aero behind, adopting a cowl hood, flared arches, a set of multi-spoke wheels that seem to have “Euro” spelled all over them, and a wickerbill.
The rainbow theme is continued inside the sportscar, with the green seats and the red multi-point harness being a testament to this.
Mid-engined Corvette buyers are now faced with multiple choices, as the Italian exotic-rivaling C8 Z06 and the hybrid performance E-Ray have entered the arena. So we can understand why owners of the base C8 Stingray want to take their toys down the aftermarket route to stay fresh.
As with many of the cars in this story, the mods featured on this mid-engined ‘Vette will split opinions. And while the fixed rear wing may or may not fit that description, the Lambo doors certainly do.
Regardless, with those doors closed, the Smurf-ish X Manga take on the paint job means this is a custom C8 as we’ve never seen before.
Bonus: 1969 Camaro SS
This 1969 Camaro (here’s a carbon-bodied example) is undoubtedly the most unexpected car to have entered Kbmer’s paint booth. Now, ’69 brought the first major facelift of the OG ‘Maro and this SS example skips the RS visual package for some good ole exposed headlights.
There are modern dual-finish wheels, along with an air dam and a custom exhaust, while we suspect this is a restomod with fresh tech bits.
The old-school chrome bumpers are still in place and just seeing these next to the Manga-type Bumblebee gold-and-yellow approach tells us the debate will be heated.
Mk IV Toyota Supra
Well, this is obviously not the AE86 hero car from Initial D, but hey, it’s still an RWD Toyota, right? On a more serious note, the fact that many Mk IV Supras are six-figure cars nowadays makes this the most expensive member on the list. For the record, Kbmer has painted even more expensive machines, albeit not private examples.
You see, an anime campaign titled Chiaki’s Journey, which was run by Acura, saw the automaker tasking the artist with respraying nothing less than a second-gen NSX!
Getting back to the Mk IV Supra, the icon has yet to reach its final form—while the artist has completed his job, we’re still waiting for the owners (@befuel.performance) to unveil the vehicle.
This example of the legendary rotary sports car has come quite far from its factory appearance, even before any paint landed on the car. However, now that the graffiti master got involved, his black lines perfectly complement the rivets securing the widebody fitted to the Mazda RX-7
Still, we mustn’t overlook the pop-up delete (will the controversy ever stop?), the LED indicators up front, and, of course, the giant hole in the hood serving the short exhaust of the massive turbo underneath.
In this company and for people outside its community, the Subaru WRX may seem less impressive than it is. Then again, this VA generation (the previous model) makes all the efforts to ensure that doesn’t happen.
This was the final generation where you could get an STI and while this example skips the three magical letters, its aero easily outguns the factory STI stuff.
The overfenders are ridiculously cool, while that fixed wing and the diffuser spell “time attack”. Even the wheels are a custom take on the “standard” golden hue of the breed—finding a color that would work with the anime paint job certainly didn’t come easily.
As we’ve seen with the Acura and the Enkei efforts mentioned above, Initial D-style finishes are almost going OEM and this says quite a lot about how far the style has come in the real world. So yes, we’ll be seeing a lot more of this style in the future.