A year of driving the Mr. Sato itasha turned out to be far too long for its owner, so we bid it goodbye in the cheapest way we could.

As some of you may remember, in November of last year we created a Mr. Sato itasha, covering a 1997 Mitsubishi Mitsubishi Minica Guppy with images of our ace reporter.

Mr. Sato appreciated the honor, and we all had a good laugh at the gaudy shrine-to-Sato-on-wheels. But there’s one important detail to remember, which is that Mr. Sato isn’t the owner of the Satomobile. The car actually belongs to another of our Japanese-language reporters, Go Hattori. So yes, for the past year, every time Go has gone for a drive, it’s been in the Mr. Sato itasha, and frankly, he’s getting a little tired of all the attention.

The obvious solution would be to take the car to a paint and body shop to strip the graphics off and repaint the car. It’s important to remember, though, that Go bought his car for 1,000 yen (US$9), and so the idea of paying for a professional paint job seemed a little too fancy for his humble ride. So he resolved to do it himself, and to keep costs down…

...he decided that instead of paint, he’d just do the whole thing with magic markers.

We suppose that technically this makes it an “ink job” not a paint job. Either way, Go armed himself with a fistful of Teranishi-brand extra-thick Magic Inky markers, strapped on an apron, and went to work.

The car was originally navy blue, but for the recolor Go opted for a classy jet black. Ordinarily when painting a car, you’ll want to use tape to block off parts of the car you want to keep the paint off of, but Go didn’t bother to do anything like that, since his primary goal was to “erase Sato” as quickly as possible.

Like most sane car owners, Go had never tried to recolor a vehicle using magic markers before. He learned as he worked, though, and has a few pointers for anyone wanting to follow in his footsteps. First, you don’t want to lay more than one layer down on any part of the car. Scribbling over the same spot multiple times will create an uneven, “melted” look to the color

Instead, what you want are smooth, singular lines, like the ones Go is putting on the roof here.

▼ Once he got the hang of it, Go found the process soothing, and also said it made him feel a bit like a refined lacquer artisan.

Also, Go recommends swapping your marker out for a new one at the first sign that it’s running out of ink. Again, this is to help ensure that the color stays uniform, and that you can lay down consistent-looking strokes.

It took Go two hours and 11 minutes to recolor the entire car, which isn’t too bad considering it was a one-man project. As for the result, we think it came out amazingly well, at least from a distance of a few steps away.

Granted, up close the imperfections are easier to spot, but when Go is buzzing down the street we doubt the pedestrians he’s passing by can notice them in that great of detail.

As for the cost, Go went through nine markers, each priced at 432 yen, for a grand total of 3,888 yen (US$35), which we’d call an incredible bargain, even if it is nearly four times what Go paid for the car itself. Actually, the recolor could have been even cheaper, as Go says he thinks he could have done the whole thing with six, or maybe even five, markers if he hadn’t been so concerned about keeping the same shade of black throughout all the bodywork.

So now Go can drive the streets without having his car attracting every eyeball and camera lenses in a 50-foot radius. But despite the fact that Go’s car no longer looks like an itasha, it’s worth noting that he never actually took the Mr. Sato graphics off, so deep down, his Minica really still is the Satomobile. And should he ever miss the experience of driving an overt itasha, he can always go rent one for the day.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where his car’s 26-year-old paint is holding up remarkably well.

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