How To Choose the Best Material for an Auto Body Kit
Auto body kits are a fantastic way to upgrade your supercar. Even the most luxurious cars can be improved and made unique with body kits. Auto body kits come in all shapes and sizes and are not all made of the same materials. It is important to know how to choose the best material for an auto body kit before making your final decision.
Does Material Matter?
Absolutely. The material used to create the auto body kit that will be attached to your car certainly matters. Style is what every driver is after, but cost and safety must also be a consideration.
Each type of material used serves its own purpose. You’ll need to discuss with the professional installing your auto body kit, considering factors such as how much extra weight you are willing to add to the car and how each material will affect insurance, looks, and aerodynamics for the car.
Every material used is safe and has a stamp of approval. However, each driver has their own preference.
Carbon fiber is widely popular due to its lightweight nature and strength.
It is created using carbon fibers mixed with epoxy. This bond creates a strong and durable material, but at the same time, it’s very lightweight, making it an excellent choice when seeking to improve aerodynamics and speed.
It is so strong and lightweight that most race cars use carbon fiber rather than steel to improve safety should a crash happen, as well as make the race car as light as possible.
Carbon fiber can be a bit more expensive than other options, which sometimes steers drivers away from choosing the material. However, there is always the option to mix materials, having some carbon fiber parts and some other materials as well.
For example, someone might choose a carbon fiber hood but a plastic spoiler. Either way, carbon fiber is top of the line in auto body kits.
Possibly the most common material used in auto body kits, fiberglass is very lightweight and created in layers to make it stronger, since it can shatter easily on its own. A plus is that it does not warp easily at high temperatures and it is also easy to paint, which makes it a common choice, especially amongst car enthusiasts who do the work themselves.
Unfortunately, the rigidity which makes it easy to paint and unable to warp at high temperatures also makes it difficult to install, and it can crack easily because of its lack of flexibility.
All in all, it is often an inexpensive option for auto body kits, paints well, and is lightweight.
ABS plastic is somewhat of a version of fiberglass only better because it is stronger and more resilient. Three compounds are combined to create this thermoplastic material—acrylonitrile, styrene, and polybutadiene.
The combination is heavier than fiberglass, but is also easy to paint, and it challenges most materials with its superior finish. Abs plastics fair well against chemicals and heat, and they also do not shatter as easily as fiberglass, making them less prone to crack or break on impact, which is a very important quality.
Usually compared to fiberglass in many ways, ABS plastics are more expensive than fiberglass but are often chosen because of their higher quality.
You may also hear it called urethane as they are the same thing. Polyurethane has great flexibility and is resistant to cracking.
Like plastics, it is often compared to fiberglass when deciding how to choose the best material for an auto body kit. Polyurethane usually wins in the area of fit, thanks to its flexibility.
However, it is a heavier material, so it’s seldom used for racecars or wanna-be racecar drivers. Also, paint does not adhere well to polyurethane, making it not only impossible to paint, but also frustrating and more time-consuming at times.
You’ll pay a little more for polyurethane as compared to fiberglass, and they pretty much compete neck and neck with each other, sharing many of the same qualities. When choosing between the two, speed versus flexibility during application are the two biggest differences.
Composite materials may be the best option out there, no matter what a driver is looking for.
Composite auto body kit materials are a mix of more than one material, creating a strong, lightweight, and flexible option.
It’s like taking the best of a few things and mixing them together so the good parts outweigh the flaws in others.
How To Know What Material Is Best for Your Car
With almost half a dozen options in material to choose from for an auto body kit, how does one choose?
Consult With a Professional
The best way to choose is to schedule time with a professional auto body kit producer. The car you drive, lifestyle, and what you are hoping to gain from installing a body kit will make a difference in what is best for you. A professional understands this.
Maybe you have no desire to go from 0 – 60 in 2 seconds, but you like how a spoiler and side skirts look. If it’s just for looks and you’re not interested in pretending you are in the Daytona 500, then a professional may recommend the strongest material rather than the lightest.
Of course, cost also plays a role. Fiberglass is less expensive than carbon fiber, but not on the same level as carbon fiber when it comes to quality. However, your individual situation will determine what material to choose.
Thankfully, there are a few types of materials to choose from, and all are approved and safe. For many, a composite material will be an excellent choice. And don’t forget—materials can be mixed in an auto body kit; in other words, you don’t have to choose one material for everything.
Darwin Pro produces top-of-the-line auto body kits for luxury and supercars. From a Nissan GT-R body kit to an Audi R8 Coupe and every luxury car in between, we’ve got your car covered.
Stick with a professional when making the important decision of upgrading your car with an auto body kit.