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Your car’s factory look may be great, but it can improve with additional body kits that offer personal touch. If you are reading this, you’re likely to have decided that your car needs an aesthetic makeover.
When it comes to body kits, fibreglass is one of the most popular choices. It has been used in racing for decades because of its amazing properties. However, like all materials, it also has its advantages and disadvantages.
In this article, we will talk about the pros and cons of using fibreglass body kits and eventually determine if this material is for your car or not.
Before we get into the thick of things, we need to ask ourselves first - what exactly is fibreglass?
Fibreglass is a composite material that consists of thin glass fibres or fire glass filaments held together by resin. It can be used as reinforcement or shaped into woven layer. It’s strong, lightweight, cheap to produce and has tons of applications.
You may not know it, but we are surrounded by fibreglass from basketball boards to welding blankets, from aquariums to waterslides, even surf boards and of course in cars.
Developed in 1944 by Owens Corning, fibreglass was first used as reinforced plastic boat hull. In 1953, General Motors first used it on the Chevrolet Corvette.
Today, fibreglass is used in different types of body kits such as full car body, ground effects, bumper replacement, wide body and custom kits.
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Fibreglass remains as one of the go-to body kit materials because it’s a cost-effective way of making a car look sportier or more aero-dynamic. Below are other pros that fibreglass has over its competition:
Fibreglass is lighter than other popular body kit materials such as polyurethane and ABS vacuum. Thus, even with extra accessories in toll, your car won’t lose as much speed and fuel efficiency. In racing, fiberglass components are often used to replace some of the metal components of the car’s body to make it a bit faster. That is because fibreglass is generally one-fifth the weight of steel.
Another advantage that fibreglass has over its competitors is it doesn’t cost much to make. It’s made from cheap materials and the molds and machinery used to make it are inexpensive. Hence, it’s more affordable in price. Moreover, fibreglass is readily available and you won’t have a hard time looking for one in a body kit store or crafter near you.
Fibreglass is also quite sturdy and is able to hold its original form well unlike polyurethane. This is quite advantageous for car owners who live in areas with extreme temperatures. Because of its rigidity, fibreglass can hold its shape even in the warmest or coldest of places.
Fixing a broken fibreglass part is easy. You can mend it by simply clamping the two broken pieces together, patching it, applying new epoxy, sanding it down, and finally painting it again. This may seem labor intensive, but you are actually saving a lot of money repairing the kit instead of replacing it with a new one.
Another great thing about fibreglass is it can be customised in a lot of ways. Because of its rigidness, you can create an edgier and more aggressive styling that can’t be offered by other kit materials. Plate mounts can be also be added or removed in the setup.
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While fibreglass has numerous advantages, it’s not a catch-all material. Below are some of its cons which you should also consider when buying this type of kit:
Fibreglass can break or crack during impact or when too much force is applied. As such you need to be very careful about handling the kit while being installed. You also need to be mindful of your driving especially during parking where your fibreglass bumper kit may hit the gutter or other obstacles.
Fibreglass kits are handmade and don’t have the same precision as their machine-made counterparts. Hence, you may not get the precise fit finish between your kit and car’s exterior. To prevent this issue, make sure you buy branded fibreglass kits like GRACER, CWestin, Greddy, Bomex, Wings West etc. as they offer better fitment, instead of the cheaper unbranded ones. You can also hire or ask the help of a professional body kit installer for best results.
While fibreglass’ rigidity is a boon, it’s also a bane. The inflexible frame can be tough to adjust during the installation process. As such, you or the body shop may need to spend a bit of time and effort to install it smoothly.
Image Credit: LMPerformance.com
Based on the pros and cons listed above, we can surmise that fibreglass offers a mix between looks and performance. It adds that personalised custom look while adding performance-based features on your car such as weight reduction.
Fibreglass is still the most popular material used for body kits because it offers many advantages and only a few disadvantages. However, other types of body kits also have their own pros that sometimes edge out fibreglass.
Polyurethane, for example, has a better fit and is more resilient to impact. Carbon fibre, while more expensive, is the lightest among the three.
Below are some tips when choosing the fibreglass body kit that can give you the best satisfaction:
You need to see the finished product of your customisation or at least have an idea how your car would look. Do you want your car to appear sleek, sporty, robust or edgy? Do you want the kit to have a contrasting or matched colour with your car?
Depending on your taste, you can buy the complete body kit or assemble different pieces into one to have a more customised feel. Our advice is to mix and match from different manufacturers and don’t get stuck with just one brand.
When the body kit designs on the market don’t quite suit your preference, you can always have the kit manufactured by a car customisation shop. This option is a bit more expensive, but offers the best flexibility in terms of design.
The good thing about fibreglass is that you will get a lot of bang for your buck. However, if you are on a shoestring budget at the moment, we recommend that you don’t go overboard with the customisation in one go. Perhaps go for the bumper first and then add one kit part at a time until you have the complete set.
Fibreglass remains one of the most relevant types of body kits because it’s a cost-effective way of prepping your car. While there are other options out there, we urge you to first look at fibreglass before moving to more expensive options.
If you want to get examples of awesome looking fibreglass body kits, you can check out AusBody Works. A trusted name in aftermarket industry, AusBody Works offers affordable, yet high quality body kits and other automotive modification parts. Let the customisation begin!