Carbon fibre body panels and bonnets.
"Fibre is good for you"
One of the hottest looks actually improves the performance of your car. Carbon fibre body panels are becoming popular. Carbon fibre is a weave of carbon fibres to construct a flexible but light and very strong material that is stronger than steel.
Carbon fibre is now a very expensive product due to the demand. Many companies are now offering budget carbon fibre panel and carbon fibre bonnets.
One of the easiest panels to fit is a new carbon fibre bonnet. They come tailor made for you car with predrilled holes for the hinges, catches and windscreen washer jets. If you need to drill carbon fibre yourself you should cover it with tape and drill from the top down to avoid splintering, some people place a block of wood underneath but with a high speed drill setting this is not always necessary.When drilling carbon fibre panels be very cautious – check and recheck your measurements and use large sheets of paper as a pattern to double check.
Before you fit any carbon fibre panel you should check it carefully for imperfections. Then after removing the old panel lay the new one in its place and check that the holes and hinges align perfectly. Sometimes bubbles appear in the resin layer and discoloration can also appear in patches. Generally you get what you pay for and many cheaply made carbon fibre panels have a large number of defects. There is no reason why you cannot paint a carbon fibre panel and just fit it for the extra strength and light weight properties but most people prefer to show off the carbon fibre weave pattern. Carbon fibre wings are the next easiest to fit and are often a bolt off and bolt on the new panel proposition. Expect to have to remove the front bumper also in most cases as the wings come off easier.
Carbon fibre bonnets are substantially lighter and can sometime flex at speed as the air gets underneath them so fitting motorsport style fasteners either side of the bonnet will help fix this and allow you to remove the bonnet release catch at the front freeing up a little extra space for air flow into the engine bay.
Carbon fibre body kits are rare but certainly gaining popularity. Wide body kits seem to be the best proposition and again the carbon fibre is rarely painted and left for all to admire but this makes it vital that they are fitted correctly as you can cover up gaps and imperfections with filler and paint over it when you are fitting a body coloured kit.
Companies such as Audi are fitting carbon fibre look strips inside the dashboard and a number of aftermarket options are now available including carbon fibre look dash stickers (also in wood and a number of other finishes) which go round the air vents and centre console. If you want a carbon fibre look inside the car get a complete kit from one manufacturer so the parts blend together nicely and remember that sometimes less is more.
Carbon fibre stickers look good from a distance but close up they will always look cheap and tacky so they are best avoided. We expect to see some exciting developments soon in carbon fibre wheels replacing the alloy as the light weight option.