A bodykit is a collection of exterior modifications to a car, typically composed of front and rear bumpers, side skirts, spoilers, and sometimes front and rear side guards and roof scoops. There are many companies that offer alternatives to the original factory appearance of the vehicle. Body kits components are designed to complement each other and work together as a complete design. Despite this, the ‘mix and match’ approach is often seen on cars, where the front of one body kit will be matched with the rear of another, for example.
Automotive body kits are usually constructed of either fiberglass, polyurethane, or in some cases carbon fiber. Fiberglass is cheap and widely available, although it can crack upon impact. Polyurethane is popular because it is flexible and thus more resistant to damage. Carbon fiber body kits are rare, due to the cost of the materials, and are rarely seen on street-legal vehicles.
So, for today we would like to share some information on what materials are used for car bodykit and its pros and cons.
Below are the comparison of Bodykit type :
1. Fiberglass (FRP)
This is the most traditional material used for making body kits. As it is handmade, fitment is the biggest problem.
Fitment: Totally depends on skills of the crafter.
Pro: Hard, light weight and can easily be repaired when damaged. Able to customise in small quantity. As little as one piece. The cheapest option available.
Con: Brittle, easily crack on impact. Left and right side might not be symmetrical. Again, it depends on the crafter.
2. Polyurethane (PU)
Usually for mass produced parts. BMW, Mercedes Benz and many other car manufacturers make stock bumpers with PU material.
Fitment: Usually, perfect fitment. The body kit is drawn up on computer using CAD software. High precision CNC machines are used to make the mold.
Pro: Long lifespan, light, soft, flexible, does not easily get damage on impact. The thinner the material, the more likely to retain its shape.
Con: Soft can be a weakness too. If used for big items like bumpers, it can deform at high speed. If material is thin, it can get damaged easily. If material is thick, it will be too heavy. Deforms at high temperature. Brittle and breaks easily at very low temperatures. Not able to repair when damaged.
3. Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
Usually for mass produced parts only.
Fitment: Usually perfect like PU.
Pro: Light weight, cost less PU and PP+PE. Smooth and better surface for paint jobs. Looks better than fiber glass.
Con: Soft, must mix with other plastic material to get into the best condition for body kit. If factory has not enough experience, product might deform or break easily. Harder than PU and PP+PE. Can be easily damaged on impact. Cannot be repaired if damaged.
4. Polypropylene (PP+PE)
Usually used by car manufacturers to make genuine stock parts. Toyota uses PP+PE for making stock bumpers. This material is rarely used by third party body kit manufacturers. Usually used by first party or manufacturers who mass produce replica stock parts.
Fitment: Usually perfect like PU.
Pro: Same characteristic as PU except that it is harder.
Con: Deforms after a while but not as serious as PU. Cannot be repaired when damaged.
5. Carbon Fiber
Commonly used in high performance street and track cars. Formula 1 racing cars are usually made of carbon fiber.
Fitment – Like fiberglass, it is usually handmade. Fitment are usually not 100% perfect.
Pro: Very light and very strong. High quality carbon fiber looks very nice.
Con: Very expensive. Cannot be repaired when it is damaged. Does not look nice when there are complicated edges or curves.