Tag Archives: C-West

Tech Talk: FRP (Fiberglass) vs Blended Materials for Aftermarket Body Kits

24 Sep

We get this question ALL the time – what is the ‘right’ material to select when buying aftermarket body parts? There are a range of materials that manufacturers use. Several higher end manufacturers, mainly in the Japanese realm, offer several of their products in both FRP as well as a blended, or hybrid material. FRP stands for Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic. This term is tossed around alot in the aftermarket aero world. It’s a bit of a catch all term, that generally describes a range of composites (parts made by mixing various materials together). Without getting boring, there are differences among “FRP” blends. Not only do the materials mixed together vary, so do the epoxy types used to hold them together. Since a fiberglass part is only as good as the quality of the mold used to produce it, that is why you see such a huge variation in pricing among parts that on their surface look similar. This is an area where you get what you pay for. For ease of terminology, I will stick to using the generic term “FRP”, but I am specifically referring to the better-branded/manufactured stuff out there, since that is what I am most familiar with. FRP has many fantastic properties. It is extremely strong relative (especially) relative to it’s weight (it’s light), it can be molded into many complex shapes, it is easily repaired should it get damaged, and it’s able to be produced at relatively low costs. FRP really has no downsides in and of itself, it is a terrific material for these type of parts. Some will say that urethane is ALWAYS better, and it’s simply not the case. Urethane molds are extremely expensive to produce, which is why you rarely see aftermarket aero parts offered in the material to begin with. When you do, they tend to be extremely heavy relative to their FRP counterparts. Urethane is extremely durable, mainly because it has so much tensile strength, but should it be damaged via impact, it’s very difficult (and often impossible), to repair. Most times when it suffers such an impact, it has to be replaced. Fiberglass on the otherhand can literally be decimated – shattered into multiple chunks after an impact, but joined back together relatively easily. Serviceability is a big benefit of FRP parts. Another issue with aftermarket urethane, that is often overlooked, is longevity. Depending on where in the world you live, the urethane can break down over the course of time, due to environmental conditions. This process can cause the urethane to lose its shape and literally deform. As this happens, its aesthetic value and its durability both suffer.

In the last 10 years (give or take), we’ve seen variations of fiberglass hit the market. These are components use a combination of different man made materials (urethane, various plastics, etc) added into the “FRP” mixture, and sealed with a different type of epoxy. The purpose of this type of material was to bridge the gap between the aftermarket urethane parts and the OEM plastic/urethane level parts. These blended, or hybrid materials are more flexible vs their straight FRP counterparts, but not as flexible as a full urethane part. In the case of manufacturers like INGS and CWest, their blended materials have the added bonus of requiring much less prep time before they are ready for paint. This type of manufacturing is more expensive to do, so only a handful of worthwhile companies offer it. Several try (mostly knockoff firms), and succeed to varying degrees. In many cases I have seen, while the material itself is generally quite good, in the interest the mold quality suffers. Molds are used for longer than they should be, or simply are inaccurate in the first place. This results in unwanted gaps when installed, or parts that are too long, too short, and require significant prep work in order to actually install on the car. Prep work is expensive, generally charged per hour, and can quickly make the ‘savings’ vs the genuine article disappear. While the hybrid/blended parts are slightly heavier than their FRP counterparts, they are nowhere near the level of a urethane part. Somewhere on the order of 5% or so heavier.

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More Track Day Shots

7 Jun

This time, an Evo customer of ours from Italy. Actually Cosimo has been a customer for many years now, first with his 350Z, and now more recently with his latest acquisition, an Evo VII. He’s been steadily building it since last year and it’s shaping up nicely! The last batch of stuff we shipped included some track day tires and a Bride Gias seat.

Rainy

2 Jun

Mike just sent me this pic of his fresh C West carbon hood installed on his X over the weekend. This thing is ultra, ultra light…not for poseurs ! He’s shaping things up to have two of the most unique, and complete Evo collection in the states. He also owns

From Hell Part IV: The Resurrection

16 Dec

The hood is now wetsanded, and the main polishing is done. Still needs a bit more polishing, and we need to adjust the hoods stops a bit, but I am very very happy with how it finally turned out! Major props to Billy on this, he did an awesome job, and spent a ridiculous amount of time getting it right

From Hell Part III: In Color

8 Dec

Finally had a break from the nasty rain here and we were able to get the hood sprayed. After a few tries previously, I think this time we got it. This thing kicked our ass for sure, and shaving the large side vents was way more time consuming than I ever could have imagined. For now, just going to give it a few more days in the heat to fully cure, before we wet sand and polish. Also need to spray the mesh black. The car needs a detail anyway, so I’ll probably just wheel it all out soon, and get this thing installed!

From Hell Part II – Purgatory?

14 Nov

Got some more done today …. and going in the right direction

Finished sanding everything and primed it. Got a couple small pinholes to fill in on Monday and then she’s ready for color. Hopefully the weather cooperates and it’s dry out in the next few days. Hopefully all goes smoothly with the paint and clear, and it can resurrect itself into heaven status!

From Hell

12 Nov

This hood project is getting really tiresome – I seriously hope it is done soon. I’ve had this thing for over 2 years now, and I think it’s been on my car collectively for like a week! Such is the price for perfection

I loved the center vents on it but I could not stand the side vents. So, I cut them out and shaved/filled them in. Problem is, this hood was never designed to be a show winning piece. It’s super thin, and super light, although it fits great. No weird gaps or anything like so many of the wannabe ones out there. Anyway, we’ve tried to perfect it a few times, but it never quite came out perfectly. I think we nailed it this time though. Everything is sanded really flat and we should be ready for paint by the weekend. The third and fourth pics show what it “should” look like, though all stickered up on C West’s own Taikyu car.

Drop Dead (Sexy) Drop Top

20 Jun

Rod (good customer and friend) stopped by with his immaculate Z33 Roadster a couple weeks ago to get some fresh seating. Out came the OEM, and in went the rare Bride Vorga Japan Limited Edition. Now we just need to convince him to do the other side!

One of the cleanest Z’s out there – understated, but nicely modded. Volks, Stoptech BBK, C West front lip, JP Sides…..just a clean example of a tastefully modded Z.