AUTO BODY REPAIR SPECIAL – Complete Carbon Fiber #3: Hoods
Halfway through Complete Carbon Fiber, our auto body repair specialist’s guide to exceptional aftermarket upgrades, we come to one of the simplest pieces to integrate with your vehicle’s design – a sleek, sexy carbon fiber hood.
Auto body repair and customization professionals acknowledge that carbon fiber hoods rival matching carbon fiber doors for advanced performance improvement and head-turning handsome presence achieved with a minimally challenging installation. Nearly any significant carbon fiber swap will reduce a vehicle’s power-to-weight ratio, resulting in tighter handling through improved balance. Switching to a lighter-weight hood in particular both protects the engine and shields it from open view with a deceptively durable fabrication.
Many elite European race cars are fitted with hoods fabricated from pure carbon. Meanwhile, full-construction carbon hoods with both basic frameworks and skins fashioned from carbon fiber are highly expensive but attractively lightweight alterations more commonly used in passenger vehicles. A lighter alloy – sometimes, aluminum or fiberglass – forms the skeleton of a partial-construction hood with a carbon skin. Finally, “look” hoods wrap a fiberglass or metal construction in an attractive carbon fiber covering.
CARBON FIBER ADVANTAGES
Similar to doors fabricated from the same exceptional-quality material, swapping out a factory hood for carbon fiber is actually a startlingly simple project, as auto body repair and customization goes. As strikingly sleek as the material is, extensively upgrading vehicle parts to carbon fiber is even more worthwhile based on performance implications than it is for aesthetic appeal. A carbon fiber hood alone could shave up to 50 pounds from a vehicle’s weight, resulting in markedly improved handling and acceleration, especially through corners.
Of course, if you’ve been actively considering carbon fiber upgrades, you likely are strongly taking undeniable visual presence into account. It turns out that the material doesn’t always get the credit it deserves for its design versatility. Contrary to some belief, not only can carbon fiber be painted to integrate seamlessly into any vehicle’s shape and coloration, but painting is actually strongly recommended – especially with a finishing clear coat – for prolonging its lifespan through increased protection against sun and elemental exposure.
There’s even better news if a fully fabricated carbon fiber hood’s price point makes it cost prohibitive. With the right know-how and equipment, a dedicated auto body repair DIYer can go beyond simply customizing the finish from dazzling a dazzling paint job to detailed texturing. It’s entirely possible to create and install your own hood from skeleton to facing.
Whichever option you choose, attentive maintenance will tell more than anything just how long your carbon fiber hood maintains its head-turning appearance. Remember, your hood takes a daily beating from UV rays, elemental forces, dirt and debris in the name of shielding your engine’s precision parts. At the very least, maintain a monthly schedule of washing paired with polishing, waxing, and anti-scratch treatments. There’s always room to adjust as needed. If you find your car taking an extensive beating under normal driving conditions, feel free to step up your care to keep pace with wear and tear.