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Wide body kits

"Love handles for cars"

You will notice that many rally cars and high performance race cars have bulges at the sides.

These are not love handles and serve a practical purpose.

You get better grip and traction with wider wheels, and, you also get better grip with a larger distance between the wheels. The bulges are effectively an attempt to contain the wider track, and wider wheels fitted to the car and prevent stones flying up and help protect pedestrians against contact with the wheel.

Aerodynamics do play a part here and the area between the wide arches needs to be planned carefully.

Most cars with wide arches match this with skirts that run the length of the car.

Most road safety standards (the British MOT included) specify that the entire width of the tyre must be contained. Whether this is accomplished with mud guards or wide body kits depends on the type of car you have and the look you are aiming at.

Wide body kits can make a car look great providing that your wheels fill the arches nicely. Use spacers and or fit wider wheels.

It is pretty pointless fitting a wide bodykit to a car if there is going to be a big gap between the wheel and the outside of the arch. The aim is to get the wheel to fill the arch. There are 2 methods to achieve this and many show car owners employ the 2.

Firstly you can get spacers. These are thick metal discs which bolt on to the hub and push the wheel out a little further. A spacer will help provide clearance for brakes in situations where the offset does not match the car.

The second method is by fitting wheels which are physically wider. See the article on alloy wheels for more details on selection and the effect of difference wheel sizes on the final gear ratio and the Speedo accuracy.

The more adventurous enthusiast may even alter the hubs and fit a wider rear axle. Often the next size car up with provide a suitable donor. Remember that when changing the geometry of the wheel you should get the suspension realigned and set up correctly.

You also need to check that there is sufficient clearance around the wheel when the bodykit is fitted although a wide body kit will usually improve the clearance issue.

Fitting a wide body kit to your car.

Wide body kits come in parts which have to be seamlessly attached to the car. Typically you can rivet them on or apply fixing studs and then finish with a smoothing compound. Front arches can also be purchased as replacement panels making the job as easy as bolting on a new wing.

The last thing you want though is to scrape the side of the car on a post or wall so keep the body kit at least in line with the width of your mirrors. You could always fit wider mirrors and you will appreciate the marker your mirrors give you.

Take your time, lay out the parts and plan every aspect of the job in detail. Some kits require skirts to be fitted first, others require the arches first and some will require the removal of the front and rear bumpers.

See our paint shop tips for a guide on spraying your car and getting a good quality finish. Before spraying though please insure that the surface is perfectly smooth.

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