Article by Brian Hannon. Photography by Corey Davis and Ryan Randels.
Last week we introduced the wide-body components and our overall objective for the exterior. We wanted to go after an appearance that nobody has yet to complete, and yet is attainable for anybody who wants an aggressive, track-oriented look. At the same time, we want the finished product to have a fit and finish that appears to come straight from the factory. To achieve that level of perfection, we knew Paul Silva and SLVA Automotive Studio would be the company responsible for all the bodywork and exterior modifications. All of which brings us to this week’s installment where we discuss the processes that SLVA employs to mold in the body kit and create the unique and clean look we require.
As a quick recap of our component choice, we had our hearts set to go wide, yet achieve a professional, show-oriented appearance. The first piece settled on was the Rocket Bunny V1 fender flare kit due to its availability. To add an aggressive, low and functional stance to the build, we went with the APR carbon fiber air dam and will be installing a custom splitter beneath it. From there, we chose the STILLEN side skirts and rear bumper flares to help carry the lines of the wide-body throughout the entire car. Beneath the side skirts, we picked up a set of Seibon TA-style carbon fiber lips that help extend the lines from the front to the back and will meet with the custom-fabricated rear splitter. We went into heavy detail on why we chose the parts we did and dove into our appearance objectives in our last article.
Before we dive into the magic at SLVA, we want to share a few words from Paul. We picked his brain a bit about what it takes to alter the look of a car in a professional manner, and he said, "Anyone can bolt on a wide-body kit; the real art and craftsmanship is in the mating of the lines of the kit with the existing lines of the car in such a way that the body kit looks OEM.” He continued, "Custom bodywork is ‘MacGuyver'ing’ things, custom tabbing, fabbed brackets or parts. It's the art of figuring out how to make these parts fit and work together even if sometimes it appears there's no way they will fit.” And we couldn’t agree more.
Time to dive into the transformation. Before there was even the thought of permanently attaching anything to the car, we wanted to lay up all of the parts to get an idea of how everything would fit together and what challenges awaited SLVA. Utilizing painter’s tape, each part was mocked onto the car in order to check fitment and to see what needed to be fixed, cut and altered in order to fit perfectly. Note that the Rocket Bunny V1 kit is not made for the BRZ (made only for the FR-S), so this provided some obstacles for perfect fitment. In order to install the fender flare kit, we needed to cut the front and rear fenders to accommodate the lift. As with almost everything in construction, we follow the mantra of "measure twice, cut once.”
After the initial lay up, we began the process of trimming pieces and double-checking fitment. Because we’re custom molding the kit, we needed to trim and shape a lot of the components to use as a base to build off of. Since the Rocket Bunny V1 kit is designed to be riveted onbut we planned to mold it inthere were a lot of unnecessary tabs that we had to remove.
Once a piece was trimmed, it was taped back onto the car in order to double check alignment with the natural lines of the car. Any fastening systems (i.e. double stick tape) were removed and we were ready to attach that piece to the vehicle.
Now that the components have been modified to fit correctly, each part was glued with panel glue that is rated at two hundred mph. Surprisingly enough, panel glue is actually much stronger than the metal it’s attached to. It’s been known, in the event of a crash, that the panel and glue will remain completely intact. The new pieces were also screwed onto the original body panels to ensure they didn’t move during the curing process. Once cured (typically a day), the screws were removed and molding preparation began.
The next step was the molding process where the aim was to integrate the new body components into the car’s existing panels. To initiate this process, each part of the body kit was sanded down to match the bodylines of the car. This is a critical step in the process since we’re looking to achieve a factory-like appearance with the aggressive look and function of the wide-body. Harsh edges were smoothly tapered down and fit flush against the body panel they’re affixed to so we could eliminate any telltale seams in the kit.
After molding was complete, SLVA applied a layer of fiberglass to the freshly molded areas of the car. This was done to smooth out any screw holes from the attachment stage, cracks or imperfections left by the molding of the body kit panels, and added more material to work with allowing each panel to be seamlessly molded and shaped into the body. Once the fiberglass was cured, it was sanded down and shaped to form lines that mimic the original lines of the car.
With the bulk of the heavy lifting completed on the exterior we come to the last step that helps complete the car’s new identity: the paint. To finish the prep work, the fiberglass areas are sanded smooth and any remaining imperfections are filled and sanded flush. The entire vehicle is then prepped and primed to go into the paint booth.
After the fresh coats of paint are applied by SLVA, the vehicle will require a wet sand process to remove any lingering imperfections in the finish in order to obtain the show-quality finish that we require. This will be completed once the car returns to SLVA one hundred percent together as to not damage the overall finish of the car.
Now with the bodywork more or less complete, we’ll transport the BRZ back to SCR Performance where we’ll finish up the performance aspects of the build. There they will drop the engine back into the car and install all of the drivetrain suspension and components. Once we receive the new wheels from Advan in a few weeks, we’ll go ahead and install the new brakes as well.
Momentum has really picked up with the build and we’re nearing the last steps before we enter the tuning phase. As always, we wouldn’t be where we are now in this build without the diligent work and long hours from our partners!
The Subaru BRZ / Scion FR-S Platform Series Partners
Please take a moment to check out our partners, whom without, none of this would be possible:
The world's most enthusiast-friendly Subaru dealership.
Visit them on the web @ https://www.heubergermotors.com/index.htm
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The Performance Expertise Behind the BRZ / FRS Platform Series.
Visit them on the web @ https://www.scrperformance.com/
Visit them on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/thescrperformance
Where Form meets Function.
Visit them on web @ https://www.slvastudio.com/
Visit them on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/SLVAAutomotiveStudio
Our Audio and Aesthetics Partner aka the Architects of Fidelity.
Visit them on the web @ https://eas.tc/
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The Fabrication Masterminds Behind our Forced Induction Systems
Visit them on the web @ https://www.ardesign.info
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Our Sport-Compact Performance Parts Source. . . Never Compromising Quality or Customer Service.
Visit them on the web @ https://edgeautosport.com
Visit them on Facebook @ https://facebook.com/edgeautosport
The Progressive Behind the Build
Visit them on the web @ https://www.airliftperformance.com
Visit them on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/AirLiftCompany
Maintaining Integrity & Strength through CUSCU Performance
Visit them on web @ https://www.cuscousainc.com
Visit them on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/CuscoUSA
The Stopping Power
Visit them on the web @ https://www.wilwood.com
Visit them on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/WilwoodDiscBrakes
Bringing Together Performance & Aesthetics
Visit them on the web @ https://www.mackin-ind.com
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Forced Induction at its Finest
Visit them on the web @ https://turbobygarrett.com/turbobygarrett/
Visit them on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/TurboLife
Power is Nothing without adequate Traction.
Visit them on the web @ https://www.yokohamatire.com
Visit them on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/yokohamatirecorp