Adding a body kit to a car is a bold step, and one that will draw a fair share of attention. For many, a car is more than merely a way of getting from A to B; it’s an expression of style. For them a car is a personal statement that they make to the world. At one time, this type of individualism would have required either great bodywork and paint skills, or deep pockets. The introduction of car body kits has changed all of that. Now a custom car can be put together using off the shelf parts and the price of automotive individuality is within the reach of most drivers.
Body kits are available for a wide variety of cars, and in styles that run the gamut from conservative to extreme. When properly installed and painted, they can give a pedestrian sedan a purposeful and aggressive look. However, the looks that a body kit bestows on a car are both its biggest selling point, and one of its major handicaps. Selling or trading a car that looks the way it did when it rolled off the production line is not a problem. Selling a car that has been completely transformed is far more challenging.
Manufacturers often have sports models of their cars that feature upgraded mechanical components as well as enhanced aerodynamics. A body kit allows the owner of a more pedestrian model to achieve the looks of the performance version of their car, without raising their insurance premiums. However, this is a strategy that can backfire if care is not taken. Changing the car’s badging or making overt implications that the car has performance credentials which it lacks is an invitation for ridicule.
Although usually added as a cosmetic enhancement, some body kits do actually improve aerodynamics and handling. This is especially true if the car’s suspension is lowered when the kit is installed. While handling may be improved, day to day practicality will probably suffer. Speed bumps, driveways and parking lots will be a torturous obstacle course for a car covered in painted plastic that rides only an inch or two off the road.
Ultimately, there are very few practical benefits to installing a car body kit, and quite a few good reasons not to. But this is not a choice that is made based on rationale or logic. It’s one born from a desire to stand out from the crowd; to be unashamedly different.