March '19

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18 THE SHOP MARCH 2019 get, and Wings West filled that need." Indeed, the import tuning market was blossoming, particularly on the West Coast, and it was nearly impossible to drive down a street in Southern California without seeing a Honda Civic, Acura Integra or Mitsubishi Eclipse sporting a trunk- mounted wing and front air dam. The look was everywhere, from TV shows and movies to Hot Wheels toys. "Style was everything," Longfellow says. "We connected with the young male sport compact car owner, and what he most loved to spend his paycheck on." Eventually, the early import look began to fade, but not before knockoff products flooded the market with poor-quality imitations. "We all remember parts not holding and being held on with duct tape," he notes. 3D Carbon was born out of Wings West as the market changed. It was also when Longfellow forged the beginnings of his long association with Ford with work on a 2005 Mustang project—a build that won Best in Show at SEMA that year. "It was a clean slate to work with—a brand-new body style with a retro look," he recalls. "We wanted a more integrated look, like it was made to go on there. We saw concept cars that looked great, but the public could never buy them, so the mission was to create a package that had the finished quality of something like the GT-R, but was reasonably affordable for consumers." Despite its wild, look-at-me beginnings, Longfellow believes that what was sometimes referred to the aerodynamics market survived and evolved over the years because the parts serve more than just an aesthetic purpose. "The body kit plays a role in performance when you think of the upgrades holisti- cally," he explains. "If you cut a vehicle and widen its stance, then a high-perfor- mance wheel, tire and brake combo can (and should) be added, which assists with everything from traction to braking power." It's all about the packaging opportunities that body styling components provide car owners seeking a style all their own. "First impressions count, and the body kit is like the first part of the puzzle. It's not long until the calipers are painted The market has evolved over the years, with fitment and ma- terials improving to match the precision of today's high-tech vehicles. (Photos courtesy Air Design USA) BODY OF WORK

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