March '19

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20 THE SHOP MARCH 2019 to enhance styling, or a cold air intake and exhaust are thrown on, etc. It's like a drug—one upgrade leads to another." As the market has matured, customer expectations have risen. "There has to be an OEM-quality fit and finish to the pieces, easy installation so the dealer knows that when an Air Design part comes out of the box it's going to fit 100 percent, and a straightforward warranty," he says of today's demands. Fortunately, manufacturing advance- ments have kept pace with the market's rise. "The technology has come so far. For 20 years, I did everything by hand, and now we have 3D scanning to Alias Design software combined with 3D visualization rendering technology to ensure the highest quality and precision," Longfellow says. A current trend in the body styling market is a la carte choices. "Needing to have the entire body kit is less popular these days, with people really wanting the option to add a piece at a time if they so wish," he reveals. "Person- alizing as they go is the big thing right now. Customers want to pick and choose their accessories." To understand the impact body styling has had on the specialty automotive after- market, look no further than the many limited edition and specialty vehicles that are now available, often offering a subtle twist on a well-known design. "Take the 2020 GT500 Mustang, for example. It's extremely well-designed; basically a race car suited for the streets," Longfellow notes. At the other end of the spectrum is the mass-market appeal these products cur- rently enjoy on almost every type of vehicle. "As an example of that, all you have to do is look at the truck market," he adds. Regardless of what they're on, however, Longfellow says the most successful styling products use high-quality materials and enhance each vehicle's unique bodylines. "I have always tried to design body kits that have the DNA of the factory vehi- cles—to create something that looks like it was designed by the factory designers," Longfellow says. CARLOS MOLINA Business Development Projekt Cars Over the last two decades, the body kit has been the most defining feature of a modified vehicle. And these days, vehicle means truck as often as it means cars. The components come in all forms, from fiberglass, polyurethane (PE), PE composites and carbon fiber, which is Carlos Molina's preferred material. Molina's Projekt Cars in El Paso, Texas, has sent more than 250 cars to the SEMA Show over the years. Making cars and trucks look better, he says, has always been important to him. "Modifying vehicles has been a part of my life since the first episodes of Happy Days that I watched as a toddler," he states. "Although my past career in the military and my current career in engineering Body kits can be the first item on a long list of vehicle improvements. (Photos courtesy Air Design USA) Trucks and SUVs are now fair game for body styling enhancements. (Photo courtesy Air Design USA) BODY OF WORK

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