March '19

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22 THE SHOP MARCH 2019 did not cross paths with the automotive industry, I have made every effort to be involved with the aftermarket scene. The cars I have completed were on my dime, marketed on my own time, and ensured an impressive return on investment to my sponsors. I exhibit a relentless passion for my builds on a daily basis and strive to always present the best possible final product." Defining body kits as all-inclusive with side skirts, bumpers, fenders, wings and hoods, Molina watched the magazines as the simple hood scoops and flat rear wings of the early 1980s evolved into the full- blown extreme body kits of the '90s. "During my (military) deployment in Italy, I eagerly awaited SuperStreet magazine at the base PX," he recalls. "It would be filled with an Easter egg palette of Japanese domestic modified (JDM) vehicles, with a majority defining their overall stance with the help of a body kit." In 2000 he started installing body kits on vehicles. "Some needed minor trimming, others major fabrication, and a lot should have been left at the docks," he remembers. "With eBay in its infancy, and a lack of import shops in Texas, one rolled the dice on trying to modify a vehicle in the South- west." That same gamble existed every time he opened a product box. "It was extremely apparent that there was a lack of quality control in the fiber- glass mold processes many overseas com- panies followed," he says. "You either paid thousands of dollars to a known company like VeilSide, Hamann or Bomex, or you gambled on an Internet company selling a similar product. The latter were hor- rendous, and on any given Friday night, you could see certain streets littered with broken bumpers or side skirts." He even recalls prominent show cars at SEMA held together with Bondo filler underneath. "At the time, I only stuck to Hamann and AC Schnitzer, since I focused on BMW builds," says Molina. "Both companies had impeccable products, and the fitment was on-point. I really felt bad for those (installers) who relied on fiberglass com- panies for their builds." In 2004, he started working as a produc- tion manager for DaimlerChrysler, while still keeping up with SEMA builds. He naturally gravitated toward Dodge vehicles for his own projects. "The plan was to build four different SRT-4s, a Magnum and two Chargers. Even by today's standards, that was quite a full plate for someone who didn't own a shop." Still skeptical of the overseas quality of body kits, he turned to Wings West, which he had heard good things about at Hot Import Nights. "The components we received for our SEMA builds that year from Wings West far exceeded any expectations we had," he says. "They not only arrived in impres- sive packaging, but the product felt totally different from the fiberglass kits. There was no need to trim, no frustration on Body styling kits trigger an emotional response for drivers looking to set themselves apart. (Photos courtesy Projekt Cars) Today's body styling upgrades reflect the quality and precision of the vehicles they are made for—a far cry from the not-so- perfect fits common two decades ago. (Photo courtesy Projekt Cars) BODY OF WORK

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