Whether it’s a Dodge Charger or a Suzuki Swift, customizing your car can be a lot of fun. You can add horsepower by installing performance parts under the hood or add a sense of flare by installing a body kit. But are body kits good only for appearances, or do they actually help with aerodynamics?
Body kits are more than just for appearances
Body kits also referred to as “ground effects kits,” were mainly used by dedicated race cars for improved aerodynamics and even for improved fuel efficiency. However, many enthusiasts have used them on their streetcars over the past few decades to add some personality to their rides and make them stand out when sitting front and center at a car show. But, believe it or not, those gaudy fender flares and large spoiler wings can actually contribute positively to a street car’s aerodynamics.
Depending on its shape and design, a body kit can reduce drag and even increase traction as the front and rear fascias filter the airflow underneath your car more effectively. And those giant spoilers that people like to put on their cars? Those actually do add downforce at higher speeds to keep the car more stable.
But do body kits actually work?
The first car that should hopefully come to mind when you think of a body kit is the Honda Civic Type R. We say this because although that specific car looks like a high-schooler’s dream car that no one in their 30s would want to be caught dead in, the body kit that Honda slapped on there wasn’t just to make it look aggressive.
The Civic Type R’s hodgepodge of vents, angles, nubs, and a large spoiler was specifically put in place to work together in providing more downforce, more effective cooling capabilities, and to direct the airflow around and underneath the car so it cut through the air better at higher speeds. According to Car and Driver, Honda said that the wing itself adds 66 pounds of downforce to the Civic Type R at 124 mph. So it’s safe to say that every part has a purpose on that car.
What about the aftermarket kits?
Of course, it’s easy to think that a big-time manufacturer like Honda would be able to put a body kit on a car with a huge sense of purpose because it has the manpower and testing facilities to put in countless hours of research and development into their cars. But what about the aftermarket companies that are selling kits to average Joe on the street?
Depending on which company you go with, those body kits can actually do much to add aerodynamic enhancements to your car just as well. For example, C-West is well-known for its aerodynamic kits, which are pretty expensive, but actually to help cheat the wind. They test their body kits on the race track and in the wind tunnel in order to make your car feel like a race car while providing some of the best-fitting parts in the business.
What about body kits that you can find on eBay?
On the other hand, there are plenty of online retailers that sell knock-off body kits – some even copy C-West – for a much cheaper price. And while they might be tempting to buy, it’s recommended that you buy from the more quality brands as the fitment and quality will be much better.