THE SHOP

November '15

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November 2015 The Shop 17 orm follows function. When that old adage is applied to that part of the aftermarket that serves the rolling powerhouses that come in the smallest of packages, we get the sport compacts that dazzle and impress on street and track. It's been more than 25 years since the first of these Millennium Falcon- type cars have hit the streets with their punchy, zippy, almost punk attitudes. But unlike the Falcon, which was decep- tively jalopy-styled to hide what's under the hood and fly under the radar, these sport compacts have gone for not only zip under the hood, but also head- turning styling. And, after that much time, it's safe to say the market has matured—as have the kids who, back then, had barely just graduated from skateboards and bicycles to secondhand Honda Civics. Those kids still have a passion for that punchy (punk) styling that defines a gen- eration of enthusiasts. And now, they have more money... and a mature, but still punchy sense of style. In the early 1990s Billy Longfellow and Ernie Bunnell were on the cutting edge of making sport compact makeovers a popular artistic and lifestyle statement. The pair founded a company called Wings West, whose stock in trade was the high art and craft of aerodynamic wings, air dams and other "radical" acces- sory elements for the sport compacts of the day. While their business affiliations have evolved, both are still active in the market and have roles at 3dCarbon, Airdesign USA and Xenon. "Our thing has always been the body kits," Longfellow says, "giving car owners a sense of individuality and a way to express themselves. Now they can build a car and put exactly what they want on it. It's all about lifestyle." PoPular uPgrades The sport compact market is robust these days, with plenty of activity coming from performance car enthusiasts, vintage car aficionados and new car buyers as well—all of whom seek the latest in cool style. Some are entering the market on a budget and just want something that's a step or two beyond stock factory. The hottest and most popular types of sport compact upgrades include paint; wheels and tires; suspension; and aero parts (body kits, wings, hoods, fender flares), says Neil Tjin, of Tjin Edition Road Show. Tjin and his team of automotive virtuosos have designed and built more than 50 high- profile, award-winning sport compact show vehicles in recent years. "The stance of the car plays a big role in the exterior of the builds, followed by the proper size wheel and tire packages," Tjin says, adding that "subtle, but well-executed body enhancements" are driving the market demand toward upgrades such as lip kits, fender flares, low-profile wings, air suspen- sion, wide wheels, and aggressive tires—all to improve the car's stance. "The trends right now are everything wide-body: RWB, Liberty Walk, Rocket Bunny, or customizing your own flares," he adds. Others agree. Dave Moulton is the acces- sories manager at Norm Reeves Ford, Cer- ritos, California. He believes pretty much anything is fair game when it comes to basic modifications. "Cold air intakes and exhausts are usually the first things, if not wheels and suspen- sion," Moulton says. "It just depends on what the owner wants to do. If they're going It's all about the look of fierce, free and fast. By eddie Wieber The stance of the car plays a big role in sport compact builds, followed by the proper wheel and tire packages. (Photo courtesy Neil Tjin, Tjin Edition Road Show) Cadillac's racing program has a huge influ- ence on what drives that segment of the af- termarket. (Photo courtesy D3 Group Inc.) ReSTyling/AfTeRmARkeT AcceSSoRieS

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