Nowadays, there’s so many FRP (Fibreglass Re-inforced Plastic) and Carbon Fibre panels, components and different styles of bodykits available, it’s seems almost commonplace and it can be hard to remember a time when all these things weren’t really a concern for most. Afterall there was a time when having the car was enough, but of course, with affordability and access to cars becoming so much greater over time, in order for people to maintain some form of individuality over their friends and co-workers who had bought the same car. If you had no fabrication or mechanical skills to speak of, what on earth would you do?!
You’d buy something from manufacturer’s of body-kits and styling products such as this…
They became the thing to have, they could be ordered from many local “speedshops” and/or where a local automotive or bodywork retailer had managed to snaffle the distribution rights. Generally, as it is now, they were able to be bought in pieces for you to affix yourself or bought as a kit and installed by the retailer. As you can see by that picture with it’s colour coded wheels as well as kit, taste is a fine thing and you can almost taste that car just by looking at it.
Of course, Kamei wasn’t the only manfacturer of bodykits during the earlier days, there were plenty of others…
ItalTune in the UK distributed the Orciari kit for the Fiat Uno which can only be described as an horrendous piece of work;
Despite the ferocity of this kit, Orciari still exist today and they do appear to put out some equally dubious work though you should judge for yourself and you can do so at their website, here; http://www.orciari.it/
Of course over the years there’s been some horrible kits, some nice and subtle (some to the point where you wonder whether they’re even worth the money and effort) and others that simply transform the vehicle. Some of these early pioneers of the body styling industry are the likes of Koenig, Autotek, Maztech, Pacific, Hartge as well as the previously mentioned Kamei and Orciari, just to name a few. Not all of these companies still exist, which is likely testament to the boom of kit manufacturers that occurred as car designed progressed from using seperate chrome bumpers to the increased use of plastic which incorporated bumpers into the body of the car itself.
To give you an idea of what was available and for others, a trip down memory lane, I’ve taken a selection of pictures from advertisements in 80′s car magazines; Where available, I have included a link to their website via clicking the image provided, enjoy!
As you can see Koenig catered for the more expensive vehicles, Mercedes, Porsche, BMW, Jaguar & Ferrari. Cars where you’d wonder the point of added more plastic, still, where there’s rich people buying cars, there’s a market for individuality, sans taste.
Probably one of the nicer more complimentary kits available was the above Maztech RX7 one, rather than being a simple lip or a massive set of vents, it was an extension of the cars existing style, appearing more as a factory option than an aftermarket affair. (Note: at the time of writing, the Maztech website was down though I assume this will change in time so I have left the link there)
Though it may be hard to see in that image, the only down point I can find with the Theis K1 kit on the Volvo, is the excessive use of detailing, perhaps a bit less fluting and it would have been that much nicer a kit.
United Sports Cars were one of many that basically extended the lines of the car slightly, instead of the sill curving inwards they came back out, at a width similar to the widest point of the doors, subtle and sometimes effective. Note also more of the 80′s colour-coded everything.
Hartge are another who went the subtle but purposeful route, they still exist today and it’s not hard to see why, they provide stylish cosmetic and tuning enhancements for both BMW’s and the MINI.
What Creative Cars seems to have done here is basically smooth things out a little rather than their extensions being a bulky blob of plastic at the bottom of everything.
Autotek provided kits for cars that more people were likely to own, a very slight addition of styling to otherwise entirely bland family cars and commuters, cars that were often overlooked by the more prestigious kit makers.
If you want to share any more manufacturer’s to add to this, then please feel free to let me know via the comment section.
Photos courtesy of advertisement in 80′s car magazine’s such as Modern Motor, Classic & Sportscar, Wheels, etc.