(continued from above)
Even though this process takes longer to do than the rounded flare transplant, or slapping-on some composite flares, we went with it for aesthetic reasons (it just plain looks right!
), but also because it makes for a stronger, more durable finished unit. Steel flares can take a bit of a beating (smacking autocross cones, gravel hits, etc) that will normally crack fiberglass flares. Show me a real race car with fiberglass flares and I'll show you the cracks. We were also short on time for finding the right kind of widebody kit, such as ordering fiberglass fenders + overflares (which are usually built to order and almost never just sitting in stock). We could start making the steel flares in-house on day 1, which we did, using our past steel flare experience and the skills of our in-house fabricator Ryan. Sticking with steel worked for this tire size package, this car, this crew, and this timetable. Luckily the car owner Brianne left it up to us, as we were the ones that talked her into the 285mm tires.
We looked at another similar project's work (Kevin Byrd's beautiful LS3 widebody E30 M3
, of Two Guys Garage
TV fame), followed his example, and modified this proven method to fit this Subaru's boxy body lines. The total amount of room added is about 2" per side, with a sliced/and-filled pie section only about 1-1.5"" wide at the top of the flare and a re-shaping of the radius where the flare meets the body. The front inner fender lip was also rolled once it was pieced back together. These flares will cover not only the 18x10" wheel and 285/30/18 Hoosier, but an even larger 18x10.5" wheel and wider 295 tire - in case Brianne wants to go wider in the future.
A TIG welder was used with a very specific rod that can take a lot of heat without blowing out, and a very steady hand. These pictures show the cutting, slicing, patching, and re-shaping necessary to make a wide body flare in steel. What you don't see is the hammer and dolly work, the tweaked contours of the bumper covers to match, and the hours and hours spent getting the metal shaped and re-shaped to the final contours. There are a lot of radii built into the Subaru box flare, surprisingly! Overall, all I can say is: "It's a lot harder than it looks".
We still have all hands on deck attacking these flares, trying not to let this push anyone's deadline back. In fact, last week we pushed up our own the deadline to get the car to the tuner half a week sooner than originally planned.
Two of my racing buddies and I volunteered our bodywork talent (of which we have very little!) last Saturday to try to make these look "race car good" before the vinyl wrap. I came back on Sunday and did some more filler, did another round today, and I will keep attacking the bodywork every night to keep from dusting up the shop during the day - when they are cutting, welding, and wrenching on this car. I think I've ingested enough body filler dust to make a 1/25th scale, sand castle replica of Windsor Palace.
So far we are on target to get the rolling chassis back over to AWDTuning
on Thursday night or Friday, fully plumbed and on the big wheels/tires, for their tuning work. The flares won't likely be 100% done by then, but they should be clearanced and the 285mm tires functional. Hopefully the tuning can be wrapped up Friday and then that gives us all weekend to swap in the new Swift dual-spring set-up, corner balance and align the car, and work on more flare stuff. Hopefully we can sneak out of work for a few hours to do some track-side testing early next week as well. After the test (and any subsequent changes), we can vinyl wrap the car and add sponsor decals and number graphics.
I will show one teaser pic of the rear flare work, then describe it in more detail in "Flares Part 2" - just know that the fronts were EASY to widen compared to the rear, which also encompass the rear doors as well as the fuel filler door:
Nice, fat back end shaping up. See why we moved the fuel filler to the trunk? That fender will be seamless when its completed. Again, more pics of the rear flares next time...
Terry @ Vorshlag