StiffSpeed Exotic Cars

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Gull-wing Doors

Car Styling - Doors
Gull-wing Doors are doors that hinge from the roof as opposed to the conventional way of being hinged at the A or B post of the cars body. The name derives from the image obtained when the doors are in the up position and having the similarity to a seagulls wings in flight and were first used by Mercedes Benz in the early fifties on the 300SL race car.

Gull-wing Doors have advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that in tight parking spaces they require much less room to open than a conventional door and allow much better access for entering and exiting the vehicle. The downside is that in the event of an accident and the vehicle should end up on it's roof then the doors become impossible to open and escape only viable through the windscreen.

Many manufacturers over the years have used the Gull-wing design and are also very popular in the Kit Car and Custom scene.

Suicide Doors

Suicide Doors are doors that are hinged on the opposite side to the present-day type doors and swing open from the front as opposed to the rear. Horse-drawn coaches of the time featured doors similar to the French Doors found in homes and this car styling design was incorporated in some of the very early automobiles.

The name 'Suicide Doors' comes from the increased danger of the door coming open if it becomes unlatched while the car is moving. On a conventional car, if the door becomes unlatched, moving air around the car will force the door closed. With suicide doors, the moving air pushes the door open. Major automobile manufacturers avoid the term 'Suicide Doors' due to it's negative connotations and use the terms "rear-hinged doors", "coach doors", and "freestyle doors" instead. The original term is still but used mainly in the Custom and Mini Truck scene.

Sunday, 11 January 2009


Channeling (also know these days as a 'body drop') is a fairly radical but very effective way of car styling to get your vehicle lower to the ground and 'in the weeds' as it were, without performing suspension modifications. The process in theory is pretty simple but in practice is much more difficult to carry out. Older cars like a Model A are much easier to perform this on as opposed to a later, full-fendered car.

Basically it involves cutting the body loose from the floor, dropping the body by the desired amount, then re-welding the body back to the floor. depending on the chosen amount to be dropped, this can also have a dramatic effect on the the interior space as whatever amount is lowered over the floor is obviously lost in the interior height. If choosing to roof chop the vehicle then this space is reduced even more.


Dagmars is the slang term for chromed, artillery shell shaped features mounted onto the bumpers of many makes of cars from the fifties and were named after a certain voluptuous film actress.

It was an idea originally conceived by the GM Vice President of Design, Harley Earl and were placed on the front bumper of Cadillacs as more of a styling element than anything else but they also served as bumper guards at the same time.

As the years progressed, the bumper guards became larger and larger and in 1957, they were adorned with black rubber tips known as "pasties".

Cars of the 1960's were minimalist and austere in comparison to the cars from the '50's and and turned away from such styling excess

Tuesday, 6 January 2009


Interiors are another aspect of car styling that are best left to professionals if you want to achieve show winning results. However, it's not as difficult as you may think and as long as approached with logic, initiative and above all, patience, there's no reason you shouldn't achieve satisfactory results.

The styling you decide on for your interior should reflect the overall theme of the vehicle. For a genuine 'Resto-Rod' it will be more a case of reviving or re-newing the existing interior rather than radical changes to the design or look. If however, you want to lose that moulded plastic panel look used in later vehicles, you might want to re-design the whole thing into something more sumptuous.

Some of the most popular materials used when upholstering interiors are:
  • Leather
  • Leathercloth
  • Suede
  • Vinyl
  • Naugahyde
and to a lesser extent these days with exception of Lowriders and the like:

  • Velvet
  • Dralon
Whichever you decide, take careful thought. It's what you'll see most of.

Sunday, 4 January 2009


Along with flames, pinstriping is one of the oldest car-styling paint arts and is mostly used to enhance the natural, flowing lines of a vehicle. It is also used widely with great effect to finish off the edge of a 'flame job' or lettering.

Originally, very unique and creative designs were hand-striped using very fine camel hair brushes and although this technique is still very popular, there are a number of adhesive transfers that can be used very effectively. The advantages of the latter are that they can be removed much more easily if the mood changes and a different design can be applied. Whichever method is chosen, it's a good idea to draw some sketches on a sheet of paper to get some ideas of what you want.

If hand-striping, the best paint to use is synthetic enamel as used by sign writers as it covers in one coat and dries slowly allowing any mistakes to be rectified easily. The right brushes also need to be used. Flat handled 'dagger' brushes are best used for straight lines whereas round handle 'sword' brushes are best for curves. If done correctly pinstriping can have a subtle yet stunning effect on any vehicle.


Flames are one of the oldest painting techniques still used to this day when car styling. They can radiate from pretty much anywhere on the vehicle. Front, sides, wheels, the list is endless though the most popular by far is flowing them from the front. They can come in varying effects from long flowing, short stubby and can be single or multi-coloured.

Perhaps the most traditional flame job is red , orange and yellow flames on a black background giving a visual feeling of power and performance to any vehicle.

Ghost flames can give a subtle but striking effect without giving that 'in your face' look. Tribal flames have also become more popular over recent years giving a more quirky look to the flame design.

Every painter has there own method of masking but the most popular seems to be the use of a mild adhesive-backed masking paper to entirely cover the surface of the vehicle before drawing the flames on then carefully cutting out the flames ready to spray the exposed area.

Done correctly, flames can be the finishing touch to any vehicle.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Roof Chops

Lowering the roofline of any vehicle is one of the hardest aspects of car styling but most direct route to creating a streamlined effect so not for the faint-hearted or beginner. Lots of thought and planning need to go into the preparation before any cutting or grinding begins. Consider carefully what is involved. Amongst others, time, patience, assistance, tools and above all, welding capabilities.

The process basically involves cutting the desired amount out of the roof and pillars then welding the sections back together. Roof Chopping is far easier in theory than in practice. Earlier cars of the twenties and thirties prove relatively easy due to the fact that it's just a case of lowering the rectangle that the side view presents. Later cars present much more of a problem with their curved glass and tapered and raked pillars needing very skillful metalwork to to section and re-join the roof. The glass also becomes a problem to cut on later cars.

Think carefully before deciding if 'hammering the lid' is what you want. You could end up with a roofless car and lots of useless spare panels!

Friday, 2 January 2009


Louvers were first used by the early salt lake racers in Southern California when car styling. They were 'punched' in hood panels, deck lids and almost anywhere else to help relieve air pressure when travelling at high speeds. A fairly simple modification that can add real appeal when applied to the right area and a car with the right louvers can simply 'look' faster.

Louvers soon became commonplace on all types of street cars and although basically copying the racing look they were carefully applied to be aesthetically pleasing. The most common place to louver was on hood panels, although for street originality many were punched into fenders, turret tops and side skirts.

This trend has resurfaced in recent years with many cars being built to look like they were built back in the fifties and the louver is an essential feature to have in gaining that look.

Car Styling - Frenching

Frenching, also known as tunneling, is one of the oldest and most effective custom tricks and is the art of recessing obtrusion's giving them a 'sunken in' look to create clean simple lines to the vehicle.

The process can be applied in several ways to head/tail-lights, aerials, license-plates etc, and is a common modification used on leadsleds and customs since the 1930's. The art is still widely used to this day on the likes of Mini-Trucks and Lowriders and many other genres.

The history behind the name is vague and comes from the idea that early French car makers were doing this early in the life of the car, or it takes its name from a style of kissing but generally it's believed the name originates from the end result looking like a French cuff of a shirt sleeve, which has a ridge at the end.

If well executed, this can add so much style to the right vehicle.

Choosing a Theme

The world of car styling is so diverse and often responsible for initial indecision amongst would-be enthusiasts. In most cases, the majority of cars at any major event or show will look highly desirable on first sight, though sadly beyond your means in terms of personal capabilities and budget.

Every personalised vehicle is simply a reflection of the individual owners' taste. What satisfies the needs of one person may be totally unsuitable for you. It is also a common misconception that endless cash is needed to create an effective style. A lack of funds can usually be made up for by determination, hard work and mainly, initiative.

Planning ahead is the most important aspect of any successful project, so think carefully before you rush into it.

Window Tints

6 Reasons to Tint Your Car:

There are many reasons to tint your car from protecting against health concerns, safety and privacy reasons, as well as preserving your investment in your car. Listed below are some of the top reasons that people tint their cars when car styling.

Your car's interior can be 60% cooler during those hot summer days with proper tinting.

Harmful UV rays from the sun can cause skin cancer. Tinting your car can block 99% of these damaging rays.

In an accident, tinting can help shattered glass hold together, protecting the occupants of the car.

Tinting reduces dangerous glare from the sun, snow, and other headlights, helping you drive safely.

Tinting protects your privacy and contents within a car. What a burglar can't see, he won't steal.

Harmful UV rays and heat cause car upholstery to crack and fade. Car tint is sunscreen for your car.

Found here with many more articles on tinting