If you saw my last post, you saw a little bit of what went behind the production and design of our new ZERO Widebody Kit for the Z32. Before we started final production, we decided we wanted to install it on a car to make sure we were happy with the fitment, appearance, and quality. My car was nearing completion (the engine was still out and incomplete), but had recently come back from paint and was close enough. My Z also has had a rough life (at least, before I owned it!), and because the chassis is imperfect, we decided it would be the perfect candidate to chop up and install the new ZERO kit!
I finished the car (mostly), and had been driving it around for a couple of weeks. Just for a reference, this is what my car looked like before we started prepping it for the widebody kit.
On the day of the install, I bought it and pulled the wheels off.
UpTuned Automotive sent over one of their techs, Taylor, who already had experience on various other cars, including S14s, some Mercs, and others. UpTuned is the same shop that painted the car a few months prior, so we figured they would be the best people to ruin their fresh paint job!
And we pretty much got started right away. For the initial mockup, we literally just positioned the panels, and started drilling pilot holes. For the sake of getting started, we’re using self-tapping screws. In the near future, it will use nutserts with allen-cap screws.
Then we checked a couple parts for clearance.
The ZERO kit has a native mounting hole for the stock side markers, it basically replicates the mounting point on the stock bumper, and seemed to line up and fit perfectly.
After getting the first fender mocked up, I started playing with some wheel setups to eyeball fitment.
First, my stock wheels with a giant spacer. This is basically 18×9.5 -18 offset. Not wide enough to take advantage of the kit by any means, but enough to see how it looks until it gets real wheels. Then, with some help from Coz & Ray, we mocked up a Volk TE37 in 18×10.5 +15. It would probably still need a spacer to get the look we like, but could wear a lot more tire, too.
You may have noticed in these last couple of pictures, the alignment between the two panels is pretty poor. The panels, as they’re manufactured, have a “backing” lip that basically makes the sticky-outy parts touch the chassis of the car on the backside. While most people will cut the majority of this away, we decided to leave it in place so customers can cut as much, or as little, as they want. However, my car has rolled + pulled fenders already. Because my car’s body sticks out further than the kit’s design expects, this was causing the panels to bow out a bit on the mockup. Before installing the next overfender panel, Taylor cut the backing lips, before returning to the LH side and doing the same.
As we test fit the RH side, we found this absolutely did the trick, so we pulled off the other side, and trimmed the front panels as well.
After trimming the inner backing lips, the panels certainly come together a lot better. We also ended up tapping and screwing the two halves together, where they meet near the wheel well, which really helped to keep things nice and tight.
Another point to note, the production version of this kit actually has four more mounting points not shown in the above shot, that normally would be between the upper and lower panels. I opted to have them filled and smoothed out on the kit going on my car, just because I prefered the look which was truer to my original mockups. The production versions will likely keep these mounting points, to give installers additional points to line things up. Any body shop capable of installing a widebody kit would have no problem filling them in if you wish.
With spacers on both sides, this also gave us a chance to see how the wheels would fit under the rear end. We couldn’t yet drop it down, as the stock chassis was still untouched.
Next, we started mocking up and drilling on the front fenders.
The front RH gave us a little trouble, but this fender had previously been damaged pretty badly, and actually repaired by Taylor when the car was resprayed. Still, we took notes to make corrections for the final production version. “Pretty good” is not good enough for this kit.
The LH side came together without issue.
We also learned that, due to the design of the stock fenders, which have a folded inner liner near where they meet the door, the four screws securing the panel along the door line ended up needing to be cut down until they were only ~10mm long.
At this point, we also started to get an idea of what the kit looked like, fully installed on the car.
As you probably guessed or already know, you can’t fit wide wide stupid fat tires under an overfender with the stock fenders still in place. They would just rub against the fenders every time you hit a bump. That meant the inevitable was next. The whole kit came off, and we began marking what had to go. We made paper templates on the LH side, then traced them out on the RH side so the openings would be made approximately the same between both sides.
Then… yup. We started with the fronts, since they’re simple sheet metal.
And we couldn’t help but test fit the front overfender again to see how it cleared. I ended up having to come back to the front fenders and round out their opening a bit more. I also cut the bumper tab and retainer bracket to give myself a few more inches of clearance, which just meant I had to drill a new hole in the retainer bracket and fender, and duplicate the stock mounting point, just about an inch further in.
Then, it was time for the rears. The rears aren’t so simple. Front fenders can be removed and replaced with 10mm bolts. The rears are part of the unibody. No going back now!
The LH side is a bit difficult because it has to clear the fuel door. I had already trimmed the rear bumper tabs in the past, so we were able to cut down into the bumper area as well for a little more clearance. Then Taylor directed his violence to the RH side.
The Z32 is built like a tank. While the front fenders are ultra-thin steel to save weight, the rear consists of two layers of steel pinch welded together (that’s the outer layer), then a layer of what I believe is either a fire retardant or sound deadener, then ANOTHER layer of steel for the inner fender. This proved to be a bit frustrating when you’re trying to mangle it all. On the LH side, Taylor made several cuts in stages to get each panel off. On the RH side, he cut the outer layer and pried it away from the body.
This still ultimately resulted in having to cut away the inner “lip”, which is what really slowed things down.
But hey, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Because the rear is structural and metal panels form the inner fender liner, you have to “fill in the gap” between the outer and inner fender liners. This is done by “flowering” what’s left of the inner fender liner, then bringing it out to meet the outer layer.
After that, you’re left with a bunch of tabs that you start bending upwards.
And, they’ll need a little persuasion.
This is what it looks like when they’re all bent up and basically in place.
During this process, a super super heavy duty two-part epoxy is applied. This helps the inner liner remain structural, as well as coat exposed bare metal to protect it from rust. This stuff is insanely strong. As Taylor described, “it holds Corvettes together.”
After it dries, the excess tabs get cut down.
Once they’re cut down, any rough edges and blobs of (now hardened) epoxy get smoothed down a bit.
Of course, doing this will expose any left-over open and uncoated areas. So it gets one final layer of goop to make sure everything is nice and sealed.
Aside from desperately needing cleanup and probably a little massaging of the paint, the car itself is basically done at this point. So, as the day started to come to an end, we threw all the panels back on, torqued the spacers and wheels, and brought the car down to rest on its own weight.
After that, we raised the car back up, and removed the overfenders once more, for Taylor to take back with him to UpTuned, so they could be painted to match the car. Since UpTuned painted the car just a few months ago, I wasn’t worried about paint match issues or anything. After a couple of weeks, they brought the overfenders back so we could get them on the car and take pics.
Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised with how the kit came out. I’ve taken some notes on small changes we’d like the manufacturer to make before the initial production run, but we’re happy with it and it’s certainly ready to go. On this car, I’ll be playing with the ride height and will most likely be changing the wheel/tire setup in the near future to something better suited for the widebody.
So, after all this time and work, we’re finally ready to put the kit into production! Pricing will be $1899 for all four corners, but for the initial production run, we will be taking pre-orders at an introductory rate of $1599. If you’re interested, you can check it out at the link below:
Up next: Side skirts and… maybe 2+2?