Car customizers are always looking for new ideas and concepts to incorporate into their rides. Here are five trends that you will see more of in 2023.
Taking a car and adding some custom touches and modifications is both a skill and an art. While at the last show of the season for the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association in Scottsdale, Ariz., in late November, I saw plenty of sweet rides. With over 3,000 vehicles on display, there was plenty of chrome, paint, and technology on display.
Here are five custom classic car trends that I spotted and that you might enjoy and expect to see more of in 2023.
After a windshield or back glass is installed on an older car, traditionally a piece of metal trim is placed over the edges to cover the gap in the glass. Modern cars now use flush-mounted glass and eliminate the need for trim pieces. More car customizers are adopting this look.
If a car has had any modification to the roof line, often the glass has to be cut or altered as well. By flush-mounting the glass, the need for new custom one-off trim pieces is eliminated.
Even when a stock trim piece could be used, the flush-mounted glass offers an aerodynamic and sleek look without a bump from the metal trim. This also helps the paint on the car flow without any break or interruption.
Painted Carbon Fiber
Plenty of car pieces are now available in carbon fiber. Hoods, spoilers, wings, and even whole car bodies are made of carbon fiber. This allows for a stronger piece with less weight. But rather than flaunting the fact that the body part is carbon fiber, many builders are quietly painting these pieces.
Examples of this can be found all over the high-end custom car space right now. At this year’s SEMA Show, the Ringbrothers debuted a 1969 Camaro that was all carbon fiber but painted white. Top custom shop Kindig-it Design is even mass-producing a custom version of a 1953 Corvette with painted carbon fiber bodies.
By applying paint to the carbon fiber, custom builders are able to get the lightweight and clean body lines they want, without drawing attention to the shiny carbon pieces. This lets the car speak for itself more, and allows for the carbon fiber to be a bit of a surprise when onlookers inspect the car more closely.
Show Me the Engine
After years of builders going to great lengths to hide a car’s engine with engine covers and sheet metal, the engines are now showing up in public exposed. Builders recognize that engines are eye candy and need to be admired and not hidden.
This is especially true for custom vehicles with big engines, and those with multiple old-school carburetors, under the hood. Engine covers were masking these features, which are becoming rarer and rarer as the world turns to tiny motors and electric drivetrains.
The new trend is for all of the engine to be open for viewing. It can be very tricky to keep a clean engine bay in a custom car while showing off the engine, however.
It’s still important to hide wiring and make fuel injection mimicking a set of carburetors look good. But, an exposed engine is now back on the build sheet for custom cars.
Don’t stress over that mark, it is supposed to look like that. For years, interior upholsterers were upping their game. They sought out exotic leathers from across the world. They would import leather specifically from Italy, or stress that it was hand-dyed and the cattle were raised on wire-free pastures to avoid scuff marks.
Builders are now acknowledging that people might drive these creations and use “distressed leather” in the car interiors. Now that scuff mark or scar on the leather seat is part of the offering and it is designed to look that way.
The distressed leather is especially on point in vintage rides with a worn, patina look. The two styles just naturally work together.
Belly pans might be hard to see, but they are trending on custom classic cars. Oh, they have been around since hotrods began racing on the salt beds, and are seen everywhere in the automotive world these days.
The belly pan started as a slice of sheet metal that fastened under the car’s chassis to cut down on wind resistance and offer more aerodynamics. Now even NASCAR‘s “next-gen” cup car has a belly pan. Even Toyota’s first Prius debuted with a belly pan to create more fuel efficiency.
By having a belly pan under a custom car, the builder provides a sleeker look and can hide wiring and brake lines easily. Of course, builders can up the game by using carbon fiber in place of sheet metal. But this does mean at car shows, you will have to start propping up even more cars and putting mirrors under them to show off that workmanship.
Custom Classic Car Trends
Funny thing about car customizing trends. Some come and go, some never go away, and some come back into style. Many of these new trends are blatantly stolen from modern car manufacturing. We’ll have to wait and see if these trends have staying power in the custom car universe.