Sticky Fingers: DIY carbon fiber

Fake trim is for the birds. Of course, there are cost considerations, and a piece of lower-cost injection-molded plastic is a lot cheaper than actual wood, metal, or laboriously laid carbon fiber. Faux trim can be awfully convincing – the metal-look trims in my S60 T5 are a far nicer touch than the faux wood that came in the lesser models. The north-woods car nuts at Hemmings have gotten the scoop on DIY carbon fiber from Vermont SportsCar, the guys that make Subarus fly. Since the learning curve is rather steep, we suggest starting off with interior trim pieces before going toward something more structural.

The process is similar to fiberglass, though a little trickier. You make a sandwich of cloth and resin and then cure it in a cheap and nasty autoclave. Yes, the word autoclave sounds fancy, but it amounts to little more than a cardboard box and a space heater -- incredibly dangerous if you're not paying attention. We like that. The added risk of torching your entire shop will make the completion of your first very crappy parts that much sweeter. Basic parts aren't that expensive to make – Hemmings reports the materials will knock you back about $100 or less. The Vermonters were even kind enough to include a link to a how-to, so if you get good enough, you can cash in by making body parts for all those clapped out Corollas and Civics.

[Source: Hemmings]

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