You know a build is hardcore when carbon is involved. Here are some of the best carbon fiber modified cars we could think of.
Carbon fiber is perhaps the ultimate fusion of form and function – a material with myriad performance benefits, that looks extremely cool. If you’re running carbon parts, people know you’re serious.
Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe, but it’s the clever process by which it’s worked into a functional woven material that gets people all excited. In essence, you start with some carbon atoms, bond them together into crystals and roughly arrange them in a line; repeat this a few thousand times, then bundle the strands together into a sort of microscopic untwisted rope. Take a load of these little ropes and lay them in a thermoset resin, like epoxy or polyester, and bake it in the oven; what you’ll end up with is carbon fiber-reinforced polymer, commonly known simply as carbon fiber.
Why do people go to all this effort? Because it creates a material that has a very high tensile strength, low weight, high stiffness, high temperature tolerance, low thermal expansion, and high chemical resistance. Ergo, making parts out of this stuff will (generally speaking) make your car faster and safer. The benefits of lightness and strength are obvious, and this is why we so often see cars on the scene running unpainted carbon fiber parts – after all, with such a badge of honor to display, why wouldn’t you wear it with pride?
And with this in mind, here are ten of the very best carbon fiber modified cars on the tuning scene…
Best Carbon Fiber Modified Cars
Mk1 Ford Focus RS
This incredible Focus was built by the Swedish King of Composites, Jarno Kauppila. He’s the mastermind behind a company called JTK Composites, and what he doesn’t know about making these clever materials isn’t worth knowing. For example, his latest development is a material that can be used to make deformable bumpers for drift cars – it’s a type of carbon fiber that you can bend in half or hit with a hammer and it just pops back into shape.
And this Focus RS? This is Jarno’s pride and joy, and the carbon panels are all his own work: the bonnet, front fenders, roof, rear diffuser, WRC rear wing, sideskirts, winglets, mirrors, handles, tailgate – he made it all himself to follow the factory lines exactly, and the fitment is perfect. And there’s oodles more custom carbon fiber inside the car too. This is as much witchcraft as it is engineering.
Mk1 VW Golf
It’s safe to say that Gabriel Couty got a bit carried away when it came to adding bespoke lightweight parts to his Mk1 Golf. You see, he wanted some carbon, and ‘some’ became ‘loads’, until it was really almost everything. On the exterior, you’ll find carbon making up the mirrors, USDM bumpers, door handles, grille surrounds, fuel filler, window pillars, it’s everywhere. But when you open the door and peep inside, you’ll find your definition of ‘everywhere’ being reworked, as there’s just so much carbon inside it’s unreal.
The custom dash gleams with the stuff, with its integrated Air Lift controller and MOD7E digi-dash; the rollcage is carbon, the doorcards, the door handles, the door catches themselves, the caps on the Viair compressors, it’s an all-out visual assault. Carbon may be the fourth most abundant element in the universe, but Gabriel’s caricaturized the globe here – it’s the most abundant element in his Golf by quite some margin.
James Waterfield’s S2000 is a clear demonstration of the notion that a car can be built to the most hardcore track specs, but also have the finish and presentation of an all-out show car. There’s proper performance prowess under the skin, with the built motor rocking an HKS GT2 supercharger, along with BC Racing coilovers and Hardrace chassis upgrades, plus a K-Sport 8-pot big brake kit.
And carbon? Oh yes, there’s plenty of that – James fitted a carbon Circuit Garage wide-arch kit, Seibon CSL-style carbon boot with built-in duckbill spoiler, Seibon carbon TS vented bonnet, Seibon double-carbon Mugen-style hardtop with tinted tempered glass, Voltex carbon front bumper and lower lip, Vis Racing carbon front wings, and carbon Spoon mirrors. This Honda is so lightweight, it has to be tethered to the ground in case it floats away.
‘Carbonzilla’ Nissan GT-R
It was the R32 Skyline GT-R that first enjoyed the ‘Godzilla’ nickname, and it’s continued with impressive persistence right through to today’s R35. And what do you get when you reimagine an R35 in carbon fiber? Why, ‘Carbonzilla’, of course. This was the creation of Jan Schekman, and it’s truly bonkers.
Instead of following the herd and opting for a set of fashion-forward wide-ass flares from the likes of Rocket Bunny or Liberty Walk, Jan’s hunted down a super-obscure carbon widebody kit which is a full seven inches broader than the stock body. Joined by a custom carbon bonnet and APR carbon GT mirrors, plus a pair of carbon bucket seats inside, this superleggera Nissan is as serious as a napalm uppercut.
Lamborghini Sesto Elemento
OK, we’re cheating a bit here as this isn’t a car that’s been modified by someone in their garage; no, it’s essentially a Gallardo that was modified to the extreme by Lamborghini themselves. The name translates as ‘sixth element’, referring to the periodic table of elements and carbon’s position within it. Carbon fiber is the overarching theme of this outlandish spaceship of a car; the body, chassis, suspension, wheels and driveshafts are all crafted from the magical weave, the seats are essentially just soft pads glued to the sculpted carbon tub, and the whole car weighs in at just 999kg.
Thrown into this featherweight body is the 5.2-litre V10 from the Gallardo, developing 562bhp. This makes it superbike-fast: 0-62mph takes 2.5 seconds, 0-124mph is dispatched in eight seconds flat, and by the time it’s howled onward to 205mph your retinas will have most likely detached. Thirty Sesto Elementos were built in 2011, costing the thick end of £2.5m each, the entire production run selling out immediately.
It’s not just fancy-pants supercars that get the carbon treatment. Just check out Andrew Crank’s tasty little Corsa! This is a properly mental hot hatch, kicking out a full-fat 500bhp thanks to a forged Saab 2.3-litre motor with a massive turbo – and what’s more, it’s running an all-wheel-drive setup, utilizing an Audi TT quattro 6-speed gearbox, transfer box and rear diff, standalone Haldex controller, custom clutch and bespoke driveshafts.
And yes, there’s loads of carbon keeping the weight down – the imposing BAT Motorsport wide-arch kit is artfully complemented by a carbon fiber vented bonnet, carbon spoiler, and a full carbon roof skin.
K20 Mini Z Car
If you’re not familiar with Z Cars as a company (or, indeed, as a concept), the crux of it is to build a classic Mini with a whole lot more power and, more often than not, a spicy engine swapped into the rear. In the case of this one, we’re talking about a hot Honda K20, amped up to a ludicrous 350bhp via the addition of an Eaton/Harrop supercharger, mounted in a spaceframe in the back to make a crazy RWD Mini that’s so fast it peels your eyelids right back.
And as if Minis weren’t lightweight enough anyway, this one has its bonnet, boot lid, bumpers and wide-arches made from carbon. It’s a properly scary car, in the best possible way.
Mk3 Ford Fiesta RS Turbo
Adam Pope’s Mk3 Fiesta is a bit of a legend in the scene, and it keeps on evolving with fresh new developments for every show season. It’s not just a show car of course, this thing gets driven hard – and with 355bhp from its 2.1-litre ZVH backed up by GAZ coilovers and the brakes from a Lotus Exige, it does everything Adam wants it to on the country lanes.
But it’s those flawless aesthetics that really get people talking: not only is the body beautifully presented and intelligently modded, it’s also kitted out with a full carbon fiber roof, tailgate, front splitter, air scoops and lots more. He’s even got custom carbon turbofans on the BBS wheels!