If you already own a car that came with this curious, curvaceous board fastened to the back, it is not unreasonable to think that you probably take it for granted. Or it could be that the spoiler was one of the reasons you chose your ride in the first place. But for many, spoilers are an aftermarket objective that creates both desire and intrigue. What is it about them that make spoilers so popular? And why do drivers seemingly everywhere clamor for this upgrade if the top of their trunks lay bare? Some will say it’s the customized style or expression. Others will tell you that they like the aerodynamic support they get when zipping down the highway with reckless abandon. The answers vary from place to place and driver to driver. It doesn’t matter though, as one thing’s for sure: spoilers can cause a custom explosion when fitted on the right piece of machinery.
What Are Spoilers For?
The design and implementation of automobile spoilers dates back to decades ago and the early days of stock-car racing. It was thought, and logically so, that it was possible to mimic (albeit on a much smaller scale) the airflow disruption that spoilers on airplanes provided. It is this airflow disruption that reduces drag on any object in motion. Since airplanes travel at high speeds, it is crucial for them to remain at a stable course throughout flight. Without them, there would be major turbulence, if not concurrent crashes. To be able to reduce the instability that cars may see at faster speeds, a rectangular panel fashioned out of sheet metal provided the basis for early prototypes. After trial, error, and almost four and a half decades worth of evidence, we have the spoilers that are visible on the road today, and there are different styles and shapes that are put into service.
Custom & Factory Spoilers
Most aftermarket spoilers you see are either custom or factory. Custom spoilers are available in a variety of styles, all geared towards driver-preference. There are several types of custom spoilers that have positively exploded on the current market. One of the most popular versions includes a dynamically squared wing that features pedestals (brackets) that hold the spoiler up, and can be painted a contrasting color for extra fashion-sense or shaded to match the body. Many times, they are even wider than the trunk, suggesting racing aggression and style (this is the method that is featured prominently in most auto accessory publications). Another type of high-rising wing custom spoiler that makes headlines includes a sweeping arch that presents a widened gap between the spoiler itself and the trunk. But when it comes to custom spoilers, no style is really off limits – that’s the key. Custom spoilers are not the standard, by any stretch. But that is what makes drivers so attracted to them: they stand out. Fixed on the right car’s rear, a custom spoiler can demonstrate an image that is nothing short of awe-inspiring, and awakens the entire vehicle.
Factory spoilers are frequent additions for a wider spectrum of drivers. Factory spoilers are ordered to match the color and dimensions of your car precisely. They are basically the spoiler that you wish your car came with, hence the term “factory.” Factory spoilers, like most other types of spoilers, can be ordered to come in an exact OEM match color, which is most often the case. Some drivers actually prefer to receive their factory spoilers unpainted so that they can be in control of the painting process, whether to have it done privately or wait until after installation. What makes factory spoilers such a palatable option for many is that they even seem to blend in perfectly with vehicles that you normally might not associate with such a trait. It is for this reason why you might be surprised by the eclectic groupings of drivers who go for the factory spoiler look. They are designed to replicate the OEM direction for that specific vehicle; therefore you rarely see mismatches between the spoiler and the exterior design. Factory spoilers can perhaps be viewed as the leader in this aftermarket genre.
Both custom spoilers and factory spoilers can come “lit” or “un-lit.” Lit refers to the optional brake light that would be centered inside the wing’s casing. A lighted spoiler, whether custom or factory, is often an excellent safety feature depending on the type of vehicle. With this option, the spoiler can act as another avenue of defense for larger trucks that are galloping behind. Most companies offer this viable custom choice, and are certainly recommended for a second look.
Rear-Roof Wings & Lip Spoilers
Spoilers are not just designated to be trunk ornaments. The roof of your vehicle can see some action as well. Rear-roof wings are a dashing member of the spoiler family that many drivers are starting to become increasingly attracted to. Rear-roof wings, like traditional custom or factory spoilers, are normally painted to match the body. The most common shape and placement of rear-roof wings is very much a combination of a lip spoiler and factory spoiler. They are mounted (or placed) right above the rear window and angle in a similar fashion to regular spoilers. This version is not normally ultra-aggressive, and normally do not present a steep slope (although they could). They are a fantastic addition for turbo-loving enthusiasts and sensible SUV drivers alike. Many different kinds of drivers prefer different styles – a “gimme” statement, but never more true when pertaining to automotive customs, especially spoilers. And not every driver desires a ferocious statement being made.
For those who prefer a more subtle but no less appealing spoiler upgrade, there is a solution: lip spoilers. Lip spoilers approach right off the “lip” of the trunk (or as a rear-roof adornment, as well as other parts of the vehicle that we’ll discuss at a later time). Lip spoilers are embedded flush onto the trunk and do not feature pedestals. Rather, they peer up slightly, delivering a luxuriously promising image that the more upscale sedans have been known to express. They can be secured either with screw-mounted hardware but most often come with ultra-grade 3M adhesive that makes for a near effortless installation – a fact that doesn’t get lost on most consumers (rear-roof wings also can be installed using 3M tape). While lip spoilers are an admired aftermarket choice and can be categorized often as a “custom spoiler”, many luxury automakers are starting to include them as a specific trim-level option.
Materials, Ordering, & Installation
Spoilers can be comprised of several different materials, and this mostly depends on the manufacturer, not the type of spoiler. Fiberglass and ABS plastic have long been the two most common substances preferred by the majority of spoiler producers, but silicon and carbon fiber are starting to come on more and more. Fiberglass layering and contouring involves a process that is as specific as they come. Whether filled with foam or derived with plastic, the length has to be proportionately contoured to meet the vehicle’s dimensions. If the measurements are off just a fraction of an inch, the entire spoiler is corruptible. Not only will it look unattractive and laughable, but it can also be a detriment on the road by throwing off the wind variants that permit airflow re-ordering – hence the reason why spoilers were invented in the first place (remember?). Carbon fiber is a durable, sleek material that is used as an ingredient in numerous aftermarket parts. Carbon fiber spoilers are hot items. They are also quite expensive and not fully available for as wide of a selection of makes/models as fiberglass and ABS plastic.
Ordering a spoiler can be as easy or as difficult as you want it to be. That may sound ambiguous, but you would be shocked by how many drivers think they want one type of spoiler, pay for it, receive it, and then once it is mounted, decide it doesn’t look right. And of course after that, they want to send it back, blaming the company for this oh-so-tragic occurrence. While ridiculous, it is a good example of being an unprepared customer. To stave off such a distinction, make sure you know what you want. I always recommend viewing countless pictures of spoilers, especially if you can find them shown on your model. Here is where you will get a good idea of what your new spoiler could be capable of. If you want to go with a custom spoiler, internet searching all of the flavors and options can take you just couple of moments. And of course, pay attention to the ones you see on the road. Figure out what it is that you like about them, and also in what way you feel a spoiler will compliment your ride. This is usually the second most enjoyable part of the experience!
Installation is not the challenging task that you may believe it to be. As mentioned above, lip spoilers and rear-roof wings can be set using 3M auto adhesive. For those who may be unfamiliar, 3M double-sided tape is basically impenetrably strong and will undoubtedly last a very long, long time (if not forever). Custom and factory spoilers usually require a bit more, but are still simple installations in their own right. With either of these rear spoilers, they typically come with mounting hardware and components (although some do use 3M tape instead). Now, as soon as I mentioned the word “hardware”, you may have gotten nervous. Don’t. Hardware in this case merely refers to the screws and such that you would need. However, light drilling may be involved, depending on the spoiler. If this is the case and you do not feel totally confident, any halfway decent restyling shop can handle this installation extremely quickly.
The Difference Between “Seen” and “Unseen”
At the end of the day, we can talk aerodynamics, down force, materials, and everything else. But what it comes down to is how much you want your vehicle to express itself. And there are obviously different ways to go about that. Few aftermarket modifications wield the kind of power that spoilers do – that much is a given. No matter where you are, you notice a car that has one. Whether in traffic, in a parking lot, or just passing you by on the highway, spoilers catch your eye. I am certain that if you take a second to think about it, you will agree. That is a spoiler’s biggest advantage. From factory spoilers and custom spoilers to rear-roof wings and lip spoilers, there are boundless selections that touch every driver’s sensibilities. The trick is knowing your own style, both on the road and on the curb, and going from there. Because once you figure that out, a primed, painted spoiler takes care of the rest.