Sure, a body kit with black side vents might look decent on your 2017 LS. But a custom wing spoiler and a fluorescent paint wrap? Certainly not. Luxury drives a fine line between garish and classy, and in the automotive world, nobody understands that better than Stephen Stasiulewicz, the founder and CEO of Lux Motorwerks, the elite custom car shop in Keyport, NJ.
Stasiulewicz is an automotive aesthete. His eye for detail and appreciation for a vehicle’s original design have taken Lux Motorwerks, in its seven short years of business, to the top of the custom car food-chain. Nowhere are these stylistic sensibilities more apparent than in the 458 Ferrari Spider Lux Motorwerks recently customized.
When the 458 Spider first came to Stasiulewicz, the owner was only interested in a new head-unit. So Stasiulewicz oversaw the installation of a double-DIN Pioneer navigation system, which required a creative solution to a common concern.
“A lot of these Ferrari owners, they want to customize the car but they’re afraid of the resale,” Stasiulewicz explained. “So what I did was I devised a bracket that goes [inbetween the console and the dash] to hold the whole radio, hold everything in there, so that there are no holes in the car whatsoever.”
If the owner were to resell the 458, he could easily remove the new head-unit, leaving behind no evidence it had ever been there.
When the 458 came back to Stasiulewicz a second time, the owner was interested in a widebody-kit from Liberty Walks, but Stasiulewicz was able to talk the owner into a widebody-kit from Prior Design. The Prior Design kit added a new front bumper, rear-bumper, side skirts, hood, and fenders with rear fender flares.
“The rear bumper and the front bumper, the way [Prior Design] designed those I thought was a lot cleaner. And the fact that you don’t have the rivets on the sides,” said Stasiulewicz.
The widebody kit by Prior Design is more subtle than the one made by Liberty Walks. The Prior Design kit lacks the same gapping in the panels, making the kit less noticeable, and doesn’t include the rivets Liberty Walks uses to attach the body kit.
The Prior Design kit is usually glued on, though that isn’t exactly what Stasiulewicz had in mind.
“I wasn’t going to glue them because my customer lives in New York City, and he likes to destroy stuff really fast,” explained Stasiulewicz. “We also didn’t want that bolt-on style where you see the bolts on the exterior, so we studded the whole inside of it so that they bolt onto the quarter-panels. There are studs on the inside, so if anything does happen it’s easily replaceable.”
“These kits are all fiberglass and so they don’t fit perfectly every time. We had to make sure all the gapping was proper and everything was right and fit properly.”
The widebody kit was painted white to match the factory color of the car. The 458 was then given a matte clear bra. The whole project took about two months and included an Armytrix exhaust system and Novitec suspension with a front-end lift, to make it easier going up and down driveways.
The wheels on the 458 are custom one-offs designed by Stasiulewicz in conjunction with Alpha One Wheels. “My client likes to be a little flashy, so I wanted something on there that would make the car stand out,” said Stasiulewicz, explaining the impetus for going with gold wheels.
“For us it’s all about keeping the clean lines and keeping everything together, keeping the car clean overall. Going over the top, it’s a fine line. I don’t try to one-up what the lead designer of the actual vehicle does. I just try to add onto it a little bit, and kind of create the car that they should’ve, or that they could’ve.”
The Ferrari 458 Spider, the convertible cousin to the Ferrari 458 Italia, made big waves at last autumn’s SEMA show (the automotive trade-show hosted by the Specialty Equipment Market Association).
“This is the only widebody Spider that’s around with a Prior Design kit in the U.S. There was another one at SEMA but it was a yellow coupe. It had the same kit on it but they added some stuff on there and it kind of looked a little over-done. For this one [from Motorwerks] everybody was just blown away by how it didn’t stand out – it isn’t an ‘oh my god, look at me’ kind of car, it just has very clean lines and everyone was in love with it because it’s a very clean car. Everybody was saying it was basically the best one [at SEMA].”