A great majority of companies which sell body kits and other automotive parts are forced to use outside vendors for their design, engineering, and manufacturing due to a lack of internal resources. However, in the case of ROUSH Performance, their Ford Mustang body kits are run through the same exact same process that ROUSH Manufacturing uses in making similar components for at least eight OEM American and European car companies.
Due to the heavy demand from both ROUSH Performance and the car companies, ROUSH Manufacturing is running double and triple shifts to keep up with the workload in the 102,000 square-foot building, known simply as "Building 28." The number of steps from start to finish is considerable, and the quality control levels in each process ensure that only parts which exceed customer expectations are approved.
In the case of just one product, for example a ROUSH Performance Mustang Front Fascia, it takes approximately nine steps and 21 people from start to finish. During each step of the process, someone manually inspects the part and has the authorization to declare the quality unacceptable.
The first step in the manufacturing process is the creation of the Front Fascia. This is done on a 3300-ton injection molding machine which is larger than a typical semi truck running down the highway. In fact, just the mold for the Front Fascia by itself weighs 40,000 pounds and is nearly the size of a small car. Despite the enormous sizes and pressures involved, it takes just a couple of minutes to mold a Front Fascia once the machine is running at full capacity.
Other parts included with the ROUSH body kits, such as the Quarter Window Louvers and Hood Scoop, are produced on a smaller, but still substantial, 1760-ton injection molding machine. The Rear Spoiler, for example, is created through a unique blow mold process which allows the manufacture of hollow parts. This is critical on such a large part because it allows for greater weight reductions than a solid injection molded piece.
Most of the ROUSH body kit components are constructed from high-pressure, injection-molded TPO or ABS plastic which means that the pieces will retain their correct shape and not sag or warp over the life of the vehicle. All the compound materials used are OEM-grade ensuring the best quality and performance.
"I don’t think a lot of people outside of the auto industry realize the extent of the capabilities that we offer here at ROUSH," said Jack Roush, chairman of the board. "From design and engineering through the manufacture and shipping ROUSH is able to complete a project from ‘A’ to ‘Z.’ Because of this full service capability, we are contracted to design and manufacture components for a number of automobile manufacturers here and overseas."
Prior to painting, each Front Fascia is manually inspected and hand sanded to remove any minor texture or flash (minute amounts of extra material) remaining from the injection molding process. Then, depending on the size of the body kit part, it will either be hand painted or in ROUSH’s 20,345 square-foot robotic paint booth.
Because the size of the Front Fascia is too large to allow uniform paint coverage by hand, it is sent through the robotic area. Each part is loaded onto a special rack which runs along a track through the five-step paint process.
Once inside the paint booth, the Front Fascia undergoes a thorough power wash to remove any remnant sanding dust or other contaminants. This is a five step process which uses treated waters and chemicals to thoroughly clean the parts inside and out. From there, the next steps are a tack-off drying procedure and the addition of an adhesion promoter, more commonly known as primer.
The base coat of paint, perfectly color matched to Ford specifications, is applied by a robotic arm which spins up, down, and around the Front Fascia as it evenly applies the paint. Rather than a set number of coats, parts are painted to a thickness measured in Mils which varies depending on the part and the place on the car that it is ultimately installed. Paint will be thicker on components such as a Chin Spoiler or Front Fascia as they will need to withstand more road damage, such as chips from small stones, than a Quarter Window Louver is expected to.
The entire paint booth is both temperature and humidity controlled, so no matter how cold the Michigan winter gets, or how humid the summer rises to, the paint is always applied in optimum conditions.
After the base color is complete a clear coat is applied and the part undergoes a bake cycle to cure the paint quickly and properly. This baking typically lasts 20 or 30 minutes, depending on the size of the part and the amount of paint coverage. From start to finish, it takes around three and a half hours for the total paint process to be completed.
Once out of the paint booth, the parts all pass through a viewing area with 13 high-intensity lights in an arch spanning several feet wide. Here they are hand inspected for any paint flaws, and if passed, go to another area where they are buffed and polished by hand.
"Every single part is inspected for any cosmetic issues prior to the buffing process," said Bob Nicosia, operations director of ROUSH Manufacturing. "After that they are hand polished to perfection."
The ROUSH pre-painted body kits take much of the work out of buying body kit components, sanding them to fit properly, finding a paint shop to have them sprayed, and then worrying about the color matching your car correctly. All of this is done by ROUSH employees with access to the best equipment in the industry which certainly explains why the individual components have become such a popular item with Mustang owners.
Now for the first time ROUSH Performance is offering a complete body kit pre-painted in the Ford factory colors. The 2005-2007 Ford Mustang kit includes a Front Fascia, Hood Scoop, Rocker Moldings, Quarter Window Louvers, Chin Spoiler, Rear Fascia and Rear Wing.
All the ROUSH painted parts come with step-by-step instructions and life-sized templates for trouble-free installation. Most components use existing bolt or screw locations to minimize additional drilling into the vehicle.
Colors available include Torch Red (part number 402361), Screaming Yellow (402362), Redfire (402363), Alloy (402364), Vista Blue (402365), Performance White (402366), Legend Lime (402367), Windveil Blue (402368), Tungsten Grey (402369), Satin Silver (402370), Grabber Orange (402371) and Black (402372). Unpainted body kits (401421) are also available for the "do-it-yourselfer."