Engine dress up kits.

"Get dressed for success"

Engines are a sea of oil covered pipes, connectors and wires, and they look awful, so I'm not surprised manufacturers put engine covers over them, which dramatically improves the look of the engine bay.

However the owners of many show cars spend a lot of time improving the look and feel of their engine bay, and this feature will cover the best engine dress up mods and options.

Engine dress up kit red

Engine dress up kits are a simple modification that can typically be installed in an afternoon.

Car shows would not be what they are if people ignored the little details and we'll feature some of the more impressive engine bays we found at shows we visited.

Something grabs your attention when you see a clean engine with brightly coloured hoses, polished surfaces and carbon fibre panels.

Are engine dress up kits purely cosmetic? You may be surprised that some items used can actually be beneficial to your engine.

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Without stripping the engine a simple engine dress up kit can completely transform the engine bay.

Even a dull standard engine can be made to look impressive with a few shiny and brightly coloured components. Keeping an engine clean can be a difficult task. The engine will often leak oil, grime and dirt from the road is thrown up into the engine bay.

This leaves the engine looking dull & grimy and all of your mates have immaculate engines so what can you do? Detailing your engine is a first step.

Is detailing an engine the same as fitting a dress up kit? Detailing is more to do with cleaning what is there, and make sure the shiny bits are really shiny. You can still detail an engine with a dress up kit, and this is what happens on most of the show cars we see.

The engine is not usually on show but many people will ask to see the engine and this can really let the car down unless you have applied some subtle styling mods.

Silicone hoses

All hoses can be replaced with silicone hoses which have a longer life span and are easier to keep clean than rubber ones. Buy an engine dress up set of hoses from the same manufacturer as there can be a lot of variation in colour.

Keep the theme and colour of the engine consistent. Some use red dress up hoses to indicate coolant pipes and blue for air, some prefer to stick with one colour for all hoses and some will also paint key engine components like the exhaust, head and cam cover to compliment.

FTO engine

Avoid the clip on hoses which work in a similar way to pipe lagging, these are generally made of cheap plastic and will not last very long, as with all styling mods the more effort you put in the better the end result will be.

When fitting new silicone water hoses always flush the engine through and fill it with new coolant afterwards - it is a false economy to put the old stuff back in.

Check for leaks after you finish, running the engine for 30 seconds and then after a short run. A coolant leak could be fatal for the engine so don't take chances.

On turbo cars, the rubber hoses are prone to split losing you some boost pressure, and this can often cause hard to track down running problems.

Braided hoses

These are hoses which are covered with a woven material and this gives them much more strength, they are more resistant to wear and tear and they will be less prone to flex and balloon.

Braided hoses are more resistant to wear and look great so get braided hoses fitted to your brakes and to any other area of the engine bay. If the pipes are under pressure or prone to rub due to vibration then braided hoses are a good performance upgrade, and it also looks great within your engine bay.

Exhaust Wraps and Coatings

This brings us nicely to the subject of exhaust wraps. Your typical exhaust on older cars had cast headers which looked rusty and pitted, and even on modern cars the headers can look quite unsightly.

This is not suprising due to the extremely high temperatures they run at, a challenge for most metals to cope with.

So wrapping the exhaust is another mod that makes the engine bay look tidy. Various types of thermal wrappings are avaiable from thermal bandages to thermally insulated tape.

Various coatings are also available, with a bonded ceramic exhaust coatings offering superb resistance to heat transfer and this looks fantastic on the exhaust.

The benefit of doing this will keep the engine bay temperatures lower and push most of the heat through the exhaust. If you have a DPF or catalyst this is a big win, as these will warm up more quickly and usually last longer.

Your engine intake temperature will also be lower and as cooler air carries more oxygen this will add power.

Engine Covers

Many new engines are fitted with plastic covers. After a while they start to discolour and the dirt and grime become embedded.

You can protect the plastic covers with an engine cleaner which dissolves the dirt and oil allowing you to wash this off and then after allowing the engine to dry off a final application of the engine cleaner will add a protective coating.

Alternatively look for a polished engine cover or get a chromed plastic one - metal is much easier to keep clean and it looks really shiny.

One show car that impressed us at TorqueCars had a gold plated engine, apparently gold is very resistant to corrosion and dirt so it was quite easy to keep clean but to be honest this might cost a little more than you were planning to spend.

Blue engine

The OEM plastic engine covers can also be painted, we've seen some stunning plasti dip (a rubberised paint coating) and spray painted engine covers. When the engine has a theme it looks truly stunning.  (see our guide to plastic painting for more tips on this.)

I would imaging it is quite hard to keep these works of art in good condition.

We should point out that under bonnet temperatures over the engine can get quite high, so any paints or coatings used should be able to tolerate this otherwise it will start to peel away or discolor and will look pretty bad.

As with all styling modifications keep it to a simple theme and plan first. Avoid adding too much, the less is more philosophy works really well for most things in life and certainly holds true for engine styling.

Things will always look messy when you start slapping on parts at random and turn a potentially stylish car into a cheap and tacky affair.

Neon lights can also be fitted to the engine bay and leds or strobes will create a favourable impression.

You need to be careful that these lights do not show through the front as you are driving along - the best solution is to fit a kill switch that turns them off when you are not parked up and posing!

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