Fast cars call for fat tires. Drag racers can get away with installing wheel tubs, bringing the tire in as far as possible. This works well, but what about the guys who need big tires in the front too? Fender flares can give us some room for the extra rubber. They also give us more clearance for lowered cars. The great thing about fender flares is that even if you don't need the wider meats, they look really cool.

Some people have gone overboard with fender flares, giving the car a cartoon-ish look. Fortunately, Jeff Lilly, owner and builder at Jeff Lilly Restorations of San Antonio, agrees with us. Jeff's story started in his early years, working for his father building custom cars in Ohio. When his father retired in 1985, Jeff packed up and moved the shop to San Antonio.

He walked us through the process of grafting tasteful and functional fender flares on their project '66 Mustang Fastback. The Mustang, named "Franken Stang," is a great example of his work because he has refined the style of the car, keeping the appeal of its factory look. The car has undergone many changes at the shop, but the intentions were always the same, to keep the car looking clean and not overdone.

The fender flare modification was inspired by the Trans-Am race cars of the late '60s and early '70s. Instead of starting from scratch and creating the flare from a flat piece of metal, Jeff has found that the '71 reproduction quarter-panels feature a flare that looks great on the early cars. Because it came from the factory, it isn't too large or goofy looking. Being able to use a factory panel also helps keep the flares consistent one wheel to another. These replacement quarter-panels go for around $80, and keep the cost low.

There are some specialty tools involved, but nothing out of reach to the home-based builder. This project can serve as guidance for many makes and models, not just an early Mustang.

What Is A Cleko?
There are a handful of absolutely necessary tools in the fabrication of body panels, and a set of Clekos and Cleko pliers are some of them. A Cleko is basically a temporary rivet that can be reused many times. It's purpose is to hold two panels together while adjustments are made.

Most Clekos use a 1/8-inch pilot hole to locate the two panels. The Cleko then is pushed through a hole drilled through the two panels to be temporarily fastened. The pliers depress the button on the top of the Cleko forcing the fingers at the opposite end to retract. You press the Cleko into the hole, and then release the pliers. The fingers force out and hold the two panels together. Removal uses the exact opposite procedure

Local hardware stores probably won't carry Clekos or Cleko pliers because they are a specialty metal fabrication tool. Matco Tools does carry a complete line of Clekos in 1/8-, 3/16-, and 1/4-inch diameters. It's good to keep a decent stash of Clekos because you never know how many you will need. If you want to stock up, 1/8-inch Clekos are the most common.

Source:
Matco Tools
www.matcotools.com

HOW MUCH IT COSTS
Description: Part No.: Price:
Cleko Pliers F2AV11-192 $28.30
1/8-inch Cleko F2AV11-194 $0.50 each
3/16-inch Cleko F2AV11-195 $0.50 each
1/4-inch Cleko F2AV11-193 $2.35
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