A front-end bra (car bra, bonnet bra, front-end cover, hood bra, auto bra, hood mask, car mask, etc.) is a stretchy type of vinyl (usually black) that attaches to the front of a car or other vehicle to protect the bumper, hood, and sides of the fender from scratches, although not everyone agrees: it is argued that car bras can cause damage by retaining moisture, catch air (reducing aerodynamics and causing the fabric to vibrate), and cause scratches in paintwork, paint chipping, and other minor damage from rocks, gravel, and other road debris. The inside of the bra is lined with a feltlike material.
Car bras are considered a 'fashion accessory' to vehicles as their utility is debated and some owners consider that they improve the look of their cars. Others use a car bra as a way to cover-up light front-end scrapes and damage to their vehicle.
Bill Colgan, founder of Colgan Custom Manufacturing, Inc. successfully operated a trim and upholstery business in Burbank, California, for fifteen years prior to creating the car bra business. The "Original Car Bra" was invented in 1961 when three German engineers from Lockheed walked into Bill's upholstery shop, asking Colgan if he could redesign a protective cover for their personal Porsches. The very first pattern was for the Porsche 356. The pattern Colgan designed was the creation of the one-piece "Original Car Bra." The word 'bra' came from the woman's breast-support undergarment, the brassiere.
The peak years of popularity of the front-end car bra were the 1980s and 1990s in the United States.
There are several types of car bras, including full, sport, and T-style. The 'sport' car bra covers less of the front of the vehicle (displaying more of the car's original looks) than the 'full'. The 'T-style' car bra is generally intended for trucks, SUVs and similar. The car bra can also be carbon-based, ostensibly to absorb the microwaves used in police radar equipment and thus minimize the risk of detection when speeding. Car bras are most commonly black in color, but are available in other colors to match the color of the vehicle.
The 'clear' car bra is actually a stick-on, transparent, protective film that can extend from the front end over the entire car body.
Some automobile manufacturers use larger bras together with disguising panels, plastic and/or tape to cover an entire vehicle (or certain parts of it) to conceal its design when developing and road-testing.
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- "bra." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. 2009. Encyclopedia.com. (February 9, 2010). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O999-bra.html
- Junk on Your Trunk: 15 Terrible Automotive Accessories, Car and Driver, Phil Leitz, February 2009
- "101 Projects for Your Porsche 911", Wayne R. Dempsey, MotorBooks/MBI Publishing Company, 2001, ISBN 978-0-7603-0853-0
- "A Brief History of the 'Bra' by Colgan", Bill Colgan, 1988
- "Car Bras Research Guide", AutoAnything, retrieved 2010-2-9
- "Car Bras For New Fashion", Andrew Bernhardt, streetdirectory.com
- "A Guide to the Car Bra", Waxner, 12 December 2008