I have been a guy that has extensively focused on making my BMW quicker and faster. Power to weight ratio is the key to making your vehicle go fast. I have added horsepower where I could and I have tried to lighten the car when possible. Carbon fiber is a look I love and a theme that extends through many parts of my car. With the stock hood weighing about 40 lbs, I felt this was an area that I could shave some weight off while adding a nice aggressive touch to my car. The time had come to get a carbon fiber hood for my car.
I have to admit that I am a slow moving modder. I try to do extensive research before I jump at any mod because I do not enjoy double labor. Finding the right carbon fiber hood for me was a tough search. I looked over a lot of different designs and went back & forth for a while. I wanted something unique and aggressive without sacrificing the grace of my BMW. I came across the Duke Dynamics D2 PowerVented Carbon Fiber Hood that is unique, aggressive, and still very classy. Duke Dynamics has had some quality control issues in the past, so I decided I would contact Duke Dynamics to chat a little about their products. I was fortunate to get the opportunity to speak with Duke himself about his current products and some of their history. Duke was very clear that making forward thinking designs that fit near perfect is their goal. Well, we have all heard that. Duke said he changed every aspect of the manufacturing process now to ensure proper fitment every time. Duke took that quality control process one step further though, he is now at the manufacturing facility to verify the pieces are built to his standards. I love their D2 PowerVented Carbon Fiber Hood and Duke gave me enough confidence to order the hood.
With that, I ordered the Duke Dynamics D2 PowerVented Carbon Fiber Hood. This review will heavily focus on the quality and fitment of the Duke Dynamics hood. I have about 60 photos, so you will know exactly what to expect if you order this hood.
Experience with Duke Dynamics
I touched on the fact that Duke Dynamics has been very responsive to my emails despite being half way around the world. Duke really is a nice guy and a car enthusiast like us. He was very quick to answer all my questions and friendly during the entire process. Duke is also very knowledgable about the build process of carbon fiber items and the associated hardware used. Duke Dynamics is also proud of the quality improvements they made. The nuts/bolts they use now to secure the hoods and trunks are all machined versus the old handed welded method. Machining these parts should really help consistency in fitment which is critical to us.
Duke Dynamic's carbon fiber products are all vacuum molded using the Resin Transfer Method (RTM). I could go into a lot of specifics of vacuum molding advantages, but it produces a bare mininum of defects with a superior finish/appearance. The results show in a major way when you see the products first hand.
The shipping from Duke Dynamics was very good as well. They even went out of their way to package the hood in a bullet proof wood box. LOL! They did provide tracking info in a very timely manner and this gave me the ability to plan for the arrival/installation of the hood.
The hood arrived to me in a powerhouse wood box to protect it during the shipment from their manufacturing facility. It is an ox!
Opening the box, I found a well protected hood. It was bubble wrapped, styrofoam planked, foam blocked, and had air bubble bags to protect the item from moving.
When I opened the box, the first thing I saw is the beautiful "DD" logo back that Duke Dynamics includes on their hood. This is a really nice touch and along the lines of some of the other very high end hoods.
I removed the hood from the box and took some initial pictures of the hood. I apologize that they are at night, but I couldn't wait! LOL! The carbon fiber weave is absolutely stunning and flawless.
The edges were clean and the weave looked smooth around the corners.
I do want to note that the vents are carbon fiber and they look good!
The PowerVent section of the hood is stunning.
It should be noted that I weighed the stock hood near 40 lbs and the single side carbon fiber Duke Dynamics D2 PowerVented Hood weighed in at 24 lbs. A nice 16 lbs of weight savings... it all adds up!
Overall, I had a very good experience with Duke Dynamics, but the fitment is where this hood will be a success or failure.
Since changing the hood is very routine, I just wanted to briefly touch on a few of the important items. I would pick up some new grommets from BMW for your roundel that you will install on the hood. Second, the new hood weighs less than your stock hood, so the pistons that prop your stock hood will be too powerful. The stock 335i gas pressurized hood struts are rated at 330 NM of force each. However, the M3 gas pressurized hood struts are rated at 200 NM of force each. That is 660 NM total force for the stock 335i gas pressurized hood struts versus a total force of 400 NM for the M3 gas pressurized hood struts. To make it easy, here is what the M3 gas pressurized hood struts look like (BMW part #51237900795):
Since Duke Dynamics drills all the necessary holes, the installation process is very quick. Removal of the stock hood is very easy, but two people are necessary. You will want to transfer over the hood latch. It is held on by 2 torx t-30 screws.
Unscrew the hood latches and the plastic twist protection brackets.
Install the hood latches on your new hood. You will adjust these later to get flush fitment.
Finally, reinstall the twist protection brackets.
Now that you have the hardware moved over, it is time to remove the stock hood from the latch. First release the stock hood gas pressurized hood struts by slipping a small flat head screw driver under the release tab. This is very easy stuff. Next, unbolt the hood from the latch. Again... easy stuff here, just have two people so you don't damage anything. Then take the hood away and put it somewhere safe. Before you leave the hood completely, remove the ball pins from your stock hood with a 13 mm wrench and install them in the pre-drilled holes of you new hood.
With your friend, line up the new hood and bolt it down loosely. This is the point where you will toy around to get things alinged and adjust the latches to insure best fitment. Once you have achieved fitment you are happy with, then snap the M3 gas pressurized hood struts onto the ball pins and you are done.
Two people are a must for this project and you need a little patience when aligning things.
Before I jump into this, I want to say I will be painting the hood and I will install the roundel. I wanted to get this review up for you guys as quick as possible, but I will update pictures after the custom paint job I do on the hood.
Hands down this is the single most important part of this review. A good looking hood in a box is worthless if it doesn't fit well. I wanted to go overboard to make sure you would know exactly what the fitment is like on the Duke Dynamics D2 PowerVented Carbon Fiber Hood and the quality you receive, so I have included about 30 pictures for you to look at. The pictures are from every possible angle I could think of. These pictures focus on all aspects of fitment, the flow of the hood with the car, and the quality of the carbon fiber.
If you have any questions, please let me know and I will try to take more pictures to help.
Let's jump in. I want to start by looking at the gap between the hood and the front bumper.
Passenger side headlight
Passenger side grill
Driver side grill
Driver side headlight
Full front shot
The gap between the hood and the grill and front bumper is stock like.
Here are a few higher angle shots.
This shows the lines from the front fender to the hood are perfect.
Now, extreme angle shots to show how far forward the hood sits.
This shows the hood sits about 2mm too far forward. Now Duke Dynamics says they will fix this on the mold for future customers, but I am confindent that I can adjust the bumper forward a touch to fix this issue. I will update this in the next day or two after I adjust the bumper.
Gap between the hood near the passenger side windshield support
Gap between the hood near the driver side windshield support
The passenger side is perfect. The driver side does have a tiny wave in the middle of it, but for me this is negligable unless you look really close.
Some shots of the quality of the carbon fiber vents.
The vents are carbon fiber weave and they are simply gorgeous!
Views looking down on the hood to highlight overall fit
The gap across hood/fender line is uniform. The gap between the windshield and hood is uniform. The gap in the front of the hood / bumper / headlights is uniform. The weave is absolutely perfect and stunning.
Alignment with hood and passenger side fender
The alignment between the hood and passenger side fender is spot on.
Alignment with hood and driver side fender
The alignment between the hood and driver side fender is spot on.
Finally some beauty shots.
The weave again is flawless and stunning. The vents look so good on this style. The PowerVent style is so unique and aggressive, yet still very graceful. It is just a superb piece.
Duke Dynamics was a pleasure to purchase from. I had an opportunity to speak to Duke and he is very clear that the BMW community is where he wants to be and it is where he wants to stay. He was tremendously helpful through the process and very knowledgable. Duke Dynamics packaged the hood incredibly well and provided all tracking info in a timely manner.
Duke Dynamics has made a commitment to quality and fitment on all of their new products. Duke himself is now at the manufacturing facility to insure quality fitment on all products. He convinced me it was worth a try and I am glad I chose their hood. Their designs are innovative and unique in my opinion, yet still carry the grace that belongs on our BMW.
The fitment of the Duke Dynamics D2 PowerVented Carbon Fiber Hood is summarized as follows:
- Stock like gap between the hood / headlight / bumper / kidney grills.
- Perfect line from the front fender angle to the hood.
- The hood sits about 2mm to far forward. We will see if this can be adjusted out today, but I do think it can.
- Passenger side gap between hood and windshield support is spot on.
- Driver side gap between hood and windshield support has a slight wave, but it is negligible to me.
- The distance gap between the hood and both fenders is spot-on perfect.
- The distance gap between the hood and windshield in uniform / stock-like.
- The distance gap between the hood and front bumper/headlights is uniform.
- The alignment between the hood and both fenders is spot-on perfect.
I would characterize the fitment at 97% - 98% or so. I think if I can adjust the bumper forward at touch at the kidney grills, then it will be a slam dunk.
The hood quality is absolutely superb. The weave is nothing less than gorgeous. There are no waves to the carbon fiber pattern, no bubbles, and the weave looks beautiful. The vents are carbon fiber and perfectly blended. Duke Dynamics also adds a very nice under hood cover with the "DD" logo that I thought was a very nice touch. Duke Dynamics has also taken steps to improve their hardware to insure uniform installation for all customers.
Finally, the hood has saved me another 16 lbs on my car and weight savings adds up fast.
To be honest, Duke Dynamics really seems to have taken the steps necessary to make customers happy. I was a bit nervous going into this, but Duke really made me feel comfortable about the quality and fitment that Duke Dynamics wants to be known for now. After seeing the product first hand, I can tell you I would absolutely buy from them again. They absolutely hit this one out of the park and I am really looking forward to the trunk they are bringing to the E92 market as well.
No question I would buy from Duke Dynamics again based on this experience.