One of most sought-after installation techniques in recent years has been creating custom kick panel speaker housings. Whether the problem is a lack of a speaker location, lack of space, or a desire for proper image staging, kick panels seem to be the answer. In many cases, filling in the full range of speakers is made easier with a kick panel addition. Because every vehicle has different quirks and issues, every kick panel is unique and has its own unique set of issues and concerns.
When building kicks every aspect of the surroundings needs to be considered. Is there an emergency brake in the way? Is there a computer ECM that might obstruct the speaker depth? How about a dimmer switch on the floor that might not be accessible after the panels are built out? Another important aspect is how the panel will match up to the door sill panel, lower dash panel, and/or the door opening.
When deciding on the design and the shapes you also have to take the final finish in mind. If the panel will be wrapped with material, the shape will need special consideration as some materials stretch around the odd shapes better than others. A panel that will be painted can take on whichever shape you choose, but the edges need special consideration and the paint is not as forgiving on the rough edges as the material is.
Speaker choices are also important. While you could fit a set of 8-inch, 6-inch, 4-inch and a set of tweeters in the kick panels of a Honda Civic, you’ll have a lot of compromises to make in order to get them in there. It’s always best to fit the speaker to the area allowed. Because unless you’re willing to relocate the dimmer switch, and/or the emergency brake pedal, and/or the vents, you simply won’t be able to get all of those speakers in the kick panel of a Chevy Impala either.
Putting this all together, here are a few tips for building a clean set of kicks for your ride. First, use your stock kick panel as a foundation. It’s already fit to your car’s sill panel, lower dash panel, and door opening. Second, build speaker mounts close to the outermost diameter of the speaker that you’ll be installing. Wasted space is well noticed in these applications. Additionally, make sure that the speaker mounts are solid. If the resin shrinks an ill-fit mount will move for sure.
Now follow along as our Caddy gets outfitted with a clean set of custom kicks. They will look like a factory installation once complete.