I had the opportunity to work with Ben Lillard from Skillard.com on a project for the Z. After working with Ben, it is evident that you should too. Ben has one of the few companies supporting new parts for S30 chassis cars (240Z, 260Z, and 280Z). It’s refreshing to see modern stylized parts for a car that has decades of aftermarket parts available.
From their signature front splitters, grills, louvered inspections plates, door cards, and more, Skillard.com is a must to check out. Skillard is based out of Oregon, but you will see their parts on cars all over the world.
I recently sat down with Ben (owner and operator) to get to know more about him and his business.
Shawn: Hey Ben. Thanks for taking the time to sit down and talk shop with me.
Ben: Hey Shawn. It’s a pleasure, I’m really excited to see your build coming together.
Shawn: I want to thank you for helping me with my little project, but I’ll go more in-depth on that another day. Let’s dive right into it. Why was it a necessity to create Skillard? What’s the back story?
Ben: Well… I have a love for cars, specifically cars with classic lines that can handle well and drive fast. I have a background in sheet metal, and in all areas of my life I like to optimize stuff. I found a car with a ton of potential and got to work. As I looked around for parts for my build, I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. Meanwhile, I noticed that I really enjoyed the process of personally contributing as much as I could to the build. So, as I fabricated parts in my spare time and started sharing about my build, other people wanted the parts, too. I started to notice the industry was lacking a certain type of quality metal parts – parts that were affordable, that most hobbyists and enthusiasts could install themselves. My sheet metal background was in a manufacturing setting, so this really gave me a knack for process, efficiency and design forethought to make things easy for the end user. Skillard is a combination of all those things: custom details, accessible installations, affordable quality.
Shawn: What was the first part you made for our beloved S30 cars?
Ben: I believe it was the Door Cards. I just really wanted some for my car and they weren’t available. So I figured out the design and process, then looked to see if anyone else wanted some. The rest is history.
Shawn: I think one of my favorite parts you have made is the rear diffuser. What was the inspiration on that piece?
Ben: Part of the inspiration was practical, and I wanted to work around what already existed on the car. But really I think it’s the car itself, it often reveals how to make a part. Even though it tests really well on the track, there are certain aspects that are not as aero-optimal. I wanted something that looked aggressive, was usable on the street and durable. It also had to be easy to install, compatible on a factory car without modification, and affordable. Kind of a tall order, but I’m very happy with the final product.
Shawn: I know you make a solid amount of parts for the Z cars. Do you offer parts for other makes and models?
Ben: Yeah, I make some parts for the 620 and 510 in addition to the S130 and S30. As time allows, the product list as well as the make-and-model list will grow. For example, right now I’m working with a race team to test a Skillard Aero Package for the S30Z. It’s been a great experience, and because of it I’m going to develop some new parts and probably optimize a few existing Skillard parts.
Shawn: You cut some custom parts for me with your plasma cutter. Is this something that you normally do? How do people get in contact with you on their custom project?
Ben: Collaboration is great, and propels creativity. I tend to consider myself one of my own customers. It’s helpful to think, “How would I want this built/designed/handled if I was the customer?” When it comes to custom projects, it’s the same. I’ve been there. We all have an idea of how we want our build to look, but it can be hard to find the parts to make the vision a reality. If I can help with a custom project part, I’m happy to do so. The best way to connect with me about a custom project is through the “contact us” page on Skillard.com.
Shawn: Do you have anything new in the works?
Ben: Absolutely. It seems like something is constantly in progress. I have a handful of new projects in various stages, mostly for the S30, S130, and 510. Skillard just moved into a new shop, my family moved into a new home and we have new baby! All within 3 months, so it’s been a crazy winter. I’ve finally made some good headway on something I’ve wanted to make for my own Z. It’s a secret for now, but I can’t wait to let it loose on the Z community. Some other big news for me is that the Skillard shop team is growing, so we’ll have bandwidth for even more fabrication. I’m going to be able to devote more time to research and development, and I expect to release lots of fun new parts mid-spring through the summer.
Shawn: That’s awesome! I can’t wait to see whats next! Well Ben, I want to thank you for your time and your support in 2018 and a big congratulations on your new baby girl!
Ben: Thanks Shawn, I’m really exited to see your Z come together.
If you want to see all of the great parts and accessories for your S30, check out Skillard.com! It’s great to see guys like Ben developing new parts for our old cars.
Facebook: Skillard LLC