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If 1967's "The Graduate" were remade in 2005, Benjamin Braddock would probably drive a Scion instead of an Alfa Duetto (natch), and the poolside career advice he recieved would have encompassed two words instead of one: "carbon fiber," not "plastics." These days, carbon-fiber โ€” which costs nearly 10 times more than steel โ€” is the ultimate prestige accessory. Carmakers like Porsche and Ferrari and BMW (M6 roof, pictured) have been using the megabucks material to lighten up their supercars, and aftermarket suppliers are selling truckloads of expensive carbon-fiber doodads like hoods and body panels. What's next for this space-age material, other than $500 day-glo interior trim?

Carbon fiber sparkles with diamondlike appeal [USA Today]

DP Cars: One Engineer s Quest to Build His Own Car [internal]