What Silly Modifications Did You Make to Your First Car?
Find out where you score on the silly modifications scale with our latest post as we highlight some of the most heinous crimes against bodywork.
Every first car has a few modifications. What changes did you make to yours?
Image © Depositphotos.com/Todd Arena
From lowered suspension to racing spoilers, many of us made modifications to our first cars that, in retrospect, might have looked a little sillier than we thought at the time.
Was your first car a small, ultra-reliable economy model that you turned into an urban racing machine? Perhaps it was a family saloon that you transformed into your own living room?
Regardless, read on to discover six silly modifications made to first-time cars...
‘Racing’ spoilers on economy cars
Anyone who’s seen the Stig race around the Top Gear circuit in the 800-horsepower Koenigsegg CCX will know that spoilers make a huge difference to the performance and handling of powerful sports cars.
The problem is that your first car generally isn’t a powerful sports car. In fact, it’s far more likely to be a cheap, comfortable family car or inner-city economy car that hardly possesses any requirement for your gargantuan and (likely) expensive 'gull wing' spoiler...
Still, a small engine and bland performance is no reason not to customise your Fiat Panda or Honda Civic with a spoiler big enough to stop a jet. Why not customise it with carbon fibre for the ultimate in handling as you drive around town?
When it comes to silly first car modifications, the ‘racing’ spoiler comes first. This hideous faux pas of tasteless car modification is only allowed if your first car was actually a sports car.
Lowered suspension and body kits
Much like a spoiler increases downforce and keeps your car pinned to the track, a body kit and custom suspension set reduces the amount of air that passes through your car’s underbody and improves its handling.
Image via Modified Cars/CC BY-SA 3.0
That is, if you’re racing your car around Silverstone or the Nübrurgring. At normal road speeds, a body kit and lowered suspension has no effect on handling. Instead, it’s a great way to give your first car a new obstacle in the form of the speed bump - or even a slight ramp:
While racing spoilers might be the most popular first car modification, suspension modifications and custom body kits are definitely the silliest. Not only do they not improve your car’s performance, they make every curb and driveway an obstacle.
Custom exhausts and muffler tips
Installing a new exhaust system on your car can increase its horsepower by more than 10 per cent. For most first car owners, this means an extra 10 horsepower, a droning engine noise and thousands of partially deafened pedestrians.
There’s a lot to choose from. There’s quad-tip exhaust systems on your 1982 Volkswagen Golf to a 102mm muffler tip on your minivan. It seems custom exhaust systems can range from completely ridiculous to less ambitious but still completely silly.
Follow the same rules of automotive taste for custom exhaust systems as you would for racing spoilers – if your first car isn’t a real sports car, it’s more likely to roll eyes than it is to turn heads.
Chrome or racing-style rims
Chrome rims can look great… on classic muscle cars. Likewise, racing-style rims can look great… on racing cars. Custom wheels aren’t as popular as spoilers or lowered suspension, but they’re every bit as silly looking on most people’s first cars.
While it’s true that taller, wider wheel rims and lower-profile tyres do improve most cars’ handling and performance, the effect they have on most ordinary cars is small and the cost – both financially and in terms of ride comfort – is massive.
Enjoy normal performance and averted back pain by saying no to racing wheels and low profile tyres for your first car. The usual exception applies – if your first car has serious sporting pedigree, customised racing-style rims aren’t such a big deal.
If you didn't have ridiculous rims you wouldn't have to go 2 mph over every bump in Natchitoches. pic.twitter.com/cZ0vc1NbEn — Kevin Brunner (@LetsCreateHAVOC) April 6, 2014
Boost and heat gauges on the A-pillar
It was late 2001 and The Fast and the Furious had just left cinemas. Your goal was clear: customise your car to be as impressive as Paul Walker’s Toyota Supra. Your budget, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as impressive as your ambitions.Turning an ordinary car into a street racing machine requires a lot of cash, but it’s possible to replicate the experience of driving a customised street racer at little to no expense by
installing boost, heat and fuel gauges on your car’s A-pillar.
Aside from increasing your blind spot and potentially leading to a crash, adding a pod of gauges to your car’s A-pillar generally didn't have a huge negative effect on your car’s appearance. Besides, who could see them through your tinted windows?
Ludicrously uncomfortable bucket seats
Were your first car’s seats too comfortable and supportive for your liking? There’s nothing more annoying than a pair of soft front seats, which is why many first car owners replace theirs with a pair of rigid, unforgiving rally-style bucket seats.
Whether you opted for the full rally-style installation, complete with a five-point harness and roll cage, or the ‘light’ option that kept your original seatbelts, there’s nothing quite like the dull pain of driving a city car with a set of bucket seats.
From reducing your seatbelt’s effectiveness to destroying your car’s resale value, there’s little that compare with installing brand new bucket seats (apparently). Bonus points if the price of two seats was beyond your budget, so you only replaced the driver’s seat.
What’s your first car modification score?
Everyone makes at least one modification to their first car, whether it’s a steering wheel cover or a whole new set of racing wheels. Add up how many of the above you've been guilty of to calculate your modification score:
0 points: You were a responsible car owner, wise beyond your age. With this score, your first car could double as your daily driver today without anyone rolling their eyes.
1-2 points: Your first car was embarrassing, albeit only a little bit. Make sure you’re in control of any photos of you driving the car, but don’t worry too much when your parents bring it up over dinner and giggle.
3-5 points: Your first car probably rolled hundreds of eyes, although you might not have noticed them through the tinted windows. Make sure all photos are accounted for and that your friends and family never mention it again.
6 points: Your first car belongs in a museum. Treat photos or video footage of it like a state secret and feign amnesia whenever a friend or relative mentions it. You know nothing about it, not even the make or model.
When you’re modifying any car, you need to consider how this will affect your premiums. Why not consider buying an extended car warranty to protect yourself against the cost of repairs and replacement parts that were fitted by your manufacturer in the first place?
It could save you the money that you can use to indulge yourself on those all important modifications you still like to make!
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