Modifying your car is a good thing. It makes a car yours, and with it, makes it special. It’s also an expression of your creativity, and that’s no bad thing at all. To be creative is good for the soul. What’s not good, however, is when you get it wrong and you end with a car that looks like something a drunk toddler tried to draw. With that in mind, we’ve picked five of the most common modifications and detailed how people get them wrong so that you don’t fall into the same trap.
Wheels and tyres
If there’s one thing that makes or breaks a car, it’s the wheels and tyres. You can take something average and, if put on the right set of wheels, it will be a game changed. But that’s the thing, they must be right. Now, ‘right’ is subjective, we’re dealing with your taste here after all. However, we can say with confidence that nice alloy wheels are not the cheap alloy wheels. You have to shop about, you have to do mock-ups on your computer to see how they’ll look. And do that math, too. Make sure they fit, make sure the rolling radius isn’t thrown out of whack.
Are you carrying out a long, loving restoration? Then new paint is a must. Something sympathetic to the car of course, nothing too loud. And what about your non-classic? Your daily driver? Well, painting a car is a skill that’s hard-earned. You’re never going to get a perfect finish from spray cans. What you could do, though, is detail your car. Clay the paint, treat it to some deep, luscious wax, care for it and preserve it. It will have a much better effect than trying to change it yourself.
The days of filling your boot with sub woofers and amps are behind us. Technology has moved on. We’re now in the advantageous position less really being more. We lost track of things a few years ago, convincing ourselves that bigger was better. It’s not. A simple direct-fit speaker upgrade and a stealthy under seat active sub (active means it’s got a built-in amplifier) will give you all the thumping bass you need, but without sacrificing the boot. A plug-and-play head unit will finish things off nicely, and without irreparably ruining your dashboard. You can always have a look at one of our guides for inspiration.
Low is good. Add it to some decent wheels and you’re onto a sure-fire winner. However, like wheels, getting automotive lowness rights isn’t a case of buying some cheap springs or, shudder, cutting springs. You need to do it right. So if you’re just going for a small drop, buy decent quality lowered springs and use it as an opportunity to change the shocks, too. Your spine and your passengers will thank you. If you want to go for coil-overs, don’t buy the cheapest set off an online auction site. Do some research, find reviews and recommendations and go from there. Forums can be a great source of information on matters like this.
This is a big one, as in the spectrum of ‘performance’ modifications is expansive. The bottom line is this: performance isn’t cheap. There is no such thing as a quick fix to get a million more bhp. It takes engineering and development to make a car faster, not a £9.99 purchase online. If it seems too good to be true, the chances are it is. Electric supercharger? Magic fuel line add-on that “aligns fuel molecules”? Air filter that boasts an extra 50bhp? It’s all nonsense designed to get your money and deliver no results in return. Do some research, look at what other people with your make and model of car are doing to improve performance, base your spending on provable results. And if you’re not comfortable fitting stuff yourself, have a look at any one of our guides that will guide you through.