Journal: How Have You Modified Your Car and To What Extent?

How Have You Modified Your Car and To What Extent?

Avatar By Benjamin Shahrabani
April 2, 2014
17 comments

Photography by Josh Clason for Petrolicious

I can’t explain it—it just happens. And I bet it happens to a lot of you. I would say it’s almost a gift, but it happens to cost real money. I am speaking about the “slippery slope,” a fallacious argument that hypothesizes that a tiny first step leads to a chain of related events culminating into something much bigger. That is what happens when I buy a car, but instead of bigger, I start down the slippery slope of making it better.

Now, of course making a car better is a completely subjective idea. It could mean making the car perform better by performing modifications that will help it accelerate, turn, or brake better, because we’re not trying to make them slower and worse to drive, are we? It could be cosmetic, altering the appearance of the car mildly or wildly—aesthetically modded to your pleasure. It may involve converting the car into a home theater on wheels by adding amps, speakers, and screens, although why one would do this to the type of vehicles we love here at Petrolicious where the real pleasure is derived from driving, is beyond me. The point is that I, and many others, cannot drive a car without personalizing it in some way by modifying it.

It usually begins as that tiny first step I was talking about—something innocuous such as a shift knob, perhaps one that fits better in the hand, or weighted for nice positive-feeling shifts. That won’t cost terribly too much,would it? It makes the car feel like it’s mine…but then it snowballs (although some might say “progresses”) from there. If I’ve gone to the trouble of changing the shift knob, I should probably change the shift mechanism, so I could upgrade to a solid short shift kit with superior bushings for more positive shifting. And since that now feels so nice, I may as well do a few other things “while I’m in there,” and before you know it the car has an upgraded suspension, exhaust, and engine management system. Wait, didn’t I just want to change the shift knob originally?

Regardless of where it starts and how much it costs, the slippery slope of modifying cars is a passion for many that can be both rewarding and frustrating at the same time. I do it because I enjoy a project, of creating and improving things, and because I want my car to behave exactly as I want it to. It is a need to personalize, make it my own. How many of you have modified your car and once completed enjoy the personal satisfaction? That’s why we modify cars.

But where does the slippery slope end?

Click here to watch our video of Steve Strope’s Martini Mustang.

Click here to watch our video of Dave Scholz’s beautiful Datsun.

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Tim WilliamsChris DyerIb ErikJon EngBill Giltzow Recent comment authors
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Tim Williams
Tim Williams

All my cars have been modified. There’s always something to upgrade, or to improve (in terms of the handling and performance). I tend to stay away from the cosmetic mods as they only attract the wromng kind of attention: all show and no go. The actual improvements always seem to start with tyres and wheels. Or wheels and tyres. And bigger brakes. Then chassis and suspension. And of course power. You’ve obviously gone too far when it’s undrivable. But if you have to give a friend a 5 minute lecture on ‘things to watch out for’ before you give them… Read more »

Chris Dyer
Chris Dyer

I bought a 1997 Porsche Boxster four years ago. It is the utmost bare bones, un-optioned Boxster I’ve ever seen. Over the years I’ve mainly made cosmetic modifications—although most modifications were stock Porsche parts. For example, new door panels were needed due to the hack job the previous owner did of installing speakers in the doors, cutting through the weather seals, causing massive leaking in the rain. I also took great pleasure in removing the speakers and all the other stereo components he had put in the car, ripping all the cheap Radio Shack wiring out of the car, only… Read more »

Ib Erik Soderblom

I’m right in the middle of it…! I got a 2’gen Honda Prelude 2.0i (BA2, ALB) (NOT a 2.0 Si, that is weaker). A lot of rust. Need a new windsceen, the aircon system needs replacing and the bracket for the airconpump is broken. It needs neew brakerotors (good luck finding the taper roller bearing (ALB/ABS) types at the rear…), new calipers all around, fixing of the ALB-system, new dampers and springs (lowerings?), rust in the sunroof, defective hazard warning light switch and new rubber at the bootlid and right side door… I would like to make it, somkind og… Read more »

Jon Eng
Jon Eng

My best intentions with my car were to build a street car that could be brought to the track, like most compromise projects of this nature it went too far, and its now a terrible street car. It started out as a mostly stock 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo owned by a friend. Over the last 6 years it has gone through many different phases. I can recall maybe 3 or 4 distinct stages the car went through and wish i had quit modifying it around the 2nd stage where things were still mostly stock. The car became so heavily modified… Read more »

Jon Eng
Jon Eng

It should probably go without saying that i absolutely love the car and the 944 platform in general. I have owned a 944 series car for over 11 years since i got my license. I love the platform, the looks and handling. I started with the slowest of the bunch and worked my way up also. The first was an automatic ’87 924S. Slow as heck, but kept me out of trouble in my immature days. Next up was a ’87 944 that introduced me to auto-x. Next up was the 944 Turbo which allowed me to transition to drivers… Read more »

Willam Giltzow
Willam Giltzow

The longest I have owned an unmodified car that I did not intend to cut up for parts (or is that modifying?) is 48 hours. That was 48 years and 52 cars ago…..Mind some of those cars have stayed with me for 15 or 20 years too.

Bertram Wooster
Bertram Wooster

“It’s not your car until you modify it.”

Isn’t that an old saying or something?

Gagan Matharu
Gagan Matharu

I bought my 240Z about 3 years ago. Had been sitting in the guys garage for about 18 years. We got it fired up and I drove it home. It had a terrible white paint job that seemed to be applied with a roller and the suspension needed help too. Figured I would throw in the new struts and springs and a cheap paint job and I’d have a car for the summer. Then I bought a set of urethane bushings for $80… Once I had the suspension out I couldn’t put it back in looking all rusty. So I… Read more »

Gagan Matharu
Gagan Matharu

Here’s what the suspension looked like coming out and then after I got it back from powder coat.

Sebastian Gaeta
Sebastian Gaeta

’65 356C coupe After 22 years of driving my car “bone stock” I decided to spice it up a bit. I acquired a C cab about ten years ago and the coupe was driven less and less each year, so here is hat i did to revive the excitement: Lowered the car, installed Skirmants camber regulator. 5.5″ steelies, GT seat, Marchal Fog/Driving lights, Hood straps and rally dash clocks. Poser? Sure, but not too proud to admit it! Everything bolts on and off. Even the hood straps are secured by rare earth magnets. It would take just a couple of… Read more »

BiTurbo228
BiTurbo228

Which one? 🙂 My DD Alfa 156 I’ve done a couple of light modifications to. Stainless exhaust and anti-roll bars from a 156 GTA Sportwagon (stiffer at the rear compared to the front than a GTA saloon). Helped a little with the noise and the handling balance. Eventually it’ll be getting a 3.0l and a couple of other mild upgrades to suspension and braking. My (now sadly ex-) Jaguar XJ40 was undergoing a manual 5-speed swap before a tree fell on it. Now I’m looking for another to do the exact same thing to. I’d love to convert it into… Read more »

Kirk Robinson
Kirk Robinson

Scientifically and aesthetically, I think that the Singer 911 is pretty convincing evidence that if that slippery slope ends, that end is far, far beyond what any one of us could create in our own garages. But practically, perhaps even philosophically, I think that in modifying your car, whether with flashy mods like neon paint and massive chrome blowers, or with subtle touches like more elegant gauges or even just maintaining a clean interior, you are expressing yourself. Through your work you are demonstrating, even if to nobody but yourself, your priorities, abilities, and level of integrity. Though your modifications,… Read more »

BiTurbo228
BiTurbo228

This. I really like this attitude towards the whole concept.

Yoshi W
Yoshi W

I have a 240z with an l28, rebuilt the engine with flattop pistons, mild cams, headers, custom exhaust, su carbs, and a 5-speed swap. Then the wiring went bad so I rewired the car, new gauges, and added an upgraded alternator. Now I have a full urethane bushing kit and coilovers sitting in my living room waiting to be put in. This all started with some crappy carburetors hahah. Slippery slope indeed.

jolocho
jolocho

For a street car, it ends when too many compromises are made. The suspension can be too hard or too low. The engine can be too loud, or the power upgrades have moved the power band too far up the rpm range.

Adam Bernard
Adam Bernard

When I first purchased my 1972 Austin Mini, I embraced the ‘personalization’ philosophy of the Mini (driven, in part, by some of the equipment already in the car which was nonstandard)…
[list]
Honda 600-sourced front seats and standard rear seat replaced by 1980 RSP black interior, along with alloy interior trim and metal mesh trim on the dashboard
998 motor replaced by 1293 rebuild motor
Sliding canvas roof (Inalfa) added
Standard 10″ wheels replaced by 12″ Minato
A few bits of exterior chrome added (e.g., boot hinges) along with more contemporary Mini badging replacing the Austin badges
[/list]
See it here…
http://splittingtheadam.typepad.com/photos/my_mini/index.html