Journal: How Have You Personalized Your Car?

How Have You Personalized Your Car?

Avatar By Benjamin Shahrabani
March 3, 2015
22 comments

As a Petrolista, you probably spend a portion of each day thinking about ways in which you might add some personal touches to your car. No car is perfect, and many start at a disadvantage after having been designed for a mass market. Fortunately, there are entire industries filled with people just waiting to separate you from your money and, in exchange, help you personalize your car.

Many enthusiasts consider themselves stewards of their vehicles, entrusted with its preservation until the time comes to pass it down to the next generation. For these folks, a classic car might as well be Michaelangelo’s David, and customizing it would be akin to taking a hammer and chisel to Dave and trimming back those curly locks.

Across the street from the stewards, however, sits a group of car nuts who have been customizing their cars in ways big and small since the first horseless carriage rolled out of a barn. The alterations could be as cheap as a clock from the local auto parts store, now stuck to the dash, or as involved as an engine swap that replaces the original power plant with a monster never intended for the car. Regardless, whether they’re channeling, sectioning, chopping, dropping, or stancing their ride, this group always has designs on one more modification.

Which approach is correct? Well, perhaps Friedrich Nietzsche was right after all when he said, “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.

And so, we want to hear your thoughts: What do you think is the cheapest thing you can do to make a genuine, noticeable improvement on your car? What do you think is the most extreme? Or do you believe that your car was perfect out-of-the-box, just the way the manufacturer designed it? Finally, we want to hear about and see your own car, so tell us about your vehicle, and what you’ve done to make it uniquely yours.

Image Sources: bonhams.com, modernmechanix.com, luxury-insider.com, luxuo.combehance.net

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Kuba VítPedro MacedoLinda N Brian SchickDoug MillerStephan P Recent comment authors
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Kuba Vít
Kuba Vít

Well I lowered my vw Vento (Jetta mk3 for US guys) put some forged OZ futures on it, cut the canvas roof by my self and trim the highlighner and gear skit, get some period correct pats like Votex side skirts air ducts and cameo wooden decor and highline wooden steering wheel and gear knob. Also made myself Allred rear lights with handmade heckblende style licence plate holder.

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Pedro Macedo
Pedro Macedo

The only modification from stock I did so far to my ’89 BMW E30 316i is swapping the stock Blaupunkt Freiburg FQM head unit (which didn’t work properly when I bought the car about a year ago) for a brand-new Blaupunkt Brisbane 230, which doesn’t look out of place at all in the dash (especially at night, since the lighting matches the rest of the buttons/dials) and it has all the comfort features I want, like bluetooth MP3 streaming and hands-free calling. I also replaced the old (and somewhat damaged) stock speakers with a pair of JBL GTO502 (that my… Read more »

Linda N Brian Schick
Linda N Brian Schick

A black Auto Meter tach on the dash, pin striping, and a nice set of polished alloy wheels ( 15×7 ), make my spotless ’09 Toyota Yaris coupe look like a poor man’s Mini Cooper.

Stephan P
Stephan P

Niels Jacob. You designed that dash? You have a bright future, nice work!

Niels Jacobs
Niels Jacobs

As a product design student I decided to add a personal touch to the interior of my ’70 Beetle. Since they where made by the millions, I thought it would be nice to add some extras during the restoration. The dash is lasercutted in wood with functional toggle switches. All the text on the dash is written in german hence the origin of the car. The speedometer is completely redesigned to give it a more vintage look. Pictures will speak for themselves!

Randy Sluder
Randy Sluder

I’ll let the photo speak for itself…

Dan Glover
Dan Glover

I propose this “what have you modified?” question become a regular (monthly) feature.

Stephan P
Stephan P

I’ve daily driven Italian cars my whole life, not an easy feat in the U.S. Every single one has been modified, I usually start with the steering wheel and then move on to suspension and brake work. I recently retired my Milano from daily duties and got BRZ. Of course I can’t leave well enough alone and the after market for the Subie is huge compared to what’s available for proletarian Italian cars.

Corey Sherman
Corey Sherman

It’s always good to have the basics… here are a few mods in my 1963 Triumph GTR4 Dove:
[list]
• Halda SpeedPilot Competition
• Airpath C2300, non-stabilized wet magnetic compass, panel-mount
• Hella Halogen map reading lamp
• Molnija ACS-1 Russian 2-day aircraft chronograph
• steering column main lights (dip/flash) switch
• navigator dash mounted Lucas SPB160 horn button
• post light for stopwatches
• 12-volt cigar lighter receptacle + plug and socket for “Potti” map magnifier lamp or other equipment
• OMP aluminum racing footrest
• Halon fire extinguisher
[/list]

sean crosbie
sean crosbie

A couple of years ago i had a 1971 911t fully restored and painted in gulf orange. I spent so much time getting all the little details right, down to colour matching the stitching on the seats to match the car. As my initials are SC and the car was a 40th birthday present to myself and wanted to get my year of birth and initials on the car somewhere. After much deliberation I had a friend use the porsche carrera typeface combined with the RS typeface and had a tacho especially commissioned in gulf orange with SC74. Its not… Read more »

Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa

Cool brazilian infographic in portuguese! Is it from the year of the movie?
It says that all gadgets really worked, wich added 135 kg in weight and the final price of the Aston was 5 times higher!

Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa

As for modifications, a car that has to be changed a lot – adding thousands upon thousands of dollars to the original price – maybe isn’t the right car in the first place. Let me explain. If I love a car that costs 15k, but want to turn it into a 35k car, and have the money (even if it takes some years) why don’t I find a 30/35k car that doesn’t need all that to drive like I want? If money is a problem, then save it until the ‘real deal’ car comes up!

Scott Spaeth
Scott Spaeth

I think it’s less about the particular enthusiast and more about the car. Some cars come complete and making changes only makes them worse – most classic Ferraris are good examples of complete cars. It doesn’t mean they’re the best or that they’re flawless at their intended purposes, just that mods don’t make them better. On the other extreme, some cars are blank canvases. Usable bone stock, but not really “right”. Think 90’s Honda Civics – the possibilities compared to the stock reality demand action. And then, most cars fit in somewhere between the two extremes. I have an Alfa… Read more »

Jack
Jack

With my cars, personalisation comes in the form of a good and proper first service that transforms it from the car it was as it left the last guy in terms of useability, mostly small things like wiper blades, oil and filter, air and fuel filters, gearbox oil and any leaking seals or vacuum pipes sorted (I usually buy cars that need a few things doing so my mark on the car is to have it running better) After that it’s a quality head-unit and air freshener as I usually hate the ones that other people have put in. After… Read more »

Kuroneko
Kuroneko

While I bolted on some RS Watanabe and Advan, and had some oversize piston installed, the only real mod I’ve made was the addition of a clock. An 8-day aircraft clock (works with battery isolated between weekend drives), and being a 12 minute timer, it times both my three-minute owner manual dictated warm-up time and my 12 minute objective of around the Shuto-ko C1 Expressway at midnight…

Dan Glover
Dan Glover

Cheapest improvement on my ’74a MGB was to add a double cup holder supplied by Moss Motors. It is a friction fit that just sets in right between the stick and the dash requiring no drilling or clamps and if I don’t want it there I just set it on the parcel shelf behind the seats. If I recall it was less than $20. I’ve driven long distance (12 hours) without the cup holder and this small thing makes all the difference. The most extreme improvement on my car (not the most extreme possible) is the supercharger. Boosts hp by… Read more »

Kuroneko
Kuroneko

The cup holder had me giggle, but the rest had me going [i]wicked stuff! [/i]Sounds a nice machine… Neko.

Doug Miller
Doug Miller

The cupholder in my ’88 Carrera is a roll of duct tape on the floor in front of the passenger seat. It holds a large coffee mug or water bottle perfectly. Seriously.

JB21
JB21

Just simply from my personal experience, the cheapest improvement to make it my own is the first battle scar that I put on! I’ve actually had one car that whatever I do to it to improve ruined it in some way, which is quite odd because the car in question is not even a very good car to begin with (but utterly fun little thing).

Jeremy DeConcini
Jeremy DeConcini

Depends on the car and the nuttiness of the owner, some cars should be left alone, and others are a blank canvas, but I definitely like the runningboard mounted ski rack above!

Martin James
Martin James

The cheapest ? A set of really nice Cocobolo floor mats and a Pine Freshener . Most noticeable improvement ? Not the tires …. no .. more like drop a few pounds off the car .. even better if it can be done on the wheels /suspension [ 1 lb off the suspension or wheels is equal to 10 lbs off the body/chassis ] The most extreme ? Do a James Hetffield .. send your Auburn [ or any other valuable classic ] over to Rick Dorn’s place and have him – shave – chop – channel – section –… Read more »

Nate Jones
Nate Jones

The cheapest improvement one can make to their car is a more aggressive set of tires. It will drop acceleration times, increase road feel, and improve overall handling. No car is perfect out of the box; that’s why they break and we repair them over and over again. In fact, perfection would be boring; an antithesis to the Petrolista way. Even classically perfect designs are never met with perfect engineering (see the E-type), but we love them for their quirks.