Modified Car Culture

Modified Car Culture - Muscle

The Modified Car Culture is a pretty colourful place to be involved in. Each modified car culture has it’s origins, but it all started with the Hot Rods from American cars of the early 30s and 40s. As there were a shortage of mechanics to repair vehicles in those days, owners would decide to do it themselves, and for those who were mechanically inclined, they decided to improve their cars’ performance by fitting bigger engines and then give them flamboyant paint jobs to make the car stand out from the rest. Very soon after that, the Hot Rod culture was born and the Rat Rod culture was bread out of it in the early 2000s.

Traditional Hot Rod and a Rat Rod
Traditional Hot Rod and a Rat Rod

In the late 40s and 50s, as an alternative to Hot Rods, large customized American sedans became known as the Lead Sleds. Lead Sleds can have flamboyant paint jobs similar to Hot Rods, though they are more for cruising than performance (the primary description being a large 4 seater with a sloping rear-end and a lowered roof line).

A 1948 Cadillac Sedanette aka Cadzilla, famously owned by ZZ-Top singer Billy Gibbons.
A 1948 Cadillac Sedanette aka Cadzilla, famously owned by ZZ-Top singer Billy Gibbons.

In the early 1960s, the American Muscle Car gained popularity. A sports coupe with a large V8 with a cross-plane crank and rear-wheel drive. Engine manufacturers began selling parts to respective owners in order for them to build-up their own Muscle Car, while some tuning companies did it instead of the owners themselves

The 1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 known as Eleanor.
The 1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 known as Eleanor.

Pretty much after the Muscle Cars gained popularity, another type of custom car gained attention, the Kit-car. Kit-cars are replica versions of real production cars. They can range anywhere between American Muscle, or European sportscar. One of the best known examples of a kit-car is the Shelby Cobra. While the real Cobras where built in the 60s by Ford and Carroll Shelby, production of the Cobra officially ceased in 1967, though amateurs started building their own versions of the Cobra in their garages. Seeing the potential, Shelby decided to continue making parts for the Cobra, including supplying the engines

Modified Car Culture - Muscle

The late 80s and early 90s gave rise to the Japanese Domestic Market. The first cars to emerge is the tuners. Tuners are Japanese sportscars that are heavily modified to increase performance as well as visual impact, but with the emphasis on performance, some of these modifications are considered illegal in most countries.

A modified Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34) is a classic example of a Tuner.
A modified Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34) is a classic example of a Tuner.

Ricers are somewhat similar to tuners, as they are heavily “tuned” inside-and-out, though their “show value” is turned up to 11 and the modifications are often considered unnecessary and distasteful by some. Though a lot of them can be tuned as high-performance cars, the modifications are focused more on aesthetics and comfort rather than performance. Their American counterparts are the Showcars that are usually based on modified Muscle Cars from the 70s and 80s. The aesthetic modifications include trick-suspension, ridiculous body-kits and an overload of technology (like sound systems and TVs). None of which contribute to any performance enhancements.

Modified Car Culture - Muscle
Modified Car Culture - Muscle

Along with the Ricers, came the Sleepers. Sleepers are cars with absolutely no intended visual “improvements”, the intention being that they look like ordinary cars, but under the skin they are bullet-proof missiles that cause your jaw to drop when they surprise you at the lights.

A normal boring-looking stationwagon, that is anything but boring under the hood.
A normal boring-looking stationwagon, that is anything but boring under the hood.

Since the early 2000s, specialized tuning companies started to modify exotic sports cars and high-end luxury cars.
These cars are meant for the rich, though we can’t help drooling over them

A Mansory-edition Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.
A Mansory-edition Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.

Factory-tuned performance cars have also been a part of the modified car culture since high-performance versions of cars began appearing in the 60s. Mercedes’ AMG and BMW’s M-division are notable examples. While BMW-M was founded in-house (as BMW Motorsport), AMG started as a separate tuning company that specialized in Mercs (kinda like Brabus does now), but has since been fully incorporated into the car manufacturer’s identity.

Modified Car Culture - Muscle

And then you have the morons. They have absolutely no idea what they are doing, yet they continue doing it for no real reason, and the only thing they accomplish is by making an eye-sore.

Modified Car Culture - Muscle

19 comments