Regrettable car modifications: my worst offences

Some of us have done some pretty shameful things to cars over the years. I’m talking about crappy modifications, the sort of fashionable additions that used to be a big part of car culture in the UK.

This post is dedicated to modifications I’m guilty of making, a car confessional.

Fly Eyes headlamp tinting film

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Probably the worst on the list to look back on, I almost can’t believe this ‘tinting film’ still exists. For those who didn’t want to resort to expensive or laborious tinting of their vehicle’s lights there was another solution: Fly eyes. I’m pretty sure it was the same stuff that buses use to display their advertising over windows.

Anyway, it was a pain in the arse to put on and looked fully retarded once in place too. I couldn’t quite accept how shit it looked and spent a couple of months in denial before swallowing my pride and ripping it off, only to reveal a nasty sticky residue that took forever to get rid of.

The subwoofer

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There was so much to love about having a sub at the time. The quality punch of unbalanced, budget audio has left a lasting impression on my soul. The bass heavy CDs that used to vibrate my rear wiper will probably never make it into my ears again.

Fitting a subwoofer required poking alien cables directly from the battery to the boot via the interior, ruining trim fitment and creating rattles along the way. Spirited driving usually had it sliding about, which usually ended up in disconnected wires and plenty of swearing. Oh, and I’d lost half of my boot too.

Exhaust mods

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Standard exhausts don’t tend to sound great. At least they don’t when you’re 17, in a four-cylinder struggle wagon. It was for that exact reason that I saved up for a cat-back system on my Toyota Yaris T-Sport when I was 18. Made up by a local company (Infinity Exhausts Bristol), It made my car sound like it had twice the power it did, it also popped and banged on the overrun and gear changes, which was pretty much all I needed to feel good about anything back then.

It also woke up the neighbours, droned like a Pod racer on the motorway and seriously devalued the car. Still, I never learned and continued to fuck about with exhausts on several cars after this one.

The aftermarket induction kit

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What good is a modified exhaust without any induction noise? This automotive inequality had to be resolved at once. One forum-advised web purchase later and I was undoing what the car manufacturer had spent hundreds of thousands of pounds designing, developing and refining in favour of something that you could wash in your garden with a bit of petrol.

The throaty whoosh that resulted was similar to that of a car with individual throttle bodies, or one with a pair of meaty carbs. Unlike those though, mine would flag up an engine management light, lose significant power in traffic jams and cause foot down driving that ruined the economy 24/7. Mint.

Aftermarket gear knob

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I don’t know how I came to the conclusion that the gear knob in a few of my cars wasn’t appropriate. But I did.

My relentless race to customise whatever I could resulted in me fitting everything from an actual drilled 8ball to a tasteless aluminium special from Richbrook. Bad times.

LED lights

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Usually, you never appreciate the calm, warm illumination of your car’s interior lights. That is until you swap them out for retina-raping LED replacements.

The same can be said for LED number plate light replacements, which look plain wrong on older cars and usually end up flickering like a candle in the wind.

Personal plates / Jap plates

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Those who know me will know that I have a rather comical private plate that I purchased aged 19. Those who don’t can laugh at the fact its prefix spells out BIG, followed by my initials. It’s now on retention.

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And while I’m on the subject, I was one of those guys who insisted on putting Jap plates on certain non-import cars. I overdid it so badly that by the time I could afford to run the actual Jap import car I’d saved up for that I decided to run no front plate at all (cock).

Lowering springs

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Dropping your car from its standard ride height remains one of the more popular mods out there and ­– depending on your car – that often involved a fair wad of cash. Oh, and being honest with your insurance company*

Rather than paying for expensive coilovers, a cheaper option was swapping out the springs for shorter parts or, if you were really skint, some would even cut their standard springs.

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Thankfully, I never went down the latter route, but that didn’t stop me from lowering several of my cars on different springs. The results varied from car to car but I usually loved the look. Shame about the ruined steering geometry, which ate the inside edges of my tyres, or the sump-scraping ride height that actually slowed me down in most cases.

*but that’s another story.

Have you got any similar modifying confessions? I’d love to hear them. Get involved with the comment box below.