Modifying cars has a long history, it actually started no long after the car was invented. Back then the mod's were mainly to improve them and see what they could change to make them faster, safer and cheaper to produce. Then as the years went by this changed to modifying them for other purposes, most notoriously in America for Moonshine Runners and Bank Robbers. These cars we put through there paces and made to outrun any police they may come across and the purpose was purely for speed and agility with the moonshiners making some alterations to withstand harder terrains due to using their own made routes.
From this it has changed over the years from Racecars to lowriders, there is now 1000's of different genre's of modifying and it has just got bigger and bigger with no sight of it ever slowing down. Here in the UK the modifying "scene" has always been strong, with the early day's consisting of a lot of engine modifications and customisation for the sole purpose of Street Racing. Street Racing was very popular back when the Ford Escort mk1 and mk2 were dominant as they were very fun and easy cars to work on with massive potential for modifying.
Speed has now took a step back slightly for the majority of the modifying community with most going for cosmetic changes with some small engine mods. most of the modern stuff, especially in the UK & Europe, is based on how a car looks with the "euro" smooth and low looking being the current favourite amoungst enthusiasts, where as the 90's was all about big body kits, neons and big rims.
For most people modifying a car is a hobby, which turns into a passion, which turns into a obsession. They start with small little things to improve the looks and it snowballs from there with some people spending over £40,000 in modifications. Some people see it as a waste but enthusiasts will argue that its better than spending it on drugs and prostitutes and it keeps us out of trouble (mainly) as we are always working on the next thing. This brings me to my next point, no ones project is ever "finished" not matter how complete it looks, this is due to our obsession with having to change everything and keep it all fresh.
To me, modifying has turned into an obsession and I just cant help but mess with cars. I have a massive passion for cars in general but then modifying them makes them better to me, this is because its more personal to the owner. Modifications can be done to anyone's taste so as long as you love your own creation is doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, and this is why I love it, no 2 cars as never the same. All my cars are modified for the passion and no purpose at all, I just love taking the car I like and changing it into something I love and am happy to say I had the vision to make it how it is.
For me it all started from the day I got my driving licence and first car, Fiat Punto mk2 1.2 8V Active Sport, and from then I have spent £1,000's and not looked back. When I got the car i thought it was the best thing since sliced bread (like any 17 year old and their 1st car) and drove it everywhere, then came the wheel changes, stickers and subs. I must admit I made the car look like a mess to start with thinking it was cool, but I was sooo wrong but I got my act together and changed it. It had a full change from ever panel being smoothed to having a turbo conversion on the little 1.2 and pushing just over 160bhp. I have a particular issue with collecting and changing wheels with 14 sets being bought and sold over a 3 year period for 1 car.
I have since kept my first car, the Punto above, but had second cars to try and be more "practical" which always failed as I modified those aswell. My fourth car was a 1.8 HGT Fiat Punto which was modified for track/handling use and was something totally new to me, buying the car mainly done i just changed minor bits and found out how fun speed could actually be in a perfectly set up car. From this I went to a BMW E36 328i which I again went slightly different route with very small but subtle mods but then dropping it as low as possible on some super wide deep dish ACT Wheels (17x11j rears) and have now got the itch for power so I will be doing a 1UZ-FE V8 conversion in it next year.
As you can see above I have been doing it for several years and it is purely for passion and obsession. I am even obsessed and going on rants while writing about it as I can't help it, I have a huge passion for doing it and the "scene" in general. I work with people in all the genre's, from Drifters to Dubbers, and have to say nearly everyone is doing it because it has become a bug, a disease, that they just can't shake and it makes us all want to do more and more. I am very lucky to work with the variety of people I do as it really opens up how different each area is and why they are attracted to the particular cars or Motorsport.
Within Motorsport there seems to be more and more enthusiast groups that then come together produce series and championships, I think this is shown within Drifting as this is now one of the most Up and Coming Motorsports there is. And this all started with modifying a car to make it better at taking corners sideways, welding a diff, wider wheels & camber is where it all started for most. It has now turned out some of the best looking cars around the world and is providing innovation though the whole "scene". Over the past few years I have seen drifting grow and influence more and more trends, with big over fenders being the current most popular with some nice engine transplants.
My question to you is, why do you modify cars? Is it for the purpose of racing or the passion of making a car fully personal to you? Be sure to share you photos, experiences and views of the whole "scene" from around the Globe
Photos & Words By Mathew Bedworth