Unpopular Carpinion: There's nothing wrong with leaving it stock
Sometimes, it's just nice to enjoy a car as it was back in its day.
I'd like to go on record here by stating that there's nothing wrong with wanting to modify a car. Modification is a fantastic medium for one to stretch the limits of performance or imbue a dash of their personality into the sheet metal. The act of tuning tests the minds of those who can never settle for less and yearn to extract every last tenth of a second on the track. Concurrently, the art of body and paintwork bring character to an otherwise drab collective of grayscale boxes chugging along our freeways like ants. The aftermarket fuels a billion-dollar industry staffed by thousands of workers and encourages creativity, competition, and camaraderie.
But as a lone driver who simply enjoys a good experience regardless of what it comes from, there's no shame to be had in enjoying a bone-stock car. In fact, something stock could be just as interesting as the wildest build out there, especially when indulging in older metal.
Revel in every little interior creak. Every little panel gap. Experience the float of suspension from when luxury cars used actual clouds as bump stops, or feel every little crash in sports cars from an era when suspension tuning was firm enough to send grandma in for hip surgery. There's a great sense of nostalgia to be had in piloting a machine as its engineers originally conceived it; to look at and drive something just as you had remembered it playing Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec.
Is that crazy to think of? Maybe I've been watching too many MotorWeek Retro Reviews.
In the case of some modern cars, just take a step back and enjoy that factory warranty of yours. Hopefully, you never have to use it anyway on a car with too few miles to have any serious issues with (𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩, unless it's an Alfa, 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩, 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩). No shame in letting it run dry before eventually pursuing dreams of triple-adjustable coilovers and high boost pressures. Today's crop is more than capable enough for track days and canyon runs alike, so much so that some cases are regarded as difficult to improve upon without infringing on their balance.
Once again, before someone out here verbally crucifies me, I have nothing against the aftermarket, and I generally admire most modified cars. Even my own car is modified to some degree. You don't have to go to SEMA to find wicked builds as I'll show evidence of below with photos from a car show inside a Philippine mall.
Even my own car is modified to a degree. It's just that I also carry a great appreciation for preservation, and I would like to see at least a handful of enthusiast treats go unmolested to carry on the memories of bygone eras. A period-correct Spoon Honda is wicked, but a well-preserved Civic Si of the same era can be just as cool for different reasons. Stock cars are also generally unstressed, so you'll rarely have to worry about premature wear in chassis or drivetrain components or potentially blowing a motor. Everything was engineered to work and, more often than not, it'll just work.
Not too many people of my generation seem to feel the same way, at least not here in Vegas. In the city lovingly described as a place with all money and no taste, everything is often clout. It's always about whatever build can generate the most likes on Instagram or garner the most hype at the late-night meets.
You know what would probably be more enjoyable than a slammed, fart-canned, mint-colored Veloster? A well-kept 350Z or perhaps a stock ND-generation Miata Club, a blessing from the gods which I've driven and found to be as close to perfection as you can get for the money. I recall also having driven a stock, manual Civic EX sedan from the early-2000s. Aside from basic care, it was untouched in every way from the factory single-din radio to the low-grip tires which enveloped the steelie wheels. It was a revelation in how much fun something so simple can be from a time when I was just learning to read and write. Stock cars like that don't appear often, especially old Hondas, which made the drive all the more special.
To the gearheads who do care more about the drive than parking lot popularity, please continue to mod to your hearts' (and wallets') content. Build the grippiest, fastest, prettiest damn thing you can bolt together. But never forget where our cars started at. In many cases, they were already examples of greatness with a harmony among its components that could be hard to match. For those wishing to take solace in the original product, know that you shouldn't take shame in being stock, for as being keepers of history, there is none to be had.