Thursday, 20 September 2012

Understanding Custom Cars

In my spare time, i'm often surrounded by friends and like-minded enthusiasts, to whom driving an original, factory-finished car seems at best an insult. To those who aren't car people, the most common question I get asked, is why?

To clarify - why drive a modified car?

Ask this amongst enthusiasts and a smirk appears on everyone's face as if you've missed some 'in' joke. The shameful part about this really, is that it's actually a good question given how many changes factory-finished cars are now delivered with, say over-and-above a basic model with conventional features.

The reason people drive modified cars is two-fold. Firstly, usually at the outset of ownership, someone with knowledge of the custom-car world will identify a short coming in the initial design of their newly-acquired vehicle. That could be a sports car with a surprisingly quiet engine note or a large family car that has lack-luster braking performance. The one I hear most commonly however, is that the factory-fitted stereo delivers insufficient volume or clarity.

The truth of the matter for most, is that changing one component on a vehicle usually, with the help of five minutes and a search engine, leads them to see other cars, similar to theirs with impressive paint finishes, wheels and the like. They then consider other changes that deliver a vehicle more in-tuned to their desires.

The second, and more expensive reason for changes being applied, is quite simply, to stand out from the crowd. Cue the bright paints, racing stripes and more-extreme changes that adorn many uk streets at weekends. Rarely does this change end up with a more appealing car, but sometimes, just sometimes, the improvements are unanimously celebrated. When you achieve this, there's often a feeling of genuine achievement and in many cases, silent euphoria that their interpretation is better than the rest.

What I find most peculiar however, is the revulsion enthusiasts have towards factory-supplied upgrades and presumption, on the part of the enthusiasts at least, that those parts are almost always unappealing - purely because they aren't aftermarket.

Ladies and Gentleman wake up! Porsche will now sell you a car with a race engine, snazzy brakes, carbon fibre spoiler and a roll cage with a warranty without depreciating. Who's laughing now.