As we approach the end of 2019 and head into a new decade, we are starting to see some really dope automotive trends such as completely autonomous driving, and virtual reality entertainment systems. For all the cool new trends and modifications, there is an equal number of cringe-worthy mods from the turn of the century that refuse to go away and die.
A lot of these trends have been kept alive because they are cheap and relatively easy to do-it-yourself. By fitted a tow hook and homemade front splitter to your Subaru WRX, you have practically transformed it into a track car, right?
Some of the trends on our list are going to be short-lived, others have stuck around for 10 years or more. But bad taste can last forever, and if you needed any proof, here are 20 automotive mods that just aren’t as cool as people think.
20 Lambo Doors
You may not be able to buy a supercar, but at least you can get the door mechanisms. Admittedly, it takes a special kind of person to take a perfectly functional door and change it into something heavy, awkward to use and dangerous. Not to mention that nobody thinks that the scissor doors on your 1992 Honda Prelude look cool.
19 Big Wings
There is a certain group within the larger car community who call themselves the ‘Big Wing Gang’ who view large wings as essential to the operation of a car as tires or a steering wheel. These people are quite removed from reality, almost always flunked out of secondary school physics and have no idea how aerodynamics work.
18 Rolling Coal
Despite Vice claiming ‘There is nothing wrong with rolling coal’, we can chalk it up to the usual practice of Vice 'journalists' attempting to write about something they know nothing about. The easiest way to produce rolling coal is to remove the pollution gear, which is obviously illegal. Owning a relatively high horsepower turbo diesel myself, I know it’s entirely possible to extract decent power without the plumes of black smoke.
17 Lowered Cars
Do you know what is cooler than driving a lowered car? Not having to constantly worry about your front bumper being ripped off. Driving a lowered car doesn’t give you a chance to relax, always scanning ahead for an unseen speed bump or a slight dip in the road. But at least it looks cool, right?
16 Loud Exhausts
Few things sound better than an RB26DETT piped through a 3” stainless steel exhaust. But at the same time, few things sound worse than your cousin's stock Honda Civic with a bored out truck muffler. If you really must get a sports exhaust, take the time to check out different systems and choose one that doesn’t let the world know where your car is within a 10-mile radius.
15 Chrome Paint Jobs
Chrome paint jobs or wraps are about as obnoxious as you can get. Not only are they terribly unimaginative, but they’re also a nightmare to keep clean and fingerprint free. When driving a chrome painted car, you may think everyone is checking you out, but in reality, they’re trying to figure out why anyone would do that to their car.
14 Tinted Brake Lights
Smoked, or tinted brake lights sure look cool, but there’s a reason that most people don’t do it. You see the reason people aren’t constantly rear-ending your car is because of your brake lights, which indicate when you’re coming to a stop. If you make them more difficult to see by tinting the lenses, you’re just inviting trouble.
Funny bumper stickers can provide a brief spot of humor in somebody's day, but putting large stickers bragging about your car's performance on your vehicle is about as obnoxious as it gets - Especially when your car is stock. Can you imagine how some designer or engineer feels who has spent hundreds of hours to make a car look good, only to have some yuppie cover it with an obnoxious sticker?
12 Stanced Anything
What’s the quickest way to ruin a car I hear you ask? Give it 1/20th of the contact patch on the tire and cut the suspension travel by 9/10s. As well as ruining a car's handling, everybody you meet will laugh at you when you show them how you ruined a perfectly functioning product.
11 Performance Air Filters
Most people are guilty of this so we’re not passing judgment, but don’t’ get sucked into replacing your air filter with a ‘high-performance’ one. It’s not needed on your 140 horsepower Toyota Camry. Standard air filters can be an obstruction to more horsepower when your engine is gulping in huge amounts of air, but for 99.9% of motorists, the stock air filter is completely fine.
10 DIY Splitters
I think WRX YouTubers have to shoulder the responsibility for this trend taking off. The physics of how splitters work is pretty simple and comes down to inverted lift. The splitter is just one part of an entire aerodynamic system that makes this work though, and just mounting a piece of plywood to your bumper isn’t going to help anything.
9 Huge Rims
Once upon a time, 15-inch rims were about the largest you could fit on a sedan, then along came 16’s, then low profile tires, then 18’s, and now we have ridiculously large rims on just about everything. Altering a wheel profile radically messes up the steering, safety and ride quality of your vehicle. And that’s uncool.
8 Driver Assistance Aids
Safety benefits aside, anything that encourages people to be more lazy, while simultaneously throwing their common sense out the window needs a drastic rethink. Relying on technology to keep you safe when you’re in a 3,000-pound metal box traveling 100 miles per hour is a recipe for disaster, and besides, how much fun is it to drive a car that does everything for you anyway?
7 Fake Vents
We’re lumping fake fender vents and hood scoops in together because honestly, they’re as bad as each other. Some cars, like the Bugatti Chiron and Lotus Evija, require air to flow through the body to assist with downforce, or use vents to draw hot air away from the brakes. But if your car needed them, the manufacturer would have installed them.
6 Fenderless Wheels
Rat rods, understandably, look cool. But Dave the accountant doesn’t drive a rat rod, he daily drives a mid 90’s Jeep with fenderless wheels that throw up dirt and rocks everywhere. For bonus points, you can also rip off the inner linings making sure your cover your engine with mud as well.
5 Fake Engine Noise
Two things sound great when driving. Absolute silence, and fi you can’t have that, then a V12 on full song. What doesn’t sound great is a Nissan Leaf that has digital exhaust noise piped into the cabin to make it sound it has a 2JZ under the hood. Nobody outside the car can hear it, but at least you can fool yourself for a little while.
4 Windshield Stickers
Admittedly it’s a bit of a stretch to call a windshield sticker a mod, but it’s so ridiculous that it deserves a mention. Typically, these large stickers will say ‘dapper’ or something equally inane. They are usually difficult to read and do little else but block the driver's view. There are much better ways to waste money than this.
3 Tow Hooks
It’s not that tow hooks are uncool, the reality is that they’re not needed in 99% of applications. If you’re not using your car for any kind of motorsport, a tow hook is as useless as Dwayne Johnson's hairdryer. Extra points if you have an oversized arrow that says ‘TOW’ pointing to your tow hook. As if the large tow hook wasn’t enough to give it away.
2 Light-Up Badges
If light-up manufacturer badges aren’t illegal by the time you’re reading this, they soon will be – so don’t waste your money. Unfortunately, Mercedes started this trend but the other manufacturers were drawn to it light moths to light (see what I did there). Honestly, people have enough to concentrate on when it’s dark, they don’t your blatant advertising distracting them as well.
1 Stretched Tires
Stretched tired usually go hand-in-hand with excessive camber so you know it’s a mod to avoid. When you stretch a tire you usually fit a tire that is too small a wheel that is too wide for a car. It leads to some goofy handling situations as well as making the car unsafe, and difficult to change a tire on when needed.
Sources: Jalopnik, Reddit and Drive Mag.