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Top 10 cars to modify

The modifying scene may have mellowed a little since the Max Power days, but it’s still going strong today with millions of motorists tweaking their cars for better performance or a little added flair.

From bodykits and spoilers to new exhausts, tinted windows and aftermarket alloys, there’s a lot about your car that can be changed to make it unique. Classic cars too are frequently modified, restored to their original glory with a few modern twists to make them run better. And once you’ve got the hang of modding your car you’re only really limited by your imagination and your bank balance.

Whether you’re a novice modder or a seasoned pro looking for a new project, here’s our list of the top 10 cars to modify.

No.10Range Rover

Modified Range Rovers are a relatively rare sight on the roads, but they do exist and it’s possible to do it yourself. The usual array of aftermarket wheels, exhaust kits, and cosmetic tweaks are fairly simple to do yourself, but there’s also a growing number of companies that can help you with modifying your Range Rover from top to bottom.

Companies like Overfinch offer completely bespoke modifying on Range Rovers and other cars, altering yours to your exact specs or selling you pre-modified ones. From totally customised interiors to personalised lettering on the front and carbon fibre bodywork throughout, the Overfinch garage can do far more than you could ever realistically manage on your own, but the price tag isn’t for the faint-hearted.

No.9Porsche 911

From “Urban Outlaw” Magnus Walker restoring 911s in his LA workshop, to Singer Vehicle Design producing unique and beautiful high-end motors, there’s a great 911 modding scene out there today.

Singer has produced some of the best-looking 911s we’ve ever seen in recent years, and owners can get their own cars restored and customised by the company too. They offer an almost endless catalogue of modifications you can have done to make your 911 truly unique – and it’s the sort of handiwork that you’d probably find difficult to do yourself.

While most people don’t, or can’t, tinker too much with the 911’s performance and handling themselves, there is still the usual range of cosmetic tweaks you can do to get your car looking just how you want it with minimal effort. If you are thinking of modding your 911 yourself, check out Total 911’s list of five modifications to avoid first.

No.8Ford Escort

The Escort was one of Ford’s most popular models, and for a lot of people it’s an icon of classic motoring, racing and rallying. And it’s because of this popularity that Escorts still feature regularly in the car customising scene – their good looks and solid performance still offer a great foundation for a wide range of mods.

Whether you opt for a classic Escort or a more modern model, there’s plenty that you can do to make it your own. Most people will say that power mods are wasted on the newer models, as they were never meant to be performance cars in the first place, but there’s still a lot of exterior changes you can make.

Older Escorts can benefit from anything from new exhausts and engine remaps to full engine upgrades and a new gearbox – the only real limit is your budget and your knowhow.

No.7Subaru Impreza

Whether you’re taking on your rally stage, or just want to look good on your drive to work, there’s a huge variety of things that you can do to your Impreza to make it your own.

Aside from painting it blue, putting the Subaru rally team logo on the side, and buying gold alloys, the majority of the mods that you’ll find widely done are for performance.

What you can do, and how you do it, will depend on the exact model of your Impreza (and there are a lot out there) but some of the most popular are new exhausts, proper engine management and remapping, plus upgrading the intercooler. You’ll be able to push a little more performance out of your car with just those, but it’s worth considering the cost of the mods versus simply upgrading to the next model.

Or you could go the whole hog, and spend $250,000 on mods?

No.6Mitsubishi Evo

A huge number of Evo drivers have modified their car, despite its already pretty impressive performance. Aside from the usual cosmetic changes available – new lights, wheels, bodykits, decals, etc. – the Evo has a wide range of performance and technical mods that you can do too.

Some of the ‘simpler’ mods (depending on whether you know what you’re doing or not) include things like swapping out the exhaust, adjusting the turbo and intake, and changing fuel pumps and intercoolers. Most guides that we’ve found usually suggest getting the engine tuned too – it’s really a must if you’re planning on tweaking the engine at all.

Thanks to the Evo’s modding popularity you’ll find a lot of guides out there to help you – but the “Evo Modding for Dummies” at evolutionm.net seems a good place to start.

No.5VW Beetle

There’s an almost unlimited number of ways to modify the old-style VW Beetle – some people have turned theirs into rickshaws, some are setting world records in them, and a few Beetles have even been turned into boats. But even if you’ve got something a bit more conventional in mind for yours, there’s still a lot of simple but effective things you can do.

On top of the huge array of styling tweaks available to you, from new wheels to full bodykits and modern steering wheels, there’s a long history of people modifying their classic Beetle to get a little better performance. New exhausts are high priorities on most Beetle-owner’s lists, as are electric replacements for the old ignition systems. More ambitious owners can also aim for dual-carburettors which offer a good boost in performance for not too much effort, and the enduring popularity of the Beetle means you’ll never be short of help and advice on the internet.

No.4Mini

Perhaps the most iconic British car, the Mini is today one of the most easily and most often modified cars out there. Already known for its great handling, there’s a huge number of ways to tweak the car’s performance to match, and to alter its look to really make it your own.

One of the first changes that many people make to their Mini is aftermarket wheels, of which there are hundreds to choose from. Body kits are another popular choice for people who want to alter the Mini’s iconic looks, and you’ll find no end of options out there for tweaking practically every detail and facet of the car’s exterior, from mirror covers and spoilers to mudflaps and rally lights.

There’s a lot you can do to the Mini’s performance too, and there’s no shortage of kits for upgrading the suspension or changing the exhaust. You’ll be getting your hands dirty with any of those, but even the simplest of engine tweaks can offer up to a 20hp boost, which is well worth the effort.

No.3Citroen Saxo

One of the mainstays of the small hatchback modding scene since its release in 1996, the Saxo is one of the most widely modified cars out there – and it’s fairly cheap and easy to get started too.

On the cheaper end of things, many people start with simple exterior changes. From smoked lights to new badges, new wheels and bodykits, you can make a big change to how your car looks without spending too much.

Things get a little pricier when you look into handling and performance though. Many people opt to lower their Saxo, which can be costly, while turbos and superchargers are more fiddly options, as well as minor engine tweaks too. Luckily, because of the Saxo’s popularity as a base for modding, you’ll be able to find plenty of help and guides on the internet.

No.2Vauxhall Nova and Corsa

Okay, so they’re two different cars, but both the Nova and its replacement the Corsa both played a vital part in the modding scene of the 90s and early 2000s, and both enjoy some popularity today as cheap platforms for car customising.

From enormous and elaborate bodykits and spoilers, to LED under-car lighting and new alloys, there’s no real limit on what can be done to one of these two older hatchbacks, and the internet is full of inspiration if you’re planning on altering yours.

Back in the day an overly large exhaust was a must have, but some engine tweaks might be needed too as the pokey smaller engines often can’t keep up with them being too big. The standard range of remaps, porting, injector and pump upgrades will work fine on most engines though, so you can beef up your motor to keep pace with whatever cosmetic mods you decide on.

We covered the Max Power generation of modders over at Influx Magazine – click here to check that out.

No.1Mazda MX-5

The MX-5 remains one of the most popular cars to modify in the world, and people have done some pretty incredible things with theirs over the years. We spoke to Tom Shaw who has won awards and sponsorships with his custom MX-5 – so check out his efforts if you’re looking for inspiration.

While Tom focussed on looks with his MX-5, including carbon fibre skirts, a spoiler, and aftermarket suspension and wheels, there are plenty of performance tweaks possible too. Popular performance mods include air intakes, turbos, superchargers and even full engine swaps – but smaller changes like performance tyres and new brakes can have a big impact on more limited budgets.

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