What Really Grinds My Gears: Modified Cars

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

My name is Robert Farago, and I used to modify my ride. Back in the day, I couldn’t afford what I really wanted to drive: a Dino. (A Pinto station wagon is about as far as you can get from a Dino whilst remaining in the same solar system that’s home to planet Earth.) So I spent my hard-earned money on Pirelli P3s. And sway bars. And God knows what. OK, a Nachamichi tape deck. Then, when I saved-up enough for a Mazda RX4, I swapped out the gearbox for the RX3’s more aggressive unit. And again. And again. RX7? Rear ribbed metal thingie over the hatch and numerous performance mods to the suspension, tires, wheels, engine and so on. Somewhere along the line I realized that no matter what I did to my car, it screwed-up something else. The manufacture spent millions achieving the perfect balance of ride comfort handling, reliability, cost, etc. Why did I think I could do better? I couldn’t. So I stopped. Whilst Mehta recovers from his coronary to pen a suitable rip-post, I’ll say this to enhance his experience: the only thing worse than a ridiculously modified car is its owner.

Sure, modded motors are an expression of the owners’ individuality. The best of the breed require tremendous mechanical skills and a vivid imagination. I admire hot rods and kit cars and race-modified cars and scissor-doored Toyotas. Truth be told, I’d give my left testicle for a RUF Porsche. And thank God we live in a free country, where car owners with little to no taste can sink billions of dollars into an endeavor which has about as much social utility as cigar smoking. Seriously. The American economy needs you! Party on Dudes.

But please don’t ask me to admire that shit. That’s what really grinds my gears. The other day, I was filling-up with high test, when a fart-canned Honda Accord with a giant wing zizzed-up next to me. As I said, fair enough. But then Sunglass Man smirked at my GL and literally patted his modified sedan. Puh-lease. At least when I was an asshole I wasn’t an asshole about it.

At the end of the proverbial English day, I’d prefer to see a well-loved example of a bone stock ride than something that’s been taken seriously sideways. Speaking of bone stock, a heavily modded car is like a T-shirt with the word “Hung” on it. Even it’s true, it’s proof positive that it doesn’t always pay to advertise. If you know what I mean.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Dynamic88 Dynamic88 on Oct 12, 2009

    I've never seen such a collection of grumpy old men. Fart can mufflers, wings, ventiports - all of it is great. Young men learn mechanical skills by doing these kinds of mods. You never know where this will lead. Gustave Eiffel for example got his start building wings for ricers. Lighten up.

  • Johnster Johnster on Oct 12, 2009

    Generally speaking, I agree with Robert. But there are always exceptions. One of the nicest lightly modified cars I've recently seen was a mid-1990s Chevrolet Caprice station wagon modified to look like an Impala SS. (It was cruising on the 210 freeway east of L.A.). Whoever put it together did an especially nice job of reconfiguring the rear wheel wells to make them larger and rounder and more like those of the Impala SS. This do-it-yourself Impala SS Station Wagon was something that Chevy should have actually offered for sale and since they didn't, I'm glad that someone else went ahead and created it. If it were for sale and I had the money, I'd buy it.

  • Tassos Jong-iL The Peninsula of One Korea.
  • Eric No, I just share my opinions. I have no use nor time for rhetoric from any side.
  • Redapple2 Jeez. This is simple. I 75 and 696 area. 1 nobody -NOBODY wants to work in downtown Detritus. 2 close to the tech ctr. Design and Engineering HQ. 20 miles closer to Milford.3 lower taxes for the employees. Lower taxes for Evil GM Vampire.4 2 major expressways give users more options to suburbs. Faster transport.Jeez.
  • Clark The Ring (Nürburgring) is the only race track I've driven on. That was 1985 or 1986 with my '73 Fiat Spider (and my not-so-happy girlfriend). So I made the Karussell (today: Caracciola Karussell, which I believe the author meant; there is another one: Kleines Karussell).
  • AZFelix This article takes me back to racing electric slot cars with friends on tracks laid out in the basement. Periodically your car would stop due to lost connections or from flying off the track and you would have to dash over to it and set it right. In the mean time your competitor would race ahead until faced with a similar problem. It seemed like you were struggling harder to keep from losing than trying to win. Fun times.“History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” Mark Twain