QOTD: What Aftermarket Appearance Part Can You Get Away With?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

So, yesterday afternoon TTAC author and moderator Corey Lewis decided to scorch our retinas by posting a photo of a very unique Mazda Miata on Slack. A very bad Miata, too.

The image originated from quaint Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, a northern bedroom community of Montreal. In it (photo rights require us to paint you a grim picture), the red NA Miata sported a laundry list of aftermarket add-ons — accessories the owner no doubt felt made his or her Miata the gosh darn hottest Miata around. Like New York’s hottest club, this thing had it all. Fender skirts. Chrome luggage rack. Chrome wheel arch trim. Oh, and a completely nonfunctional continental kit, as all continental kits are these days.

It was a crime against Miatas.

Which leads to the question: what non-factory add-on isn’t a crime?

Once upon a time, buyers could check a box and have their Detroit iron roll out of the factory with a tastefully concealed spare tire slung over the rear bumper. Rear fender skirts were sometimes part of the deal. The list of made-to-order accessories was long, and Americans liked it that way

Not so anymore. Generally, if you’re looking to jazz up your ride (be it new or used), the aftermarket world is your friend. However, it’s very often not your car’s friend.

We’ve all seen that late-90s Crown Vic with a wing. The Accord sporting cheap Altezza-style taillights. The Camry with the non-functional hood scoop. The Civic with… well, you name it. Flimsy body kits for everyone! Unfortunately, inherently pure vehicles like the Miata are often sullied with such bolt-on debris, turning their owners into casually loathed pariahs (at least among respectable people).

Still, not every appearance accessory deserves such scorn. It’s possible to keep your dignity and sense of taste intact while still endowing your preferred ride with a unique styling touch. Does a Miata rear deck cover fit this bill? Light bar on a Ram pickup? Let the jury convene.

Sound off in the comments, Best and Brightest. What can an owner of a new or classic car get away with? While we’re on the subject, what vehicular add-on is simply unforgivable?

[Image: hstowe/ Bigstock]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Johnster Johnster on Sep 13, 2017

    I like tasteful aftermarket wheels and louvers for rear windows on Fastbacks. I even like the louvers on the rear side windows of Mustang Fastbacks and think they could work on other fastbacks. I also like tasteful blackout trim replacing chrome. Splash guards and, on pickups, "Big Sky" mudflaps. I also like aftermarket bumper rub strips, bumper guards and rubber license plate frames (which function like bumper guards), given the current state flimsy bumpers on virtually all new cars.

  • Joeb-z Joeb-z on Sep 13, 2017

    My 2005 Subaru Legacy GT wagon has JDM Bilstein struts so the rear sports a JDM Bilstein badge. An inside joke and perhaps not after market but I like it.

  • Doc423 Said some automakers were slow to adopt the technology of Smartphone Mirroring, too bad they aren't slower adopting the EV technology, rather than cramming it down our throats.
  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys i was only here for torchinsky
  • Tane94 Workhorse probably will be added to the heap of failed EV companies.
  • Freddie Instead of taking the day off, how about an article on the connection between Black Americans and the auto industry and car culture? Having done zero research, two topics pop into my head: Chrysler designer/executive Ralph Gilles, and the famous (infamous?) "Green Book".
  • Tane94 Either Elio Motors or Aptera Motors.