QotW: What modifications on cars make you cringe most?

Let’s face it, there have been a lot of bad car modifications over the years. Whether it was a misguided attempt at recreating a race style, a goofy trend that took on a life of its own, or just an “I did it because I could” thing, a good number of them befell Japanese cars when they were relatively affordable. Luckily, the worst of them have fallen out of favor over time. Unluckily, they took down lots of good cars with them.

What modifications on cars make you cringe most?

The best comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s your favorite car commercial?

The marques that received the most votes were Toyota, Honda and, surprisingly, Isuzu, from DeeAnn Hopings‘ nomination for the Joe Isuzu ads to Lupus‘ pick of the dancing Geminis short film. Unfortunately, that just goes to show clever marketing does not equate to good sales. Nissan had some great commercials from the 90s, as Joel and Sammy B pointed out. Toyota has made some truly epic efforts over the years, too, with Angelo‘s pick of the rather-cheesy-but-we’ll-excuse-it-because-it-had-an-AE86-in-it “The World is One” spot to dankan‘s choice of the neo-86’s touge road compendium. However, the winner this week is gaijinshogun, who picked out some true classics that history has mostly forgotten:

Favorites for me were the various Toyota Corona commercials done in the late 60’s and earlier 70’s for the USA market. In one, they threw a new Corona RT115 coupe with the advanced overhead ESP monitoring system into a demolition derby. As the car got hit and things broke, the overhead console lit up to show the problems. In another series, the Corona drag races against the current land speed record cars. Racing against the Blue Flame, a stop sign appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the track… and the Corona’s power assisted front disc brakes allowed it to stop in time and “win” the race. Another earlier one was against the Green Monster and…see for yourself! [See video above.]

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23 Responses to QotW: What modifications on cars make you cringe most?

  1. Brett Shields says:

    Boot Spoilers; are spoilers by nature and spoilers in effect. Ugly, useless, sad, and just a really bad idea. It tells us you have no idea, and no taste, and no regard for the eye-sight or the mental health of anyone who has to look at it. Honestly, just don’t do it.

  2. BlitzPig says:

    The list is endless really, but the one that really makes me laugh at the people who do it are the installation of huge wings on the rear of street cars, especially front drive cars. All they have done is add lots of drag, thus slowing their car down, and upset what handling balance was left after they ruined their mechanical grip by adding mega degrees of negative camber and stretching tires onto rims that are FAR too wide for the tires. Stupid is as stupid does I guess.

  3. Land Ark says:

    People who spend significant amounts of money getting aftermarket wheels that are black or other dark colors. Vintage Watanabes exempt, of course, but new wheels have intricate details and styling that absolutely disappears and looks like the hubcap fell off.

  4. Lee L says:

    I live in Virginia and it seems like every other car you see is a new-ish Jeep Wrangler with every single bolt-on part you can think of. Most of them are driven by middle-aged women and have pink or green wheels with stickers all over the vehicle that are the same color. They also look like they’ve never been off-road since purchase.

    Here’s a good example, though most are not quite this ridiculous


  5. Geoff says:

    2 words: Rocket Bunny

  6. RX626 says:

    I love modified cars, so basically I love any kind of modification. (And of course, customizations like the “Tuner” style shown in this article!)

    However, the most lamentable modification for me would be the roof cut.

    This was a custom often done by bosozoku in Japan for decades.
    They celebrate the New Year by cutting off the roofs of their cars to make homemade convertible cars.
    Of course, these modifications are illegal in Japan as a rule, and bosozoku have no intention of continuing to drive these cars legally.
    When they cut off the roof of their car, it means that they are ready to scrap the car.

    The Skyline, Crown, Mark II… many classic JDM cars were roofed off and scrapped.

    I like bosozoku/kaido racer style customs too. Many of them look like the Batmobile, but they have their own aesthetics, and some of the simple, tastefully customized cars are objectively beautiful.

    But the roof cut is the only thing I don’t like.
    Because that is an act that will surely make one car disappear from this world.

  7. vic says:

    Yes, everyone is entitled to customize their vehicles to their liking, but . . .
    The above purple example. Over 45mph, the wing will have that car doing wheelies. No strange colors bother me. However, am NOT a fan of totally black wheels. Looks like 50+ years of brake dust! Maybe a polished lip? Just something that offers contrast. Peeps looking for individuality, but so overdone now, it’s ho-hum. “Yawn”. :o)

  8. j_c says:

    ^related to Rocket Bunny mentioned: Perfectly nice cars cut up to put on a body kit and/or roll cage. I cringe when I read about someone that searched years for a clean, rare version of a car only to take a cutting wheel to it. If they had the time & money to do that much body work, why not find a rusty example that needs saving?

  9. Scotty G says:

    I hate to say it, but bolt-on wheel arches on almost every JNC at every car show.

  10. Jeremy A. says:

    Cars that have just about every ‘stick on’ accessory from the Aisle of Cringe at the local parts store. You know the ones. Toyota Camrys with stick-on fender vents, or the ’99 accord with a Type R badge in slightly wrong font, or fake stick-on ‘behind the wheel’ exhaust pipes on a clapped-out third-gen eclipse. These slightly edge-out the shotgun-shell automatic shift knobs, or the “carbon fiber” everything.

  11. Jim Daniels says:

    Vents, slots, wings, 20s anything that does not actually improve performance.

  12. Alex Larsen says:

    Tsurikawas, tow hooks and straps on non tracked cars, emo decals, underglow, Cheap ass steering wheels and chinese shift knobs from alibaba, white labeled by instagram “tuners”. Spiked lug nuts, Wings with limited or no function, Cheap ass parts with no originality added to a build with the sole purpose to checking off a social media required parts checklist

  13. bob says:

    Angry eyes grille replacements on Jeep Wranglers. Hands down the dumbest, cringiest modification you can make to a vehicle.

  14. MikeRL411 says:

    Dealers who put expensive and ugly after market wheels on the cars they sell.

  15. ra21benj says:

    Black colored cars with black aftermarket wheels. For me, black aftermarket wheels looks good if your car is white because there’s contrast. When the car is black with black wheels, I have a hard time telling where the wheels and car body begin/end and everything just blends together. It’s even worse when exotic car owners with black paint and black wheels because they also have black tinted windows. I don’t understand why someone would spend so much money on a black exotic with black wheels and it ends up being difficult to look at.

  16. Marcos says:

    Fake vents, scoops, etc. They are supposed to look like a “functional hole” but in fact do nothing. And, of course, massive trunk lid wings/spoilers. Everybody hates those!

  17. Hansjorg says:

    Extremely VIP-ed JDMs with 425/05/21 tires on 7inch rims which have only about 2cms of tire tread on the road. LOL.
    Any kind of wing-style trunk spoiler.

  18. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    D O N K s. Not prevalent on JNC’s but it still happens. Level down with a 4WD SUV. Good lord…

  19. Alan says:

    Canards, aftermarket erector set wings, bodykits, stickers, etc. plastered all over 1990s performance icons; FD RX-7s, NSXs, Supras and so on.

    Sports cars that were arguably closer to objective perfection straight from the factory than just about any others in history, marred, cheapened, uglified by heavy, useless, busy tchotchkes in the name of what? Impressing other hardpark bros in Boba Tea shop parking lots? I’m not hating, I sincerely do not get it.

    Stop chopping up icons.

  20. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    Vortex Generators: simple, small aerodynamic devices used to excite the boundary layer of aircraft wings & flight control surfaces to keep airflow adhered to the surface for better low speed flight. More drag (albeit minimal) to go slower & more lift for less traction. A lose – lose proposition.

  21. kikiichiban says:

    Fake parts!
    From wheels to bodykits to seats. Stop buying fakes/stop making fakes.

  22. f31roger says:

    Style is always subjective.

    I am from the Honda Era of the 99 to 2000s… so I definitely loved how people were able to customize their cars and build something in their vision.
    The concepts and creativity back then was amazing.

    With that said, at some point, I deviated from those mainstream trends…

    1. Lose of uniqueness, because it feels like everyone is building the same.
    2. Knock off/ Fake parts – again, difficult to say because a lot of OG companies are gone and maybe some guy is making really horrible copies of a body kit you want.

    I might catch flack for it.. but
    3. JDM accessories like train handles and peepaboo stickers. I just see them on everything.

    Maybe people will hate it, but I do want to build my 90s car with era correct parts (as much as possible) and that will make the interior look busy compared to today’s stuff.

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