Is the Car Modification Trend on ICE?

Is the Car Modification Trend on ICE?

Car modification is arguably a trend that is gradually dying a death in the UK. The practice was once a vibrant sub-culture made up of fast car enthusiasts who would purchase relatively cheap hatch backs and modify them visually with add on body parts, mechanically with engine alterations, and inside with in-car-entertainment, also abbreviated as ICE.


The trend was encapsulated by Max Power magazine , launched in 1994, which ran articles on particularly impressive ‘modded’ cars and organized meets where hoards of like-minded speed demons would meet in supermarket car parks across the country to rev their engines, pump tunes out of their oversized speakers, perform donuts and generally show off. ‘Modders’ would spend literally thousands of pounds on making their car stand out from a crowd, they favoured garish paintjobs, elaborate bumpers, side-skirts and spoilers and earth-shaking exhausts.

The craze for after-market modification flourished in the UK through the mid-to-late nineties and early 2000’s, it was picked up upon by Hollywood when The Fast and The Furious was released in 2001, a feature length film about the modification sub culture, it was hugely successful and has spawned three sequels to date. It is widely believed that car modification took off when iconic high performance models like the Escort Cosworth, based on the humble Escort hatchback platform, were released, setting tongues wagging amongst owners of the standard machines. They set about making their entry-level road cars faster and better looking, echoing the look of their super quick successors.

Ford Escort Cosworth:
ford escort cosworth

Manufacturers were quick to pick up on this trend and began producing smaller, more affordable cars that were glorified versions of small hatches with aggressive looks and pokey engines. This was the beginning of the end for the modding market, and hot hatches generated a devoted following with models like the Renault Clio 182, VW Golf GTi and Honda Civic Type R. Car modification was also widely criticized in the print and broadcast media for fuelling bad driving practices and a variety of driving offences.

2001 Abflug Supra S900:
2001 Abflug Supra S900

Max Power, the magazine which used to define scene has changed its tone in the past few years, adopting a more mature voice and ditching scantily clad bikini girls. So what does the future hold for the modding scene? One can only assume that if manufacturers continue to churn out excellent, affordable performance models then modding will squeezed out of the mainstream market for good, no doubt to the delight of many!

Joe is a copywriter and motoring enthusiast, he works for a car lease hire company and used to own a modified Vauxhall Nova but now drives a far more Civilised BMW X6

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  1. Modding got a bad reputation for its links to boy racers and unnecessary luxuries, particularly demonstrated on Pimp My Ride. It’s a shame really, as there are genuine benefits to be found.