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.
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.
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