With the ever looming prospects of a slowing economy and more company closures it is refreshing to see a new trend emerging.
Car enthusiasts the world over are, according to a study of TorqueCars members, finding inventive ways to upgrade the power of their car cheaply and without buying a new car.
Reasearch and industry stats show that new car sales are down, this is also echoed in the used car markets with many holding on to their cars longer. High powered thirsty cars have been particularly badly hit by depreciation, however there is a way to upgrade your existing car cheaply.
Considering that cars are well made and not subject to the scourge of rust or early mechanical failure, due to superior modern engineering and materials, it should come as no surprise that people are keeping their cars longer.
People still long for more power, better handling and the “new car” feel so are turning to car modification in a bid to create and own something better.
Taking a standard road car and upgrading it is not new but there is an added incentive now that people are starting to cut back their spending. TorqueCars members look to breakers yards and salvage yards to source suitable upgrades for their cars. This is supplemented with parts from the aftermarket manufacturers and results in some very interesting projects.
One member recently took a Honda Civic and sourced a replacement engine from it’s bigger brother a 2.2 litre Prelude. It took a bit of work to get it in but the result is a car which performs much better than the original car. Another member took a Vauxhall Vectra and swapped the engine for a top range 2.0 Turbo model and uprated some other parts making his car even better than a standard Vectra Turbo.
Engine swaps are probably the most significant modifications that can be done cost effectively to a car. Pretty much any other part can be upgraded and it makes sense to improve the braking and handling from a safety point of view.
Another cost effective upgrade path chosen is replacing the stock parts as they wear out with higher performance parts such as brakes and suspension components. Again this creates a car which handles and performs far beyond the original specifications and usually at the same or slightly higher cost than buying OEM parts.
TorqueCars creator and webmaster Waynne Smith tells us, “the forums are busier than ever with people telling us about their projects. It really does seem that people are getting the car tuning bug rather than replacing their cars. It can only be a good thing when people start recycling car parts from breakers yards and rebuilding their cars. The end result is usually much better and a lot cheaper than going out and buying a new car with obvious environmental benefits of zero manufacturing.”
The breakers yards are literally full of performance cars with minor damage and the undamaged parts can be relatively easily used to upgrade standard road cars.
It is most common to take parts from the same model but the top of the range performance model. For example a Fiesta 1.3 could benefit greatly from parts taken from the newer and faster ST. An older Mark 2 Golf can have an engine taken from the newer golf such as the 1.8T and this provides a great tuning base with potentially a 200bhp power uprgrade on offer. The more adventurous, mechanically minded, types are even using parts from other manufactures resulting in some Japanese powered classic VW Golfs.
To quote the members of TorqueCars forum, “We modify our cars because we want to create something personal and setup to suit our particular driving style. The manufacturers make too many compromises and cut corners to keep the costs down. By using used parts supplimented with some reconditioning work becomes the cheapest way to upgrade our car.”
It is easy to make mistakes and choose the wrong upgrades, Waynne tells us, “we frequently get asked to investigate and advise on problems from car tuning projects that go wrong. Most of the time simple mistakes are made and cost little to rectify. We have seen engine upgrades where the gearbox was too weak and advised the owner to uprate the gearbox. Cars have been lowered too far and this has been detrimental to the handling and tyre life. It is too often the case that parts are sold on the basis of over optimistic claims or that are unsuitable for the application. We set up TorqueCars to give the car modification community a common sense and unbiased guide to car tuning. It really has taken off far beyond my original expectations.”
For more information on the pros and cons of car modification you should visit www.torquecars.com and read the articles. The forum provides a very friendly and helpful community for tips and specific advice with plenty of inspirational project car reports.