Out of all those new cars out there, which ones have more promise that is untapped by the manufacturer? These cars are already good, but at the same time, they could be significantly improved with sometimes minimal modifications. In other words, they have what it takes but just need to be honed that little bit more to achieve their full potential.
The 7 Cars We Want To See With a Hellephant Swap
In case you were unaware, FCA stole the show this year at SEMA. The big headline was the Hellephant, a 1,000-horsepower monster that’s looking to curb stomp the competition as the most powerful crate engine ever offered by an OEM. We’re so excited about it that we decided to put together a list of cars that we think need a Hellephant under the hood, with entries ranging from the obvious to the slightly insane.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that the Hellephant is designed for either off-road applications or smog-exempt pre-1976 vehicles. Regardless, we’re sticking to our guns on this one in the hopes that one of you crazy wrench-turners gets inspired to create one of these wild beasts.
Hindsight is such a wonderful thing, isn’t it? Understanding some things weren’t as amazing as we thought they were in their golden days. The same applies to the tuning style of the “Fast & Furious” era or, rather, the early-to-mid 2000s. Got wings? Got flashy colors? Got the loudest audio setup and tons of screens? It was all about that!
Tuning goes almost as far back as the car itself. Modifying an object, with either functionality or looks in mind, is a natural impulse. Same goes for modifying a car. People used to do it as far back as the beginning of the first decades of the 20th century, switching engines off a Ford V8 and stuffing them in a Ford Model A. Everybody remembers the hot rods in movies like “Grease.”
A lot of the tuning in the early days was carried out with competition in mind, motor racing being a great catalyst of innovative ideas that arose from the need to make a car go faster than it was originally intended to. Generations of “garagisti” – as Enzo Ferrari would call the British racing teams – or shop owners made a living out of improving a car’s natural ability around corners or in matters like acceleration or top speed.
Coupled with the mechanical part came the visual part. If you are to modify your car, you want people to notice it even before you turn the key in the ignition – mind you, unless sleepers are your thing. That’s why the hot rods featured flame graphics on the sides or outlandish pinstriping following the car’s profile. All that evolved into metallic paint jobs, big chromed wheels and many other elements that made people turn their heads, if not in appreciation at least due to sheer awe.
Arguably, the peak of the looks-over-functionality drive was reached somewhere in the early ‘00s with the advent of the “Fast & Furious” franchise. Back then more about cars and illegal street racing than about jumping between skyscrapers, Michael Bay-esque explosions and desert racing, the franchise transformed cars like the Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34) or the Mazda RX-7 (FD) into cult icons that everyone bowed before and adored. And that everyone wanted to mod.
Be it visually or mechanically, Japanese machinery became the go-to platform for tuners in the early part of the new millennium. It wasn’t all due to the fad since these cars had very potent underpinnings that could hold vast amounts of horsepower beyond those offered on the showroom floor, but we’re talking here more about the aesthetic department. Large body kits, huge wheels, colorful everything, vinyl liveries – not to be mistaken by the vinyl trim on Malaise-era land yachts – and earth-pounding sound systems.
Read on to relish the memories of the tuning scene as it was back when many of us were in their teens.
7 Of The Best Resto-Mod Cars
The world of resto-mods is the promise land of beautiful, vintage, bodyworks on top of modern, state of the art, powertrains with performance figures that embarrass modern sports cars. Be it an Alfa Romeo on steroids, a Mercedes bettered by AMG themselves, a Bronco that looks 35 years old but very much isn’t under the skin, the variety in restomods is ever increasing with quality as the main differentiator between the good, the really good and the exceptional.
The automotive industry has created some real design icons over the years, cars like the Mercedes 300 SL, the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA, or the Porsche 911 remain etched into the minds of many petrolheads. Such emblematic designs seem to never age but, sadly, the engineering-wise, they are all outdated. Of course, you get a kick out of driving them merely because you get a chance to do it in the first place, but some want even more than that.
A select few look at classic cars as a starting point for a tough undertaking: transforming these icons of the past in machines that are able to keep up with whatever’s new on the road right now. The key is to have everything come out in pristine condition – hence the term restoration in ‘resto-mod’ – while modifying what’s under the skin. Some choose to start from existing cars while others do something more radical - building their own chassis from the ground up and then wrapping everything up in a retro bodywork that clearly reminds you of their inspiration. The Eagle E-Type and the Singer Porsches fall in the latter category.
Whichever road you choose, resto-mods are a brilliant – yet highly expensive – way to experience classic cars re-imagined in with technology that was barely on the drawing boards when some of these cars were new.
Keep reading to find our seven resto-mods picks
Buying a car can be great fun, but no matter how good your new vehicle is, there is always room for improvement. Most car and truck manufacturers leave room for us normal people to improve, or ruin their products. That’s not to say the original vehicle isn’t good, but in that good old American fashion, we always want to better our situation, in this case, our cars.
One of the easiest and cheapest upgrades one can do is an exhaust system. Sadly, many people add exhausts to cars that don’t need them, likeDodge Neons. A performance exhaust can free up some of the power in your engine by allowing the gases to escape a bit easier. When the gases can escape, your engine runs smoother.
Anyway, when the exhaust flows better, the fuel and air exit the combustion chamber faster and new fuel and air can be burned to create more power.
This works well for certain cars, but for some, the only effect that a bigger exhaust has is more noise. Putting a performance exhaust on a 1.8-liter Honda Civic won’t help the power all the much, but it’ll make it sound like a fart can.
Hit the jump for the rest of the article.