This is going to come over as unorthodox, but, every time I enhance a car, I make it worse.

I am not a purist, I don’t pursue originality at the highest degree, I don’t usually ever like the stock engine note or chassis rotation and I also don’t always agree with certain specifications a car may have from factory. Generally, changes are pretty quickly done to satisfy personal preference, this is where things tend to go wrong. Let’s look at the most basic steps that are usually undertaken.

Lowering springs - The evil gremlin in the aftermarket scene. The benefits touted by lowering springs are, a lower centre of gravity, firmer ride and aesthetically a reduced wheel arch gap. The reality of this little gremlin is that, it will worsen whatever comfort you previously had, it may provoke rubbing between the tyre and the wheel arch, you can’t park anywhere without leaving a huge gap to the pavement, your stock shock absorbers will die out sooner than later, you’ll never really make the most of the tighter chassis on the road, and, if you ever take the car onto a track, you’ll be wondering why it runs out of grip so easily. Lowering springs are simply lower in height to their stock counterparts, and made of harder steel (don’t even get me started on compressed oem springs). Manufacturers rarely ever ramp up the spring rate (metric of soft or hard ride) proportionally to how much the spring was lowered, this means that there is less effective vertical travel available to each wheel, making them more susceptible to contact with the hard solid rubber bump stops, basically, when this happens, all grip goes to shit. I usually mount lowering springs on my cars when I can’t afford decent coilovers.

Tuning boxes, Chips, Remaps – The Trojan horse. I don’t think I have ever met anyone that would refuse an increase in engine performance, everyone wants more power regardless of the effect it may have in other areas of the car.
Depending on what kind of car you are driving, if it is minimally performance orientated, a significant bump in engine performance will most likely overwhelm whatever traction your poor tyres, and your traction control system. I have had these trojan horses applied to my 208 GTi and my i30N, turning the right pedal into a frustrated teenager when used in the rain, it is not fun. Sure it can be amusing in the “omg wheelspin, what a beast I’m driving” sense, until you realise, you can’t pin the throttle when leaving corners neither lean on the LSD to rotate the car due to brutal torque peaks that’ll simply run you wide, and suddenly all that extra power, is robbing you of agility and manoeuvrability on the edge.

Aftermarket brake pads – The thinking man’s mod. Now these have some serious impact, aftermarket pads are amoung the best bang for buck mod you can do to bring those lap times down. That of course is, if you do laps, if you don’t, you’re just paying three times more for a component that won’t work in the cold, squeals everytime you think of braking, clean wheels will be a thing of the past and they’ll chew your discs to dust like the promise of a fast GT86.

So if I am perfectly aware of the negative connotation these components have on my car, why do I still go through with them? I suppose the answer to this question can justify most hobbies that us petrolheads have. Why do we travel so far to support a driver or team, why do we hoard miniature models of legendary supercars or race cars, why do we spend far too much time deciding on which new Petrolheart merchandise to buy? We all feel the need to work towards our dreams and ambitions. In this case, not everyone has, or will have the chance to own a sports car or compete in motorsport, so we look for something that in the meantime feeds our senses, be it via our eyes, ears, or our soul. We wear our heart on our sleeves and are proud of our convictions. We try to transform our cars into an extension of our personality and what or where we aspire to be, however deep or obscured that affection may be. It is possible that we like to be misunderstood, or that in such a controlled and world where every product is generic, we demand some compromise, as long as it permits us to creep closer to the dream and caters to our inspiration.

One thing is for sure, I’m going to keep compromising my cars, might even look up a new intercooler this week. When something as emotional as cars is being judged, forget logic, do it your way.

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