Home » What Mods Are You Dying To Make To Your Car? It’s Wrenching Wednesday!

What Mods Are You Dying To Make To Your Car? It’s Wrenching Wednesday!

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Normies tend to buy cars and keep them stock. They might chuck on a few bumper stickers or a phone holder, but that’s about it. Car enthusiasts, though? We believe we can improve on cars designed by highly-trained engineers. We like to modify our vehicles to suit our personality, our tastes, and our grand idea of what they were supposed to be. So I ask you—what modification are you dying to do to your car?

For me, the answer is easy. I’ve always wanted to install a turbo on a car that was never supposed to have one. I want to take an old Mazda 121, or maybe a nice Peugeot 306, and give that thing some boost.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Of course, there’s one thing holding me back. It’s not so easy!

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This thing was a heap when I bought it in 2016.
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My racing number was 771 because they couldn’t read my handwriting when I wrote “777.” It looked like hell when I was done with it, but it handled like honey on toast.

I actually came close to pulling this off a long time ago. Once upon a time, I owned a 1992 Mazda MX-5. It was my race car, and I’d already done a bunch to it. I gave it coilovers and a fatter set of sway bars to drop the ride height and tighten up the handling. I fitted a set of headers for a little more grunt, and I even built a depowered steering rack for faster turn-in than the original manual one could provide. By the time I was done with it, it was pointy as all hell, with more grip than a good epoxy.  I once took it out in the hills with a set of semi-slicks on and I’m pretty sure I met God.

It was lacking just one thing. Back when I lived in Adelaide, Mallala Motorsport Park was my local race circuit. It’s a horsepower track, and the Mazda would simply run out of puff. It made passing other cars hard, even when I was much faster in the corners. I’d get level by corner exit, but they’d simply walk away down the straight.

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Modding And Driving A Carby Mx 5! 0 21 Screenshot
I never did get that turbo on my Miata, but I did help a friend with some electronics when they threw a set of carburetors on theirs.

A turbo would have been a perfect solution. I was gifted an old T25 turbo off a Nissan 180SX, and I even secured a second-hand manifold for the Mazda’s B6 engine. But there was so much more to do to make it a reality. The manifold required some repairs and a new flange to suit my turbo, and I’d need a whole exhaust to go behind it, too. Ideally, I’d sort out an intercooler setup as well. Also daunting was the prospect of having to fit a standalone ECU to run the engine. The Mazda’s stock unit can’t readily be tuned at all, let alone to handle forced induction.

The path for throwing a turbo on an MX-5 is well-worn. Tons of great resources exist. Even still, budget and time constraints prevented me from doing so. Eventually, that car left me and I put my plans on ice.

Followyourdreams
I modified my Honda Wave in Vietnam with poster paint and a weird kind of sticky tape, but that’s a story for another time. Follow your dreams. Don’t listen to Adrian screaming that this is why we need professional designers. 

I still yearn to turbo something today. But now, I want to make it even harder on myself by doing it to a more pedestrian car that rarely sees such attention. I’ll need a welder, plenty of space, and the time to do it, but it’s on my list. Forget handling mods, forget wheels and tires. My next project car is getting a turbo.

I’ll be honest with you: Having never modified an engine for more power output, I don’t really feel like a car guy. I feel like I haven’t earned my stripes. I’m judging myself here, not anyone else. We all have our own paths. But this is something I need to do. Call it unfinished business.

Your passion may lie elsewhere. You might want to get your Panda riding higher to handle winter slush. Perhaps you want to put 33s on your Ford Maverick to make it as badass as your friend’s old Ranger. Or you want to install a urinal in your car for road trips. Whatever it is, I wanna hear about it, so sound off below!

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Image credits: Lewin Day

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Thatmiataguy
Thatmiataguy
30 days ago

I want a set of wide, lightweight 17 inch wheels for my Camry Hybrid, with matching sticky tires. The 19 inch wheels that it came with look nice and all, but they’re ridiculously heavy, difficult to clean, and I want more sidewall for smoother cruising.

The lightweight 17 inch set I have my eye on would remove about 15 lbs of unsprung weight per corner! I’m interested to see how it may / may not affect fuel economy as well.

Chemodalius
Chemodalius
1 month ago

On a similar note: Forced Induction on my ND2 Miata (and the inevitable brake upgrades to match), on the fence whether I want to go turbo or supercharger, but with the size of the Miata enthusiast community both have prebuilt setups available.

Probably a couple years out, but my plan is to getting something else (probably EV or PHEV) to have as a daily, and then boost the Miata and use it as a fair-weather commuter once it’s done/reliable.

StLOrca
StLOrca
1 month ago

Installing a touch screen and back-up cameras on my wife’s C-Max.

I used to drive a PT Cruiser and I was aching to put a turbo on it. This would have required beefing up the brakes and suspension, but hey. In for a penny, in for a pound.

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
1 month ago

Install power folding mirrors on my wife’s SUV. The goal is to make her confident enough to park it in the attached garage instead of parking it in my garage.

Someday I dream of buying an ultralight car like a Metro or an old Dodge Colt and swapping in the turbo 3-cyl from a FIST. It would be a huge project but ought to be hilarious.

Luvmeadeadpedal
Luvmeadeadpedal
1 month ago

Bed swap on my 1990 F250 shop truck. Amazing you can source a good condition correct color complete bed for $150. New fuel sender while it is off given the ease of access. Only 6 bolts hold the bed in place. 6 bolts!

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
1 month ago

I’m going to weld a front strut brace for my Figaro, and paint it bright red. For two reasons:
1) It’s a fun one day project I would like to try
2) It looks really cool 😀

I should of course make it for the reason that it might work, but I doubt any difference is noticeable in an 80hp car with 80 profile tyres.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
1 month ago

Is it a mod to install a map pocket on a door card that lost its original map pocket decades ago?

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago

Eh. I have absolutely zero interest in putting a turbo on an engine that’s not meant for one, because it’s a terrible idea. Boosted engines have a surprisingly large number of minor internal differences, and there are few quicker ways to destroy the longevity and reliability of an engine than turboing it.

My cars….. I recently swapped the gears in my f150 and much improved the gearing. That is almost the only significant modification I’ve done to a car, I’m usually fighting to restore my cars to functional stock condition. Except for that transmission swap in the Comanche I guess.

I do have some heim joints ready for me to upgrade the suspension on my off-road trailer next week.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
1 month ago

I did about as much “mods” to my ’64 F100 crewcab as I am willing to do. I installed a dual brake master and disc brakes. It is custom enough as it was sold to the first buyer as a coach-build. My dad was the second owner starting in ’65.

Danger Ranger
Danger Ranger
1 month ago

Convert my bench seat in the ranger to buckets with a console. My 93 had this set up and it’s not like I ever bring more than 1 passenger in it. Plus, my flip down armrest is currently being held closed by a bungee

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 month ago
Reply to  Danger Ranger

“ Plus, my flip down armrest is currently being held closed by a bungee”

All old Rangers are equipped with that “feature”.

Danger Ranger
Danger Ranger
1 month ago

It does seem to be a common issue, I could get a new latch mechanism, but a set of Explorer or Mountaineer buckets and console are literally about the same price. The metal “upgrade” for this part is like $160.00….

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 month ago
Reply to  Danger Ranger

Yikes!
A $3 cabinet catch fixed mine, but yeah those Mountaineer buckets look like a nice setup.

Paul B
Paul B
1 month ago

Now that warmer weather is around the corner (my garage is too small to work in), finish the list of mods from last year on my truck:

– add a switch for the bed lights in the bed.

– replace the passenger front seat with a powered 6 way adjustable one to keep the wife happy on long trips.

– install the manual override switch for the running boards

And most importantly:

– make a list of new mods to do this summer that I won’t get around to doing…

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago

I feel ya Lewin, messing with engines is the ultimate car guy stage. I’m in the process of making a stroker for my 280Z, although I did farm out some of the work for space and convenience reasons.

But what I really look forward to doing is installing those sweet sweet 135i big brembos in my Z4. Braking’s been a bitch since day one with this car so I’ve itched to do this for years. I don’t want to have too many cars on jack stands at the same time though, so I’ll finish the S30 first (minus the stroker, that’s an whole project on its own).

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

Power bleeder.
when you finally get one, you’ll wish you’d done it years ago. So, just do it

Mantis Toboggan, MD
Mantis Toboggan, MD
1 month ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I tried the vacuum pump kind but still had to manually bleed them after. I think the crusty old bleeder screws kept me from getting a good seal but it’s possible user error was involved. Back to Harbor Freight it went.

Ron888
Ron888
1 month ago

No you’re not wrong.They are appallingly bad! I learned the hard way.

They can suck air from anywhere so it’s impossible to tell if bubbles are coming from the lines or leak points.I put lots of pipe tape on the bleeder screws and it partly worked.You’ll also get leaks where the suction pipe goes on bleeder.
Even my favorite very highly trained tech on youtube got a sea of bubbles.
And good luck being able to see the new fluid coming through.Even different color fluid is hard to see with all the bubbles.
Even if you eliminate most of the leaking it’s still a slow process!This is because vacuum is limited to -14PSI

A pressure bleeder sounds like an infinitely better tool,even if some attach rather clumsily to the master cylinder

Ron888
Ron888
1 month ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I’m certain i’ll buy one someday.
For now i’ll continue to flagellate myself with a near-useless vacuum bleeder.I deserve to suffer for such a badly researched purchase

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

My SO is an awesome assistant in the shop so I don’t complain about brake bleeding!

The stroker is indeed a big endeavor, which basically everyone on Datsun forums advises against (“turbos give more HP/$!!”), but I had a block that needed machining anyway and this way the mods remain period correct.

And I’m a sucker for NA torque response.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
1 month ago

Not really dying to make this mod, just feels terribly convenient: upgrading the old Femsa distributor in the Renault 4 to a more advanced electronic ignition system. It feels a bit wrong to not preserve engine originality, but the supposed pros do make it look like the right way to go: improved reliability/not having to rebuild your distributor every 2-3 years; better mileage/lower emissions; spark plug longevity; no more misfires, etc.

By the way, if anyone knows for sure any of these supposed benefits is absolute bogus please do let me know.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
1 month ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

Yeah, I’m pretty sure the distributor rebuild three months ago was the last one the car will see. It was the third in the last 5 years: I first had it rebuilt when I started driving and fixing the car, and it needed a rebuid a just a year later when I finally became the owner, because other issues got overlooked during that time, causing the distributor bits to wear very fast; four years later, symptoms started to come back and misfires quickly became too concerning not to do another distributor overhaul. For now it’s still a relatively simple and cheap job that my mechanic can do very easily, but he does fear that parts will likely become scarce and expensive in the future, so electronic ignition really seems the way to go. Honestly, what I spent so far in these rebuilds would’ve paid for the upgrade, and maybe.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago

And the quality of available points & condensers is going down—at least according to some classic car yt channels I was following a couple years back. Which fits with what I saw moonlighting at a marina some years back: I ended up installing a fair few Pertronix while there—and had no regrets.

Maybe get a good electronic one, then clean, lube, and store the newly rebuilt one in case you want to get all concourse?

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
1 month ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Yeah, I am not throwing out the old distro if I do end up pulling it out. 100% getting rebuilt and properly stored.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago

The amount of old classic car guys doing just fine with points in 2024 tells me points can’t be that bad, or difficult to continue servicing. But if you’re taking it to a mechanic any time you need ignition work, I can understand wanting the most bulletproof solution.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I mean, I’ve been doing just fine daily driving this tech for the past 5 years. Even when it starts to fail, something has to be said of how forgiving it is; while obviously not ideal, I’ve had to do some quite some driving with bad points over the years and not once have I gotten stranded. But there seem to be some very obvious advantages in going with newer tech.

Last edited 1 month ago by Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Staffma
Staffma
1 month ago

I’d love to build a chassis table and remake the frame for my 1971 Spitfire on a 1990 s10 chassis. I’m not happy with how I did the body mounts and I need to remove the kickup by the rear axle to flatten the floor so I can move the seats back another few inches as well as get the body a bit lower on the frame.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
1 month ago

I’ve done all the stuff I want to my cars already. None of it was too major since they’re dailies. Mainly added hitches/wiring. It’s just maintenance now. Although maintenance is still good.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
1 month ago

I have a short list right now, mostly maintenance because I drive a Boxster from 1998 as a commuter, but as far as upgrades, first I need a set of Summer tires (sitting on Vredestein Wintrac Pros right now, the Summers it came with were 15 years old), then I’d like to get high performance brake pads and high temp fluid, a shifter bearing kit to replace the soft bushings, and a performance alignment (max front chamber, zero toe), and ideally a late-model top with a glass back window before Winter.

Later on, I’d love some 964 Cup wheels and seat inserts reupholstered in Pepita houndstooth.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
1 month ago
Reply to  Ricardo Mercio

Forgot to include the underdrive pulley (it reduces parasitic drag a bit but more importantly stops the power steering from overheating at autoX/track), exhaust surgery (a carefully drilled hole inside the muffler tip can free up some sound without drone), and a bit of custom work I’d like to do on the intake. There’s a lot of Euro sound reg equipment on the airbox that doesn’t affect power but is just dead weight and kills induction sound. I don’t want to be loud, but the Boxster is downright quiet in stock form.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ricardo Mercio
Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  Ricardo Mercio

I have never heard a car with too loud intake noise. More is better.

Ron888
Ron888
1 month ago
Reply to  Ricardo Mercio

I second the intake sound mods.
Your exhaust mod sounds interesting.By pure chance during repairs i made one of our earthmoving machines sound great.Not loud,just ‘crisper’
I just which i knew how to replicate it

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron888

That’s what I call a happy little accident. If you ever get to see one of those mufflers on the inside, maybe you can find out how the baffles work and which one you punctured/dislodged.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago

I’ve already done everything major I had planned to do with my Prius v: 1.5″ lift, added fog lights, front and back dashcams, and under-seat subwoofer.

In the next few months I’m planning to add another subwoofer and (maybe) left and right dashcams.

If I get really bored after that, I may consider an aluminum skid plate and a Torklift stealth tow hitch.
Not that I have a single idea of what I’d do with either of those…but I want to have the coolest “still-on-stock-adjacent-tires-and-still-fuel-efficient” Prius v on the east coast, I guess. Or at least top 25.

FrontWillDrive
FrontWillDrive
1 month ago

I’m awaiting warmer weather, and then I’ll be working some more on the Supercharged 3800 swap I’m working on in an 88 Cutlass Ciera International, and at the same time I need to put a transmission in the 91 Riviera that I put a SC 3800 in during the dark times. I’m excited to get the boosted cars out already.

Turbotictac
Turbotictac
1 month ago

I have two turbo Miatas, a supercharged 04 Mach 1, and a 2000 S10. There’s a lot done to all but the S10(it has a few small QOL things) but there are things I would like to do to each.

99 Miata – I retrofitted an OEM turbo kit off a wrecked Mazdaspeed Miata on here. I want to fully replace that with a Kraken EFR kit(and drop this drivetrain in a NA) and a built engine

04 Mazdaspeed Miata – I just converted it to return style fuel and did a number of chassis reinforcements. I just got the final piece and am preparing to assemble and install a built engine and bigger turbo in it. Targeting 300-350whp depending on fuel type since I added a flex sensor. This was my daily prior to rod breakage and will be again once I have the new engine in.

04 Mach 1 – I have an Eaton M112 from an 04 Cobra on this car. I would like to, shocker, build the bottom end and swap the M112 out for a TVS 2.3L and a T56.

2000 S10 – If the 2.2L every dies, which is a big if, I would like to LS swap this truck and keep it stick shift with a quiet exhaust with some sneaky cut outs.

Turbotictac
Turbotictac
1 month ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

It has played out that way, yes lol. 10 years ago I never would have believed it. I worked at a performance car shop for a bit and that led to some of it happening, but I suspect it would have either way.

Uberscrub
Uberscrub
1 month ago

Id love to get a new daily and turn my fit into a project car. just wheels and suspension tweaks would make it more fun, but id love to get into some light engine mods too. But lets be real, it’ll never happen, this car will rust way in Minnesota long before i have the disposable time & income to do that. and I should do those mods to a car that makes sense to do that to….

Buzz
Buzz
1 month ago
Reply to  Uberscrub

I really like the Fit and I’m not sure why. They seem like a really fun, chuckable little roller skate.

Headfullofair
Headfullofair
1 month ago
Reply to  Buzz

Agreed. The underside engine cover on mine, however, comes unclipped in cold/snowy weather. I have to keep extra clips around and peek underneath several times a week in winter. I’ve been thinking of buying a race-ready aluminum replacement that bolts in place.

Ron888
Ron888
1 month ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

That’s it huh.It’s annoying

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