1. YELLOW HEADLIGHTS
A classic Euro mod that was actually law in France right up to 1993. Legend has it Pierre and chums made ‘em compulsory in 1939 because of the threat of German invasion. Presumably, any sneaky Panzer division with the foresight to tint their tanks were free to drive right up the Champs- Élysées then, eh?
Anyway, there’s plenty of tinted films and sprays on the market to do the job but the legalities are pretty vague. After spending literally 17-minutes researching we found that many believe it to be road legal in the UK sighting the Vehicles Lighting Regulations Act 1989 which says ‘headlights must be white or yellow.’ Others refer to EU law which states that all headlights have to be white but yellow foglights are permitted. In our own experience you’ll probably get away with it. So, I guess you’ve got to ask yourself one question: do you feel Lucky?
2. HYDRAULIC SUSPENSION
If you thought bouncy-bouncy suspension was a new thing then think again, it’s another one of those mods that’s been around forever! Aftermarket hydraulic suspension is widely regarded to have been invented by American customiser Ron Aguirre in the late 1950s.
As the story goes, there was a law in California at the time that said no part of your car was allowed to be lower than the wheel rims, but he was having none of it. He basically scavenged some parts from a surplus B-52 bomber, whacked ‘em on his ’56 corvette and built one of the most famous custom cars ever. Just Google ‘Ron Aguirre X-Sonic’ for a proper history lesson. Bonkers!
Back in the day there wasn’t many modified cars out there that didn’t rock a deep Touring Car-inspired sunstrip adorned with some sort of logo or slogan, some even went as far as adding the classic ‘upright’ single wiper conversion too.
Granted, it’s not as popular as it once was but, on the right motor (and preferably without the obligatory ‘sorted’ signage), it’s a look that still has its place. The rule of thumb is if your wipers sweep over it it’s too deep to be UK road legal, if they don’t touch it – they can’t touch you for it.
4. WIND DEFLECTORS
We can distinctly remember buying an imported Skyline quite a few years ago, thinking ‘what’s all this shit plastic on my windows?’ And throwing the lot straight in the bin. Oh the shame of it!
Yes wind deflectors, or ‘monsoon shields’ if you happen to be from New Zealand, have become an uber-chic styling accessory and, what’s more, they’re about the easiest mod to fit ever! There’s loads of vehicle specific kits out there and they all come with the added bonus that they help stop you messing your barnet up at high speed.
5. GOT WOOD?
Whether it’s a cheeky Nardi steering wheel, a spot of grain on the dash or a full-on retro style inlay down the sides of your motor, the use of wood in cars is about as historical as it gets.
Now, were not saying everyone should go and buy a 1960s Morris Minor traveller, or trade in their carbon-fibre for something resembling the faux-wood dashboard of your Dad’s Rover 75, but there’s still merits to using the odd bit of timber here and there – the Jap boys for one can’t get enough of it!
6. LOWERING BLOCKS
It’s hard to believe we know, but there was a world before coilovers and that world was mostly run by the humble (and thoroughly simple) leaf spring. The design of these little beauties actually dates back to medieval carts and they’re still in use today on plenty of commercial vehicles and even a few new cars in the Americas. In UK modding terms though, you’ll most likely find these on the back of such retro classics as VW Caddys, early Escorts, Land Rovers and even one or more modern two vans.
So how are they lowered? Simple really, just bolt a metal ‘lowering block’ between the axle and the spring making the wheel higher in the arch. It’s less lowering the car and more highering the axle. Some people go as far as flipping the whole axle over to make the car look even lower. Farmyard modding at it’s very best, ooh-aah!
One of the most involved mods in the history of man it takes some serious talent, not to mention massive kahunas, to take your car, cut a big horizontal strip out of the middle, lower the top half onto the bottom and weld it all back together. Pioneered by the old skool drag racing fraternity the initial idea was to reduce weight and frontal wind resistance but nowadays it’s mainly done because it looks awesome!
Do it right and it’s not always obvious what you’ve been up to either. Just check out Rayvern’s Jetta from a few years back; there was plenty of head scratching before we were told he’d taken 5-inches out of the body… we still can’t work out where!
8. PIN STRIPING
Conceived purely for decoration, pin striping is one of the all time classic mods because it’s been around since the days when even our designer Initial G was only about 35… in the 1940s.
Brought into the zeitgeist by some of the legends of the old skool hot rod and motorbike scenes, big names from the past like Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth, Kenny ‘Von Dutch’ Howard and Indian Larry were all at it. It’s still done in exactly the same way too – a very talented bloke or lady with a brush. Mental!
9. RAT LOOK
There’s no denying they’re cool but it’s pretty hard to believe that modern rat cars, usually complete with all manor of bolted-on shite, actually have their origins in racing. True old skool rat rods were all about ditching weight and the owners didn’t particularly care what they looked like; they were cobbled together to go fast and that’s about it.
Getting the old skool rat-look is pretty easy though, just bash your motor around a bit and then leave it out in a field for 40-years or so. Nature should take its course nicely.
10. RETRO RIMS
Nothing says retro like the choosing the right wheels. It makes sense too; rims have been around as long as cars themselves, possibly even longer (jokes), and that’s thrown up more than a couple of sweet OEM and aftermarket styles over the years.
The pinnacle of retro-chic doesn’t have to be a genuine 400-years old though, nowadays you can take your pick from literally hundreds of old skool-inspired wheels and even a few re-issues that stay true to their original specs. There’s plenty of brand new but classically styled designs available along with a second hand wheel market that’s booming more than ever before. In other words the choice has never been better.