How do I get my car featured your magazine? What does it take to build a feature car? What should I do to my car to make it feature worthy? It doesn’t matter how you dress up the question, we get asked it on a daily basis. That’s why we’ve put together this feature. So, how do you build a magazine feature car?

Well, the answer to the question is that there is no answer. The simple fact is, you shouldn’t try to build a cover car, because unless you’re some kind of car building god you’re probably going to fail.

The non-answer to this question is, build a car that you want, not what you think we want to see. That way, if a feature doesn’t come your way, you’ve still got a killer car on your drive and that’s what modifying is all about. Personalising your motor to what you want.

So this is where this feature ends, right? Wrong. Well it would be pretty shit if it did. No, this guide is about giving you a nudge of inspiration, a sprinkle of coolness and some gentle pointers in the right direction. And if you don’t like what you see, remember the golden rule and simply do what YOU want.

how to build a magazine feature cover car

WHAT’S THE BEST CAR TO START WITH?
First of all you need to choose a project and although this project will be governed by budget and circumstance the most important factor is what type of car you want to build. Make your mind up if you’re going for performance, style or a mix of both.

Although you might think the car you’ve chosen dictates this decision, it doesn’t! For example, you don’t necessarily need to own an Evo to build a performance car. Sounds weird, but let us explain. From a magazine’s point of view, it’s far more interesting to hear about someone who has tried to make their base model hatch the best handling around with blood, sweat, beers and a bunch of home-built aero upgrades, than it is an Evo with a boost upgrade and a FMIC. Although the modified Evo will be a faster car, it’s not necessary unique, or even a hard thing to achieve. You see, it’s all about the story… And maybe a bit about the looks too.

So should you buy a popular hatch or something a bit more oddball? Well there are pros and cons to both, with popular cars come lots of off-the shelf parts, with less popular cars, come less parts, but with less parts comes more creativity and a higher chance of creating something unique.

There is no longer such a thing as an uncool car to modify! Some of our favourite recent builds are the more obscure ones. Who would of thought a few years ago we would have featured a modified Lada? Think outside the box, nail the mods and you’ll be onto a winner.

WHAT WHEELS SHOULD YOU PICK?
One of the biggest decisions you’ll make on your build will be the wheels you slap under the arches. These really do have the ability to make or break a project, even more so if you’re going down the stanced route.

A few years back it was all about the dish. After dish came drift-influenced coloured wheels. Then people wanted concave and then directional wheels, with a few of the above thrown in for good measure.

The current big thing is custom machined one-off wheels, although the cost will alienate most. There’s no question that this is next-level modifying and exclusivity doesn’t come cheap.

But if you don’t have thousands of pounds to spend on a set or rims, and let’s face it, the majority of us don’t, it doesn’t mean you can’t smash the wheel choice game.

Have you ever noticed how a set of high profile tyres can ruin the look of a wheel? There are some awesome OE designs out there that have been hidden by chunky rubber! A few years back some clever lad decided to re-rubber a set of Land Rover Discovery wheels and run them on his Golf… a modifying masterstroke that launched a micro-trend. We’ve seen everything from BMW X5 ‘Claws’ on E46s, to Jeep Cherokee alloys on Civic sedans, all with brilliant results. Who said exclusivity was expensive? Oh yeah, we did (doh)!

how to build a magazine feature cover car

WHAT ABOUT TYRES?
It’s a weird one. But as we’ve already mentioned, tyres really can change the look of car. You can make people second guess what you’re running under the hood simply by fitting a chunky set of road legal semi-slicks.

The recent fashion has been to ‘stretch’ rubber, and there are a few reasons people do this. But in the stance game it gives the ability to fit wider wheels under the arches and get that lip-to-arch look. We’re not going to get into a debate about it being a good or bad idea… that’s up to you to decide!

Stretched rubber isn’t the only look you can achieve by experimenting with tyres. We’ve seen some really cool ideas over the years – what about a set of racing slicks like the Golf above is running? It’s not road legal but damn, it’s fappin’ cool!

how to build a magazine feature cover car

TOP TIP: TYRES STICKERS
Yes, tyre stickers are an actual thing. Stencilling or tyre pens used to be the way to achieve that race tyre look, but tyre stickers are more durable and are available in some really vibrant colours! Google ‘em, order ‘em, and stick ‘em on!

how to build a magazine feature cover car

STATIC OR ACTIVE SUSPENSION?
Stance has become a massive part of car culture over the past five years, even forging its own sub-culture. Although it’s not for everyone, especially those who see suspension as function over form, it really has become a dark science getting a car to sit perfectly.

Tyre sizes, offsets, wheel width, camber and drop all have to be calculated perfectly to nail the look. We’d almost say it’s as much as an art form as setting up a car’s geometry for track. But what’s the best way to tackle a car’s ride height.

Well, there are a few options out there! Air ride has been dominating the car scene for the past few years. It’s only set to get more popular with off-the-shelf kits being developed on a daily basis, making it an affordable option for the everyday modifier.

how to build a magazine feature cover car

Air ride is the best of both worlds, giving drop-dead gorgeous lows and practicality at the flick of a switch. Air isn’t just for show though – it can handle its own in the performance game too.

If bags aren’t an option, then coil-overs will almost certainly be available for your car. With kits starting from as little as £200 (though we would advise you buy from brands you know and trust) , there really isn’t an excuse not to get your car looking and handling better. It’s the oldest rule going; a low car is a cool car.

how to build a magazine feature cover car

WHAT STYLING ROUTE SHOULD YOU TAKE?
So where are we heading on this one? Well, we are seeing more and more evidence to suggest that the smooth and subtle days are in decline, with the world of bonkers arches and wings on the increase. The simple fact is, the bodykit is back! There we said it. And we believe it’s time to embrace it.

Japanese tuners such as Nakai-san of RAUH-Welt Begriff, Kato-san from LB Performance and the designer of the Rocket Bunny kit, Kei Miura, have made kits cool again. And it’s only a matter of time before their influence will inspire a new wave of styled hatches! We’ve already seen a couple of BTCC styled Golfs pop up and the Liberty Walk BMW MINI.

Other than kits, we think the craze of car wrapping will get more extreme, too. With car owners experimenting with more and more crazy colours and custom designs.

As for styles, the world is your lobster. Don’t be afraid to mash up a couple of styles to create something unique, like maybe a Mad Max look. But equally, if you like a certain look, stick to that!

how to build a magazine feature cover car

TOP TIP: BACK TO THE FUTURE
Looking in the past can often help you create something for the future. A bit like Carl Taylor’s fresh take of BMW’s classic Art Cars that helped him break the internet with his E36 in 2014.

how to build a magazine feature cover car

SO, WHAT ABOUT INTERIOR?
Nice retrims are timeless, but if you really want to make an impact we’d try swapping out the leather for some funky fabric, maybe even something floral! Yup, you did hear that right! How cool is the interior on this Polo we featured a while back? Point made.

Companies like King Fab, JimmyUp and Grip Royal make super-cool steering wheels, and they’ll complement that dildo-shifter you fitted last year too.

If you’re building a track car, why not be lairy and fit some painted GRP bucket seats and then colour code your cage to match? Do it! And then give us a call.

TOP TIP: Hydro dipping
Hydro dipping is nothing new, but some of the patterns being launched are. It’s a great technique for giving old interior trim a fresh lease of life and the finish you’ll get will be second to none. Some of the carbon designs are so realistic you could fool Adrian Newey, but if you want to push boundaries we’d try something a bit out of the box.

how to build a magazine feature cover car

DOES IT HAVE TO BE TUNED?
This is a bit of an open box and will completely be governed by your circumstances and budget. If you’re a youngster your insurance is going to be sky high anyway, so squirting nitrous into your engine isn’t going to help the matter.

If you’ve ticked off a few of the other categories we don’t mind turning a blind eye to a stock engine. But there’s no excuse for not making it look pretty! On the other hand, we bloody love a good engine build, whether it be a bonkers Time Attack monster, an insane drag car or an extremely tucked bay. The thing to remember with tuning is that it will never go out of fashion, because power is addictive and we are all addicts.

how to build a magazine feature cover car

TOP TIP: BEST OF BOTH
If you do have the skills or budget to attempt an engine conversion and fancy pushing boundaries, we’d suggest slapping a new skool engine in an old skool car. Some of the VeeDub boys have been doing this for years and it isn’t just uber cool, it’s uber effective.

how to build a magazine feature cover car

THE NEXT LEVEL
Every now and then we see something really cool, that makes us want to go outside and copy it! This can be anything from a LEGO themed install, to some Irn-Bru cans placed behind a ‘break glass here’ display. Or what about running some air tools off your air ride compressor? All cool shit, but what about pushing it one more level and building yourself a matching motorbike complete with a trailer that’s on air? Yeah, that really is GAME OVER.

Nope, we’re not going to offer you half the trade price for your car like those websites, instead we want to give you the chance of being featured in the best modified car mag on the planet! So if you own a cool as a cucumber car and think it’s worthy of the pages of Fast Car, then we’d love to see it. Please email a selection of good quality images, and a spec to Fast Car magazine Editor Jules and use ‘Feature Car’ in the subject. If we like it, we’ll get back to you to arrange a photoshoot. Simples.