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10 Things Gearheads Should Know About The Custom Car Scene

For those of you who are new to the community, customizing cars has somewhat been a tradition followed over decades. It all started in the 1930s when there weren’t many mechanics to repair or rebuild a car. So people took it into their own hands, resulting in Hot Rods. Custom cars have since been a different segment in itself that doesn’t comply with any rules and regulations. It’s always about “how can we make it better?” This resulted in an entire culture of modifying cars to create cool sleepers, dragsters, hot rods, and tuners, among other custom cars. At first, it might sound lame, but it is a culture that will never die.



Ever since Henry Ford revolutionized the industry with the extremely popular Model T, American culture has always been car-centric. This is the reason ideas like drive-thru are really famous in the States. We consider our cars as our identity, which furthermore defines how cars have been associated with our culture. From deserts and mountains to the beaches and forests, we are always ready to take a road trip. And what can be better than an amazing custom build car that you can flex on? Therefore, we have prepared a list for you gearheads on how Customizing cars has evolved in the years passed.


10 Hot Rods Customization Boomed To New Heights In The ’30s And ’40s

Hot Rods are stripped-down classic cars, often swapped with powerful engines, made to go faster. In the ’30s, greasers used to custom-build their cars for performance gain, resulting in the shredding of weight and swapping of the engine, which was the start of the hotrod culture.

Since then, Hot Rods have been turning heads wherever their owners decide to show them off. Today, they’re slowly snuffed out in favor of tuners and sports cars, so if you find one on the road, don’t forget to take a good look!

Related: Classic Hot Rods Don’t Get Much Better Than This


9 The ’50s Saw Lots Of Lead Sleds

Ever seen those big muscular sedans lowered to the ground with flame jobs similar to the hot rods? These were the lead sleds. In the ’50s, they used lead as a body filler, and Sleds meant lowering the vehicle. That is how the ‘Lead Sled name was formed.

Lead Sleds were more cruisers than performance cars. However, that’s not all about it. These were often a base for gorgeous paint jobs, and we love custom paint jobs as long as they’re not so bad that they ruin the car’s look.

Related: Hemmings Find: “Niemie” 1951 Mercury Lead Sled


8 American Muscles Were Everybody’s Dream Cars

We have always seen these muscular sports coupes in car shows with loads of mods to gain attention. And somehow, it never seems boring to stare at these machos for hours! There is nothing you cannot love about American Muscle.

In the early ’60s, these muscular-looking cars were booming in the market and did not fail to amuse anyone. The 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 was one of the first muscle cars in America. However, the Pontiac GTO 1964 is considered one of the first true muscle cars.

7 JDM Cars Have Entered The Market

The ’80s decade was a JDM-dominated market. Because of the sudden switch of people’s likings, JDM tuners were imported to the USA. These were tuner-friendly cars that offered excellent performance and handling. The big muscular machines no longer felt fast, and the experience was in no comparison to the feather-weighted JDM cars.

Plus, under the hood of these JDM cars were over-engineered engines capable of producing more than double the stock outputs, encouraging millennials to modify them for insane power.

Related: 15 Most Desirable Japanese Sports Cars From The ’70s And ’80s

6 The Emergence Of Lowriders, Sleepers, And Ricers

Lowriders became very popular in the ’90s, especially in Southern California, and were further popularized by hip-hop music videos. Lots of people started wanting to add hydraulics to their cars, and some even bought Impalas specifically to turn them into low-riders! Sleepers are cars that look unassuming from the outside, but pack a lot of power under the hood. They are the ultimate weapons that fool their opponents into underestimating them.

Then there’s the ricer culture. We live in a free world, and people can customize their car however they want as long as it’s legal. Ricers push the boundaries a bit too far. These are essentially the opposite of sleepers, with over-the-top mods decorating every inch of the car, but when it comes to performance, they’re usually either bone-stock or do even worse thanks to the flashy so-called ‘upgrades’ on the outside.

Related: Tuner Vs Ricer: This Is How They Are Different

5 Car Meets And Auto Shows Helped Build Communities All Over The World

Car meets and Auto shows are festivals designed solely for car enthusiasts. We wait for events like the SEMA show and the Geneva International Motor Show every year, where we can meet more like-minded people and some of the world’s coolest rides.

These shows are the perfect opportunities for local manufacturers to put show-off their crazily-modified and custom-built automotive creations. This is also the reason why aftermarket parts are becoming more popular than OEMs.

4 Car Manufacturers Started Offering Performance Models That No Longer Require Much Tuning And Customization

Since people used to take things into their own hands and improve their vehicles’ performance, car manufacturers have offered performance-oriented models. For example, Mercedes offers the AMG series and BMW offers M trims among their ongoing models. These performance cars are designed with the highest performance in mind, leaving us less space to improve them even further.

The engines already produce sufficient output, the aerodynamics are cutting edge, and the handling is phenomenal. It begs the question of what else anyone would need since the manufacturers are offering these themselves!

Related: Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Nissan’s NISMO

3 TV Shows And Movies Inspired And Created More Enthusiasts

Fantasizing and imagining owning gorgeous cars while watching movies is what inspired most kids. And nonetheless, it is true. It doesn’t matter if the storyline is lame or the car stunts in the movie just seem awful; we didn’t miss seeing that amazing 007-number-plate Aston Martin.

Moreover, TV shows like Counting Cars featured some of the most iconic custom cars with excellent paint jobs shining all over. How can someone look away from these spectacular machines? And this is how it creates more enthusiasts.

To many gearheads’ regret, car manufacturers are shifting to electric. Many companies have started investing in EVs, and as a result, we see performance cars going electric. For example, Porsche is offering an all-electric Taycan.

And while modifying cars is a skill and passion not many car owners share, those who do will always love working on improving and personalizing their cars. The time they invested in modifying their rides brings them closer to their metal companions and makes them appreciate them even more.

Related: How The Tesla Model 3 Changed The EV Game

1 Customizing Is Better Than Ever But No Longer Cheap

Back in the day, customizing cars was not really hard on the pocket. The reason was that the parts were locally manufactured, so the prices were low. Moreover, there were very few people customizing their cars, and aftermarket parts were cheaper with less competition in this market.

Customizing cars is no longer cheap as there are many mechanics and even car customizing companies that modify vehicles. Because of these, parts manufacturers have understood the opportunity and sell their products at very higher rates as the demand has increased to a greater extent.

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