Worst Automotive Trends
We’re generally a laidback, forgiving bunch at RedlineAddict, but a few car people sure try and push our buttons. I believe it’s not my place to criticize your modding choices, but there are a few automotive trends that make me scratch my head. Poking around various forums, it looks like I’m not alone. Take no offense if you see your car below; just know you’re in the top 15 worst car trends.
The immediate picture that comes to mind when you hear a hated car trend: a neon green Mitsubishi Eclipse with stickers and a giant wing. “Rice” is commonly known as any underpowered car modified to look like an outrageous performer. Like a Smash Mouth CD, it might bring back fond memories, but you really don’t want one today. Fortunately, The Fast & the Furious signaled the end of the ricer trend, and by 2005, import owners had moved on.
Vertically opening doors used to be limited to crazy exotic supercars like the Lamborghini Countach. Now, they’re the finishing touch on every kid’s ricer or donk. A hinge kit and a couple hundred bucks in parts and labor will allow pretty much any vehicle to change from normal boring doors, into prestigious and luxurious exclusive doors. Or something like that. Don’t do this.
The roll call
Speaking of rice, the roll call seems to have lasted a bit longer, but is dying out. Around the turn of the century, advertising performance mods changed from cheesy window stickers to a slightly more organized stack of brands pouring down the fender. The big lists of companies or products makes sense for a sponsored autocross car, but you aren’t sponsored, and don’t have half of that on your car anyway.
Black cars look sweet. I get that. Black wheels can also look sweet. Unfortunately, the internet offers many people the info to take things way too far. Black paint, wheels, deep tint, plus blacked-out badging, headlights, grille, and trim are all available on eBay for cheap. That doesn’t mean you should buy it all though. An entirely black car has no features or details, and turns a black car into effective stealth camo. No one cares because we can’t see anything.
Tinted head/tail light covers
Speaking of blacked-out. Way back in the ‘90s, the big trend was to put smoked headlight and/or taillight covers on your ride. These pieces were cheap, added a custom touch, and installed with 3M double-sided tape. Every redneck had them on their Fox Mustang, and they were even found on stock trucks and minivans of the era. Amusingly, you can find them on salvage yard vehicles nowadays, and a once badass set of GTS covers will now go for just a few bucks online.
“I like this car. I think I should ruin it.” Most cars look awesome sitting a bit lower than factory height, and a bit of negative camber does usually help performance on track, but… Taking both thoughts to their conclusion, stanced cars rub the chassis on the slightest pebbles, and have wildly extreme camber. Rather than just slammed, stanced is an outgrowth of the Japanese VIP scene, which seems to be about making your suspension look broken. Since this trend is about form over function, it’s likely the ricers sold their Civics and started stancing Golfs.
Factory portholes were a great idea. As engines became more powerful, the holes in the fenders allowed hot air to escape, and added some visual excitement. $10 Chinese stick-on portholes do absolutely nothing, and look crappy. It doesn’t help when the owner installs them upside-down or backwards, or misunderstands the heritage cues. Four portholes on each fender means a V8 under the hood, so your three fake holes above that 5.0 badge on your Thunderbird makes you look confused.
Gross. These are technically “hi-risers,” while “donks” are limited to early ‘70s Impala/Caprice. However, pop culture being what it is, donk is now applied to any vehicle regardless of age or performance that is lifted to fit gigantic wheels. It’s usually a classic American sedan thing, but has recently spread into the modern Charger and Camaro scene, due to easy fitment of massive wheels. Donks have been fading in popularity lately, probably due to people not wanting to spend so much money to make their car look cheap.
What is wrong with you people? These are aftermarket vinyl roofs that cover the already there and in good condition roof. Yes, someone actually pays money to cover durable paint with less durable vinyl. The goal might be to trick people into thinking you have a convertible, only without the benefits (and all the drawbacks) of actual convertible ownership. Unless you fought in WWII, and your car is older than the Eisenhower administration, you have no business putting this junk on your car.
This is one I didn’t ever really get. Underglows are neon or LED lights that project a large glowing color onto the pavement. And that’s it. The color doesn’t highlight any area of the vehicle, or even usually match the paint, it just makes the street look bright blue. While it can be a neat effect at night, it’s worthless during the day. Oh, and it’s totally illegal.
Rust, fake rust, patina
An old car is cool, even when it’s rusty. Rat Rodders took this thought to the extreme, and build Mad Max looking art cars out of their un-restored donor cars. Lazy/cheap tuners take modern cars (German iron seems to be the choice for this) and force them to rust creatively. By stripping the paint to bare metal, and with a creative mix of household products, you too can make your new-ish ride look six decades old. While the look is unique, it is surprisingly time consuming to upkeep, and can look like Godzilla crapped on your car if done wrong. It’s usually done wrong.
In the ‘90s, gold emblems were a factory option on some sleepy sedans. Pepboys stepped in once the manufacturers stopped offering it, so you can still get your gold rush. The emblems mostly look like factory badging, but occasionally offer some inane wording. I’m not sure what the point is here, as it’s obviously not real gold. Since it’s not limited production, high priced, or in any way exclusive, it’s kinda like the fake jeweled phone cases. You’re not fooling anyone, hon.
High Intensity Discharge headlights are brilliant (see what I did there?), and are worth every dollar spent for the safety and confidence of driving at night. Now your buddy Bubba Gump wants HIDs, but doesn’t want to drop several hundred bucks on a good aftermarket setup. The solution? Cheap $50 retrofit kits that dump unfocused HIDs into the factory halogen housings. This is more of a stupid mod, but is so common that it’s become a trend. Thanks for blinding me, moron.
I remember about 10 years back, a co-worker tried to explain to me how his new massive aftermarket muffler added “about 30 horsepower” to his otherwise stock Nissan Sentra. Lets just say I wasn’t surprised when that guy was later fired for doing something dumb. A real exhaust system can increase horsepower, but it has to be correctly designed from the exhaust ports backs. Welding on a cheapo large muffler just makes more noise, not power.
Racecar look on the street. I get it. It’s where muscle cars started to get the high rear end to mimic Gasser race cars. Makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is a safety device powder coated purple and stuck onto a car that already has appropriate tow locations under the chassis. Maybe your stock Honda Accord on cut springs needs a tow hook, even though it’s never seen the track, right?
Again, no offense intended. These are our picks of the worst automotive trends, and most of them seem to follow the theme of form over function. The problem is that eventually you end up where a full out race car would be more practical to daily drive than your rusted, stanced, donk. Still, it’s your ride; mod as you see fit, and tell us where we got it wrong.