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While waiting for the missus to come downstairs to watch another episode of Breaking Bad (which I absolutely recommend!), I was watching a show with Chris Barrie (yeah, the dude from Red Dwarf) on the history of hot-rods.

He started from the post-war American modding of Model T Fords and similar, walking through different eras of muscle cars, comparing the European VS American reality, then getting to the 80s and 90s, where it happened: apparently the introduction of the Ford Escort Cosworth, the car that could keep up with Porsches and Ferraris (of the time), was the point of no return.
Although cheaper than any of the aforementioned supercars, it performed incredibly well whilst keeping some of its original common sense, becoming a very desirable car, and one that was stolen very often (together with Golf GTIs), causing insurance prices to go higher and higher, and, once again, meaning that only people with money could afford to own and run one.
So the original idea of making a performance car based on a cheap model, meant for people who had a passion for speed but didn't have deep enough pockets, came to an end.
This meant the birth of a new phenomenon: car chavving. HP deprivation meant looking for alternative solutions to make your car more unique, and the best thing they could come out with was decorating your car like an Xmas tree.. the irony of it all is that they often spend ten times the value of the car on that, but then again, hey, it's a hobby...
 

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Nine times out of ten it's a bad job, but I've seen some crackers. As mentioned, the ironic thing is they could buy a much better car instead of spending their money as they do.
 
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Another example of a US idea that translates badly as it crosses the Atlantic
and people try to ape it with a much lower budget...?


:confused:


Worse here as engine mods make a car un-insurable.
 

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I wonder how much of it was youngsters priced out of the property bubble boom just poured their money and credit into 'customising' their cars instead?

Having a car in lurid shades and a loud exhaust with assorted computers and entertainment systems meant they could meet with like minded folks and escape the homes they still shared with their parents?

It reads like Barrie is comparing customisisng with modifying with a view to raising performance. Not all customised cars have improved performance. Thinking back there was magazines like Street Machine, Hot Car, Custom Car and Cars and Car Conversions. Like now some cars were made different with off the shelf accessories like Richard Grant rear wings, rear window louvres and some of the cars that made Street Machine were hand built creations or monstrosities. Those people that bought a Richard Grant rear wing from their mother's mail order catalogues were into modifying for performance or making their cars cooler?

Perhaps customisation became more mainstream or the increase in population just made the numbers that meddle with their cars greater?

Isn't it just an adolescent form of the penis substitute, a natural extension of 'look at my cool car, look at me'? It's partially entwined with people growing up later and trying to appear younger or cooler than they really are?

People throw silly amounts of money at their hobbies be they keeping fish, playing golf, going fishing, high end HiFi or going to see live bands and festivals etc.
 

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Great post Monza96. I think a great many went through it. I read Street Machine, Custom Car etc. and 'chavved/customised' my MKIII Cortina. I look back at the car now and think how ****ing stupid it looked :lol:
 

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I think it's a sliding scale where customising and modifying for performance overlapped in the middle.

Someone I knew had an ex police Mk1 Escort in that turqoise, invalid carriage blue shade. They had a front spoiler/air dam on it, slot mags and a 1600E engine in it.

Thanks MalcQV, I suspect my standard 127 1300GT probably looked similarly stupid. Two rear spoilers? The one below the rear window obviously helped reduce lift at 100MPH. ;)
 

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As I had my pictures at work and have changed jobs a few times all my pictures have been lost. Think there maybe one on slide film somewhere.
It was midnight blue with white (yes white) vinyl roof, chrome 8-spokes and Pos-A-Traction Torque Twister white lettered American bias belted tyres. A very long aerial :lol:

Furry seat covers and those head rests that slotted over your seats. Wood dash out of a 2000E.

I never had a spoiler though :p
 
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