America's 6 Most Customizable Vehicles
As the Driving Line team was having lunch one day, a discussion arose as to which cars/trucks are modified more often than not. Many popular cars were mentioned, but we found that not all were qualified. So, we decided to set the parameters next: number of years the vehicle has been available, number of vehicles produced and how healthy the aftermarket support is for each vehicle. We figured that production numbers plus number of years that a model has been available equals accessibility. That coupled with aftermarket manufacturer product offering amounts was the extent of our qualifying process. For instance, we know that millions of Priuses were built, but their owners are not modifying their vehicles because there aren’t many aftermarket parts available—so the Prius is out. Our continued discussion brought us to conclude that these six vehicles are the most commonly modified vehicles in the U.S.
1. Volkswagen Beetle
It could be ruled that the Volkswagen Beetle is the most customizable in the world. It has the earliest date of production (in 1938 and continuing until 2003 in multiple countries) with a total of over 21.5 million cars produced. It was the first car to reach 20 million sales, and it’s the best-selling single design in history.
Everyone here at Driving Line had a story about someone in their life who was customizing and/or restoring one. Additionally, the air-cooled engine is relatively simple to work on, and there are a multitude of custom kit cars that use a Bug as a foundation for the vehicle (the Manx Dune-Buggy is one of the most famous). Try doing a search for “VW kit cars”— there are too many to count.
2. Ford F-Series Trucks
Upwards of 33 million F-Series trucks have been produced since 1948, making it hard for most people to imagine a world without the venerable F-150. One of the workhorses of America, they can be found everywhere and in various states of repair and customization.
They commonly survive 300,000 miles before engine rebuilding becomes a necessity, making it no surprise that it has been the best-selling truck in America for 40 years.
3. Honda Civic
Eighteen million plus have been sold worldwide, and like the Ford truck, there are a number of people who have left their Civic in its stock form (like my grandma).
On the other hand, there’s an entire culture devoted to customizing this vehicle in its many forms and a plethora of aftermarket parts available. It’s light, it’s affordable and they're as much fun on the freeway as they are on the track.
4. Jeep Wrangler
While the production number of this vehicle is relatively low compared to the other on this list (3 million), the argument for it being here is that almost every single one is modified in some way, where with the other models listed here there are groups of owners that will leave them stock.
From tires and lift kits to grab handles and hood latches, there’s an incredible number of aftermarket companies manufacturing parts for Jeeps. Try to find a Jeep that hasn't been modified in some way.
5. Ford Mustang
This may be the most contested model on the list, but it certainly kills the competition in its class in production numbers: This year marked the birth of the 10 millionth Mustang. To put that number in perspective, the Mustang’s closest competitor is the Camaro, and while it too is a great car, approximately half as many Camaros have been built compared to Mustangs (and Challenger production numbers are even lower than the Camaro numbers).
Mustangs are popular on both the drag strip and the track, leading to a ton of mods for all kinds of racing. Plus, there’s been no break in production of the Mustang since its inception in 1964 (which cannot be said of the Camaro or Challenger).
6. BMW 3 Series
This was the big surprise for us when we started research for this article, but looking back on it, it really shouldn't have been. After all, it's been featured in a number of our Driver Battles, with mods ranging from headlight intakes to massive wings and LS-swaps. Currently, the BMW 3 Series is in its seventh generation and accounts for about 30 percent of the brand’s total annual sales.
There’s over 10 million that have been produced since 1975 and there have been an incredible number of versions released to the public, from the two-door sedan to four-door, two-door convertible, two-door coupe, five-door station wagon, five-door hatchback and three-door hatchbacks.