The 5 Worst Car Mods From Today—That Future Collectors Will Hate
Throughout the history of car customization there have always been mods that simply haven't aged well. For every set of chrome reverse wheels on a classic hot rod there's a car bra peeling paint from the hood of an otherwise-pristine '90s sports car, or a set of curb feelers sticking out from the fenders of a '60s hot rod like chrome whiskers on a steel catfish.
That got us thinking: what are the worst car mods out there today that future collectors will look back on with a collective shudder? Here are our picks for the modifications that will wear the cone of shame when they cross the auction block 25 years from now.
LED lighting has been both a blessing and a curse from an automotive perspective. On the plus side it's allowed designers to fit ultra-bright headlights and auxiliary lights into increasingly small spaces, opening up vast new possibilities in terms of what vehicle front ends can look like without sacrificing safety. It's also dramatically shrunk the size and power needs associated with off-road lighting, allowing for the use of compact housings that run cool, and run longer, than halogen or HID setups.
And then there's the other half of the equation, one that's taken the gift that LEDS have given us and transformed it into a rolling esthetic nightmare. To say colored LEDs have become the modern-day neon underglow is too mild of a statement. These minuscule lights can be placed anywhere and everywhere inside and outside an automobile, which means there are bewildering rainbows of multi-colored distraction rolling down every main street in America, being driven by owners for whom more is never enough and the next dose of blindingly bright LED action is only an Amazon order away.
It's safe to say that when collectors look back on our era, they'll make sure to avoid cars that have the owner's name spelled out in LEDs on the rear deck. And on the dashboard. And underneath the hood.
Is it possible to blame the car lashes phenomenon entirely on the 'Cars' movie franchise? Those anthropomorphized automobiles made a splash on the big screen, but it wasn't until Dottie Small and her husband Robert decided to commodify the concept that cars needed eyeball accessories with a line of plastic lashes. A couple of years later this automotive atrocity was presented to the market on a massive scale.
In a way, it's the haters who are to blame. Small herself claims that no one really paid attention to her completely bonkers car lash business until the Internet discovered a 'crystal eyeliner' video the couple had uploaded. The spiral of online mockery that followed backfired and brought car lashes to a wider audience than anyone ever thought possible, dooming us to VW Beetles and Fiat 500s with uncomfortably human 'faces' in mall parking lots across the country.
Why are car lashes among the worst car mods that future collectors will hate? There's nothing creepier than pushing your vehicle into the 'uncanny valley,' that zone where inanimate objects try too hard to look human and instead end up making your skin crawl. It's hard to see car lashes on stage at Barrett-Jackson 2050 on anything other than a replica of Lightning McQueen.
We're breaking halos out from the LED section of this list of worst car mods because they represent that classic aftermarket failing: trying to make a low-quality copy of a luxury car concept.
By now, BMW's original headlight halos have been copied across dozens of competing models, and LED tech has advanced to the point where it's cheap and easy to make a round light ring that fits around almost any automaker's headlight housing. This has lead to a cottage industry of colored circles that violate state ordinances and make you think you’re about to be pulled over by an undercover cop in a really clapped-out Honda Civic.
More to the point, halos (also known as 'angel eyes') just don't jive with every design that's ever been executed, which means adding them to a vehicle almost always throws off the original cohesiveness of its styling. Collectors don't pay more for all those spotlights high school kids mounted on their jalopies in the '50s and '60s, and they're certainly not going to pass up a stock headlight housing for one that's been violated by an LED bulls-eye.
Flat Black Wraps / Chrome Wraps
Wraps were a revolution for both commercial clients looking to transform their vehicles into rolling billboards, and can't-commit paint shop customers seeking to sample a different hue without damaging the finish on their latest lease.
Who else loved wraps? Anyone who wants to spend $5,000 to achieve a look more commonly associated with a $20 can of bed-liner. Flat black was fun until it wasn't, but that hasn't stopped a veritable army of G-Wagens and entry-level luxury cars from keeping the low-buck, why-bother-removing-the-badges-first flame alive.
The polar opposite of the flat black wrap is just as bad. Bright chrome wraps combine the twin benefits of frying nearby birds right out of the sky with searing the eyeballs of anyone within a hundred foot radius on a sunny day. If society is a mirror, then chromed-out wraps are the reflection of our basest selves.
Carbon Fiber Everything
Carbon fiber is an incredibly useful material for anyone legitimately seeking to lighten their race car or street project without sacrificing material strength. Of course, there's a big difference between replacing a component with its carbon fiber equivalent and just sticking on extra carbon fiber appliqués—i.e. adding weight—over top of your dashboard and center console because it 'looks lighter.'
Taken to its extreme, carbon fiber's low mass reputation has excused all manner of customization sins. That hideous front bumper? Weight reduction, bro. That trunk-mounted spoiler that's actually generating lift at highway speeds? Same deal.
That fiberglass hood that's painted to look like carbon fiber? Uhh…at least it won't splinter into a thousand pieces when you ding the curb pulling up to wing night.
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