For those who love tinkering about with vehicles, modifications are a great way to add a little personality to your car and to make it stand out from the crowd. No one can quite beat the Japanese market for out of these world modifications, crazy paint jobs, and even borderline illegal adaptations and improvements to engines, but car mods are big business even in the States.
The US automotive aftermarket industry was worth $287 billion in 2017, and is forecast to keep growing. The aftermarket industry is not just big in size but also in scale, including everything from replacement tires and spark plugs to aesthetic modifications like custom paint jobs and neon under-body lighting.
Adding wings or spoilers to your vehicle is a very common first modification for many young (or not so young) drivers. Inspired by race cars, there is misguided belief that sticking any old store-bought or even home-made spoiler on the trunk or roof of your car is going to see you speeding through the streets like Vin Diesel.
In reality, most spoilers end up just being extra weight for your vehicle to carry, and can even end up increasing your car insurance costs. So think carefully before you add an unnecessary spoiler. It may slow you down, cost you money, and leave your car looking as ridiculous as the ones on this list.
19 Big In Japan
Bosozoku is a very typically Japanese way of modifying your vehicle, and one that has not really made the jump across the Pacific to the streets of US cities. These ostentatious, over-the-top, and usually very colorful modifications involve adding to the vehicle’s bodywork, such as the extended fender visible on the car above, as well as adding over-sized and often weirdly-shaped exhaust pipes. Finally, the most common and easiest way to make your car look at least a little Bosozoku is to stick a ridiculous spoiler on the back.
The problem is that while spoilers do genuinely have a role to play in vehicle performance and aerodynamics, there is an optimal size when spoilers are actually worthwhile – and spoilers which are so big that they stick out at the sides of the vehicle and poke above the roof are far too big. Given that Bosozoku is not really about improving the performance of the vehicle, but rather about modifying its external appearance in a very over-exaggerated way, the drivers who engage in this particularly eye-catching aspect of Japanese car culture are probably not too concerned that their spoilers would be considered much too big from an aerodynamic point of view.
18 Taking Off
Drivers of Bosozoku cars may be able to get away with putting ridiculous spoilers on their cars as a style choice, but the driver of the car in the above image doesn’t have quite the same excuse available to him or her. This is just a bad spoiler; clearly inspired by the oversized wings which are actually needed on Formula One cars in order to maintain downforce, it is only going to be a hindrance on such a regular street car.
And let’s put the science of aerodynamics to one side for a moment and just talk about ludicrous it looks. More as though someone has placed a coffee table or maybe an ironing board on the back of their car, with no attempt to match the style or even the color of the original vehicle.
Spoilers may be relatively easy to install compared to engine adaptations but that does not mean that any Tom, Dick or Harry should go about slapping them on the back of their boy racer cars. Not only do you end up spending unnecessary cash on an unnecessarily large spoiler, but you will soon find yourself the laughing stock of your friends and family if you install something which looks so blatantly out of place.
17 DIY Disaster
Where to even begin with this absolute spoiler shambles? I’m all for keen amateur motoring enthusiasts to have a go at tinkering about with their cars themselves, but did the creator of this monstrosity think that their home-made spoiler was going to improve either the appearance or performance of their vehicle in any way? It’s difficult to be sure what the DIY spoiler has even been fashioned from – at first glance, it looks like it might even have been made from an old barbecue grill – but it certainly hasn’t been constructed from normal automotive industry materials.
To make matters worse, the whole set-up looks bit flimsy and very insecure. Take a corner too quickly with that contraption strapped to the back of your motoring pride and joy, and there’s a very good chance that the whole thing would come crashing to the floor. When they set out to cobble this spoiler together, the owner of this particular vehicle may well have been thinking about saving themselves a few dollars, but by the time it has pulled the whole rear section of their car apart, they will be wishing they’d gone to a real mechanic to have the job done properly.
16 Factory Option
Most of the terrible spoilers on this list have been added by the car’s owner as an aftermarket option. They have actually looked at their car and decided that what it needs is an ugly, useless, or both ugly and useless spoiler to complete the look of their vehicle. This is bad news, especially if they happen to own a really nice car, but what is perhaps worse is when the car manufacturers themselves put awful spoilers on their own vehicles. Surely they should know better?
One of the worst examples of this can be seen on the Ferrari 328 GTS, as pictured above. The spoiler which came as standard on this highly desirable sports car was a less than impressive feature.
Some drivers liked the way it looked but it certainly added no benefit when it comes to performance; and why else do you buy a Ferrari if not to enjoy the best possible performance on the road? The Ferrari 328 was only in production between 1986 and 1989 and was a rare misstep for the Italian giant – though that wasn’t all the fault of the perplexing spoiler. This is far from the worst spoiler on this list, however, and the chances are that most drivers would be happy to put up with a redundant piece of bodywork if that was the price of owning a Ferrari.
15 Spoiler Sacrilege
While the responsibility for the ugly spoiler on the Ferrari 328 GTS can be laid squarely at the door of the car makers themselves, the driver has to take all the blame for this horrendous Porsche Panamera modification. Believe it or not, under all those extra exhausts, hideous lime-green paint job, and the ludicrously oversized spoiler is a Porsche Panamera – a vehicle designed by the German motoring legend as an executive car. Can’t imagine many executives wanting to drive around in a car that looks like this.
The Porsche Panamera is one of the most beautiful cars you can buy and is probably even more stunning if you ever get the chance to peek under the hood. There are many motoring aficionados who would see it as automotive sacrilege to take such a special car, and butcher it with unnecessary modifications. It isn’t even as if they have employed an ugly modification that would actually improve the vehicle’s performance, as the spoiler which has been added is so high and wide, it will actually interfere with the car’s movement, rather than improving its aerodynamics. Let’s just hope that the car’s next owner restores the Porsche Panamera to its former glory.
14 In The Clear
The best thing that can be said about this spoiler is that at least it isn’t too big. At this size, shape, and position on the rear of the vehicle, there is even a small chance that it may actually improve the car’s aerodynamic performance – but only if the owner is planning taking it out onto the racetrack. No, the issue with this spoiler is that it’s just so damn pretentious. Spoilers are ten a penny these days, whether they are included as part of the vehicle’s original design or added as an aftermarket afterthought by a new owner.
For years, we have all been happy to have our spoilers made from fiberglass, and even in recent years, carbon fiber, usually colored to match the existing paint job on the vehicle, or if we are feeling really daring, perhaps made in a second color to create an eye-catching contrast. What we are not used to is a barely-there spoiler, made out of clear Perspex sheets. There’s no design advantage to be gained from using this material, so the only reason to make this choice is because you have a burning ambition to be the coolest of all the boy racers in your town.
13 Botched Job
Now this image of the spoiler from hell creates more questions than it provides answers. Why on earth would you both try to modify and improve such an old rust bucket? Who in their right mind would think that manhandling the trunk into something vaguely resembling a spoiler would either benefit the car’s performance or improve its appearance? And just how long did it take one person to hammer the bodywork into that unnatural and very ugly position?
This is the classic DIY botch job.
Someone decides that not only are they not going to bother paying a mechanic to do a job for them – waste of money – but that they aren’t even going to bother buying a proper spoiler at all. Why bother buying a spoiler when you can just use what’s already there to make your own? You can just imagine the owner’s panic as their DIY job gets further and further out of control, until it was beyond all hope and redemption, resulting in a hideous mess that not only looks bad, but which pretty much seems to have ensured the driver no longer has access to their trunk! Time to call in a professional – or just scrap the whole car.
12 Turning Japanese
When it comes to Japanese car culture, the colorful and over-the-top Bosozoku vehicles are only a very small part of the picture. Aftermarket modifications are big business in Japan, even if you are driving what most people might see as an unimpressive vehicle. Japanese kei cars are a phenomenon in the Far East country. They are small, almost miniature, cars, which were developed by Japanese car makers for the country’s domestic market in the years following the Second World War.
Unlike many of the most successful Japanese makes and models, kei cars have never really been exported with any great success. But in Japan, they have gained a cult following, with modern kei cars still proving a popular choice among city dwellers who struggle to find parking spaces, while vintage models can change hands for thousands of dollars. Given that there is so little room to play about with on a kei car, you could be forgiven for thinking that owners probably don’t go in so much for modifications. Well, you’d be wrong. As you can see, the fact that their car is so small does nothing to dissuade owners from adding over the top spoilers and, in this case, even inverse camber wheels.
11 Double Trouble
What’s worse than adding one useless and unattractive spoiler to the back of your car? Adding two useless and unattractive spoilers to the back of your car! Whoever owns this vehicle is laboring under a very misfortunate understanding about how spoilers work. Not only have they added a spoiler which is going to be of no earthly use to them or their vehicle but then, to make matters worse, they have for some completely unfathomable reason stuck another, smaller spoiler on top of the first. You have to assume that this is another botched DIY job, as you can’t imagine any mechanic worth his or her salt agreeing to carry out anything so stupid; or maybe they felt that any customer who was dumb enough to ask for a double spoiler was dumb enough to be relieved of a few dollars for their trouble.
There are some modifications where more really is more – sports cars with very powerful engines, for example, can actually perform better when you add extra exhaust pipes. However, adding an extra spoiler is going to have no discernible effect on your vehicle’s performance, and is just going to make you look like a bit of a motoring amateur.
10 Pretty Ugly In Pink
Yet another example of a beautiful car being ruined by a pretty obnoxious spoiler. Although to be fair to the spoiler on this Porsche, it is not the ugliest thing about this vehicle. That dubious honor would definitely have to go the luminous pink paint job! The image above is an example of what is called a ducktail spoiler, for the very obvious reason that something that size and shape would normally be seen waggling on the rear end of Donald and Daisy Duck.
These ducktail spoilers are making something of a comeback, after a few years of various different styles being in vogue, and while they can look pretty cool when they are of a more understated design, a huge spoiler like the one in the image above just looks ridiculous.
Not to mention making it really difficult to judge the size of your car when it comes to parking; I guess more than a few over-size ducktail spoilers have been the cause of a few scrapes and scratches when owners fail to calculate just how much room they need to leave. If you want to buy a car with a ducktail spoiler or add one as an aftermarket modification, then just make sure it’s of a modest size. Less is definitely more in this case.
9 Racing Ambition
You have to have a grudging respect for the owner of this vehicle. The car has clearly seen much better days – in fact, it almost looks like it hasn’t been out of the driveway in weeks – and yet someone has spent the money and taken the time to install a brand new spoiler on the rear. And not just any spoiler, mind you. This poor misguided soul has bought themselves a NASCAR spoiler, the kind of modification you would normally see on million-dollar race cars, not rusting in the overgrown driveway of a suburban house!
If the car was in decent condition, then this spoiler might not be quite so ridiculous – although its usefulness on the morning commute is debatable.
However, the fact that in its current condition this rust bucket looks like it would struggle to hit 20 mph without falling apart suggests that a fancy spoiler is a rather wasted investment for whoever owns the vehicle. At least this is one owner who realized their limitations, and who has done the decent thing and bought a spoiler for their car, unlike many of the people in this list who have made the mistake of trying to build their own…
8 Spoil The View
If there’s one thing worse than putting a pretty decent spoiler on the back of a really rubbish car, it’s putting an absolutely preposterous spoiler on the back of a half-decent set of wheels. The best we can hope for from the nightmare image above is that someone was playing a crazy prank on the owner of the vehicle. Or perhaps the owner themselves was trying to get a feel for what their car would eventually look like as and when they had finished all the work on their chosen modifications.
And if that was the case, then we all know by now that the size and shape of the spoiler they have chosen is all wrong if they want to improve performance. There is a worst case scenario in this situation, of course. And that is that this is the finished product and the owner of the vehicle thinks a cardboard spoiler isn’t going to do anything other than slow their car down to a crawl – or leave trash all over the highway. Just goes to show, there is no shortcut to good car modifications. Either go the whole hog or leave the mods in the auto parts store.
7 Batmobile Fail
Let’s not be too hard on the owner of this next vehicle. After all, everyone dreams of driving the Batmobile when they’re young and reading comic boys or watching superhero movies on TV. Rather than just dreaming about it, this guy went out and made it happen, turning his very ordinary production car into the Batmobile. Or something which vaguely resembles the superhero’s iconic vehicle.
The matte black paint job is just about acceptable, but the super-size exhaust is definitely a step too far. The bat-wing spoilers are just about forgivable, however, so long as you’re not actually expecting novelty spoilers to actually help you drive any faster. They are certainly going to get heads turning, which has to be the end game if you are willing to spend time and money turning your humble Ford into the Batmobile. Driving around in the Batmobile may have been your dream when you were a kid but is it really socially acceptable to live out that dream as a grown adult? There are likely to be some serious resale issues with a car which has undergone such significant and eye-catching modifications. Unless you happen to find a Mr Bruce Wayne who is in the market for a new vehicle.
6 Science Of Spoilers
So far, we have seen plenty of examples of spoilers which look stupid, and even more which are completely useless. None, however, have been quite as stupid or so completely useless as the spoiler on the modified Vauxhall Corsa from the UK. Anyone who has even the most basic understanding of how spoilers work would know that this particular modification is all kinds of wrong. If you are going to put a spoiler on your roof, it needs to be as close to the surface of the bodywork as possible, to prevent the spoiler from actually increasing drag rather than improving the vehicle’s aerodynamics.
What this driver has done is to take the kind of spoiler that you would normally place on the rear of your car, and instead they have simply stuck it on the roof. You don’t even need to be much of an engineering whizz to figure out that this isn’t going to work. It just looks wrong. This is a classic case of the British boy racer thinking that their car needs to have a spoiler in order to be cool, even though there is simply nowhere on the Corsa where you can actually place one. Apart from the roof.
5 Too Much On Your Plate
The really tragic thing about this spoiler is that whoever has created it probably thinks that they have been really creative and innovative, whereas, in reality, they have just made their slightly shabby sports car look even trashier. That will happen when you add actual trash to your vehicle in an attempt to enhance your car with a few custom modifications. First thing's first, the shape and style of this spoiler are all wrong – especially for a convertible. There is no advantage to be gained in fitting a spoiler like this, other than as a cosmetic change. And if this is your idea of making your vehicle look more stylish, then you probably should have your license taken off you right now. You might think you’re clever if you fashion a spoiler out of a few old and rusty license plates, but nobody else agrees. Time to be honest with yourself; if this really was either an effective or a clever way of modifying your vehicle, then don’t you think a lot more people would be doing it to their own cars? Leave the creativity to the car designers, and the rusty license plates at the scrap heap.
4 Less Is More
It may actually be a little unfair to include this particular car in a list of the worst spoilers ever seen. While no one would argue that it takes the prize for the most useless spoiler, there is also a good chance that the person who added this to their vehicle was doing it for a joke; a way of mocking all those drivers who see car modifications as the be all and end all, and who think that bigger is better when it comes to spoilers.
After all, there’s no way anyone could have stuck this on their car as a genuine way of improving the look of their car or its performance. Or is there?
There’s always a risk that the people who buy these mini spoilers are doing it to actually make their cars look better. Perhaps they’ve always wanted a spoiler on their vehicle, but didn’t want to spoil the body; work of their car – pun intended. Affixing spoilers to the bodywork of cars can scratch and scrape the paintwork, damage that would need to be patched up as and when the time comes that you want to remove it or sell the car on to someone else.
3 Pointless Pickup
Back in the 1970s, spoilers like the ones in the image above were a reasonably common sight on American muscle cars. The Plymouth Superbird and the Dodge Charger Daytona were among the highly modified cars which featured the high wing, giving them the appearance of having an unusually oversized spoiler. On these 1970s classics, these high wings looked the very epitome of cool, but on the pickup in the image above, it just looks out of place. For one thing, this is a very 1970s spoiler on a very modern pickup, which creates a bit of a jarring image.
However, the most important thing to take away from this photo is that spoilers on a pickup are a complete waste of time. Think about how the air moves over the surface of a car’s bodywork; on a pickup truck, the air flows over the roof of the cab and then dissipates above the bed long before it ever gets to the spoiler. Sticking a modified spoiler on the rear of the truck is about as much use when it comes to aerodynamics as tying a couple of fluffy dice from your rear-view mirror. You may think it looks cool, but anyone who understands cars will know that it’s pretty pointless.
2 Not So Smart Spoiler
Smart cars have proven to be very popular with city dwellers around the world since their launch in 1998. Not only are they tremendously fuel efficient, but their compact size makes them easy to park, even in crowded city streets. In fact, you could argue that the Smart car is the only Japanese kei car which has successfully translated to the US and Europe – apart from the fact that the Smart car is made by Mercedes-Benz, a German company. The fact remains that these are functional cars, which are designed to get drivers from A to B with little ceremony. Which makes it all the more perplexing why anyone would want to put so much time and money into modifying one. The Smart car in the photo above not only has expensive colored alloys – which do actually look pretty smart – but also a rather redundant spoiler affixed to the roof. As we have already seen, roofs are the wrong place for a spoiler of this design, and besides, this spoiler is far too big to have the desired effect on the car’s aerodynamics - as well as looking almost cartoonishly big hanging off the roof of the tiny Smart car.
1 Supersize Me
Back to Japan, the experts in over-the-top car modifications, for the last of our spoilers that don’t belong anywhere near anything with wheels. This Bosozoku-style modification, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the crown of the Statue of Liberty, would be a ridiculous spoiler on any vehicle, but the fact that someone has decided to stick it on the back of what looks very like a minibus or one of those 1980s minivans, just adds to the craziness. It just goes to show that there some cars which lend themselves to modifications – including in some cases well-designed and well-engineered spoilers – but that there plenty of vehicles which should be left as they are.
This looks like a Bosozoku teenager has grown up, got married and had a few kids, but still feel the need to flaunt their outlandish vehicle. There is absolutely no engineering basis for a modification of this size and shape other than to attract attention. If that’s what you want from your spoiler, then go ahead and embrace the Bosozoku culture for yourself! Just don’t expect to be able to get this bad boy in your local car park or in the garage at your own home…
Sources: automotiveaftermarket.org, goliath.com, keithmichaels.co.uk, topgear.com, thedrive.com