When all the bland cars for sale across the globe just seem to meld into one swoopy, formless blob that comes in the form of a few hundred bucks a month for three years, the internet beckons with the potential for aftermarket personalization. After all, no one wants to look around in traffic and see six of their identical makes, models, years, and colors all trudging along on the way to work.
But not everyone can afford to have high-end shops perform the work they so desperately need to turn their consumer product into a car that they love with their full heart and soul. In the long run, aftermarket mods can often make resale values plummet—but that's a tradeoff many drivers are willing to make. From engine tunes to exhaust upgrades, bigger wheels, and massive subwoofers, the world wide web has put a plethora of information at the tap of a few keys and the urge can be hard to resist.
But for those enthusiasts with enough space at home, who possess the tools and the know-how to truly begin a home build with confidence, there's one critical factor that will eventually come into play every time: taste. While most performance upgrades don't significantly alter a car's appearance, sometimes the aesthetics need a boost, as well. But even the most gifted bodywork artist sometimes makes mistakes and the results can be about as awful as possibly imaginable. Keep scrolling for 20 body kits that ruined the cars they were installed on.
Whether it's badged as a Subaru, a Scion, or a Toyota, this model is a great little car that has tried to bring moderate power and lightweight tossability to a lackluster sports car market—all at an affordable price. While hardcore Subaru fans bemoan a lack of a turbo and all-wheel drive, there are no plans to change the BRZ's recipe to make it more potent because of the simple fact that keeping weight low is the model's priority. This owner, though, took his and kitted it up way too much, with tacky bolt-on flares, an absurd rear wing, and more plastic than belongs in a recycling plant.
What exactly is going on here remains a mystery for the entire world to witness. Is this a Beetle or a highly modified 2CV? Can it actually drive or does it sit by the entrance to Disneyland as an advertisement for how cartoons being brought to life might be a bad idea? Were the doors never supposed to line up with the roof line? Could the hood look more like it was damaged above the front fenders? The only way this car could possibly look more ridiculous would be with the addition of big, white fake teeth instead of the VW logo up front.
Subaru's lineup of rally-bred cars manages to grow uglier by the year—but don't tell that rabid fanbase that their cars looked bad as soon as they rolled off the lot. On the other hand, maybe the prevalence of hardcore body kits on Subarus occurs specifically because the manufacturer hasn't been able to nail down an attractive design since the mid-2000s Legacy GT wagon (or arguably, the bugeye Impreza before it). This body kit might look good on GranTurismo but in real life, no one will ever expect this Subie to be able to charge down a dirt road or up the snowy hill to the ski slopes anymore.
The Fast and Furious franchise brought JDM tuning to the forefront of automotive culture when the first movie hit theaters in 2001. But for anyone paying attention, it's clear the franchise moved quickly past the cheap ricers that populated the background of the first couple of movies. This Honda Del Sol very well could have been a prop that got two seconds of screen time early on and plenty of buyers have been fooled by the model's Targa tops and what looks like a mid-engined layout. But education is key because this is a Honda Civic with a fancy hat on—and throwing a set of white wheels, a huge exhaust system, and this awful body kit certainly can't change the fact.
Whether or not there's an actual Corvette underneath all that yellow may only be truly known by this car's owner. Hopefully, they're happy with their creation because no one will ever pay more than ten bucks to take this joke off their hands. Maybe it was a prop car for a potential live-action Pokemon movie or TV show. Or maybe someone had more time and fabrication skills on their hands than they had actual vision or design talent. Not much could make C3 and C4 Corvettes worse, but whoever cobbled together this body kit managed to find a way, somehow.
Nothing about this car makes sense. The body kit has transformed it into a rolling laughing stock for anyone who knows anything they didn't learn watching cartoons on TV. Whether the flat spoiler at the tail end is worse than the front fender could happily entertain a couple of argumentative gearheads for hours—but what looks like a roll cage and racing seats (even for the passenger) wraps up an entirely ridiculous attempt at creating a race car. No, it doesn't go fast. Yes, there's a name on the door. Are those wheels actually centerlocking? Is that so they can come off easier when the car inevitably breaks down and falls apart? Perfect.
This plane can't fly. The only detail that could possibly save this parade prop of a vehicle is that maybe—and this is quite a stretch—its owner had the goal of making an elaborate pun about a Mercury Cougar being related, in some way, shape or form, to a Grumman F-9 Cougar fighter plane. At least the wheel bolts are covered, otherwise the illusion would just have been ruined. Unfortunately, the F-9 Cougar didn't have a propellor, so the pun ended up making about the same level of sense as Grandpa's bad jokes at Thanksgiving. And don't ding the car next to you in the parking lot with those wings, Charles.
Hopefully, a minority of people on the planet Earth think this body kit looks good. Sure, it might be something out of a futuristic movie like Minority Report—but more likely, it was an expensive project performed on an inexpensive car (possibly a Lexus SC430 or its Toyota Celica little sister?). Either way, the result is something that no one in their right mind would ever want to drive. The design looks just rounded enough to be suitable as a child's toy and in the best of all worlds, it would cruise off into the desert sunset and melt before night came.
Most people think that the name for Ford's most iconic model came from one of the Old West's quintessential images: a wild horse. But no, the car above isn't a Bronco—it's a Mustang. Apparently, the owner of this car wanted to prove to everyone just how mistaken their assumption about a Mustang being a horse was because this car now looks like a grinning fish more than anything else. Parking this strange project next to another Mustang only highlights everything that's bad about the exterior's design, even if a good amount of serious work went in to making it so bad.
The limits of taste constantly get pushed these days. Does the world really need another reality show star with lips the size of small cantaloupes? Apparently. But, ideally, everyone can acknowledge that performing plastic surgery on a car in this fashion is a mistake. The worst part is that the point of this job was to draw attention to the vehicle and 'Soft Touch Arts' as a company. If the goal is to advertise for an arts program, it's probably better not to present such a worn-out, rough-finished project—and it's probably even better not to give it a paint scheme that's half bumblebee and half nails-on-the-chalkboard primer.
This car must be at least 10,000% faster thanks to its stunningly aerodynamic body kit. There's actually a Celica under there somewhere—thankfully, though, even the headlights have been covered to keep wind resistance to a minimum. And when it's driving down the road and everyone keeps glancing over to see when the next generation of Gundam suit is going to merge with a transformer and start running rather than rolling, the owner can then further blow everyone's minds by stopping and pupping up his Lambo doors. It bears repeating that some of these body kits cost more than the actual cars they got put on.
This body kits earns the label adaptagenic because it sure isn't photogenic. For some reason, the Toyota Celica seems to be an unfortunate victim of many of these misguided body kits. With squinted eyes, this one almost looks like it's trying to imitate an Audi TT RS but with eyes wide open, it becomes clear that someone lost their marbles halfway through this project. Modifications include side vents, brake vents, hood vents, a flat diffuser, huge wheels, and there are still the front bumper and hood that aren't visible in this picture. Who knows, maybe the owner loved the Celica's front and left it stock. Bets?
Ah, Stance Nation: ruining perfectly good cars just as often as they ruin perfectly bad cars. Whether the Mazda RX-8 counts as a perfectly good car or a perfectly bad car centers around an argument about the pros and cons of burning oil and fuel at ridiculous rates—but everyone has to admit the aggressive design, the rotary engine's high output-to-weight ratio, and near-perfect handling make the RX-8 attractive, at some level. Unfortunately, most of that goes out the window because of this body kit, which has rendered what could have one day (probably before 30,000 miles rolled by on the engine's seals) been a great sports car into an unfortunate piece of modern art.
This piece of custom brilliance benefits from some shiny paint but not much else. Side scoops a la the Bugatti Veyron and Chiron are paired with just about nothing that looks good on the rest of the car. The front end looks mostly like a robotic dog's nose—note the lack of a hood or separate bumper, meaning the entire front of the car has to be removed to perform any engine work. Then again, there's a good chance this car doesn't actually do much driving because its owner is probably terrified of having to show off the complete lack of performance that goes with its over-the-top exterior.
Society perpetuates itself on a razor's edge of good behavior, strict punishment, and the common sense of being a piece within a greater whole. At least, that's how it's supposed to work, as humanity grew to appreciate itself, the planet, and all the potential for loving kindness that surrounds our existence. Doing one's civic duty, however, has fallen by the wayside (in favor of social media posts and moral outrage) and this Civic owner isn't helping things with their distinct disregard for anybody else's eyeballs. No Civic needs a rear wing that big, especially not a hatchback, and that fake rear diffuser is definitely doing more harm than good.
What is likely another Mercury Cougar lurks below the skin of this strange customized coupe. While the underlying platform was a strange descendant of what had been a great car once upon a time, this body kit is even stranger. It now resembles nothing more than the famous hovercat meme online, with so much more weight appearing to just hover right above the ground, on a glide path certain to collide with just about any speed bump, driveway, or even tiny pebble in the road. Now, the weight of the body kit probably doesn't account for much but should pair up with that rear wing to do absolutely nothing to improve the performance of this weak car.
This Mitsubishi Eclipse—yet another one struggling to live out its life in embarassment of its body kit—looks more like it's a toy car with no real engine components than a potential Fast and Furious tribute in process. All the fake vents are closed up both forward and back, and its got teensy, tiny exhaust pips that actually might be smaller than what the poor car left the factory equipped with. And then, finally, there's the absurd wing hanging off the trunk and looking like it's about to fall right off in the slightest gust of wind that might blow by (at maybe five miles per hour).
No one buys a Dodge Viper because they're looking for understated class; the Viper is the epitome of aggressive power, and more power to it. But even other Viper owners probably grimace and look away when this monstrosity comes cruising down the block. It seems most likely that one mash on the accelerator pedal will create so much jerk from the massive V10 under the long hood that all these tacky pieces of plastic cladding will get shed like a snake's skin so fast that only a V10 and its drivetrain will be blasting down the road—with a driver in the cockpit or not.
At the very least, when custom builders do their worst and dismantle a C3 Corvette for a home-grown project, there's little they can do to make what was a disappointing sports car into something worse. This C3 is now something of a wagon or hatchback and the front end has received a bit of work that helps it resemble the Mach 5 from Speed Racer. But another set of false side vents and all that bondo make it unlikely that the rear hatch construction was thought out in advance, much less built well during the actual working hours. And yes, this disgusting project took many, many hours to get to this unfinished state.
When the aggressive styling of the C3 Corvette first arrived, everyone clamored around the model, expecting its performance to match the exterior. Unfortunately, Chevy took the other route and hoped that design would sell units—because the underpowered engine options certainly weren't about to draw in crowds. In the intervening years, countless backyard mechanics have shoehorned higher-spec V8 mills under that iconically long hood. Fewer have taken the other route and opted to transform the outside to match the pitiful powerplant under the skin. Somehow, this sorry piece of plastic manages to lose everything that had formerly made it (somewhat) great.
Sources: Bring a Trailer, Wikipedia, and Stance:Nation.