Car modification has a long history, having started not long after the car first became a viable means of transportation. The first mods focused on improvements to make vehicles faster, safer, and more useful. With time, the role of mods evolved to include other purposes, most notoriously in the U.S. for bank robbers and moonshine runners. Mods for the cars driven by these unscrupulous characters focused on speed and agility. Moonshiners not only needed to go fast, but they also required a vehicle adapted to the harsh terrain they sometimes encountered when being chased (off the road, in some cases).
In recent years, entire car genres have developed a style or class of customized vehicle. Lowriders are an example. These customized vehicles, individually painted with complex, colorful designs, roll on wire-spoke wheels with whitewalls and focus on style and function. With just a flick of a switch, these 3,000-pound lowriders bounce up and down, at up to eight feet in the air.
Speed-related mods have now taken a back seat to other mod types. Most of the car modifying community opts for cosmetic changes with maybe some minor engine mods thrown into the mix. There are now hundreds of different genres of modifying and the arena continues to grow.
The car customization business is booming. Every year, consumers spend billions on aftermarket parts, even though the modifications can often adversely affect vehicle performance, impact the factory warranty, exceed legal limits, and affect safety. Among all the car modifications made, many of them are just plain ridiculous. They neither enhance the performance of the vehicle nor do they improve its appearance.
Here are 25 tasteless mods we almost feel bad for laughing at.
24 Yoda Head On Wheels May You Drive
What Star Wars fan wouldn’t want to drive around town in giant Yoda Head car? Mattel already built a full-size, fully operational Darth Vader-themed coupe named the “Darth Car.” No one would call the Darth Car cute, but the Yoda Head sure qualifies. Yoda’s eyes are looking skyward. Perhaps the ears are wings, and this Yoda can also fly. However, most likely, the ears fold back allowing maneuvers in heavy traffic and parking in narrow spaces. When the horn is sounded a loud Yoda voice blasts from the grill, “may the Force be with you; do or do not; there is no try; now out of my way your car you move.”
23 The UFO Beetle
The Volkswagen Beetle is known around the world by an endless list of nicknames including Slug Bug, Pregnant Roller Skate, Turtle, Upside-down Bathtub, Bubble, Bell, Frog, Hunchback, Little Flea, and many others. However, it has seldom been referred to as the UFO Beetle. This silver flying saucer Volkswagen has been spotted in California and in the Nevada Desert, perhaps at the infamous Burning Man event that takes place every year the week before and including Labor Day weekend. The flared body on this craft would make it difficult to change a tire unless it can actually hover. The glass dome on top is a nice touch, making the skies and potential outer space destinations visible.
22 Duct Tape and Cardboard Mods
Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters said, “We’ve found that duct tape is not a perfect solution for anything. But with a little creativity, in a pinch, it’s an adequate solution for just about everything.” The driver of this Ford Fiesta is undoubtedly on a shoestring budget, modifying his car with cardboard spoilers, wheel covers, and of course, duct tape. Although an attempt was made to match the duct tape color to the car’s paint and the cardboard racing stripes are a nice gesture, the double-decker spoiler is a bit of an exaggeration. While every car enthusiast dreams of the perfect car, the amusing modifications made by this motorist would have been better left to the imagination.
21 Shortened Marquis
The owner of this 1988 Grand Marquis put it up for sale advertising it as a “one-of-a-kind project car.” He is right on both counts. No one else would even consider reducing a four-door luxury cruiser like the Marquis to a squat two-door vehicle with out-of-proportion hood and trunk. The ad states the car “needs some work in the interior, muffler, windows and has a cracked windshield.” That is plenty of work left to qualify it as a project car. However, the most attractive part of purchasing the car is the owners offer to include in the sale, “some parts for the engine of the vehicle.” Would those be parts removed and not replaced or parts purchased for repairs, but the repairs were never finished? Buyer beware!
20 Cardboard Aerodynamics
Aerodynamics is the study of forces that act on objects and their resulting motion through the air. Its objectives for automobiles are the reduction of drag, minimization of wind noise, and the prevention of undesirable lift forces and other causes of instability that occur at high speeds. Engineers have developed shapes on the exterior of vehicles that are designed to channel air in a manner that flows around the car with the least resistance possible. The owner of this Toyota wasn’t satisfied with the factory body aerodynamics, so he decided to make modifications that would reduce drag, noise, and instability. However, his cardboard design will, no doubt, have the opposite effect, producing more drag, much more noise, and perhaps some instability—if the mods don’t fly off the car, that is.
19 Wrought Iron VW Bug
The first two wrought iron Volkswagen Beetles were made in Mexico and displayed at the Olympic Games in Mexico City in 1968. Similar cars have been built since then, numbering somewhere between twelve and twenty. Often referred to as “The Wedding Car,” this one was purchased from an elderly Mexican man who found the body of the car abandoned just outside of Puerto Vallarta Mexico. He relocated to California, bringing the car with him. Calling it the “Cinderella” car, he fitted the body to a cut-down Super Beetle chassis and sold it. Other than the novelty of a car with an iron body full of holes, it has very little to offer. The aerodynamics are awful, and it would be impossible to heat on a cold day.
18 Jet Engine Insanity
A car with two jet engines parked on a driveway in a residential area looks ridiculous, but Ryan McQueen, who built the car, is unlikely to drive it down to the supermarket for groceries. The car named “Insanity” reaches a top speed of 400 mph which is just 100 mph below the average speed of a Boeing passenger jet!
Fuel economy was not a consideration when building the car. In less than two minutes it burns over 400 liters of jet fuel. Weighing 3,800 pounds, the car generates 14,000 pounds of thrust. McQueen spent 12 years to complete the project, and the total cost exceeded $90,000.
17 Cinderella Treatment in a Customized Chrysler PT Cruiser
“Making a grand entrance” is important for some women (and some men), especially on the wedding day. Now it is possible for women in Russia to get a modern-day Cinderella treatment in a customized Chrysler ride. Instead of the boring, typical stretch limousine, flower-adorned horseless carriage, or even a painted pumpkin carriage, a bride-to-be can arrive for the big day in a pimped-out PT Cruiser.
A real head-turner, this Cruiser has an extended “carriage” in the middle with a full-sized door, charming lamps hanging off the front and back, and a trail of decorative flowers. On the inside, a glass floor, neon lighting, leather seats, and a fully stocked bar help make the PT Cruiser elegant (or just plain tacky).
16 Alien PT Cruiser
The chest bursting scene in the 1979 film, Alien, is part of Hollywood legend and may very well be one of cinema's most celebrated scenes. The alien creature is an endoparasitoid; a parasite that lives inside another animal (in this case a human) and ultimately consumes it. John Hurt, who plays the character Kane, is the first victim in the film.
Director Ridley Scott was successful eliciting genuine reactions of terror in the film and the owner of this vehicle has done the same with his Alien-modified PT Cruiser. However, instead of terror, the owner has provoked a sensation of disgust for everyone viewing this offensively modified vehicle.
15 Smart Fortwo Monster Truck Mod
While the stock Smart Car is ideal for fitting into tight city parking spaces, this monster truck version might require more space.
According to Edmunds: "The head-turning Smart combines the body shell of the existing Fortwo with the industrial-grade four-wheel-drive underpinnings of parent company Mercedes-Benz's Unimog 406. The result? A towering two-seat monster truck dubbed the Forfun2. With a height of 145.6 inches, the Forfun2 towers over its road-going sibling by a whopping 84.6 inches. Power comes from an inline six-cylinder diesel engine. To optimize its off-road ability, the suspension can be manually raised and lowered via air springs."
Taking sharp turns or slamming on the brakes is not recommended for this high-center-of-gravity vehicle.
14 Tuned Exhaust to the Extreme
The design of exhaust systems considers several factors to achieve optimal engine performance. These include providing a back pressure that falls into the range required for a specific engine, minimizing noise, and reducing exhaust emissions to meet regulations. Exhaust tuning or modification can increase engine horsepower output, improve fuel economy, and produce an exhaust note that is pleasing to the ear. The owner of this Mercury Marquis decided maximum exhaust pipe diameter would not only add extra power with less back pressure but the huge tailpipes pointing skyward look cool. Maybe if the owner had them chromed, they wouldn’t look so offensive.
13 Chrome Tesla Model S
One of the advantages of owning a car entirely covered in chrome is the reflection feature. No mirror is needed for combing hair or confirming that the shoes selected go well with the dress. The chrome wrap on this Tesla Model S makes it look like a rolling mirror. This Tesla has also replaced the factory-standard wheels with a set of Forgiato rims. The Insetto-ECL models come in a 22-inch size and cost nearly $2,000 each. The low-profile tires (not included in the $2,000 price) and the lowered suspension of the car make the rims look even bigger. The outrageous chrome-wrapped Tesla screams, “look at me,” or maybe it says, “look at yourself with my reflection.”
12 Dodge Viper No More
The owner of this Dodge Viper has modified the body and added so much “junk” to the exterior that it is difficult to identify the model year. What was once a high-performance machine, a thinly-disguised race car that boasted aggressive lines, is no more. Once one of the most recognizable two-door roadsters in automotive history, with an 8.0-liter, 10-cylinder engine that put out 400 hp in 1995, this Viper has been converted into an undignified example of poor taste. A 1995 Dodge Viper, if unmodified, is worth about $40,000. This owner probably spent $5,000 on the body kit, accessories, supplies, and paint and the car is now probably worth less than $25,000. Simple economics, poor judgment!
11 Gold and Teal Camaro SS Convertible
John Gardner, an American essayist, novelist, university professor, and literary critic once said about gold: “My advice to you, my…friend, is to seek out gold and sit on it,” The owner of this Camaro took Gardner’s advice literally, although he is more likely to sit in it than on it. This gold painted Camaro with the teal-colored interior is already over the top, but the 30-inch gold Forgiato wheels take it to the absurd level. The wheels and tires alone cost more than $10,000, slightly less than the price of a compact car. Maybe stock 15-inch wheels and tires just wouldn’t have the same effect!
10 The Wizardmobile
"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." So stated Danish author and philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. If he was right, then this modified VW Beetle with two front halves welded together may be an easy way to go in either direction. No matter which way the car goes, part is going backward, and part is going forward. Perhaps more interesting than the car itself is its colorful and storied owner, the Wizard of New Zealand QSM. In 1982, the New Zealand educator, comedian, magician, and politician was declared by the New Zealand Art Gallery Directors Association to be an authentic living work of art and the City Council appointed him Wizard of Christchurch.
9 Lightning Fast or Just Lightning?
“I got chills, they're multiplying, And I'm losing control, 'Cause the power you're supplying, It's electrifying!”
John Travolta sang these words with Olivia Newton-John in the song, “You're the One That I Want.” These lyrics in the movie Grease have nothing to do with automobiles, but they seem appropriate for anyone staring at this energy-generator on wheels. Lightning bolts spread out over the entire body, giving the impression that the car generates an out-of-control power. It’s unfortunate that the effect is visible only in daylight. A nighttime display would be spectacular (or perhaps disturbing).
8 Wheely Wonky
It’s not only the garish hot pink color of this modified unidentifiable vehicle that attracts attention, but it is also the extremely negative cambered wheels that amaze an onlooker. Apparently, for some enthusiasts, the “lower is better” auto styling trend that emerged from Japan several years ago achieves the ideal high-shock-value look. Known as "Oni-camber" or “Demon-camber,” the alignment craze is accomplished with an entirely custom suspension composed of special bracing and reinforcement. The result is extreme negative camber angles of the wheel hubs and steering knuckles. The car's body floats above the ground by only a few centimeters. This car will scrape bottom over any slight variation in the asphalt and parking the car in a typical driveway is impossible.
7 Every Lamborghini Needs Extra Storage
For the car buyer with the means to purchase a Lamborghini, modifications are certainly in order to get those features lacking on the stock models. These might include an open cargo area in the rear for hauling dirt, lumber, construction tools, or other objects too big to fit inside the small interior. Historically, Lambos are either mid-engine or front engine designs, so there is plenty of room at the rear to create a pickup truck style cargo bed. Additionally, for those long trips, extra storage is essential. A vehicle luggage carrier mounted to the top of the Lamborghini solves the problem and makes a clear statement about the owner’s priorities.
6 Homemade Wooden Spoiler
Yes, I did make it myself, why do you ask? Engineers at companies like Lamborghini, Porsche, and McLaren spend years designing and integrating aerodynamic spoilers into their vehicles. Load paths are calculated, airfoil profiles are tweaked, and downforce is optimized for suspension rates. In addition, creating an effective automotive spoiler requires extensive wind-tunnel testing. The other option is to just buy some pressure-treated lumber at Home Depot and give it a try. The owner of this modified high-performance vehicle obviously attended the Saskatchewan School of Aerodynamics. He claimed: “At 200 km/h, it really starts to work…” Hopefully, the screws will pull out, leaving the ornamental spoiler on the side of the highway before he reaches 100 km/h.
5 Canary Yellow Interior is for the Birds
Most new car buyers place more emphasis on the exterior color than the interior. An eye-catching color can make even an older car more attractive. If done professionally, the paint color can make the car look much more expensive. The interior color usually gets less attention from the buyer, and most just accept what comes with the car. Sometimes the options are boring, with black, white, gray, or tan being the most common. While there are no rules for selecting interior colors, considering that black get hotter and white shows dirt easier, the best choice of interior color is one that goes well with the exterior color. In the case of this 1983 Cadillac Fleetwood, the garish canary yellow interior was matched perfectly with the tasteless canary yellow exterior.
4 Fur Coat Car
The fur exterior added to a car ranks near the top of the list of the most absurd modifications ever made. What could possibly be the benefit? Aerodynamically, it is a disaster. The drag coefficient, indicating how a vehicle slips through the air, is determined by several factors including body shape and material. While the body geometry has the most effect, a slippery surface also contributes. Fur may be the single most resistant material to moving through the air in the world. A fur interior is soft to the touch and warm, making it a good choice for some car owners. However, fur on the exterior cannot be touched and enjoyed while the car is moving. Perhaps the owner likes to caress his pet car when it's parked in the garage.
3 Upside Down Ford F-150
This upside-down modified Ford F-150 takes all the fear out of running off the road onto a steep embankment and flipping over. Nor would the driver of this multisided vehicle dread going around sharp curves. Taking the corner too fast and flipping over just means climbing out of the truck and getting back in where the seats are pointed up. A flipped-over Ford Ranger that car repairer Rick Sullivan from Clinton, Illinois, helped rescue gave him the idea to make an upside-down convertible truck. Starting with a Ranger chassis and floor pan, he welded the upside-down chassis and body of a Ford F-150 on top. The topsy-turvy result is powered by a 1991 Ford Ranger four-cylinder. The engine even runs upside down as well!
2 Ferrari 458 Grits its Teeth
This golden shark modification trades the power and grace of traditional Italy's iconic styling for sharp lines, ornate caricatures, and a loud reflective wrap with a shark tooth graphic. The exterior emphasizes the high-contrast lines in a two-stage process, with an underlying layer of galvanized steel that provides the foundation for a gold and pearl-flake topcoat. Quality craftsmanship aside, it looks like a cartoon sticker found inside a cereal box. For that extra-tacky touch, the Golden Shark is equipped with custom Forgiato wheels finished in pink rose gold. Despite the decorative overkill, under the hood, the Ferrari is unchanged with a 4.5-liter, 562-horsepower V8 that allows the Spider to reach 60 mph in a fleet 3.4 seconds. High performance never gets old, no matter how it is camouflaged.
1 Kumquat Orange 2011 Dodge Nitro
Sharp angular lines, oversized wheels, door handles, grille, and hood give the Dodge Nitro a brawny and muscular appearance. The chiseled look is further enhanced by the masculine selection of colors from the factory including black clearcoat, bright silver metallic clearcoat, and dark slate gray. Dodge offers two V6 engines for the Nitro; the standard 210-hp, 3.7-liter with 235 lb-ft of torque and the optional 260-hp, 4.0-liter producing 265 lb-ft of torque. However, all that muscle and the burley appearance go down the drain with the color of this SUV: Kumquat Orange! Besides attracting the attention of everyone that watches it drive by, the only possible redeeming feature is the ease of finding the vehicle in a large and crowded parking lot.
Sources: Digital Trends, Jalopnik, Odometer, CarsDirect, and Motor Trend.