In the everyday drive, you’ve probably noticed the repetitious body styles that bog down your vision. Pretty much everywhere you look, there are boring cars with little thought or care put into their design (if any at all, really). The average car owner doesn’t have enough motivation or know-how to modify their car to help the situation, either. Plus, let’s get right down to the fact of the matter: some people just don’t have the cash to make it happen.
Then there are those who don’t really have any knowledge or money, but they choose to mod their cars any way that they can. While we appreciate the hustle—sometimes it’s obvious that the bodywork has been done unprofessionally in their own garage—it tends to shed a bad light on the people who take the time to make their car’s style look that next step above and beyond.
To truly be considered a ricer car, the car simply has a lot of physical appearance upgrades with minimal-to-no performance upgrades at all. A lot of the amateur mechanics start out by building their own ricer cars, which usually ends up being a big pile of junk that no one wants to look at and everyone makes fun of.
Then there are the few who actually take the time, money, and (sometimes) even their own sweat and tears to get their car looking unparalleled. However, many of these people also ignore performance parts on their compact car, mainly out of the desire to pool all of their money for appearance-oriented upgrades. If it’s done right, we can’t really hate on their cars, but a ricer car is a ricer car, no matter who you ask. There will always be a stigma surrounding any car that looks like it belongs in The Fast and the Furious but has no business in a street race.
24 Nissan 370Z
The 370Z may not be considered a ricer car by all standards, but it’s not exactly the best performance car out there. That said, there’s so much money poured into this coupe that we’re pretty sure the owner has spread some of the love to the mechanical features as well. If not, this is still one bad-looking car. No expense has been spared, from the tires and rims to the sleek paint job. We can almost guarantee that this car receives plenty of head-turns and gawking stares on a regular basis. Heck, it would be hard not to stare at it in the comfort of your own garage.
23 Nissan 240SX
The Nissan Silvia is a pretty popular vehicle, but this domestic-market 240SX is almost unrecognizable after the ground effects and other goodies have been added on. Even though it’s considered to be a ‘sports car’, the old 80s models aren’t the fastest vehicles around, at least not by today’s standards, which makes this a perfect ricer. Silently, I think we’re all betting whether or not there have been some major upgrades to the engine, but it’s really a 50-50 shot. Either way, the paint job in combination with the rims and low-set springs has been executed astonishingly well. This 240SX has come a really long way from its humble origins.
22 Mitsubishi Lancer
The Lancer should probably be given more credit than it currently receives. It was in The Fast and the Furious movies, after all. Yet, most ricer beginners opt for a more conventional route, like a Civic, most likely because there is an abundance of those compacts lying around. The Mitsubishi Lancer, on the other hand, has a little more space in the cab but still has the major flaw of being built underpowered unless it's an Evo model. This Lancer looks so good, all it needs is a serious powerplant to match. Even if the stanced wheels aren’t your taste, they were tastefully done and match well with the purple paint. Those minute details, like the matching headlights and emblem, are what really brings this car together, though.
21 Acura NSX
The NSX has always been a popular car, although it still lives in the shadows because everyone thinks it's a totally unattainable supercar (just a tad). It’s really more of a sleeper at heart, but there are a lot of improvements to be made to these hot coupes. In the case of this 90s NSX, someone has put a lot of love and attention into it. Namely, the wheels. The white rims are a satisfying contrast to the cherry-red exterior, and the slight stance is just enough to give it that ricer flare without being so obnoxious that people just roll their eyes when you drive by.
20 Nissan 370Z
Once again, the 370Z makes its appearance on the list. It’s one of the most commonly modded cars for a good reason: it’s cheap and relatively fast. The engine could certainly use a tune, but the aesthetic that this car has going on is salvaging its reputation, one mod at a time. The snow white paint is so sleek and flawless that it would be scary to take this thing anywhere. Even the aggressive spoiler adds a nice touch that most ricer wannabes try to aim for, but always seem to miss. We can’t deny that the 370Z is mainstream, but if you’re going to go for it, then take notes.
19 Subaru WRX
The Impreza is actually more of a sleeper, by nature (depending on the model), but they get passed around a lot before anyone really sees them for what they are: excellent cars just waiting to be customized. This Impreza may or may not be a WRX and probably isn't an STI, but it brings a whole lot of character to the table with a few subtle modifications. For one, the paint is fresh and sleek. There aren’t many Impreza owners who take the leap and go for a matte cherry-red paint job. It’s a more of a classic look and, since the Impreza didn’t come factory with that color option (for many years), it’s not something you see often. Then we have the stanced wheels with clean rims, it’s a collaboration that works really well (though whether the hood scoop is factory or not remains a mystery).
18 Subaru BRZ
The BRZ is one of those cars that gets a lot of flak for not being a WRX, but it doesn’t deserve all of that discrimination. If you can love the BRZ for what it is—an underpowered, rear-wheel-drive wannabe sports car—you can actually transform this car into something great. While the engine definitely needs to be tuned to get anywhere near to a true sports car, the BRZ is still an excellent ride with tons of aftermarket potential. The clean, white rims go great with Subaru’s signature blue paint. A little bit of stance doesn’t hurt either, though, the lowering has really helped give this car what it’s missing as the stock suspension just doesn’t look right for this car’s looks.
17 Nissan Silvia (S15)
The Silvia is one of those long-forgotten Nissan cars that really deserves some more recognition. The S15 model is one of the sickest body styles and it can (clearly) look really good when the right mind is set to work on it. In this case, the Silvia’s dark purple paint sharpens the soft exterior of the boring car that it once was. The ground effects and replacement headlights help clean it up even more. If you didn’t notice, the tires push past the fenders just a little, shriveling its dull commuter image that comes to mind when you see think of a stock Silvia. It’s a great custom that sheds some light on a lesser-known car (at least in the US, where it was sold as the 240SX for a few years).
16 Subaru WRX
The Subaru stable, in general, has really gained a lot more attention in the last few years. The WRX had lost a lot of its thrill when the bug-eye headlights went out, though. The new WRX was a much-needed facelift and has completely shaken up the ricer community, even provoking Honda to up their game on the Civic. Even still, the WRX can still use a few upgrades and this owner has really gotten the most out of their car. The lowering kit seems like it was a much-needed adaptation and, even though the manufacturer’s spoiler is pretty big from the factory, the replacement is even more dramatic and tasteful. The inset rims are just the icing on this Subaru blue cake.
15 Lexus LC 500
Maybe it’s because of the expense, but you don’t see very many Lexus models at ricer meets, so this LC 500 makes its presence known. There’s no way that you can pass by this black beauty without having to stop and stare. It takes a keen mind and good imagination to find a way to make a luxury vehicle look better than it does at the dealership, but this owner has made this car look so clean that we’d rather buy the used version from him. It really didn’t take much to make this car look amazing: stanced wheels and a lowering kit completes it. Now, it’s time to work on the engine.
14 Toyota GT86
We know the Toyota GT86 isn’t exactly impressive since it’s a rebadged BRZ (and that’s not exactly a satisfying vehicle). That’s exactly what makes this car a great ricer, though, because it needs some serious upgrades before it can meet the expectations of sports car fanatics. The mint paint stands out, but it’s also a necessary touch on this naturally-dull car. The wide stance on the rear wheels are also very dramatic but as much as you’re probably questioning it, it’s completely justified. The GT86 doesn’t have much shape on its own, so all of these small swaps and changes are great at giving it much-needed style.
13 Toyota Supra
When the GT86 was released, one of the primary reasons it was a major letdown was its predecessor, the Supra. No other Toyota sports car has been able to live up to the name since. You’re probably thinking that this car doesn’t need any updates; it’s great on its own. While the Supra certainly doesn’t need any help establishing its dominance, it is still a 90s car that lacks some of the flare that modern ricers (like some on this list) have managed to claim. This Supra is exceptionally styled with very minor changes, but they make all of the difference. The paint is probably the most striking aspect of all and it pairs especially well with the old-school rims. Keeping most of the Supra’s original shape was a good call, while the lowering kit extenuates the elegant curves that already existed.
12 Lexus IS 300
The IS 300 is another of the luxury cars that comes with a decent punch, but never seems to be considered as a possibility for appearance modifications. At least, not to the extent of a ricer’s satisfaction, anyway. The purple pops out in the best way, bringing out all of the lines that designers really meant for you to notice in the first place. All it really took was a professional lowering and a new set of chrome rims to take this throwback to the next level. Instead of fading into the IS 300’s boring stereotype, someone really brought out all of the best features that get overlooked, even in a luxury car.
11 Toyota Celica
The Celica should probably be up there in the hierarchy of ricers, but it never seems to gain much attention in the aftermarket world. Especially the later GT models, like this one, that have been known to have a lot of oil leakage issues. Many owners would rather deal with a simpler model, but someone took the time to shine up this one to its currently beautiful appearance. We have to say that it looks like the hard work was worth the outcome. Its dark blue paint and perfect-fit rims are no match for those typical Honda’s that plague the streets.
10 Honda Civic
As much as we may have hated on the Civic, we can’t deny that this car is the king of all ricers (as of now). It’s not only the easiest to modify, but also the cheapest. The last thing you’re thinking when you see this car is a lack of money. It’s pretty obvious that a good amount of hard-earned cash was fed into this project. The matte grey wrap, alone, is obviously high-quality. We know the owner couldn’t have gotten around that massive expense. The chrome rims look perfect with the paint and are slightly stanced to fit in the fenders just right. Even if it’s a Civic, you can tell that no expense was spared on this custom.
9 Toyota Celica
Even though it may look like a bit like its Supra big brother, there is a modest 90s Celica disguised beneath all of that extra metal. Those side skirts and bulky fenders give the Toyota Celica everything that it’s been missing—namely, more shape to its dainty factory bod. The lowering kit and added parts really make the rims seem that much bigger, and they are also a pleasant addition to this modded beauty. It may have nothing more than a heavily updated exterior, but this Celica is meant to be admired for its unparalleled appearance. It’s another custom that we’re hoping will inspire some more of the underdogs to make their way into ricer royalty.
8 Honda Fit
It may look like nothing more than a microvan from the factory, but with an open mind, this bottom-of-the-barrel Honda has a lot of potential. The uniform black color scheme is as satisfying as much as it is elegant. Who really thought that a Honda Fit ricer could be more sophisticated than the junk that the dealerships attempt to sell? Regardless, this Fit is so sharp, the only thing we’d change is to maybe add a tint to the headlights. Although, it’s still a tasteful ride that gives ricers a good name. For that, we can’t give this car enough love.
7 Hyundai Tiburon
Most Hyundais are pretty lame from the factory, and this Tiburon fell into one of the model years that had a lapse of creativity. It took some serious work for someone to spruce this coupe up, though. The metallic green wrap makes a big statement and draws the eye to the (previously boring) body. Those oversized white rims are also pretty loud, but stancing them just-so couldn’t have been a better move on the owner’s part. We have to give some props to the mastermind behind this exquisite machine; it takes a lot of innovation to transform a hand-me-down body style into something this fresh.
6 Acura NSX
The NSX isn’t a bad car, but getting behind the wheel brings you back to an early-90s era that we’d all enjoy avoiding altogether. It’s not the most thrilling sports car, and if you don’t build up those sort of expectations, the NSX will treat you right (for a long time). From the looks of it, this owner has put a lot back into their NSX to bring it up-to-date. The much-needed rims and splitter speak volumes about the car. It really hasn’t had a ridiculous amount of work put into it from an exterior perspective, but it looks much more attractive. The engine may not deliver everything you ever wanted—unless someone has put extra love into it—but the exterior has improved tenfold by the simplest updates.
5 Honda Prelude
Its boxy frame can be a little offensive to the eye, especially if you’re not really into 80s body styles. This owner shows off his Prelude without a second thought, though. And with good reason; this thing has had plenty of cash thrown into its design. The excessive side skirts and ground effects had to gouge somebody’s wallet. The body upgrades help bring the Prelude into this century, and that all-white exterior makes onlookers glad that someone did. We’re hoping that customs like this one will incite more modded Preludes to pop up in the future (especially if someone has ideas like this lingering in the back of their mind).
4 Toyota Prius
A Prius would have to be the most obvious ricer on the list because it’s got nothing going on underneath that hood that came from the factory. But we’re hoping that someone may have opted for an engine swap to get this car living up to its body. Mechanical efforts aside, this is a sick ride that has had hours of work devoted to its transformation. From side skirts, bumper lips, ground effects, fender flares, and even new tires and rims, there’s practically nothing on this car that has been left untouched. Even the paint has been altered (in the best way). It looks more like a transformer than it does a gas-efficient compact.
3 Honda S2000
The Honda S2000 is a neat car, but can be a bit feminine for the macho driver. Keeping it simple with clean, white paint and some subtle body upgrades has made this modded Honda a success. The red rims are bold and keep the car from looking too cutesy. Even removing the Honda emblem worked some serious magic. Not much has to be done to an S2000, they’re elegant cars right off of the assembly line, but this owner has made astounding (but small) improvements to make this car one that you can’t help but watch as it passes by.
2 Lexus SC
The Lexus SC isn’t exactly a slow car as it comes from the factory with 290 horsepower. That’s not necessarily huge in today’s car market, but it was pretty quick for its late-90s era. This particular coupe is so shiny that you’re blinded by its beauty, instantly. At first, it doesn’t even look like a luxury vehicle, but more of a sports car that has been given a proper ricer treatment. In a way, the Lexus SC is more of a plain sports car with a few luxury amenities, than it is a stereotypical coupe that you’d normally find in the manufacturer’s stable. Whatever you want to label this car, it’s been significantly updated and made much easier to look at. Even the chrome rims look great; their stance may hinder the SC’s performance abilities, but it wouldn’t be a true ricer if they didn’t.
1 Mazda Miata Crew
The Miata is one of those underrated roadsters that never seems to be quite as popular in the ricer scene—although that’s probably good for the Miata, in most cases. In retrospect, it makes more sense to start your ricing ventures out on something as simply-designed as a Mazda because it’s not a complex engine. Plus, the Miata has such a small frame that there’s not as much to work with (which can be a major benefit) and, not to mention, it’s popular enough to have tons of aftermarket upgrades available. These Miatas are so aesthetically pleasing, it’s hard to take your eyes off of them. The pink headlights (in the center pop-ups) are an especially nice contrast to the blue paint.
Sources: StanceNation, The Driven Kind, and Wikipedia.