Our Voice: Why do people modify their cars?

Our Voice: Why do people modify their cars?

A simple transition of how passion can easily turn into obsession.

Motor-heads are car-crazed enthusiasts who constantly seek the evolution of their vehicles. From all parts of the world and ranging across all kinds of automobiles, people from different background search for various forms of validation for their passion, albeit mostly from themselves.

You have JDM (Japanese Domestic Market), exotic continental range, American muscle, rally cars, and Grand Tourers, the possibilities are endless. In each segment, usually there is a benchmark on what the changes are to be done to their car to ‘fit in’ with their peers.

Despite the tough regulations on modification in Singapore, enthusiasts here are no exception. Fancy cars with booming exhausts speeding down Orchard Road, two-decade-old Mitsubishi Evolutions or Honda Civics tuned to match their European counterparts, the garages around our little country sits on a sizable amount of car enthusiasts who can tell you why they look to modify their cars.

Whether it be aesthetics or performance, let’s take a look.


Ernest’s 1992 Mitsubishi Lancer GLXi


Ernest: I drive a 1992 Mitsubishi Lancer GLXi 1.3cc. It was built to be a normal family sedan that can ferry families across the island. Nevertheless, this specific Lancer is a direct replica of the popular Evolution 3, a cult model with a strong following in the community. Unfortunately, there is only one original Evolution 3 available on the market while the rest are 1300cc Lancers. Therefore, the plan is to duplicate this Lancer into a Evolution lookalike.

To a car enthusiast, our car shows what type of person we are, true colors of how we treasure and create memories out of every little detail. They allow us to meet people of all different walks of life but sharing the same passion together. Cars are like family. They protect you, they sing for you, they will never complain whatever circumstances or tough roads ahead. 

Still staying on a 1300cc engine, the car is now equipped with a full Evolution 3 kit, also known as CE9A full body-kit and bonnet. They are imported from Japan directly. The interior is also converted into Evolution 3’s aesthetics. 

I upgraded the suspension with BCBR coilovers, front and rear Ultra Racing strut bars, and under carriage 4 point bars. The car is running on PS3 Michelin Pilotsport rims, front and rear Galant VR4 disc brakes. 

Overall, I believe in handling more than power, and you can really feel the difference during corners.


Jaryl’s Suzuki Swift Sport

Jaryl: I guess mainly it is the passion for cars. Modifying the car upgrades the handling and performance to achieve significantly better timings on the track. As it is illegal to race in Singapore, my peers and I often head to Malaysia’s track for runs to gauge our timings. During track, priority is handling, hence I’ve made some changes such as changing to BC suspensions with custom spring rates.

Most people would not know, but the Swift sport is a fun car to handle for first-time owners. According to Top Gear, it is also one of the most reliable cars in the market right now. Their latest iteration of the model has seen it add turbo to its formally NA (normally aspirated) engine. I’ve kept the engine stock to maintain its longevity due to my long use at the track.

After all, I’m just looking to add trophies to my cabinet.

Jaryl is a sales consultant at VINCAR Pte Ltd.


Gerard’s Mercedes CLS45

Gerard: If you’re not into hardcore performance modifications, changing exhaust is the way to go. The truth is that you don’t need much knowledge for an exhaust upgrade, as it is more or less plug-and-play. If you research on YouTube or when you have friends that already own a specific exhaust, you can roughly tell if that’s the one you want to fit your car. 

Aesthetics is the next most affordable option. Vinyl stickers, car wrapping, custom paint jobs would really make your car stand out, together with the roaring sound of your exhaust. It’s not really a show-off kind of thing, but as a car owner you wouldn’t want to be just like any car on the street right?

Whereas if a car enthusiast wants to do performance upgrades, there is the additional liability of having to deal with greater wear and tear, which requires remapping and tuning, and in turn incur more cost.

Ben’s Nissan GTR R35

Ben: It gives the car it’s own character and attitude. It’s like a hobby I guess. Imagine when you’re playing games, you spend time customising your characters to your profile, this is the closest analogy I can relate it to. That satisfaction of beautifying your machine is overwhelming and also exciting on many levels. On the GTR, I have iPE exhaust, 1100cc injectors, and running on BBS rims. To improve the longevity of the gearbox, I added Dodson gearbox Seal and has a EcuTek Tuning. 

Ben’s Subaru Forrester

This is my sleeper. On the road everyone think’s it’s just a wagon. Not many really knows about the SG5 Forester. Delicately armed with a Ej20 engine, VF37 Twin Scroll Set Up, 565cc injectors, it was also custom-tuned by BMS Ecutek Andrew To. At 330Bhp, this monster shocked many at MIMC Track by achieving a ridiculously good timing, and not just for a station wagon. I had the entire undercarriage converted to STI to fit its track usage.

Ben is a founder at Drivinci.


Max’s Volkswagen Scirocco

Max: For firsts, I guess it is really just for fun, which later became more and more a hobby. Secondly, by changing the various parts, I can see the car react differently right before my eyes, and it feels good to see the improvement on performance. People usually change exhaust to liven up the car but it is also important to note that to get to Stage 2 or Stage 3, performance exhausts has to be fitted. 

I’ve done a blow valve upgrade, changed the inter-cooler and air-intake and went for full tuning to upgrade it to a Stage 2, which gave me an additional 140 horsepower. Of course, aesthetically I’ve added a spoiler, done paint jobs, vinyl stickers and interior lighting has been added for a more cruising feel during night drives.

In fact, I travel a lot for work, so I actually spend a lot of time with my car. The small changes I make to it really helps me enjoy the progress.

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