Keeping it custom

I’ve been working on a new Leisure Wheels podcast to go hand-in-hand with our magazine’s new design.

This means I’ve been listening to an awful lot of motoring related podcasts and most of them really aren’t that good. You either get those that are too nerdy, or you get hose annoying ones where every new car is the greatest thing on four wheels.

What I have noticed is how different American car culture is to ours. Not is in terms of size, but what happens after they purchase a brand new car.

I don’t know about you guys, but after I bought my first brand new car I did absolutely nothing to it. It recently received four new tyres, but those are the only aftermarket fitments I can think of.

In the US a car seems to be a blank canvas that is rarely kept standard. I was listening to a discussion on the all-new Focus RS, which seems to be the best hot hatch ever, and the journalist responsible for the report loved it so much that he actually ordered one.

He then went on to discuss how he intends to improve it once it arrives. He used a bunch of acronyms I’ve never heard of before, but it was clear that all of these additional things would improve the performance.

I believe a car should be kept standard, if only because it was designed and tested for thousands of kilometres. A standard car is (hopefully) as good as the manufacturer can make it and I’m not going to void the warranty simply because I want to shave a millisecond off my best commute time.

Having said that, it is different when we’re doing a project vehicle. When we’re given free reign to chop and change as much as we want, we do it properly. My favourite project vehicle ever was the Tunland, which we basically turned into a monster truck. Why? Because we could. Our new long-term short-wheelbase Pajero is still slightly conservative for my taste, but I have seen the artwork of its proposed exterior and it is going to be a stunner…

Perhaps some people simply can’t stomach the idea of owning the exact same car as anyone else out there. The new Hilux has been around for a week and we already know of at least five modified cars out there. And not just aftermarket bumpers and such. We know of at least one oke working on a Hilux with 33-inch tyres and a complete suspension overhaul.

It’s not really for me, but I do applaud the guys who put the effort in to make their cars stand out. The arrival of the new Hilux was huge, but the anticipation and excitement has passed. It’s here now, so the next big thing is the race between the various aftermarket companies to see who can build the biggest and baddest Hilux in South Africa. Personally, I can’t wait to see who does it first and I definitely can’t wait to drive the result.