A Jaunt Through the Pleasures (and Pains) of Modified Car Ownership

2 Posted by - March 5, 2017 - Cars

Hello, My name is Simon and I've come here today to say I'm an addict.

I've been told many times to stop what I'm doing and change my ways but I don't think I ever will. It started about 18 years ago.

I'd owned two cars previous a Peugeot 106 1.5 diesel and a Renault Megane 1.6 petrol, But the vice started with my first love a Peugeot 206 2L HDi. She was sitting in the garage next to a 1.4HDi but this one had a sports pack and it was instant love, my dad wanted me to get the 1.4 but I couldn't tear myself away from the 2L.

The car looked 'Different' and it made me smile that smile when you think "Oh yeah, that's the one"

It was also the car to introduce me to the 'Scene' I took my first timid steps into a club called 206info and it was an instant giddy high, there were people who shared the same thoughts and interests that took pride in their cars.

I attended meets, to, well, meet people! I met all kinds who were always a bunch of fun, but this had a drawback..

I realised my car was 'production' sure it was nice and looked sporty but it was still a pre-designed template. I realised it had to change... You don't buy a house on a street and make sure it has the same décor as all the others, you make it yours. So off I trotted with a painfully slim wallet to make the most of what I could get.

It started light with black tail lights and a black foglight but as I got more money the list increased, no matter how many items I knocked off the list it had already doubled in size. Exhausts, Full GTi 180 interior (cheap from a scrappy) Hand painted headlights and front fogs, Remaps, Vortex Alloys. It was great, the car looked fantastic but I wanted MORE

Talking to a person on 206info he realised I was legit and decided to help me on my first big leap mounting an intercooler to an un-intercooled car. This was complex and required items cut and shaped, specific parts bought for completely different cars to make them fit but success! I got it all done under his watchful eye and was awaiting two pipes to complete the setup

I thought this is it... my goal of making a car mine and deciding I want it to get on a magazine is two pipes and a paint tidy away.

And Disaster

To this day I still don't know what happened, I hit my head so hard on the B-pillar I suffer from intermittent short-term memory loss that can affect me even as I'm talking about something. I know I ended up going across the road backwards into a sandstone wall spinning at 60mph. The next thing I know I'm stepping out my suddenly quiet car onto my bonnet on a backroad in the pitch black. I cry. This was two years of my life gone, all my hard work had led to a pretty impressive hole in the wall.

But I walked away pretty unscathed and deciding to stop spending on cars because one minute they're there and the next BANG their gone...

It Wasn't The End..

In walks my next car, a little Renault Twingo 1.2 GT. This was nice, a little car which had some pep for it's size and looks really out of place, an eye catcher. Slide to 2 months later and it's back, the itches, the need. I spend time installing intercooler sprays, hid kits, wrapping parts of the car, remaps, exhausts for me to end up selling it just over a year into ownership.

Then it's a 'more economical and practical' Vectra 1.9 CDTi this barely gets out the door before it's remapped, exhaust and has parts resprayed there's no denying that the addiction had full hold.

But one night I'm idling browsing Autotrader and I spot my dream car, the one I've wanted since after my parting from the 206 a Vectra VXR in Arden Blue and this time it's affordable. I do research and even though the road tax is an upsetting 500 pound a year I take the plunge.

It's a lovely drive home even getting waves from other car owners on the motorway, the title says about the pains of modified cars well this is the beginning of my personal experience and frankly, bad luck.

The next day after driving the VXR back with a huge smile it's there, the yellow light that says nothing and everything at the same time, the engine management light.

I argue with the garage I bought it off and get it sent into a garage closer to home who says it's a cam sensor on bank two, so off I trot down to Manchester to give the seller the car back to fix on the way encountering another worrying fault, I lose brake force and get an unassisted pedal almost rolling out into traffic cause I couldn't stop the car. 

A week later the cars back the EML is gone but they say the brake issue is me overheating the fluid, so I send it into a Vauxhall garage and the service manager is rubbing his hands, the car has stretched all three timing chains, broken three springs and needs a new brake servo so my wallet is suddenly lighter to the tune of 1700 pound less than three months into ownership.

But this doesn't stop my modifying, it has boxes removed from the exhaust and parts sprayed, goes for a remap and it's back again the luck that shadows me, driving away from the remappers and it sounds like a boxer engine from a Scooby which turns out it's blowing the spark out cause of the boost.

This is made worse by the issue of it cooking coolant out the radiator, I limp about until my new plugs arrive only to find the Vectra has slipped it's bonnet cable so the bonnet won't open leaving me with my most painful job to date, cutting the bonnet open to release the catch.

It Was Now Time to Move On..

The car drains my bank dry and shows no sign of behaving itself, every time I feel angry I go out for a drive and all is forgiven until she throws a fit again. I upsettingly decide to part ways just under two years into ownership and look for another car on the basis that even if it has less power it has to have a bigger engine and be diesel

Now, we come to my current car. This one has been a pig aswell. Less than six months into ownership it had to have new front suspension, turbo, clutch and flywheel, propshaft bearing and headunit which eases for a few months and then the handbrake fails needing a complete rebuild, it needs new brake pipes from back to front, the front callipers seize and the rust is getting alarmingly bad.

I've passed the point of no return as the costs into the car have cost more than I bought it for so I'm stuck with it. She starts to get mods to the list of alloy refurb, full respray and new wings, remap, full exhaust, new headlights, hid kit, new kidney grills.

There was another article written where it said that you couldn't explain owning a BMW, this car has less space, less power, isn't as flashy or noisy or as comfortable as the VXR but I would never change it back, it's a werewolf in sheep skin and has shocked many people

So that addiction, Is it a bad thing?

I've had some pain with cars but they've caused me to meet great friends and have given me great memories. I'll never look back and be ashamed of what I've done or how much I've spent on them because that's small compared to when I park up and turn around to look with a smile from ear to ear.



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