Quick question:

What’s the first thing you did after getting your first cool car? Many opted to change rims, upgrade the sound system, make some engine or suspension mods, or simply put on a sticker or two. The thing with owning a hot car is that you want to really own it. As soon as you drive a car off the dealer’s lot, you want to make it unique and stand out.

The following are unique car modifications that can give you ideas on how to go about personalizing your ride. Do your own take on some of them and see where you end up.

Top 8 Cool Car Modifications

Custom Paint Job

Sometimes, factory color just won’t cut it. all Too often, you see a model you like, but it doesn’t come in your favorite color. The solution? Have the car’s original paint stripped and have it repainted. There are lots of specialty shops that offer customized paint jobs. And the key word here is custom. Most professional painters can mix up unique color combinations to your exact specifications. Other options can be effects and coatings added to ordinary paint to make it pop out. Metallic flecks add a unique shimmer to paint when hit by sunlight. Chemicals can be added to give paint a pearl finish. Nowadays, different paints can be mixed to allow the color to change in tone depending on where you stand relative to the car. This gives the illusion of the color shifting when you look at the car from different view angles. There are many more painting and design techniques available, all it boils down to then is the owner’s personal taste and the painters creativity.

Custom Rims & Tires

A cool car favorite, custom rims! The wheel – reinvented. Forget about dubs, the Michelin tire company has literally reinvented the wheel. The logic behind huge wheels and low-profile tires is governed by the laws of physics. Less tire height means stiffer sidewalls. This translates to sharper handling and more precise cornering. A larger wheel diameter allows for bigger brake disks for more stopping power. The aptly named Tweel (an amalgamation of tire and wheel) offers all that and more. In a conventional tire and wheel combo, the metal wheel provides the structure and rigidity for mounting everything onto the car, while the rubber tire provides grip. Michelin’s innovative design does away with air and has flexible spokes mounted onto a hub, instead of a tire sidewall. This allows for more possibilities in tweaking ride and handling characteristics as well as excellent puncture and damage resistance. Not to mention opening up a whole new look that could change the way we look at wheels when it goes mainstream.

Powerful Engine Sounds, Without Custom Exhaust?

The distinctive noise a rush of air on a turbocharged vehicle is hard to ignore. This sound exudes performance and is the envy of those puttering by on econoboxes. You can also enjoy this exhilarating sound without the hassle of modifying your engine. Entire kits complete with automatic switches and speakers can be bought for just a few dollars. These are operated by the gas pedal and can be programmed to activate whenever you floor it. They’re guaranteed to turn heads and make your car unique.

The Classic Engine Swap

A 1.6 liter engine fitted into your sedan may be great for fuel economy, but leaves a lot to be desired on open roads. There’s only so much you can do to coax every last bit of performance out of something that’s designed to be as efficient and reliable (two words that often translate to boring) as possible. As they say, “There’s no replacement for displacement”. Don’t despair as performance can be just an engine swap away. You see, car manufacturers use the same components across different models and lines all the time. So there is a big chance that an economy compact shares some parts with a sportier car. This cost-cutting measure can be used to your advantage. With a little research and a lot of guts, a competent garage can get a bigger engine to fit a small car. Instant pocket rocket. The look of car owners whose cars you just whizzed by will be more than worth the cost of the swap. Prepare your gas credit card though, as bigger engines are thirstier by comparison.

Top 8 Cool Car Modifications

Unique Body Kits

The beauty if fiberglass is that it can be molded to virtually any shape. This makes it the perfect material for body kits. Want fins attached to your car? How about a more aggressive bumper? No problem. Some have even kitted out their cars to look like their favorite video game characters. These mods can worsen your fuel mileage by aerodynamic drag, but as long as your car is unique, who cares, right?

Don’t Forget About the Interior

Ever sat on an alligator? Most mods are geared towards the outside appearance or performance of the car. How about the inside? When you are spending a truckload of cash in tricking out your ride, you’d want to be covered in luxury. Your wallet and creativity is the only limiting factor in this case. If leather made from cowhide is too ordinary for you, you can opt for alligator, ostrich, or even shark leather. Have the steering wheel and shift knob wrapped too for maximum effect.

Top 8 Cool Car Modifications

Ice

No, not the frozen kind, but just as cool. Slang for in car entertainment, the days of just having a stereo are long gone. Now, you can fit entire theaters into cars. HDTVs, BluRay players, game systems, even full-on computers with broadband access can be integrated into any automobile. Just make sure all these gadgets don’t distract you from driving.

A Full-on Zombie Survival Vehicle

All that bling and shiny paintjob are nothing once Z-day hits. Taking a page out of a survivalist’s book, you can deck out any car into something that can tide you over in the case of a zombie apocalypse. Four wheel drive, a robust diesel engine, lots of room for passengers and supplies, and steel reinforcements are some of the essentials. Guns and flamethrowers are optional, but are more fun.

The desire of people to have something that reflects their personal sense of style is what fuels the cool car aftermarket industry. Manufacturers can’t account for every need and want, so there are parts makers and builders that fill this void. All this is advantageous to car owners like you who just want something that’s easy to spot on a crowded parking lot.

About the Author:

Daniela Baker is a mother of two and German sports car enthusiast. You can follow her on Twitter @Creditdonkey.

Photo Credits: lisadragon, nrmadriversseat, and lisadragon…thanks guys!