Hooniverse Asks: What mass-produced car would you never modify?

The desire to tinker, tweak, farkle, and swap has been baked into the Hooniverse culture from the very beginning. Whether to increase performance, make repairs and maintenance more economical, or just be weird, we love modifying our vehicles. Until we don’t.

I’m just like the rest of you. Nearly every car, bike, and truck makes me think, “I adore it, except for that bit right there…” —with two exceptions that I can think of. I’ve never seen a noticeable change to a ’78–’79 Honda CBX or a DMC DeLorean that was an improvement over the stock configuration. Yes, speaking functionally, they are both conspicuously flawed models. However, each is so iconic and so imbued with the zeitgeist of its development that it feels wrong and perhaps slightly offensive when I see owners and builders using them as a blank canvas for their own ideas. You might disagree with me on these two examples, but I bet you have others that come to your mind.

It’s certainly important to maintain the historical accuracy of such priceless rarities such as a Bugatti Type 41 Royale or a Ferrari 250 California Spyder; we’re probably all in agreement that. But what about mass-produced vehicles won’t ever be multi-million-dollar collectors’ items? Of the “ordinary” vehicles out there that Joe Average can aspire to own, which do you think left the factory in their most perfectly optimal configuration?

Photo Credit: Samm Smith

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18 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What mass-produced car would you never modify?”

  1. 0A5599 Avatar

    There is indeed a perfectly acceptable Delorean mod.


    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely love the BTTF movies, but I HATE the fact that you can’t have a discussion about the DeLorean without somebody making a Mr. Fusion or “We don’t need roads” reference.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        As someone whose cars regularly end up being parked alongside DeLoreans in the “Miscellaneous Postwar” section of British car shows, I’ve noticed fewer flux capacitors in recent years and more handling of the inevitable movie comments with forbearance instead of enthusiasm, so apparently quite a few owners feel this has indeed run its course.

        On the other hand, I still think whoever first dressed up a DMC-12 as a TARDIS was a genius.

      2. Dabidoh_Sambone Avatar

        Imagine the PTSD I eventually had about the Vacation movies when I owned this:
        Ford Country Squire and Me 20120228

  2. HycoSpeed Avatar


    Model T. I know they make some pretty neat hot rods, but I think there are enough of them cut up that we can keep the rest original. Plenty of fiberglass bodies to build T-buckets out of these days.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      I’d go further – any 50 year old survivor car deserves to be preserved at this point. If you want to modify one, start with a car that has already been modified, or one that needs a total restoration anyway.

  3. P161911 Avatar

    Pretty much any EV or PHEV. I don’t have an electrical engineering degree and would be scared to do more than tint the windows and add a phone holder.

  4. neight428 Avatar

    If I limit my consideration to vehicles I would want to own and drive because they were fun and/or interesting, I’d probably say the original Acura NSX. Part of its appeal was that it wasn’t a finicky thing and would behave like a Honda should, so don’t muck it up. That may be intruding on a collector’s item though, so I don’t know. If it’s feasible for the average joe to own it, it’s not going to be worth much, i.e., not that special to anyone.

    OTOH, there are some vehicles that have a purity of purpose and execution that are irrationally desirable to me. A long bed, regular cab F150 with a five speed manual and the 300 I-6 remains attractive, though finding one that’s not beat to absolute hell by now would be the challenge.

  5. Victor Avatar

    The Tuesday answer is Tesla !

  6. danleym Avatar

    Since you referenced a CBX, I’ll give you my 2 wheel answer.

    I have an 84 Moto Guzzi V65 SP. And it’s the first car/truck/bike I’ve ever owned that I don’t want to modify. (OK, right after I got it I took off the factory lower fairing, but that was about 3 bolts, and I still have them and can put them back on easily, and it was more because my right foot kept hitting them when braking…) I don’t have a solid reason why, or a real objection to someone else doing it to another one. But I like this one just like it is, and for the first time I’m happy to maintain instead of modify.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      V65 SP. Wow.

      …dear lawdy, I do still LOVE this place.

  7. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    Mustang II Cobra or King Cobra. You won’t make it good. They’re not supposed to be good. Their job is to be bad, in a good way.

    1. neight428 Avatar

      An interesting related question might be, “what bad car would you modify knowing that it won’t actually make it good?”

      I’d go with a pro touring Ford Granada.

  8. Professor BanancyHot Avatar
    Professor BanancyHot

    I would differ on the DeLorean, as so many compromises had to be made just to get it produced. I think anything that restores it to its original sketch concepts is worth investigating.

    Fixing the American ride height and emissions equipment issues: do it do it do it do it do it
    Making it mid-engined: uhhh good luck

  9. Professor BanancyHot Avatar
    Professor BanancyHot

    Not a car specifically, but I do think we will someday find that all of the Cummins 5.9 engines were ruined by dudebros who didn’t know what they were doing, and it will be difficult to find solid examples of a very hard-to-kill engine.

  10. JayP Avatar

    Doesn’t exist. Everything can be made better.

    Even my little Ranger rides on non-stock size tires.

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