Car modifications and styling through the years

For as long as cars have existed, car modifications have been huge business. Most vehicles leave the factory equipped for the average driver’s expectations. Since the 60s and the aftermarket modifications to the Minis to the ‘Fast & Furious’ era; we have updated the styles and followed the trends throughout the years. With that in mind, we’re sharing the history behind performance car parts and, of course, custom car parts UK.

60s muscle car

1960s car modifications

The sixties were a big year for cars - particularly the Mini. In fact, it was the most successful decade for the model. Another reason this car was so popular was the ease for engine tuning, especially as the mechanics for the Mini were relatively simple - enabling drivers to ‘pull’ their cars apart and build them up to sportier models.

Racing was also gaining fast popularity in the 60s, meaning more people were looking to customise their car to achieve the sporty performance and look. To replicate the racing cars, people souped up their car styling with girth to the rubber, bigger arches and more. Plus, hot rodding became massive in the 60s and is partly responsible for making this decade one of the biggest for aftermarket modifications.

1970s car modifications

By the 1970s, manufacturers were starting to begin increasing performance; consumers could get a high-performance car straight from the showroom, which began to affect the aftermarket modifications market. But, while the lure of hot rods began to wane in the early 70s, but the focus shifted to ‘street rods’. Essentially, these were modified cars without the racing.

The 1973 oil crisis also did nothing to stop the custom car parts UK market, with car buyers going for smaller cars to modify, rather than the large, less economical vehicles. In fact, most cars caught the attention of car tuners in the 70s, especially as tuned cars can offer better fuel economy, as well as that all-important power.

1980s car modifications

The 1980s were exactly as you might expect; the bigger and bolder the better. Performance car parts don’t come bigger than they did in the 1980s; think a 911 Turbo with the front and rear bumpers of a 928 (in banana yellow…). The eighties were also the decade of the most modified cars, including the likes of the AMG Hammer, Koenig Testarossa and various widebody SEC Mercs.

While there might have been a slump in cars sold in the 80s, aftermarket car parts were still popular - especially with the ‘street rodders’. The spoiler and other car styling modifications took precedence, with people more concerned about how the car looked to how it performed. The real big business for the 80s was in the bodykits, with spoilers, skirts and bumper extensions making the most money.

As it was the 80s, your car was nothing without some decent body paint. We’re talking tiger stripes, racing car stripes and more; the brighter, the better.

1990s car modifications

The aftermarket modifications and, especially, custom car parts UK markets owe a debt of gratitude to the 90s. This decade is when modifications took off big style; some for the better and others for the worse… Body kit modifications saw a massive chunk of the market, with everyone opting for wide body kits for a souped up style. And, if you didn’t have racing stripes - what was the point in modifying your car?

Engine tuning was still worth a punt in the 90s, but it was all about how the car looked. Wheels like the TSW Venom became popular, along with smooth bodywork and other car styling modifications. The 90s also brought us pleather for our car interiors...

00s car

00s car modifications

If there’s one decade that influenced aftermarket car parts more than any other, it’s the 2000s. The decade that brought us Pimp My Ride and Fast & Furious massively contributed to the aftermarket economy.

We’re not denying that some of the stunts in the Fast & Furious are not possible but the franchise can be credited for putting car modifications into the mainstream. In fact, it’s done more for the automotive industry than some might think. Not only did it reintroduce us to car customisation, but taught us that a 1995 Toyota Supra could smash a Ferrari in a race. The influence was clear, and the number of skylines and Japanese car parts in the noughties was massive.

The franchise also substantially boosted the automotive economy. Take BMW, for instance, and their reintroduction of the MINI in the US in 2002. They offered a range of colours and other customisations for the punters, with people spending an average of £2,000 more on their car; all due to the Fast & Furious franchise.

Likewise, Pimp My Ride proved that you could turn your old ‘banger’ into a customised car, with popcorn makers, champagne ice buckets and even a ‘home theatre’ in the back seat.

2010s to today

Engine tuning has never been so popular, as have custom car parts UK. We’re seeing more and more consumers opt for car tuning, in favour of getting the next model up from the manufacturer. In the past year, we’ve seen a massive 379% increase in the number of people buying petrol tuning boxes. Likewise, there has been a 6% increase in diesel tuning boxes.

Tuning your car engine is relatively cheap and you can do it yourself. Add to that, you don’t void your warranty with the temporary performance car parts, as the vehicle returns back to standard once the tuning box is removed.

If you want to read more on car tuning, you can read our guide to car performance upgrades. Alternatively, you can select your model and check out the tuning boxes available.