For many car lovers, there is nothing better than owning a classic car. Whether it’s a classic Porsche or an old Austin Healey, there’s something special about a car with history. Sometimes it’s that timeless design that catches our eye. Often there’s a story behind the car and it lures you in. Whatever it is, classic cars have a strong place in our hearts.
Unfortunately, they come with their own set of problems. The engine, brakes and steering are often outdated and need replacing. Modern cars are more responsive and have extensive safety features. In order to bring your classic car in line with the modern driving culture, you may have to make a few modifications.
There is an entire culture of modifying cars out there. Much of it gets a bad reputation. It is often associated with boy racers, huge stereos and poor custom bodywork. However, when applied to classic cars, modifications will improve the power, performance and handling of your vehicle. Not only that, but it will increase its value on the car market.
Step 1: Finding the right car
The first step is to set yourself up with the perfect classic car. Start by scouring car auctions and second hand dealers to find a bargain. If your dream car is a Porsche, look online at inchcape.co.uk where you’ll find ten year old models. Immerse yourself in classic car forums and communities. Get a sense of what’s out there.
Now that you’ve found that perfect classic car, let’s dive into the first modification.
Bushings – You may not have even heard of bushings, but they incredibly important. They are relatively cheap and their replacement will make a huge difference. If you haven’t got a big budget, this is the number one thing you should do. Replacing the bushings will give your all-round performance a boost. Bushings affect everything from steering to braking to ride quality to handling. Think of it like laying the foundations. Bushings make strong, reliable foundations for the rest of your modifications.
Steering – There is a very simple trick when it comes to upgrading the steering and that’s the steering box. Most factory steering boxes have a ratio of 17:1. When it comes to older, classic cars, the ratios are even higher. Install a steering box with a 15:1 ratio or less and you’ll see a huge improvement. The response is tighter and more immediate. This is a win-win modification. Take your classic car onto the racetrack and you’ll take corners harder and faster. On the road, you’ll perfect a three-point-turn and increase practicality.
Replace factory exhaust – A good exhaust is all about airflow. It’s about maximising and streamlining the exhaust process. Again, exhaust mods get a bad reputation thanks to boy racers. They aimed for size and volume over efficiency. The best exhaust replacements will actually make the ride quieter and smoother. You’ll notice the difference in the ride quality and you’ll gain extra power as a result of good airflow. For resale value, this one is great because it helps quieten the engine sound.
Disc Brakes – One of the biggest problems in classic cars are the older brake systems. The modern standard is disc brakes. Disc brakes are fast, hard and responsive. If you’re on the track, the key to fast lap times is braking late in the corners. If you’re looking for speed, learn how to slow down. Disc brakes also have the great advantage of adding tons of resale value. Good brakes are a sign of safety and reliability.
Tyres – Great tyres will make or break the performance of any vehicle. Handling and control all rely on tyres that you can trust. Older models may be saddled with worn tyres. To truly unlock the power and performance of your car, you’ll want to upgrade. A tyre upgrade gives you even more grip in the corners. You can push the car harder and faster and squeeze even more power from the engine. When it comes to everyday driving, great tyres provide safety and control on the roads.
Sway Bars – Sway bars are a small modification that you can make to your car’s chassis. They are simple bars that hold the left side suspension to the right hand suspension. During straight, motorway driving, you won’t notice a whole lot of difference. However, in the corners, the sway bars pull the suspension together making it tight. It gives you added control and grip when taking turns. It also gives your car more control over bumps. Again, great for racing and great for added control out on the roads.
Intake – You’ll notice that we haven’t suggested any direct speed or engine upgrades yet. Well, here’s the first. And even this one isn’t exactly an engine part. Like we’ve already said, there is no need to improve the engine until you improve the other performance aspects. When you are finally ready to squeeze out some extra horsepower, the intake is your first port of call. Upgrading the intake will allow more air into engine. It means that air can be pressurised and it will react more efficiently with the petrol. You’ll get more power and, potentially, a better mileage.
Suspension upgrades – Everyone with a small interest in cars know that the suspension can make all the difference. Suspension technology has come a long way in the last ten years. Upgrading yours is one of the most efficient ways of improving your car. The key is investing in the right shock absorbers and maintaining great stability. Of course, this can be a costly route, but the rewards are high. Improved stability and ride quality goes a long way to increasing resale value.
The trick to squeezing out more power and performance is upgrading the entire vehicle. Stronger brakes, better steering and ride quality is vital, particularly in older, classic cars. If you have resale in mind, try avoid major cosmetic changes that may alienate future buyers. We wish you all the best with your classic car.