Modifications to standard build cars have been going on since practically the first one rolled off the production line. These days, car tuning and 'modding' in order to improve the performance and handling or to customise the looks of a vehicle have become big business.
Most cars are designed to leave the factory with a suitable initial set up for the average driver's expectations and average road conditions; however many people don't like to be viewed as average, and as cars are often seen as an extension of the owner's personality, 'modding' and tuning have become ways to personalize the vehicle to suit the owner's own sense of style.
In Japan especially, the modification of cars has seen not only a rise in its own owners' sub-culture, but it has also hit the Manga comics and anime in the form of Initial D, and gone on to worldwide box office hit films with The Fast and the Furious. The modification market has become so important to certain manufacturers - most notably Nissan, Subaru and Mitsubishi - that some have even started to release certain models to big name tuning, performance and aftermarket specialists, prior to the actual launch, in order that there are non factory custom modifications ready as soon as the car officially hits the market.
Today there is an extensive array of performance parts available for many different makes and models or car; however body kits and 'body tuning' parts currently make up by far the largest market share of aftermarket parts throughout the world.
Following on from the lead in Japan, and the increased availability of Japanese import cars and parts, the UK scene has exploded in recent years with an extensive list of parts now available, such as neon under-body lights, tinted windows, candy, iridescent, colour shifting and pearlescent paints, decals, custom exhaust tips, spoilers, roof scoops, not to mention lowered suspension, and custom rims!
In the current world of car tuning, style is king. Every tuner wants to post their car photos [http://www.motoraddicts.com] on the latest blog, owners club or online forum. Even those without their own car can create a virtual tuned car with the aid of computer games like 'Need For Speed' before then posting pictures of it online, for others to see their idea of the ideal modified car.
The world of the car as a means of personalized transport has come a long way since Henry Ford is reputed to have made the statement "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black." These days a car owner can change the performance, shape, colour or any other styling detail they like.
It seems as though the car truly has become an extension of the owner's personality like never before.