Car Customization In 2018: Nothing Is Sacred

Not too long ago, at a local Cars and Coffee event, I noticed a small crowd milling about a clean, but visually par for the course Datsun 240Z. Curious, I went in for a closer look and was surprised to find not ‘Nissan’ but ‘BMW’ embossed on the valve cover.

Of all the motors I expected to see under the hood, an S38 lifted from an E24 M6 wasn’t on the list.

Later that same day I discovered the ‘CorrupttMustang‘, a chopped, bagged, twin-turbo Ferrari V8-powered Ford Mustang destined for SEMA 2018. Then, before bed, I read Matthew’s walk through the isles of insanity at Meguiar’s MotorEx, along with the comments that followed.

It was just before I fell asleep that all the automotive creativity I had seen during the course of the day cemented an idea in my mind: When it comes to automotive modification nothing is sacred.

Take for example the fact that there are not one, but two, Ferrari-powered drift cars running around road courses in North America. A few years ago such an idea would have been laughed off as both impossible and sacrilegious, and yet here we are. To make things even more exciting, those cars are just two of countless envelope-pushing projects from around the globe.

I’ve peppered this post with some of the crazier builds I’ve personally seen over the past year to further illustrate that currently no automotive idea is too wild.

Thanks to a combination of tools, talent, and widely accessible information, the impossible has become fairly possible. Or at least plausible enough to try.

If you’ve got the expendable resources, that is money or time (or more realistically a combination of the two), then you can set about creating whatever you can imagine. There’s next to nothing standing in the way of the craziest automotive ideas.

Well, nothing except for the often overpowering voice of the purist automotive community.

Purists believe certain cars have prescribed uses and a set list of permissible modifications. X should never be that color; Y can only be so low; Z isn’t meant for that type of racing. The list of purist don’ts seems to grow by the day, while the dos remain fixed.

If you’re in the camp that believes there are rules to car modification (outside of race series specification, of course) then you might want to consider letting that notion go. If that’s too much to ask, then perhaps entertain being a little less vocal about your grievances.


Don’t worry, this isn’t another millennial ‘respect all builds’ rant. That is not what I’m driving at.

I don’t think anyone has to respect all builds; each of us has different tastes and if it’s not well built then by all means critique the execution. But don’t tear down the idea.

Taking something and making it your own is the basis of hot rodding. Too much tire to Mr. Jones is not enough for Mr. Smith. Unbecoming camber to Jack is a wheel-fitting means to an end to Jill. The ideal motor for Tom is nothing but a paperweight to his friends Dick and Harry.

Everyone connects to cars differently and a platform one person regards as near perfect is simply a blank canvas to another, ready to be painted in any style imaginable.

This freedom to do anything is a good thing.

We’re long past operating within manufacturer’s specifications, and challenging someone else’s idea of perfect has led to several customization practices that are commonplace today.

Chopped tops, flared fenders, forced induction as a replacement for displacement, wheelie bars on front-wheel drive cars (heck FWD drag cars period), outrageous aero on everything. All of the aforementioned are ideas that came from those willing to challenge established norms.

More often than not the most interesting builds come from those who color outside the lines.


Sure, there are cars that wind up resembling little more than haphazard mechanical scribbles when complete, but those last two scribbles could be the catalyst to a forthcoming masterpiece.

As an enthusiast who likes a little bit of everything, I absolutely love where we’re at now and wouldn’t dare change a thing.


The more boundaries that come down the better. The more motors that cross manufacturer lines in the sand the better. And quite frankly, the more builds that leave me flat out puzzled the better.

In a car wold where nothing is sacred and purists don’t exist, what would you build?

Note: For the TL;DR crowd: The Mini is powered by a small block V8; the black car is a Mazdaspeed3; the Triumph was one step away from the scrapper before the EV conversion; the Charger isn’t numbers matching; it’s a 1JZ; yes it runs; that is indeed a rotary engine; the Mustang was based on a C5 chassis.

Dave Thomas
Instagram: stanceiseverythingcom



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Honestly, I'm all for the "do it differently" attitude and going over the purist mentality. Cars are meant to be driven. Skills are meant to be used. If you have the skill to chop up something, and make it crazy, but usable, go for it. Everyone became so mellow in recent years, against trying something different and overly critical when someone does something that's in a purists mind outrageous.

Of course I wouldn't do an engine swap or whatever on some stupid expensive collectors car, but everything else, why not? I'll use the "it's just a car" phrase, which it honestly is. A '7x 240Z is just one in the sea of other 240Z's and you might as well make it unique and different (and tasteful). The same is with any other non-low volume production car, however old or new it may be.

As for the what would I build, well, you have my renders on your website, so something along those lines haha (02turbodesign). But, probably a full tube chassis, wide body, turbofan, V12 TT Ferrari 250GTO carbon replica with rear mount radiator, side exit exhaust and screamer pipes sticking out the hood.


I love ballsy builds, and while I die a little inside when somebody takes a well preserved stock vehicle to completely transform it into X or Y, nothing satisfies me more than saving a car from rotting away.

By all means, throw the rotary in a Camaro. Ecoboost that vintage Mercedes. Drop an LS in the Supra. But when you find yourself about to apply an angle grinder to the fender of a car that's been well cared for, loved, and maintained, think about looking for a different example to tear apart.


It's a bit of a double edged sword. Often starting with the cleanest chassis available makes the build go quicker. But if you're going to cut a lot of it away it does seem wasteful?

I guess you could always sell your mint quarters off.


I'm both anxious and a touch interested to hear the outcries of the rotary purists upon completion of my pro-touring style 4 rotor 1974 Mazda REPU. I've even had moments where my dad (also a REPU owner) has given me crap about how I'm planning to cut original metal. Truth be told, it's 75% REPU, and 25% Ford Courier/Mazda B1600, as the original cab was cut up (by my dad) and scrapped for parts, but I convinced him to give me the title and VIN for the REPU to bring it back from the dead. The purists will say that "you're destroying a car/truck that could have been fully restored", but most of us have saved something from the scrappers, and in my case, I'm not using much else from the original truck. Pretty sure Mazda never thought a 4 rotor would go in a REPU.


This calls for pics!

Factory restorations are cool but they are common your build sounds like it will be one of a kind. Lots of my favorite conversations end up with people who've built something totally crazy.

Learning why people did what they did is often a lot of fun.


For now, it's pics of a rusty cab that needs tons of rust repair, piles of patch panels, some tools to do it, and a solid plan (read: approval from the wife).
I'm doing my best to document as I go, but with life, has been slow going, but is beginning to pick up progress. I'll be sure to reach out when it's a little closer to something fun to look at, or at least when the 4 rotor is mocked up in the bay.


I feel you man, good luck life certainly doesn't want cars to get build.

I got wife approval a few years back. She's still wondering when the garage won't be full of project haha.


Loving the Canadian content dude! Pumped to see some local stuff coming up on here.


I'm always struggling with scare of ruin something original and rare while due to a lack of skills I always do. And most of times I scared again I'm wondering where is the edge? What I should try and what to avoid touching? And the answer is - skills matter, nothing else. And skills can't come from nowhere, skills is the result of trying-failing-ruining-repairing sessions. So I appreciate bravery to build something out of space especially when it is done with passion and devotion to quality.


I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of the 240z once again a month back. The BMW swap in that car is so unbelievably well done, pictures do not do it justice. Definitely proud to see some local cars on SH!!


That Mustang lives just down the street from me! Not my cup of tea, but it turns heads, no doubt about that.


I cringe a little since I have cut at least half of my FB's fenders out to fit 17" wheels and flares since it was a solid body, but it saves me time and gives me a nicer finished product. I've already done the V8 swap so might as well keep going!


I need more of that red Challenger!!!

Daniel P Huneault

You mean the dodge charger? yes we need more info and pics!!!!


I'll be you going back to the shop that's building it very soon


I respect all builds but I only like those who make the car faster, I honestly can't care about stancing a car when that car is going to find trouble moving, which is its purpose. I really like engine swaps that improve the weight of the original engine or improve the weight distribution, would love to do a rotary TE27 or a K20 powered 2002. All engines are made of plastic and metal, so why stick with the same brand of the car?


I hear you there. Brand purists I understand from a historical value view but when it comes to mods and swaps they're all big companies trying to sell us something. Their metal isn't (normally) special and often parts shared among brands anyway.


I like your train of thought, a k 2002 would be awesome!


Thats one ugly Corvette lol, should be called a body swapped corvette not a mustang. Im in the Make it faster/reliable camp, i like when something has a purpose and function.


Great cutting edge car mongrel chic article......if someone has the will, skill,n cash or any of the for mentioned anything can be done.......


honestly its your car you have to drive it everyday spend money on matainining it yada yada its your green spend it on what makes you happy. sure theres some ugly cars but i mean if that persons happy fine we.


Oh man I didn't know we had this here in Ontario! Please, Dave, send me an email


So many of these cars need full features!


welcome to canada
many edgelords sitting on internet 6 months of the year while snow flies and caar is garaged


I'm in the envelope pusher crowd, though currently both my cars are little more than stock. Soon, though.


Is there a post on the 'vette framed wiiiiiidebody mustang? Or a build thread? Or just, like, anything??


- your car, your money, your call. Rest is irrelevant.
- while i’d go for usability, stanced builds (which I would never use) always make me smile for the carefreeness.
- I really liked the Miura, McLaren 650s and Aventador with LBW body kits because why not? I actually think that, as long as done properly, if an owner wants to modify his 250GTO as he pleases, go for it. That will be truly a unique car


Pretty sure the Miura was a kit car, not a real Lamborghini.


Great piece Dave I get very tired of seeing the same cars over and over being done up though truly believe we do up a car for ourselves and no one else - I'm doing a Borward Isabella convertible with a V8 and air bags so I think I also qualify for having very little brain power but at least it will make me happy


Thanks! I've never heard of your car but I looked it up and it sounds awesome!


Personally, I love outrageously modified cars. I wouldn't want to own some some of them but every "sacrilegious" build has so much effort put into it that I cant help but look in awe and wonder. Sometimes, the perfect engine for the build is from another manufacturer and therefore Satan's work to purists. But in the end the owners are enjoying the car much more and the lives of purists are largely unaffected.


Got any more pics of that Charger??


@callmiro on ig is the best place, it's not done yet.


Hmm, I agree that nothing is sacred as well. I also think that for the most part the layman has no f!@#ing clue what they are doing to a car.

The reality is Fast and the Furious blew the industry wide open and what we are really seeing now is what happens to car culture when Joe Average Dip Shit gets some money in his pocket and wants to be Brian O'Connor.

Aerodynamics are probably the worst department this is evident in (see the picture with that god awful front splitter for reference). What we're really seeing with car culture is what happens when the average person participates in a hobby on a mass scale: stupidity.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Loving the reaction of the 2 guys on the left to MustangKyle's car in the header picture. LOL!


Honestly, if it weren't for people trying new things car culture wouldn't be where it is today. I love seeing crazy and wild builds. Whether it's a Mini with a 13B, a Corolla with an RB26 or even wilder things like a 2JZ Camaro and RB26 powered Mustang. In the end, it's your car. You dictate whether to go nuts or keep it subtle. The sky is the limit.

Spanky McLugnuts

I want to put a Trabant engine in a Ferrari

John Krzeminski

I love unique engine swaps and stuff but that Mustang, for example, looks awful. If you're going to be hacking up increasingly rare, old car, you better be damn good at it. I'm not saying that because of any "purist" mentality, but from a historical perspective. Less and less good examples of these cars are around as the years go on. Look up the "Inzanity 240z" for example. It's a well thought out build with unreal fabrication, not just a hacked up car with some shoddy stamped out metal fender flares that were lazily riveted on. If you're going to do that, at least do it to a previously wrecked version you found at a junkyard. Also, this whole putting your Instagram everywhere and practically begging for followers thing that young car enthusiasts are doing now has to be one of the most pathetic things ever.


I'm a big fan of that flared Charger <3

Kevin Angelus Mortis Smith

I think most fear of doing something different. Because they don't like being judge, but those same people will be quick to judge others. When doing something different.


I love your burgers Dave Thomas :)


Take it from a guy with a turbo LS swapped FD RX-7.... people are not so open minded. Mainly, the rotary fans.

Kevin Angelus Mortis Smith

They can be a purist but that's any brand chaser. Sadly i drive a miata lol


Make it different, make it yours. As long as you have the money, time, talent and good taste, you will create something unique. Those builds gather crowds; every day people walk by perfect restos that go unnoticed except by a few purists.