To Modify Or Not To Modify, That Is The Question
Top Secret

When I was at the Purist Group’s Winter Drive last weekend, I was on the lookout for something different. Two cars fit the bill quite well and also served to prompt a specific line of thinking.

Sure, it’s always cool to get up close to exotics, of which there were plenty at the show, but they don’t really hold my attention like an extensively modified car does. In thinking about this, it’s hard to actually pinpoint exactly what it is about any given car that I like or dislike. Quality of execution and rarity or parts is a good place to start, I suppose.

With that in mind, when I look at Koenigsegg or a Pagani, for example, I have great appreciation for what these brands have achieved. Their products are an incredible feat of functional engineering and beautiful design, both dancing together fluidly. The quality of execution, as well as the rarity, is just about second to none.


However, in beholding any supercar, what you generally see is the combined effort of a large team working to meet regulation, market trends, and design goals alike. The fact that any company can check all of these boxes and still deliver something exciting is an amazing accomplishment on its own.

What you don’t see in the end product, though, is one man’s vision. At the other end of the spectrum, when you look at a modified Japanese car from the 1990s, this is exactly what you get, and likely why these builds draw me in far more than any factory effort.


First up, Steve Sawicki’s JZA80 Toyota Supra, wearing the original version of Top Secret’s GT300 wide-body kit.


Steve has owned this car for 18 years now, with the build finished in 2005. For the most part it’s been sitting in this form ever since, and as such Steve says it’s time for a refresh soon.


Looking at the details around the Supra, you can tell that it’s both a car that gets driven — rather than just parked up at shows, where the feel of the car is somehow much different — as well as one that a lot of time and attention has been dedicated to.


On a completely different note, Steve’s actually a stunt driver so we’ll definitely need to catch up for a chat and some photos once he’s seen his future plans through for this Supra. Many ideas come to mind for a feature…


Personal taste aside, the Top Secret GT300 kit nicely fits into the two categories I introduced earlier: quality of execution and rarity. If you are interested in my opinion, I really do like the Top Secret kit on the MkIV as it seems to exaggerate the natural feel of the car rather than replace it altogether.

Come To The VeilSide

In contrast, the VeilSide Fortune NSX that I spotted towards the edge of the show completely alters many of the design cues that make an NSX an NSX.


Having never seen this particular VeilSide bodywork up close in person, this car definitely checks the rarity box. When it comes to execution, both the Fortune kit itself and the adaptation to this particular chassis are both very well done as well.


But it’s this deviation from from the original lines that I imagine will upset most die-hard NSX enthusiasts. Again, if you’re interested in my own thoughts, I love how sinister the car looks in this form, and it’s a nice shake-up to an ordinary NSX.


Still, wearing loads of bits from R1 Concepts all around the Acura, it appears to be an absolutely proper setup. I wasn’t able to connect with the owner this go-around, but as with the Supra I’m hoping we can connect some day in the future for a more in-depth look at the car.


Even a quick glance here at the show is evidence enough that it’s a thorough build. A Momo steering wheel, carbon fiber trim, and a Paxton supercharger all immediately stand out.


Wearing 20-inch wheels with meaty, yet slightly stretched rubber on all four corners, I’d be surprised to hear that this car sees track time. But how many guys are regularly tracking their NSX these days anyway?


In reality, especially in the face of skyrocketing prices for both of these JDM legends, only a couple examples come to mind when I try to think of either a fourth-gen Supra or an NSX that’s regularly driven on the edge.


It’s sort of a shame, too, because it means that owners are encouraged not just to store their cars rather than driving them, but also to maintain their factory specification in an effort to increase their value. It’s pretty apparent that neither of these owners are concerned about resale, but rather that they both had a specific vision and saw it through. Now they get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.


Sure, it’s fair to preserve historically significant examples, but for everyday, run-of-the-mill Japanese cars — as cool as these may be on their own — I don’t think anything is sacred, as some would suggest. Still, similar to the idea that no one really modifies a Koenigsegg, I’ve yet to see too many Japanese cars that weren’t sold here in the first place extensively going under the knife.

But what do you think, perhaps it’s about time?


Back on topic, there’s no doubt in my mind that both of these cars will evolve as time goes on, and that’s precisely the beauty of owning a car that you drive and modify rather than simply collect.

It’s really this very process that makes any car worth owning in the first place.

Trevor Ryan
Instagram: tyrphoto



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Very nice feature. Personally, there are some cars (that NSX) that should be left stock while other cars (GTRs, Supras, RX7s, ect) are best modded. It is nice to see some stock cars, but coming from a non-ricer JDM fanboy, I personally like a good widebody or big wing! Hey, just sayin'!


Like this!


Modify all the things. I've never owned a car that I didn't modify.


good god i want an nsx so bad


The Top Secret kit for the Supra looks good but Veilside kit for the NSX takes away the natura aesthetic beauty of the NSX lines.


That nsx...giggity giggity


Cars are extensions of people. Your characteristics, personality, habits, these can all be reflected in the product of your build. Anything from the paint finish, to the panel fitment, to the rarity of parts and how well they work.

This goes for stock cars as well. People that cherish the manufacturing and engineering in their machine. They document the services it goes through and everything they've had to replace.

There really isn't an outright correct answer on whether to modify or not, and i hope nobody believes that there is


Exactly. I am an engineer, and I usually prefer function over from. I like getting into the details. I like weighing parts, and optimizing mass distribution. I like doing one mod at a time, and seeing if I can feel a difference (which, I usually can.)

Still, there is so much to do. Tuning and modding is, essentially, endless.

When I think back to the stock car that I started with, it's amazing how different the car becomes. It makes your car unique, and personal. I get so attached to them, after awhile, like an old hat. When it comes time to say goodbye, it's like losing a family member. I just want to make sure she goes to a good home, somebody who will love and appreciate her.


Function over form


Jeez, deep dude!


nice photo
less opinion pls


Opinion is what makes these articles worth reading. Imagine if it was just a list of facts with the photos!


@willio g, I did ask for criticism on here, but opinions are mostly why people mod their cars. Opinion is what drives you to love/hate widebodies, or want mega camber, or a big wing. Without opinion, the car culture wouldn't exist. It would be a bunch of fart can priuses... which sounds absolutely STUPID.


If you like em so badly, then restore one lol. That's an impressive action to take on it's own. Other than that I say mod away. Whether the mods are functional or aesthetically pleasing is a different story.

I can dig the nsx. The rear/taillight assembly is pretty cool.


If you like em so badly, then restore one lol.

Huh, yeah that is the exception... I'M BROKE AS FRICK! Maybe a Miata resto, but nothing that expensive yet. Let me become a real estate agent or doctor or lawyer first! XD


Chop chop!


in terms of JDM cars if theres a unique version that you can convert into a legal version for the road cosmetic or otherwise or a high performance trim i say spend the money and go for it. its nice to see JDM conversions as oposed to entirely aftermarket its different and shows you put a nice level of commitment into things. so im for modifying but dont bankroll your car for hype, hype fades and debt is long term.

but in terms of really rare cars or cars that are becoming rare JDM classic. american cars, some luxury eurocars and stuff, stock versions of humdrum mundane cars etc, id say leave it stock, bring a trailer will gladly bid on your mint, red 2000 honda civic SI original owner all stock vehicle as a collectors piece

stock or modified it depends on the car and cars are an extension of a personality and ones self (see japan for how important modifying your car is over there) i can tell you its alot harder to maintain and keep a car stock then it is to modify the balls out of it and stuff.


Well I know cars that I'll keep stock and cars that I'll definitely modify
Even there are some cars on Forza I like to keep stock


Personally I'm not sure if I "get" what seems to be a mostly U.S. thing of why most wheels, both stock or aftermarket are polished/chromed or is it possibly just what's the norm? Might be because I'm on the western side of the Atlantic Ocean where it's uncommon for polished or chromed to be anything other than for highlighting either the spokes, dish or outer edge, also been noticing that more modified car owners are painting the face in satin or matt colours.


no car is safe.... mwahahahahahahahaaaaaa


It's an amazing car, but was anyone else bugged by the NSX's front window sticker being off-centre?