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Which Weird Car Mod Trend Do You Miss?

Maybe it’s a generational thing and maybe it has something to do with the cars themselves, but it seems like there’s a cycle of popular car modifications that’s constantly in motion. There are some perennial favorites, especially in tried-and-true mechanical mods like performance exhausts — but others seem very distinct to their time period. For example, #stance is the hot car mod of the 2010s, but we will all be making fun of that trend a decade or two from now (if we aren’t making fun of it already).

The rise of advanced infotainment systems (which have reached almost every new car on the market) made me realize how much I miss one of my favorite car mod trends. Remember when people would put ridiculous aftermarket stereo systems in their cars? For most of automotive history, sound systems were afterthoughts from car manufacturers. The idea of a stock "premium" audio system until a few years ago was maybe just adding a subwoofer.

But we car enthusiasts and wanna-be audiophiles figured out a solution to that, didn’t we? When I was in high school in the mid-late 2000s, the coolest kids in the parking lot had big, luminous, loud sound systems blasting Ludacris and DMX and shaking their Cavaliers and Grand Ams, accompanied by horrible rattling sounds. But the rattling didn’t bother us, because we were living our Fast and Furious dreams.

My buddy’s 2002 Camaro, in particular, had one of the coolest sound systems of its day with most of its small cargo area monopolized by a massive subwoofer. It had an iPod interface! The Alpine head unit knew what song was playing through the magic of USB! Also, the first time I ever experienced Bluetooth in a car was in that Camaro.

Regrettably, I never went too far with modifying any of the sound systems in my cars. The craziest I ever got was swapping out a stock head unit and speakers with a Kenwood Excelon stereo with LEDs in the head unit that changed colors while driving. Looking back, I kind of wish I did something crazier, like install one of those fold-out screens and a ridiculous subwoofer in my 1998 Chevy Blazer just for the heck of it.

The stereo system in my friend’s Camaro (which he still has, and it’s occasionally stored behind my garage when he doesn’t have anywhere to put the thing) is now quite outdated. It still sounds good and it’s certainly a huge improvement over a stock GM stereo from 2002, but it’s technologically not even close to what you can get standard in something like a mid-range Honda Fit today.

New infotainment systems are fantastic, and it’s great that something so advanced comes in modern cars straight from the manufacturer. But I do miss the tinkering and the showing off associated with car stereo modification. What weird car mod trend do you miss? Find a car for sale

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25 COMMENTS

  1. I miss the Japanese VIP trend. Sure it is still around but not as common as it used to be. DAD and junction produce with the VIP tables with slots for your favorite beverage and a pack of smokes. When I lived in Japan big body cars like the Crown, President, Celsior, and aristos where fading away before my eyes in favor of little Kai cars. Sure taxes where cheap and running cost we’re cheaper but I loved and still love those big body cars. That’s why now back in ‘merica I have owned a few LS400s and now an GS430 because I want to hang on to those days. 

  2. Basically every car from the 90s had an awful sound system from the factory.  They were putting cassette decks in cars even though nobody bought one since ’94, and the cars that came with CD players usually had an issue with a cd stuck into the unit making it obsolete.   The aftermarket radios looked great, with the different colors and some had LED’s which was new age stuff.  Some smaller upgrades usually added were Altezza Taillights, LED washer nozzles, tire flys, ebay air intakes, and some really awful body kits.

  3. If your buddy’s 2002 after market system didn’t sound better than today’s Honda Fit, then it was garbage.  Any of the decent custom stereo installs from the late 90’s early 2000’s that focused on staging beyond the pillars and imaging out to the hood are still superior to the highest of the high end garbage in today’s $100k luxury vehicles.

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Eric Brandt
Eric Brandt is an author specializing in Oversteer content, new car reviews, and finding the best car, truck, and SUV deals each month. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Eric can often be found exploring the north woods on his 1983 Honda Gold Wing when the weather allows it. Father of four, husband of one, and unapologetic minivan enthusiast. Eric mastered driving stick by having a 3-cylinder Chevy Metro as his only car for a year and regrets nothing.

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