This (as the name suggests) is a quick guide on how to create a Show car. As my experience is mainly in late model cars I have focused on the Import scene but many of the points here can be applied to other categories as well (/msg me if there is anything particular to another category that you feel should be included).

Before you begin creating your own mental masterpiece make sure you have the following:

  • A car (the newer the better)
  • A high disposable income or massive inheritance etc
  • Plenty of patience (possibly the most important requirement)

The basic equation for building an award winning show car is as follows:

((C1 * 10 + $ / 1000) + Ts ) * D = SC


C1 = Car's original coolness factor (out of 100). This can sometimes be substituted for the vehicle's inherent 'daggyness' appeal, for example if you are modifying a Mitsubishi Nimbus mini van or a Daewoo Matiz.

$ = Amount of cash spent on the car (can be rounded to nearest $1000)

Ts = Amount of time spent on the project (in months). Much like noding, these things take time to do properly.

D = Attention to detail. This is extremely important if you plan on entering your car into a competition. Judges can be hard to please and get quite picky when it comes down to the final contenders (I have seen one car win over another because it's oil cap was polished and the other was slightly greasy (it's true). This Can be measured on the same scale as C1 where 100 = perfect detailing.

Sc = Total coolness factor of the car.

Here's an example:

Say you have a Honda Prelude and $50,000 - you want it to be cool but aren't willing to devote every waking hour to the project (you gotta keep that income remember...). If we put this into the equation we get the following:

C1= 80 (my personal opinion of course)
$ = 50000
Ts= 4
D = 5 (due to the short 4 month time)

((800 + 50000 / 1000) + 4 * 5

This give a SC value of 274

As you might have guessed, this is basically an open ended equation which assumes that if you spend more money on your project it will be 'Cooler' all the way to infinity. I guess we'll never see the ultimate show car then but I would suggest setting the upper SC limit at 750 or so. This assumes the coolest possible car, $100,000, 2 years invested and absolute detailing. Good luck !

Ok now that's over with, here are some general tips on modifying modern cars:

The Exterior:

This is obviously the most noticable part of the car. If you aren't going for trophies you will probably want to focus on the exterior more than the interior, as it is that part that people will see. The most common modifications are bodykits, Paintwork/graphics and Wheels.

The body kit should enhance the look of the car, not dominate it. This doesn't mean that it can't be big, but it should flow with the general lines of the car (the kit can be blended with the body for a smoother effect). Widebody kits and flared wheelarches are in vogue right now.

Paint is a difficult one as there aren't many colors which haven't been tried already, but usually brighter is better as it will attract more attention. Airbrushed/stick-on graphics are popular at the moment, as are massive alloy rear wings which give a racecar look.

The latest fashion in wheels is BIG. The bigger the better, you may even have to roll the guards up to fit those massive rims under the car. Chrome is very popular in the show car scene and looks good with almost any color paint.

The Interior

One word: Leather. You can't beat it for style, whether it's flat or pleated and in any color, leather is the way to go. If you are going for a real race look you can substitute bucket seats (usually cloth covered) and metal checkerplate floor panels. Accesories should include at least an aftermarket steering wheel and gearknob.

Mobile Entertainment:

This used be called car audio but these days you got nothin' if you aren't packin' a DVD player, TFT monitor and the almost obligatory Playstation 2. These are combined with the car's audio system and basically make for a mobile cinema. Before designing an audio system you should decide whether you want high SPL (sound pressure level - loudness) or sound quality. Your decision will affect the equipment you purchase and how it is installed. If it's going to be an SPL system make sure your headunit has a remote, 'cause you don't want to be in the car when you turn it up !


Although you probably won't want to drive the thing, high powered turbocharged engines are everywhere at car shows. It is also important that the engine bay be presented well. Plenty of chrome, hidden battery/wiring and braided steel hoses usually prove popular. The whole shebang should sit at the end of a large diameter exhaust system for a tough look.

If you do plan on driving your car on the roads, you will probably want adjustable suspension. This allows you to change the height of the car (usually using a simple tool which is provided) from standard to ground scraping. This means your car will survive the occasional pothole and you can still have that cool slammed stance at shows. Lowering your car as much as possible also has the effect of making your mag wheels look bigger, which as you know is very important.

You got the goods!

There you go, if you've actually followed the above advice you should now be the proud (possibly broke) owner of your very own show car. Enjoy it while it lasts, that's your life savings that you're driving around and insurance will be hard to come by. On top of that you won't get your money back, no matter how good it looks. Remember, this is a labour of love, NOT AN INVESTMENT !