TopCar’s top ten: fake ‘performance’ modifications

1. Basket wire hubcaps

As seen on many a taste-free US barge between the 1950s and 1980s. Presumably real wires would have wilted under the weight of all that chrome (and the occupants’ corpulence). So revolting that you’d have little choice but to go police baiting, hoping that a few might get pinged-off mid-corner in the resulting chase.

2. Fake brakes

First it was dummy brake discs, fitted by insecure modders ashamed of their rear drum brakes; the absence of a caliper and the fact that they looked rubbish being the big giveaway. Now fakers have moved to the front axle, fitting dummy Brembo four-pot covers to their single-piston stoppers. Please, somebody put the brakes on this nonsense/stop this at once, etc…

3. Carbon adhesive trim

On racecars, on roof skins and when real, carbon fibre totally rocks. But when it’s bought by the roll, is nothing more than printed vinyl, and is used to cover everything from the air vents to the rear-view mirror of a tarted-up hatchback, it’s about as cool as molten lava. Also, in a hilarious irony, it adds further weight. We wouldn’t mind if it impressed girls, but it doesn’t: they’ll quite rightly think you’re a knob.

4. Turbo whistle exhausts

‘Intimidate other cars when you fly by and sound like you have a turbo,’ claims the ad at for the turbo whistler, a $20 crime against taste that fits inside your tailpipe. Plus: become the laughing stock of your neighbourhood and obstruct your exhaust, making your car actually slower, at no extra cost!

5. Monster rear wings

Fine on a 911 GT2 whose balance between drag and downforce has been carefully honed after hours of computer modelling and wind-tunnel testing; less fine when resembling a plank stuck onto the boot of a Honda Civic that’ll probably understeer like a 2CV on fast corners as a result.

6. Fake bonnet scoops

Don’t be sucked into thinking that a dirty great bonnet scoop is all about performance. The 2002-2006 supercharged Mini Cooper S’s hood-hole was real enough, but the second-gen turbo car’s is a fake, as were most of the hood scoops fitted to ’60s muscle cars.

7. Fake split-rims wheels

Is there a car on the planet that doesn’t look good on set of classic BBS RS or RM split- rims? Probably not, which is why copycats like Lenso came up with their own fake (I mean take) on the iconic design, complete with faux bolts – they’re one piece and can’t be split at all. The only thing that’s split is your credibility.

8. Badge engineering

The greatest BMW? A de-badged M-car whose owner has left the quad pipes to do the talking. Contrast that with the bloke in his 316i on 15in rims, who for some reason has treated his steer’s rump to a shiny M-badge, and commissioned Andrea Bocelli to line the thing up. As impressive as socks stuffed down your pants.

9. Peco exhaust

A mandatory first mod for any Mini owner in the 1970s, a Peco back box hinted at huge power despite the fact that it slipped onto the standard pea-shooter pipe and, according to legendary tuning guru David Vizard, made less difference to engine power than a ‘Kevin and Shaz’ sunstrip.

10. Mercedes-Benz Artico

Only a company with the gumption of Mercedes could claim vinyl seats a step-up from cloth. But that’s exactly what Benz’s Artico is: a fake leather. Fortunately, it’s slightly more convincing than the pleather fitted to your average ’70s rustbucket.


Welcome to my corner of the automotive world! I'm Mandy Lawson, better known as mandla85, and I'm absolutely obsessed with everything related to cars and motorsports. You bet I'm interested if it has four wheels (or sometimes two!) and an engine. For me, cars aren't just a means of transportation; they're a passion, a lifestyle, and an endless source of fascination. I love diving into the world of automotive engineering and design, exploring the latest trends, and uncovering the stories behind the machines. Email / Facebook