One thing I have learned in life is a car meet-up can be pretty brutal unless you are well-prepared for the event. Those of you planning to take your show car for a local meet might want to plan for it.
Different people have different preferences, and we believe that it is great to showcase these at a car show. However, make sure that you don’t end up trending on Reddit communities for the wrong reasons.
Build the Right Car
Many people would argue that the right car would ideally be a certain make and model. One of the most popular cars is the 1990s Mazda MX5 Miata. Gearheads such as the ones over at Car Throttle spend well over the car’s value on their MX5s to make them the best track and show car there is.
When we say build the right car, we don’t necessarily talk about the make and model. We have seen some of the most absurd cars draw in a crowd. Regardless of what car you have, it will draw people in if it has character.
Here are some common cars we see at car meet-ups.
The Jack of All
This type of car has it all. From body kits to under-the-hood tweaks, you will see this car gets the most respect.
However, these cars are massive money pits. Plus, you can’t modify every car on the market. Imagine taking one of the rarest cars on the planet, like a 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 and installing a Liberty Walk kit on it. They make amazing kits, but most people would argue that keeping a rare car in its stock condition is a better option.
Additionally, we have seen countless people lose their lives in older cars that had an engine swap. For your and others’ safety, please be careful about how far you should push your car.
R.I.C.E, or Race Inspired Cosmetic Enhancement is a plague that started around the time of the first Fast and Furious movie. People who R.I.C.E their cars are knowns as ricers.
These people prefer show over performance and make little or no modifications to the car’s actual performance. Such enthusiasts often make additions to their cars that end up slowing them down.
We would advise you to stay away from such mods unless you are really passionate about them. I cannot count the number of times I have come across a front-wheel-drive car with a huge spoiler. Yes, 90s Honda Civic lovers, we are calling you out.
Painting your brake calipers and adding a tasteful wing while dropping your car a bit might help with its overall aesthetic. However, don’t go too crazy with it. Most riced-out cars are daily drivers. So, don’t overdo it if you aren’t comfortable with people seeing you in public like that.
Many people choose to add wraps or add-ons as self-aware memes. While we appreciate good humor, don’t start fighting with people when they make fun of your car.
The Performance Monster
Next up are the “purists” of the automotive world. These people focus more on performance mods than aesthetics. Such people like to keep their cars clean and mean, with engine swaps and tasteful body modifications that add performance.
A supercar meet-up usually has mostly stock vehicles with a performance tune, such as YouTuber CaptainSparklez’s beautiful Miami Blue Ford GT.
Make it Look Good
After you have built your car the way you want, it is time to make it look good. We recommend checking out our guide for an epic DIY car wash that will make your car shine. If you use your show car for other purposes, we recommend checking out our DIY ceramic coating guide to keep your car shiny and safe from the elements.
Slapping on a body kit increases your car’s street presence. Some of the best kit manufacturers include Mansory, Liberty Walk, Rocket Bunny, Hamann Motorsport, and Veilside. You can trust these kits to add more rigidity to your car while also making it look good.
Show up to a car meet-up with a tasteful body kit, and you will be sure to draw in a crowd. Body kits are extensive, and some like Veilside’s RX-7 Fortune kit can make your car look like a completely different one altogether.
If you own an older car, you might want to repaint it if the color has faded. A fresh coat of paint and ceramic coating makes your car look shiny and makes it easy to clean.
Some people prefer painting their brake calipers or purchase pre-painted ones to add more appeal to their rides.
Many people also opt for wrapping their rides before a car meet-up. Car wraps allow for more versatile design and color options without damaging the original paint.
Imagine driving a high-end car with steel wheels. Your wheels add a lot of curb appeal to your car. While picking wheels might seem as simple as choosing what you like, be wary of cheap wheels that cause more damage than good. They can break and lead to accidents that will total your car and injure you and others around.
While swapping wheels, you have two options. The first is to take off your daily driver’s wheels and put them on your show car. Otherwise, you can install new wheels. If you opt for the former, you should check our guide on things to remember when swapping wheels between cars.
You might want to straight-pipe your car but ask yourself if it makes sense. Certain states have stricter rules about car modifications. Going against any law might make your car illegal to drive on the streets.
As long as you are doing a car show on private property, it’s fair game to make your car sound how you like in order to draw in a crowd.
Similarly, slamming your car below a certain height may lead to the law impounding your vehicle. Ensure that if you are preparing your ride for a car meet-up, get rid of the following accessories before hitting the streets:
- The “Carolina squat” that many SUV and truck owners enjoy is under scrutiny from the local government. Should the bill be passed, this automotive trend may come to an end. You can still drive a squatted truck, but lookout for any new laws that might make it illegal.
- Underglow neon lights are one of the (ricer) car trends that started in the early 2000s because of the Fast and Furious movie franchise and the widely successful Need for Speed Underground 2 videogame. However, the law does not permit you to have the lights on while on public roads. Additionally, you cannot install red or blue lights in case someone mistakes you for a cop.
- We all know that window tint makes your car look slick, but beyond a certain point, also very illegal.
- Fancy license plate frames that might add to your car’s look during a show.
Do you want your car to spit flames during the next show? It may be time for a flamethrower mod. If your car can’t spit flames, you might want to try more unconventional methods.
Once your car is looking how you want it, don’t forget to clean your car. No matter how great your car looks, dirt and grime can take away from its look. We have seen beautiful cars get no love at a car meet-up because their owners didn’t clean them properly.
Start at the engine bay. Most auto enthusiasts want to know what you have under the hood. Part manufacturers have painted engine components to make your car look beautiful with the hood open. These can reel in people at a show.
Working from the hood allows you to be thorough, and you can spray degreaser without worrying about leaving marks on your fenders. After that, wash your car, including the windows, mirrors, undercarriage, and body.
Follow it up by drying your car to reduce the chances of unsightly water spots. To complete the look, wax your car to make it stand out from the competition.
Cars that you drive only to and from shows don’t need expensive glass or ceramic coats. While the coating is an added benefit, it also increases your costs. Most of the time, all you need is a simple wax coat to make your car shine before a show.
Clean out your interior and trunk and ensure you get rid of any junk to give it an edge. If you install any dashcams or other equipment, tuck the wires away to make your car look cleaner.
Drive Out To The Car Meet-Up
After all that preparation, make sure that you reach the car meet-up on time. Your car will draw in many people who appreciate the hard work you have put in to make your car unique.
While you’re at the show, look at other cars and make friends. At the end of the day, being a gearhead is about the sense of community and the satisfaction that comes with building your car.