Saturday, May 21, 2016

Your car’s character changing with a simple modification

I currently drive a 2008 Honda Fit (aka GD3 chassis). It has a 5-speed manual transmission and a 1.5L engine that can be very lively when pushed. Over the years, I worked out a typical formula that I like to apply as soon as I buy a car. 
That formula consists of:
  • * suspensions modifications to make the handling fun
  • * cat-back exhaust modification
  • * lightweight wheels
  • * summer performance tires
  • * possibly an air intake system depending on what car I get
In a nutshell, they are all very functional changes. These type of changes turn an economical car into a fun car that puts a smile on my face every time I drive it. I spend on average 1h 30min every day in my car so I choose to make it fun for me. Everybody is different and everybody defines “fun” for their cars differently. You may be into horsepower and I totally respect that; you may be into stance look and I also respect that.
I am slowly getting to my point. The changes above are what I consider standard modifications that absolutely change and the character of your car and that’s what we expect.
However, there are changes that I would never consider as character-changing modifications and yet they are. I am talking about very simple and cheap changes. No, it is not that “10+ HP” sticker even though that’s sometimes fun to do because my low-power Fit needs it :)
I am specifically talking about a shift knob change and a shift lever extension modification. I started with an aftermarket Karcepts shift knob that made the gear shifting a pleasure because of the added weight in this shift knob. The weight of the shift knob just makes the lever fall into the right gear with more confidence. The second type of character-changing modification is the shift lever extension. I recently purchased a 3" shift lever extension for my Honda Fit. After a quick installation I could not believe how much it changed the character of my car. This meant that the shift knob is closer to my steering wheel and when doing canyon drives, it means that I could use both hands on the steering wheel and have the shift knob in close distance for more confident gear changes. So this modification gave me that “rally racing” feel. To some degree, having this taller shift lever gave me a feel as if I am driving some old school Porsche and I am a big fan of 1960s, 1970s and 1980s Porsches.
So what I ended up doing is alternating between the short shifter and the shifter with this extension and it totally changes the character of my car with a 2-minute swap. That’s the advantage of having a manual transmission.
These are the small things that keep me happy. What is the simple modification on your car that puts a smile on your face every time you drive your car?
Almir M (

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