Car tuning goes back much further than you might think and has an incredibly rich history. Modification of vehicles is close to your heart and you want to learn more about this art beyond the methods of improving performance and aesthetics? Check out what we have prepared for you
Tuning is nothing but any kind of engine performance optimization that aims to significantly improve the performance of the factory power unit. In fact, tuning has been around as long as motor vehicles. Even the very first ones were subjected to fiddly modifications by their owners – starting from the aesthetic, through mechanical and ending with acoustic ones.
Mass-produced motorized vehicles captured the market and people’s hearts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although cars were initially reserved for the wealthiest strata of society, as the manufacturing market grew and evolved, they began to reach the lower classes. Mostly due to the famous American engineer, Henry Ford, whose dream was to make cars a common means of transportation
The legendary Ford Model T is considered to be the first car that ordinary people could afford. So it is reasonable to assume that the beginnings of attempts to modify and improve performance go back to this era. Since only a few original Model T’s have survived to this day, it is impossible to know what methods were used to get a little more “steam” out of it.
At the source
Beyond the natural curiosity of car owners in the age of racing, tuning is a way for the masses to get a taste of the experience reserved for much more expensive, typically sporty vehicles. With widely available tools and replacement parts and relatively lightweight vehicles, the motoring community is able to achieve significant performance improvements at low cost. It is worth noting that these attempts have not always proved fruitful due to the lack of skills and experience needed to perform far-reaching modifications.
One of the main catalysts for change in terms of widespread car tuning was the British Mini. The iconic Cooper model in particular proved to be a smash hit both on and off the track. The biggest factor that fired the imagination of Mini Cooper owners was its simplicity. Another was the racing craze, which inspired Mini owners to make their own attempts at modifying copies with commonly available tools. For this reason, the 1960s are considered the golden age of home tuning
The 1970s and 1980s
American NASCAR and Formula One races were the next major milestone in the popularization of tuning, nurturing generations of engineers who learned the mechanics by emulating on-track procedures. The tuning community grew in size and scope, pushing the car forward
This was definitely the era of the Japanese automobile that opened up to the world. The importation of performance-engineered cars like the Nissan Skyline by private individuals allowed the engineering craftsmanship of the Land of the Setting Sun to be appreciated. With the western trend for sports cars, Japanese compact and fuel-efficient cars filled a gap in the car market
Due to their low operating and production costs, Japanese cars from the ranks of Mitsubishi, Toyota and even Nissan became hot commodities for the car modification community
The growing popularity of Japanese cars translated into a strong presence in pop culture, especially in cinematography and computer games. The iconic Need for Speed or Fast and Furious series come to mind first and foremost, which featured mostly Japanese cars tuned to the extreme
This is a direct continuation of trends started nearly a century earlier through the Ford Model T, which popularized motoring and showed that advanced does not have to mean expensive and inaccessible.