First modified car in history

The Golden Years: 1900-1959
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Roll cages, fire extinguishers, reinforced bucket seats, seat harnesses, and the like are some of the required safety modifications.

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Roll cages may be difficult to install when the stock interior is present. Some tuners will have "gutted" interiors, or omit features that many ordinary drivers would find desirable or necessary, such as audio systems, air conditioning and soundproofing, in order to reduce vehicle weight. Engine tuning is the process of modifying the operating characteristics of an engine.


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In a typical engine set-up, there are various mechanical and electronic elements such as the intake manifold, spark plugs, and mass air flow. Modern engines employ the use of an engine control unit to provide the best balance between performance and emissions.

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Via the OBD communications protocol, electronically controlled aspects of the engine can be modified in a process known as mapping. Mapping can either be performed by changing the software within the ECU chip tuning via firmware modification , or by providing false data via plug-in hardware. Other standalone engine management systems are available; these systems replace the factory computer with one that is user-programmable. Mechanical components of the engine can also be added or replaced, such as forced induction systems like turbochargers or superchargers. Improper, incorrect and poorly executed engine modifications can have a detrimental effect on performance and reliability.

Mechanical and electrical components can suffer or simply fail as a result. An example would be the use of an air compressor such as a turbocharger to increase the volume of air used in the power stroke of the Otto cycle. In a typical chemical reaction, the air—fuel ratio must be a minimum of If higher ratios are used, higher pressures and temperatures are observed in the cylinders, which can quickly push an engine beyond its intended design limits.

Neglecting such operating parameters can lead to premature failures, such as warped cylinder heads and walls, disintegrated piston rings, cracked or bent connecting rods and crankshafts, total cooling system failure, engine fire, engine detonation, engine seizing, and even blowouts.

This can all lead to very expensive repairs, as well as being very dangerous. Suspension tuning involves modifying the springs, shock absorbers, anti-roll bars , and other related components. Shorter springs offer greater stiffness and a lower center of gravity at the possible cost of unwanted changes of suspension geometry. Stiffer shock absorbers improve dynamic weight shifting during cornering and normally have shorter internals to stop them from bottoming out when shorter springs are used. Stiffer sway bars reduce body roll during cornering, thus improving the grip that the tires have on the surface by reducing suspension geometry changes caused by roll; this also improves handling response due to faster weight shifting—similar to stiffer springs.

The danger with overly stiff anti-roll bars is the lifting of the inner wheel, causing a loss of traction. By increasing the roll resistance of one end of the car, weight transfer is concentrated at that end, causing it to slip more than the other. Other components that are sometimes added are strut bars , which improve body stiffness and help better maintain proper suspension geometry during cornering.

On some cars, certain braces or anti-roll bars can be retrofitted to base model cars from sports models. For offroad vehicles , the emphasis is on lengthening the suspension travel and installing larger tires. Larger tires—with or without larger wheels—increase ground clearance, travel over rough terrain more smoothly, provide additional cushioning, and decrease ground pressure which is important on soft surfaces.

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These suspension modifications are in contrast to lowriders with hydraulic or pneumatic suspensions. Lowriders use another type of suspension tuning in which the height of each individual wheel can be rapidly adjusted by a system of rams which, in some cases, makes it possible to "bounce" the wheels completely off of the ground. Body tuning involves adding or modifying a spoiler and body kit in order to improve not just the aesthetics of the car, but also its aerodynamic performance. Through downforce , cornering speeds and tire adhesion can be improved, often at the expense of increased drag.

To lighten the vehicle, bodywork components such as hoods and rearview mirrors may be replaced with lighter-weight components. Often, body modifications are done mainly to improve a vehicle's appearance, as in the case of non-functioning scoops, wide arches or other aesthetic modification. Aftermarket spoilers or body kits rarely improve a car's performance.

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The majority, in fact, add weight and increase the drag coefficient of the vehicle, thus reducing its overall performance. Dating back to the s, chopping and channeling was a popular method of modifying a car's aerodynamics. Increasing the wheel track width through spacers and wide body kits, or lowering the center of gravity via suspension modifications, can enhance the car's cornering ability.

Often, suspension tuners unfamiliar with spring dynamics will cut stock springs, producing a harder, bouncy ride. It is also common to stance a car, lowering it beyond its optimal ride height purely for appearance. Competition cars may have lightweight windows, or the windows may be completely removed, as auto glass adds significant weight and detrimentally alters weight distribution. Plastic windows are much more vulnerable to scratches, which reduce service life.

Tires have large effects on a car's behavior and are replaced periodically; therefore, tire selection is a very cost-effective way to personalize an automobile. Choices include tires for various weather and road conditions, different sizes and various compromises between cost, grip, service life, rolling resistance, handling and ride comfort.

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Drivers also personalize tires for aesthetic reasons, for example, by adding tire lettering. Detuning is the process returning a modified car to its original factory status, or reducing its performance in a particular area of tuning.

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For example, a car may be "detuned" to allow increased traction when the track grip is not sufficient to handle the increased power of the tuned engine. Modified cars can be significantly different from their stock counterparts. These similarities may be unintentional.

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Some of the many different styles and visual influences to car modification are:. Many countries or municipalities have legal requirements which govern vehicle modifications. For example, all vehicles in Victoria, Australia, must conform to construction standards to ensure vehicle safety. Many developed countries have smog regulations, which generally forbid any modifications to engines or related components unless the modifications themselves are certified, like production car models.


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Such modifications, even if they do not actually result in increased emissions, prevent legal use on public roads. For historians who think that early steam-powered road vehicles fit the bill, the answer is Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, a French military engineer who in built a steam-powered tricycle for hauling artillery.

Although ideal for trains, early steam engines added so much weight that they proved inefficient for vehicles traveling on regular roads rather than on rails. As a result, some observers argue that the first true automobile was gasoline-powered. The two men, who had never met previously, filed their patents on the same day—January 29, —in two different German cities.

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