Anyone who’s ever seen The Fast and The Furious will know that the sweeter your engine bay looks, the faster your car will go. And while that may only be actual scientific fact in Hollywood, it certainly seems to be what most people think the world over. In any case, if that’s not enough of an excuse to tidy up what’s under your hood, take a look at this lot and get some inspiration…
CUSTOM ROCKER COVERS
It was probably only about 17 seconds after they built the first overhead cam engine that the first custom rocker came along, a mod just about as old as time itself. The premise is simple, especially on old-skool motors: the rocker (or cam cover) will be the most prominent part of the engine so a lick of high-temperature paint, powdercoat, or even a good buffing on a polishing wheel will transform the under bonnet looks in no time at all.There are plenty of aftermarket rockers out there too and some high-performance motors, particularly the legendary Ford Cosworth YB, came with a spanky rocker as standard. In any case, breaking out the paint polish or powdercoat can extend to plenty of other parts too. Inlet manifolds, ancillaries, brackets, in fact – just about anything. Basically, if you can take it off, you can spruce it up nicely.
The engine bay mod of the moment? Quite possibly. Massively popular on the VW and Honda scenes, the idea is to clean up the bay by hiding away as much of the under bonnet gubbins as possible. On the very finest examples, this involves removing the whole engine, welding up any holes and painting the whole bay first. The engine is then dropped back in, with as many wires, hoses and sometimes even fuse boxes tucked away out of sight under wings and behind the bulkhead. Some go so far as to weld in extra false panels to hide ‘em, relocating batteries and even removing systems like power steering just to get the bay as clean as possible. There’s no denying it looks the absolute nuts – even if it is far easier on some cars than others.
Derived directly from motorsport necessity, silicone hoses not only look awesome and come in a huge range of colours and designs, but they’ll take the higher pressures and heat associated with tuned engines and are much less prone to splitting or degrading than the standard rubber jobs. Reputable companies like Samco Sport, SFS Performance and Venair will stock a range of tailored, direct-fit replacements, for boost, coolant, induction, breathers and all manor of other OEM hoses.There are also plenty of universal kits to replace things like vacuum hoses and to plumb in other tuning parts like catch cans and aftermarket intercoolers. A classic mod that will never go out of fashion. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that, done right, it’s these highly-polished modified marvels that usually provide the inspiration for every other engine bay out there. Simple, effective and there’s loads to chose from out there – get some silicone love in your life.
Squeezing in a massive engine or bolting on a huge blower is nothing new, but you have to admit it looks pretty damn tasty. Okay, usually the point is blistering power and not necessarily jaw-dropping looks but luckily (for the most part at least), the two come hand in hand. Besides, we’ve seen plenty of super-stanced motors that’ll rarely get to use the 400bhp or so under their bonnets, but they’re still highly tuned in a bid to make the whole project more complete.Sometimes kudos is everything! In fact, we’d go so far as to say that, done right, it’s these highly-polished modified marvels that usually provide the inspiration for every other engine bay out there. Surely everyone wants their car to look like it goes a million miles an hour right? Even if it can’t get over 60.
SHINY METAL BITS
The basic rule is, if it looks shite – it’s time to cover it up or replace it! It’s a philosophy that’s been a staple on the Ford scene for as far back as we care to remember. From the likes of Forge Motorsport, Spec-R, Tegawa and Auto Specialists (there’s many, many shiny metal upgrades out there for just about every other marque on the planet too. If your polished brake reservoir cover, alloy header tank or battery cover doesn’t exist, there are plenty of fabricators like Badass Performance willing to make ‘em up for you. From anodised alloy to stainless steel we’ve seen the lot.
Whether it’s an R8 oil cap on your Ibiza or TT (now there’s an idea) a TT fuel flap on your Golf, or an early (i.e. not the later shitty plastic) plug cover on your XE Vauxhall lump, it’s worth remembering that there may be many uprated manufacturer parts that will, after some light fettling, fit other models and sometimes even other marques. The secret is doing your research down to the finest detail.There are certain classy looking Porsche oil and washer bottle caps that fit all VAG 1.8T and TDI engines and, because they share platforms with Audi, there’s a few Lamborghini parts that will fit your VAG ride too. I actually picked up a genuine Gallardo ‘black’ washer cap for a TT the other day – just £2.88 from my local Lambo dealer. If that’s not an Italian stallion of a bargain I don’t know what is!
Plenty of modern engine bays, especially those of the Germanic persuasion contain about 7-acres of black plastic covering the lump and just about everything else. In fact, on most of the new stuff, you’re pretty lucky if you see any actual engine at all! Of course there are one or two trick aftermarket carbon replacements on the market but, if you’re really going to town on the plastics, you could try getting your OEM items ‘dipped’ with a custom design.This ‘water transfer printing’ technology enables specialists like Aquagraphix to cover your items with a mind-blowing selection of different designs which they actually float on the surface of the water in their dipping tank. Choose from just about anything, from carbon to woodland camo and everything in between. They smooth and prime the surface, transfer the design, then hit it with a coat of coloured or clear lacquer. A top mod that can be used on just about any metal or plastic surface inside or out.
UPRATED ENGINE MOUNTS
It’s true that on many cars you can’t even see ‘em but, on the ones you can, installing uprated engine mounts will show the world your motor means business. Primarily designed to sharpen up the acceleration and handling by giving a much higher level of engine vibration control, it’s just a happy coincidence they look damn sexy too. The UK’s top ‘compliance technology’ engineers over at Vibra-Technics make some of the most legendary road and race applications in the world giving a massive improvement in looks and performance over the standard factory items – just have a look on and see what they can do for you. A cracking mod that’s too often overlooked.
Can there be a simpler chassis mod? We think not, and the humble upper strut brace has been promoting stiffer, better handling (by tying the top of the suspension turrets together) and making engine bays look all-round awesome for years now. It’s also one of those few motorsport-inspired mods that many manufactures now fit to their performance variants as standard. Aftermarket versions are literally ten a penny and come in all sorts of finishes from powder-coated steel to polished alloy and carbon fibre. Prices start from as little a 30-quid and, if you can actually manage to pick up a spanner, you’ll be able to fit one. Just some of the reasons these are an all time classic.
BOLT ON TUNING
Let’s face it, the vast majority of bolt-on tuning parts out there look awesome and, although that’s not always the point, many people fit them for exactly that reason. Think of it like this – like a magpie you’re always gonna pick the shiny polished, well engineered stuff over the bland looking gear right? And with carbon induction kits, 4-2-1 manifolds, fuel regulators, dump valves, charge pipes, alloy rads and intercoolers – all built so they don’t look out of place in even the most hardcore race machine, there’s certainly plenty to choose from. Go nuts!