When is a car too valuable to modify?
If you've seen the LATEST EPISODE, you'll have seen Marty take a very careful route when modifying his Doritomobile. And this comes down to the car's value.
We're living in spicy times when it comes to enjoying our petrol-powered hobby, and a lot of this comes down to the oft-discussed values of our favourite nuggets. Checking the asking prices of 80s and 90s cars has been shocking for those of us old enough to remember the days of $500 E30s, $10k WRXs and R32 GT-Rs.
As values skyrocket the demands from the people paying the big buckeroonies has meant many awesome modified cars are being restored to stock. Yes, yuck, we agree.
While MCM has some bona fide A-Grade collectables in the shed, Marty and MOOG have always prioritised the best driving experience possible over numbers-matching purity.
When 240Zs and E30s were just old nuggets nobody batted an eyelid at this approach, but now the investment required to buy one of these cars means our dynamic duo has to weigh up whether it is sensible to do mad engine swaps if they ever want to sell that car.
Marty had admitted previously he felt lucky to have been able to buy the Black Chops BMW for the amount he got it for, before E30 prices went crazy in 2020. While the little BM is immeasurably faster now than when it had its original 125kW in-line six, the value purists would thumb their noses at the engine-swapped maaad machine.
We all know MCM don't have the money or space to hang onto every project car and so they need to think carefully about an exit strategy when planning a build. Otherwise MOOG would have definitely built a fleet of tofu-powered Nissan Exas by now.
With their infamous weak five-speed gearboxes and wheel bearings, it makes perfect sense to upgrade the drivetrain how Marty did on his Australian-delivered STi two-door. But now these rare models are regularly advertised for sale for six-figures, it means investors have jumped into the car scene trying to make a buck, and they do not care for mods which make the cars more reliable or better to drive.
These people hold us hostage to the theoretical values of our cars, and often prevent us from enjoying them how we'd like to. All because they say we ruin them when we modify them to suit our own tastes, and this mindset ruins the opportunity for us to see people build "the ultimate" versions of our favourite hero cars.
So while Marty would have normally slapped a big turbo, built EJ25 and full-tilt fuel and ECU into his two-door to make a 500kW super-cool STi coupe, this would catastrophically hurt the value of the car. And that would mean he's pretty much flushing a huge amount of funds down the drain (which none of us could afford to do).
That doesn't mean all mods are good mods. With the prices of tidy Nissan S-chassis cars soaring past what they sold for when new, it is unlikely we'll see MOOG turn his 180SX into a Mod Max competitor.
Even though S13s really need some engine, suspension and brake work to be a properly fun package, the reality is these modifications to make the car better hurt the value in the eyes of the purists.
So are you better off with an old car that drives worse, but is worth more, or should you build it how you want it?