Modified Rides, Blog
A lot of mud is slung around internet forums about who has the fastest modified car. But no matter how hard you tap at your keyboard (or ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ you post), the only real way to see who’s fastest is by having it out on track.
Thankfully, events like the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) exist specifically for this reason. It’s an annual call out for people in the tuning scene to step away from their keyboards and track the hell out of their car to prove it’s no show pony.
It started in 2008 when people were sick of seeing SEMA cars hurriedly finished to just sit on carpet – paint barely dry – for a week without proving their performance claims.
So now after the show, close to 100 cars head from the convention centre to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for a variety or tests to find the greatest modified car in the land.
And don’t think you can enter a stripped-out, dedicated racer. Entrants have to be bona fide street cars – albeit fitted with aftermarket parts – and have DOT approved, non-competition, treaded street tyres at each corner.
Hired hot shoes aren’t allowed either. You have to have the ability to drive your car as much as you run your mouth.
Cars are split into four classes depending on their weight, powertrain and spec. If yours was built between 1990 and now, weighs at least 1,451kg, is a 2WD saloon, four-seater coupe or late model truck (5th Gen Camaro, BMW M3/M5, late model Mustang, that kind of thing) ‘GT’ is your class.
‘GTS’ is reserved for two-seat sports cars from 1990 to now or all-wheel drive vehicles that exceed the 1,451kg limit (C7 Corvettes and Nissan GT-Rs).
Vintage cars fall into ‘GTV’ class. It’s our personal favourite with good old stuff like Mustangs, Monte Carlos, Pontiac Firebirds and Camaros. While featherweights that fall under the 1,451kg weight limit get pigeon-holed into the ‘GTL’ class.
As you can see from the gallery above, these radical classes create quite an eclectic collection of cars that thrash it out on track simultaneously.
So how does it work? Well, over two days five different disciplines are completed and scored out of 100 to find an overall winner. This is repeated at various tracks around America to create a championship, with the overall winner being the person who has accumulated the most points over the season.
First of all, there’s a design & engineering challenge that evaluates the build quality and mods that have been added. Cars that score well retain the look and feel of a high-performance daily driver and innovation in either performance, fit and finish or comfort is praised.
Then all the cars have to prove they’re capable of a long slog on a road rally, before hitting the track for three further disciplines; acceleration and braking tests, an autocross competition, then flat-out hot laps.
It’s a rigorous event that makes for interesting viewing. Primarily because the drivers are incredibly competitive. But also because they’re not pro drivers, so fall off the track a lot more than you’d think. But seeing a track day with old muscle cars, British lightweights, humble hatchbacks and proper performance cars all going at it is pretty special. Seeing them spin off and crash is just a slightly morbid bonus.
So which was the fastest car of them all this year? Danny Popp’s 2003 Chevrolet Corvette… for the third time in a row. A fact that we’re sure will result in some mud-slinging below. *Ducks for cover*
It’s got more power than a McLaren F1
As standard, the pretty wonderful McLaren 570S uses a 562bhp (570PS) 3.8-litre bi-turbo V8. Related to the psychotic engine in the P1, it’s hardly lacking in poke, even in the ‘baby’ McLaren. But Novitec, (in)famous for their efforts in tuning Ferrari V8s, have whacked that output up to a claimed 646PS, or 637bhp.
That makes it exactly 10bhp brawnier than the V12 that took the (and we don’t use this word lightly) legendary McLaren F1 to 241mph. Oh, and it’s got 510lb ft – quite the climb from a boggo 570S’s 443lb ft…
It’s also quicker than a McLaren F1 (off the line)
The F1, bless it, did 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds. This Novitec-fiddled 570S will streak past the same speed two tenths of a second earlier, and head on to a claimed top speed of… oh, just 208mph. A handful of mphs faster than the 570S, then, but the old-timer’s still the daddy flat out.
It's got a race-spec exhaust
As well as the engine remap, power is upped via an upgraded exhaust, with round rather than trapezoidal tailpipes. You can have a stainless steel pipe, or for an undisclosed amount of extra money, a super-lightweight one made from Inconel, the same material used in F1 racer exhausts. Which ought to iron out one of the 570S’s few foibles - that it doesn’t sound as exotic as it looks.
You can turn the extra power on and off when you fancy
If it’s particularly slippery of a morning and you’re perhaps feeling a little lacking in the talent department, you can lessen the ferocity of your tuned McLaren. Novitec’s extra power mapping can be turned down by twiddling the McLaren’s Active Dynamic Panel knobs in the cabin, which tell the ECU to calm down and offer up ‘just’ 562bhp. There. That’s better. No? Maybe get the bus today.
Novitec’s fitted snorkel intakes
Roof scoops, snorkel intakes, periscope pods…call them what you will. The fact is, fitting an apparatus to a mid-engined car that involves sucking in air from on top of the roof is just cooler than normal bodywork-mounted air-swallowers. And Novitec obliges, with a carbon-fashioned ‘dual-branch air box’ for your madder, badder 570S. Because who cares about rear visibility or wind noise?
There may be more tuned McLarens from Novitec…
Tellingly, Novitec’s excitable news release about the 570S announces “in addition to the broad ranges for the vehicles from Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini, Novitec now also offers exclusive options for the sports cars from McLaren. For starters, there is a complete product range for the 570S”.
Yup. For starters. Having added power, downforce and bigger wheels to the 570S, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine the German turbo nutters turning their attention to the 650S, 675LT and beyond. The mind boggles…
It’s a pretty tall order to get a new car-based world record these days. Just think of the money that Bugatti splurged to get the fastest production car, or how bitter the fight with Hennessey’s Venom GT (and its management) for the title has been. And that’s before Koenigsegg got involved in the melee.
To get a new world record without spending umpteen million pounds in the process then, people are starting to get really, really specific.
So specific, in fact, that this particular record will take a little explaining. Unlike last year’s world record for the largest tyre track image, set by Hyundai in the vast Delamar Dry Lake in Nevada, this record is of the largest tyre mark image, which is obviously an entirely different thing all together.
The Korean desert drawing actually turned out to be rather impressive – using 11 cars to make a simple message from a daughter to her astronaut father. It also helps that the message was indeed visible from space, as said astronaut father orbited overhead. In case you missed it, have a look here.
The new record, on the other hand, is purportedly to raise awareness for breast cancer. How tyre-smoking drift Mustangs relate to women’s health is a bit of a mystery to us, but at least their hearts are in the right place.
As pictures go, it’s probably more Jackson Pollock than Henri Matisse, but the record stands. It’s an image, says Guinness World Records, of the traditional awareness ribbon, laid out on a vast car park in Riyadh by a pair of specially prepared Mustangs.
So, if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to call Guinness and float the idea of a ‘world’s largest tyre mark image performed exclusively by front-drive hatchbacks using only reverse gear and a pair of McDonalds trays’.
A BMW M4 review. Is this another special edition?
Yes modified rides brings you the BMW M4 CS. If you know your M cars right down to their model codes, you’ll immediately recognise how cool those two letters are. If you don’t, think of it as the middle ground between the regular BMW M4 and the bonkers, two-seat BMW M4 GTS.
It sits between the two very well, in fact. Its £89,130 price tag, 454bhp power output and 7m38s Nürburgring lap all place it roughly halfway between the M4 range’s book ends.
So what’s new?
Every component has been sharpened up from the standard M4. The stability control, brakes, suspension, steering, differential and paddleshift gearbox all have a unique tune for the CS.
The 3-litre twin-turbo straight-six engine is 10bhp healthier than an M4 Competition Pack, and 29bhp better off than a regular M4. The result is a 3.9sec 0-62mph time and a 174mph top speed, the latter electronically limited.
The wheels are a new 10-spoke design inspired by the M4 DTM racecar, and measure 19 inches at the front, 20 inches at the rear. The staggered setup is borrowed from the more senior M4 GTS, and aids grip at the rear.
Those wheels come as standard with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, which inhabit the more extreme end of road-legal rubber. If you’ll be using your car in wet conditions, BMW will also offer you regular Michelins with more everyday-useable tread. We fear the dealer may make clucking noises and mime chicken wings if you ask for them, though…
Has weight been saved?
At 1,580kg, it’s around 30kg lighter than a paddleshift-equipped M4. More GTS inspiration has arrived in the form of a carbonfibre-reinforced plastic bonnet. As well as looking fantastic, it helps lower the centre of gravity, which in turn helps handling. The rear diffuser is borrowed from the M4 GTS, while the carbon ‘Gurney flap’ spoiler is new for the CS.
The interior is more focused, too. The regular door inlays are replaced with ‘compacted natural fibres’, material that’s renewable as well as supremely light. There are no arm rests anywhere, fewer stereo speakers and a simpler air con system. Regular door handles are swapped for canvas straps and there’s a magnificent pair of sports bucket seats, manually rather than electrically adjustsabile. Both are interwoven with the M tricolours, obviously.
Mind, it’s not a total makeover: there are still back seats, there’s plenty of leather, and the front seats even get illuminated ‘M’ logos on them. Most of the regular M4’s option list remains at your disposal, too.
So how does it drive?
Very, very well. This is one of the cars that feels expertly set up right from the off. Hold the Alcantara steering wheel, let off the manual handbrake and pull out of the car park and there’s such accuracy and satisfaction from each control, you’d conclude it’s brilliant without actually going much quicker.
Naturally, though, it gets better the more revs you use, and the further you dig into its deep reserves of grip. The larger rear wheels (and therefore tyres) help make this an M4 you can fully trust, one that’s predictable and not liable to give you a mid-corner fright. In the dry, at least. We’ve not had the chance to try it in the wet…
Much like the Mercedes-AMG GT R we’ve recently driven, it’s an example of a track-minded special being a much better and more approachable road car than its base model, rather than being spiky and intimidating.
The CS is tangibly more athletic than standard – there’s naff-all body roll – yet it sends more information through its seat and steering wheel. Its extra focus leads to a more communicative car, which breeds more confidence from its driver, who in turn works the car harder and has more fun. It’s a virtuous circle.
Bet it’s really firm, though…
As you’d expect, it’s not a plush, cossetting vehicle. But the body control is seriously impressive and there are worthwhile differences between each of the adaptive suspension’s modes.
Adjustable through Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus (the steering and engine/gearbox are, too), you can actually use the toughest setting on the road without making the car a minor handful. You’ll probably want Sport for an undulating B-road, mind. In Comfort it ought to be an amiable everyday car.
How’s the engine?
More characterful. There’s a sports exhaust – previously optional on the M4 via the Competition Pack – and if you’ve prodded the drivetrain into Sport Plus it rumbles loudly during acceleration and pops and crackles like nobody’s business on a trailing throttle. Childish? Yep. But there’s nothing wrong with that, not least because you can just prod back into Sport or Comfort when you’re bored of it.
With just 10bhp more than an M4 Competition Pack – despite costing £29k more – this CS doesn’t feel night-and-day quicker. It does have a lot more torque, though, its 442lb ft matching the M4 GTS. This actually helps make it feel supremely useable, and alongside the standard (and brilliant) seven-speed paddleshift transmission, makes this an easy car to nose around town in.
Very sensible thing to point out…
Yeah, but it’s quite key, that last point. This isn’t a highly strung track special that needs utmost commitment to work properly. It’s a car that is only ever a button press or two away from matching whatever mood you’re in. It feels more approachable to drive than a regular M4 while possessing more drama when you’re pushing on. Something which you’ll be more inclined to do, because of how much happier and more confident you’ll be behind that Alcantara wheel.
The best M4 yet? Probably. It’s the sweet spot in the range, and whatever you think of the price, BMW won’t have any problem selling every single one made between now and 2019. It’s a useable four-seater with a light dusting of track-nutter magic. It’s brilliant.