How to Build a Tuner Car


The phrase "tuner car" refers to a car that has been modified in every aspect, from the engine to the suspension, bodywork and interior. Building tuner cars is a popular hobby for many car enthusiasts and is also something commonly done by companies that make high-performance parts as a way to show off their products. Building a tuner car takes special tools and knowledge, but is something that can be enjoyable with the right approach.

Things You'll Need

  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Socket set and ratchet
  • Specialty automotive tools
  • Modify the suspension. One of the hallmarks of a tuner car is a modified suspension (see Resources 1). Replace the soft and high stock suspension with a lower, stiffer suspension. This will involve raising the vehicle, removing the wheels and the old suspension and installing lowering springs and stiffer shocks. You can also install an adjustable coilover suspension, larger anti-roll bars, which reduce body roll, and strut braces, which strengthen the chassis and reduce flex.

  • Install larger wheels and tires (see Resources 2). Most cars come with wheels that are on the small side. Replace these with larger aftermarket wheels with a more aggressive offset, which will locate the wheels further from the bodywork for a more aggressive stance. To install new wheels and tires, raise the vehicle with a floor jack, remove the old wheels and than bolt on the new wheels and tires.

  • Modify the engine. Almost all tuner cars have at least some modifications to the engine. Start by removing the stock air box and installing a cold-air intake, which will deliver more cold air to the engine for more power. After that remove the old exhaust and install a larger diameter exhaust and headers. You can also modify the engine's electronics for more power. Many tuner cars are also supercharged or turbocharged (see Resources 3), which is often the easiest way to get big power from the motor. This usually costs at least several thousand dollars and should be done by someone experienced with this type of conversion.

  • Replace the interior. Unbolt and remove the stock seats and install aftermarket sport seats from a company like Recaro or Sparco. Replace the stock steering wheel (removed by unbolting the larger center nut that holds it on) with a smaller, suede or leather sport wheel. After that, install drilled pedals, an alloy shifter, racing-style seat belts and you are on your way to having a true tuner car.

  • Upgrade the exterior. No tuner car is complete without some changes to the exterior. This can be as simple as something like upgraded lighting, clear lenses for the turn signals or even the addition of stripes to the paint job. You can also install a full body kit that includes a different front air dam, side skirts and large rear wing. A kit should be painted and installed by a reputable body shop for the best results.

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  • Photo Credit sports car image by Mariusz Blach from
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