A loose definition of the compound word “hot rod” is “any vehicle modified to look or perform beyond original equipment specifications.” Even if we don’t pay any attention, we have all seen modified cars on the street. The word hot rod is normally used only towards older, rear wheel drive vehicles and seldom is used for newer, front wheel drive vehicles, even if the term applies.
These vehicles are normally known as tuners and once again can be broken up into two groups. There are true tuners, then there are what most petrolheads, both hot rodder and tuner alike, don’t care for, is the ricers.
How do you know if someone is a “ricer?”
First we must understand what that word means. It means Race Inspired Cosmetic Enhancements or, RICE. It does help that most of the enhancements are usually done to Japanese cars, but not always.
Understand that the improvements to the car are mostly on the outside, thus being cosmetic in nature. They maybe are race inspired, but not by the owner of the vehicle. Tuners race the car, figure out what makes it go faster and keep the parts that do. They add nothing that would lower performance.
That is where the ricers come in. If no research was done to figure out how the car will respond to a completely visual upgrade, you are a ricer.
1. Rear wing. A rear wing is designed to improve traction by pushing down in the rear of the car, using drag. Unless you do massive turning with massive horsepower, they only rob you of performance and fuel economy, while looking really dumb.
2. Ground effects. They lessen the air flow under the car, resulting in higher under hood and body temperatures and that robs you of performance. Heat is not your car’s friend. The cooler the air and gasoline is before it reaches the engine the better.
3. Using the car as a life line for a light bulb. This adds weight in the form of extra batteries, controllers and the lights themselves. Depending on where the weight is added, it can effect cornering. The extra drain on the electrical system can lead to premature failure of the alternator and other parts. Most installations are not professional, and can lower the resale value if holes for wires are visible or molding parts are broken. Lights and wires often melt when put to close to hot parts of the car like the exhaust system.
4. Short intake tubes. In an effort to clean up the engine some, short air intake tubes are often added. Cars like dense, cool air. What these intakes deliver is hot, thin air. The tube should be as long as possible and the air cleaner as far away from the engine as possible.
5. Small cars are hard enough to get into as it is. I have to either smash my head or pull a muscle in my side to get into them. Only a ricer would figure out how to make this problem worse with doors that hinge up and cover the opening.
6. Fart Cans. Sometimes called fart cannons, lawnmowers, Weed Eaters on steroids. That would be the muffler. They are normally found at the parts store, right off the shelf, seldom fit right and sound horrible. Most modern cars need a certain amount of back pressure in the exhaust system to run right and these mufflers rob the system of pressure.
Since next to nothing about ricers is under the hood and is to just show off, these cars perform worse than their unmodified siblings in cornering, performance and fuel economy. It is all for show, but in reality, it all just looks stupid. So if your new goal in life is to be a douche bag, doing all these things to your car will help.