How Much Do Car Enthusiasts Spend Modifying Their Cars?

Car enthusiasts have been around almost as long as cars have been around. There’s always someone willing to spend countless hours and piles of money modifying a car to their heart’s content in an attempt to make it faster, handle better, and look unique. Considering all of the different cars and types of modifications that can be done to them, how much does that average car enthusiast spend modifying their car?

Some enthusiasts just can’t leave their cars alone

Pink decorations line the interior of the Hello Kitty Mustang, built by Nashville-native Takiyah Middleton
Pink decorations line the interior of the Hello Kitty Mustang, built by Nashville-native Takiyah Middleton | Adam Gray / Barcroft Media via Getty Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

If you’re not the type to care about modifying your car, then you should be thankful. As a car enthusiast myself, I could never leave any car I had stock. In my time, I’ve owned a Honda CR-X, a couple of Civics, and an S2000, and I modified all of them.

No, I didn’t do anything too crazy like strap on a turbocharger or a body kit, but I did spend a couple of grand on some power-adding parts, suspension components, and a hardtop (for the S2000) during the time I had my cars.

I recount my cars because I know I’m not alone. DriveTribe notes that “for most people, modifying cars is a hobby, which turns into a passion, which turns into an obsession. They start with the small things to improve the looks and it snowballs from there with some people spending over $40,000 in modifications.” Fortunately, I never nearly spent nearly that much, but there are plenty of enthusiasts that consistently do.

How much do enthusiasts spend?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been pretty lucky with the amount of money I’ve spent (or have not spent) modifying my cars. That is evident when watching other enthusiast’s videos on YouTube. In the video example above, this Honda S2000 owner that goes by the name of “Lam Le” details his expenditures for his car. For starters, he said paid $10,000 for the car itself and then proceeded to go over his list of modifications. In the end, he spent $10,620 on the modifications alone, which is more than the cost of the car itself.

According to a study conducted by Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), car enthusiasts between the ages of 16 to 24 spend an average of $7.2 billion modifying their cars every year. Gavin Knapp, director of Market Research for SEMA, told the Associated Press, “More than 7.9 million young people customize, modify, or upgrade their vehicles each year. Their vehicles not only help them get from point A to B, but they are also an integral part of their social lives.”

Car modifications can go a little too far

Jay Jones, known as 'Joka' sits in the speaker-filled boot of his customized 2004 Tahoe truck.
Jay Jones, known as ‘Joka’ sits in the speaker-filled boot of his customized 2004 Tahoe truck. | (Photo credit should read Aakash Bakshi / Barcroft Media via Getty Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

While it may sound ludicrous for anyone to spend $10,000 modifying their $10,000 car, that YouTuber is not alone either. In fact, there are plenty of YouTube car enthusiasts rattling off their shopping lists of modifications and the hefty sums associated with them. Of the many that I came across, most people seem to spend and stop at around the $20,000 mark. However, I’m sure there are plenty of enthusiasts that have crossed that spending limit.

Car enthusiasts will continue to be born every day, which means that we haven’t seen the last of modified cars by far. Many people will willingly spend all kinds of money-making their cars go faster, handle better, or look more unique, so it’s not too surprising that some of them can spend upwards of $40,000 or more. I’m just glad I’m not one of them.

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