Corvette mods that WON’T make you look like an idiot

One of the things that I’ve always really liked about the Corvette is how perfect of a sports car it is. It’s extremely fast in a straight line, pretty quick around the corners, and extremely easy to modify (I declared it one of the best sports cars under $50k actually). These cars respond extremely well to aftermarket parts and upgrades, and for relatively little money, it’s extremely easy to transform into an ultra-high performance machine capable of dominating the local track. However, for reasons I’ve never been able to figure out, people tend to go overboard with Corvette mods and end up looking like an idiot because of it. It’s kind of sad actually, and I’d rather drive a stock Corvette rather than one decked out in cheap-looking add-ons.

Corvette Summer car

The notoriously ugly Corvette Summer car – image courtesy of Hot Rod Magazine

The biggest problem I see when it comes to people modifying Corvettes is the fact that there are an overwhelming number of aftermarket parts suppliers for this car. Companies like Ecklers aren’t helping, especially with their huge inventory of pretty much every aftermarket accessory you could ever imagine (and then some) for any model year Corvette.

In other words, there are far too many choices, and sometimes people get caught up in it and they want to try a little bit of everything. Decals, tail light louvers, chrome accents – these are examples of Corvette mods that will have you looking like an idiot if you attach them to your car. There. Yes – I said it. Nobody likes tacky accessories.

These are the Corvette mods that’ll have you (and your car) looking cool:

One of the things that you’re going to notice from this list of classy and effective Corvette modifications is the fact that they’re all relatively simple. As it goes for most things in life, simple is usually better. Especially when it comes to a near perfect car such as the Vette.

A performance-oriented exhaust system (the first Corvette mod you should do actually)

An aftermarket exhaust has always been one of the best Corvette mods. These cars sound amazing with less restrictive airflow, and the performance benefit is a nice side effect as well. The performance gains aren’t substantial, but a less restrictive exhaust system certainly helps the car breath better – which translates into modest horsepower gains.

One of the most frustrating things I see when it comes to people putting aftermarket exhaust systems on Corvettes is the fact that some wrongly associate volume with power. Having an obnoxiously loud exhaust is one of the worst Corvette mods ever, and whenever I see (I mean hear) someone do it, I can only hold my head in shame.

BORLA 11881 ATAK

BORLA 11881 ATAK Rear Section Exhaust System (read more about it here)

Loud exhausts are tasteless, annoying to everyone around you, and it usually sounds terrible. This is one of the reasons why I eventually unsubscribe to streetspeed717 and his YouTube channel. Mike has a ridiculous fetish for loud exhaust which is…annoying.

In my opinion, the perfect Corvette exhaust mod is subtle yet powerful. The CORSA Xtreme with Pro Series Quad tips is the perfect example of an aftermarket exhaust which not only increases volume only slightly, but provides a better (deeper) sound with a slight performance gain. Here’s what it sounds like (no, I wouldn’t qualify it as annoyingly loud as Mike states in the title of this video – that’s just mike doing his usual clickbait thing):

Sticky tires (no, this does NOT mean “chrome wheels”)

A good set of tires is one of the best and most effective performance upgrades you can make to a car (no matter what kind of car it is). But when it comes to Corvette mods that aren’t going to make you look like an idiot, a good set a tires is pretty much at the top of the list of things you need to do.

pilot-sport-cup-tires

Michelin Pilot Sport Cup – one of the best tires you can get for a Corvette

Every Corvette since the C4 has come with decent performance-oriented tires right from the factory. However, it is a street car intended for street driving after all, so Chevrolet had to make a compromise between all season safety and high-performance. There are much better tires you can buy for these cars than what they came with from the factory.

The Pirelli P Zero and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup are two of the highest rated all-season tires for the Corvette (as discussed on CorvetteForum.com). Although not tended for cold weather driving (and certainly not snow), these two tires have been proven over and over again as the top choice for Corvette owners looking for a tire that handles well both on the street and track. Increased grip, better feel of the road, and good looks make either of these two choices one of the best Corvette mods you can make.

Other really good tire choices for the Corvette are:

Finally, before moving onto more Corvette mods that aren’t going to make you look like an idiot, I think it’s important to mention the danger of chrome wheels. If you’re putting new tires on your car, it may be tempting do you put new wheels on as well. That’s perfectly fine, but did you know that chrome wheels went out of style back in the 70s? Yup. It’s true. Many don’t seem to realize this, so I’m only mentioning it now as a gentle reminder to prevent anyone from making a potentially huge (and embarrassing) mistake.

Cold air intake

Are you starting to sense a pattern here? I’m just about ready to start talking about more really cool Corvette mods, and I’ve yet to mention anything about appearance mods. The reason for that is simple: 99% of the appearance mods you’ll find in parts stores are extremely tacky and do not go with the overall design of the Corvette. At all.

That’s why I’m sticking to mostly performance mods for this list – such as the cold air intake I’m about to wax poetic about. However, those of you looking for appearance mods aren’t going to be completely out of luck though, because I’ll mention a few that aren’t tacky at the bottom of this post…

aFe Power 52-74202-1 Momentum Performance Intake System

Let your corvette breathe! A good aftermarket intake system will most certainly not make you look like an idiot when your raise the hood at the next local Cars and Coffee.

So yeah: a cold air intake is probably one of the most effective (and cool) Corvette mods there is. It’s extremely subtle, it makes your engine bay look really good, and the performance gains are significant considering the relative low cost of a good intake system.

For example, if you’ve got a C7 Corvette, the aFe Power 52-74202-1 Momentum Performance Intake System is one of the highest rated of them all. By simply bolting it onto your car, you’ll get an instant 46 HP and 39 Lbs. Ft. of torque increase. That’s huge considering how simple of a modification this is, which can literally be done by anybody. You don’t need to be mechanic to do this.

Other really good (and highly rated) cold air intake systems for Corvettes:

One of the other reasons that I really like adding a cold air intake system to any car (not just the Corvette) is how the increased airflow makes the car sound more aggressive. Think of it as increasing the size of your own throat. The additional air you’d be able to suck in would be easily heard as well as felt, and you would sound like a total badass out there on the tennis court grunting, huffing, and puffing like a beast as you destroy your competition.

For the love of God, lower your car at least an inch

If Corvettes could talk, they would tell you over and over again that they like being low. I’m sure of it. It’s just a hunch that I have, which I believe to be completely true considering how amazing these cars look when lowered slightly (but not too aggressively). I should also note that suspension tweaks are very significant Corvette mods because they not only change the appearance of the car, but there are massive performance benefits as well.

c7r corvette

Tell me that a lowered Corvette doesn’t look good. I dare you!

In my opinion, I’m always hesitant to recommend modifying the suspension of a late-model Corvette. Especially if it’s your daily driver and you depend on it daily to get you to work and to run necessary errands. Handling prowess has been the hallmark of the Corvette ever since the C4 was introduced in 1984. I’d even argue that the suspension is too good and over-aggressive for street driving. That’s why I’m wincing a bit and clenching my butt cheeks as I recommend suspension tweaks as one of the coolest Corvette mods you can make.

But let’s face it. Corvettes look amazing when lowered anywhere from .5” to 1”. As long as you’re careful with your suspension modifications, and you don’t try to redesign what the Corvette engineers spent years developing, you should be able to make some significant improvements with the following items:

  • Lowering bolt kit: if it were me doing mods to my own Corvette, I would buy a lowering bolt kit and be done with it. And when it comes to these kind of kids, there’s the “cheap way” and the “little bit more expensive” way. The cheap way consists of four simple bolts that replace the stock bolts, and allows you to lower the car up to 2 1/2 inches. The “little bit more expensive way” again consists of four bolts. However, these are made with better materials that are more durable and are able to take more abuse (which is perfect if you’re planning on tracking your car).
  • PFADT Series sway bars (which also includes a lowering bolt kit): if you can’t resist the urge to go a little more crazy with your Corvette mods, replacing the sway bars along with a lowering bolt kit is something that should satisfy your itch. This particular suspension kit will not only lower your car with a more aggressive (and amazing looking) stance, it will also give it racecar-like handling thanks to the upgraded sway bars. Beware though: this may be slightly too aggressive for street driving! You’ve got to be really hard-core to want to do this.

Remember what I said: keep it simple don’t try to reengineer everything. The Corvette is an engineering marvel that was designed and built by some of the smartest people on this planet. Most of us don’t have the ability to improve upon what these engineers have already done, so if you want to stay sane, keep your Corvette mods extremely simple.

Front splitters and spoilers are extremely cool Corvette mods

By now you should have a pretty good sense that when it comes to awesome Corvette mods, I am highly against most anything appearance-related. There’s nothing more offensive to me as an automotive enthusiast then seeing someone add tacky trinkets to the exterior of an otherwise beautiful car.

Carbon Fiber Front Bumper Lower Lip Splitter

EOS Z06 Z07 Stage 3 Carbon Fiber Front Bumper Lower Lip Splitter (which you can read more about here)

However, there’s one kind of appearance mod that I am a big fan of: front splitters (also known as a front lip or spoiler). Yes, I completely understand that there is absolutely no aerodynamic performance benefit for street driving, but it just looks so dang good. Better yet, I’ve yet to see a front splitter on any car that I didn’t like. Yeah, some look better than others, but just adding a few extra inches of length and depth to the bottom front bumper of a sports car makes a world of difference.

My favorite front splitters for the Corvette:

To me, nothing makes a car look better then dropping it an inch on its suspension and adding a front splitter. It looks amazing, and you most absolutely won’t look like an idiot with these two relatively simple (yet effective) modifications. Well, you will look slightly like an idiot the first times you rip your front splitter off going over a deep pothole on lowered suspension. It will happen, trust me…

Finally, a few other really cool Corvette modifications worth considering:

Don’t look like an idiot modding your amazing Corvette

I remember being 10 years old in the mid-1980s looking at Corvette parts catalogs and dreaming of the day that I would own one of these amazing cars. I had notebooks full of lists outlining all of the mods I was going to make my own Corvette once that day came, and thinking back on it, it was really hard for me to resist all of the crazy wings and decals and other ugly stuff that I hate so much now.

I guess what happened was that I grew up. And the only thing that I can think when I see another adult who modifies his or her Corvette with these ugly little trinkets and add-ons is that they’re still stuck in their adolescent 10-year-old ways. I’m not hating by the way. I’m just making an observation.

What about you? What kind of Corvette mods do you love and hate? I want to know!

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