The ten nerdiest ways to modify your car

Nerds may love their cars in their own nerdy way, but that doesn't mean that they don't love cars all the same. Jalopnik readers have picked out the ten car mods that turn the nerd up to 11.


Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Ron Patrick

10.) Aeromods for hypermiling

Suggested By: coll9947

Why it's nerdcore: There are a lot of good reasons to try and make your car more aerodynamic, although certainly visibility problems come to mind when I see Darin Cosgrove's boat-tail Geo Metro. And parking the thing doesn't seem like the easiest task.


Still, where this car absolutely excels is in getting more miles per gallon. It's this brilliant but somewhat thick-headed mastery of economy that shows us that nerds do care about cars, but not always the same way as we do.

Photo Credit: ecomodder


9.) Solar-powered cars

Suggested By: Autojunkie

Why it's nerdcore: Nerds don't need some giant corporate entity like a car manufacturer to tell them what is and isn't a viable means of transportation. Nerds take things into their own hands.


Combining engineering know-how, a taste for the cutting edge, and a blatant distaste for authority, the task of building and converting cars to run on solar energy is an especially nerdy kind of car enthusiasm, but it's car enthusiasm just the same.

Photo Credit: Renilund


8.) Home-modded Taurus with TVs, appliances, the works

Suggested By: Austin W

Why it's nerdcore: The Steaurus 2000 debuted last year at Woodward after five years of what looks like obsessive, unorganized, unregulated modification.


The damn thing is a rolling deathtrap, having already hit Steve, the guy who built the car, with 5,000 volts when he was repairing one of its many TVs.

Still, it's a labor of love, it'll microwave your hot pockets right there in the car, and it comes with a hat! Hats are very important to nerds, and this car has spawned a really great hat.


Photo Credit: The Detroit News


7.) Real life Halo Warthog

Suggested By: SennaMP4

Why it's nerdcore: Nerds do love blowing stuff up in video games, but they also love building inane, deeply complicated tributes to their fantasies. This normally manifests itself as cosplay or fan fiction, but for the more mechanically incline, it turned into something rather wonderful.


Built by the guys who made the special effects for Lord of the Rings, WETA, for a Peter Jackson Halo movie that never came to be, it's a real life Warthog.

It's basically a Nissan Patrol with some hydraulics and some bodywork, but we don't care, it's a New Zealand nerd masterpiece.


Photo Credit: Nick Broughall/Gizmodo Au

6.) High speed EV conversions

Suggested By: nitrous_86

Why it's nerdcore: Any dweeb or beardy old hippy can whip together an EV conversion of their old Subaru Justy, but a real nerd makes a hot rod BMW E30 that can dust a V10 M6 off the line and smoke it in the corners, too.


Yes, this is Rimac Automobili's six hundred-odd horsepower electric vehicle. It's fast enough to run the quarter-mile in the low twelves. Now they're building a supercar, and it's being nerds that got them there.


5.) Make it a rolling surveillance device

Suggested By: JeffFurbs

Why it's nerdcore: Built for crossing the country (this country, any country) as fast as humanly possible, Alex Roy's "Team Polizei" E39 M5 is a no-nonsense speed machine. That means it's decked out in more route-planning and police-avoiding tech than you could dream of.


We could try and label everything that's hardwired into this cabin, but it would just take too long. Who said nerds are slow?

Photo Credit: Team Polizei

4.) Zombie proofing your car

Suggested By: witless_protection

Why it's nerdcore: Nerds don't just sit in their rooms playing Starcraft all day. No, they also dream up how to survive the impending zombie apocalypse.


You might not have expected it, but nerds just love having shotguns and armor plating things. These are their dreams made real.

3.) Home-built hybrid

Suggested By: dantecasali

Why it's nerdcore: "Let me just shove that firewall back there," he says knocking a metal plate back into place with his hand.


This is a Pontiac Fiero built into a four wheel drive hybrid with more engineering and electrician know-how than I may ever acquire in my life. It looks somewhere between an automotive high voltage self-electrocution machine and an absolutely brilliant twin engine homemade hot rod of the first order.

If you want a full explanation of the car, and want to know how a hair dryer functions as an integral part of the hybrid drivetrain, just watch the video, you won't be disappointed.

2.) Homemade jet cars

Suggested By: GR1M RACER

Why it's nerdcore: That's a minivan with a helicopter-sourced turbine engine in the back. As you can see in this clip, it runs the eighth-mile in 7.65 seconds.


If there's a nerdier, more amateur high-speed way to blow off some steam, I haven't seen it yet.


1.) Building your own autonomous vehicle

Suggested By: Transanalog

Why it's nerdcore: The kind of engineering that goes into making a car drive by remote control is a serious undertaking. The same goes for modifying a car so you can drive it with a smart phone.


However, setting a car up to drive itself is orders of magnitude more complicated. It's enough of a challenge to get a car to follow a pre-set course using GPS and other sensors, but it will take a dedicated team of nerds a full year just to build a car that can interpret its environment, plan its own routes, and cover varying terrain.

Just ask Jalopnik reader Transanalog, who came in fourth in the grueling, military-run 2005 DARPA challenge. Only four of the 195 entrants even survived the race. That's not just a testament to the kind of difficulty of this kind of undertaking, but also to the kind of nerdiness needed to dream up a project like this and bring it to completion.


Photo Credit: Gray Matter Inc.

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