What Is a Custom Car? Definition, Meaning and Concept

A custom car is a car that has undergone a variety of modifications. These changes may involve the performance of the car, such as replacing your transmission. Modifications can also focus on the look of the car, such as adding a design to the paint.

The custom car culture began in the garages and shops of Southern California in the US in the mid-1950s. Terms like tail dragging and lead sleds soon became familiar to people all over the United States. As the custom car craze spread, modifications began to appear on vehicles around the world.

One of the first popular steps in creating a custom car was to lower the entire chassis. Dubbed short-statured, the pavement-scraping cars cruised through city squares and took up parking spots at local drive-ins, all while drawing attention to their owners. Paint became the second component many custom car enthusiasts altered. From classic "candy" paint jobs to llamas and scallops, the customs showcased the imagination of their owners. The only limit to the amount of customization found on a custom car was tied to the owner's pocketbook.

Custom culture was in full swing in the 1960s, when the practice of slicing and sectioning bodies began to occur. Cutting a top involves cutting metal from the roof pillars and lowering the roof of the vehicle. This is believed to create a more elegant appearance.

Sectioning a body is more complicated and subsequently more expensive. To section a custom body, the entire body has a predetermined amount of metal cut from the perimeter of the body. Once the cut is achieved, the upper half of the body is lowered to sit on the lower section, and then welded back together. This is perhaps the most complicated and time-consuming practice in car customization. Chopping and sectioning is believed to take custom cars to the next level.

Most customs sailing in any city in the world spend more money on customization than on the actual purchase of the vehicle. As customization became increasingly complex and gold plating began to replace chrome, many areas formed custom car clubs. The club stage shows where members can display their vehicles. The shows began to attract more and more onlookers, and the size of the shows increased. Many custom car owners display their car club's name and city on license plates suspended from the rear bumper of their cars.