Critiquing A Build

Exterior Modifications

Keep It Unique! 


When it comes to critiquing the exterior portion of a build at a car show, one of the many things that judges are looking for are modifications that make your ride unique from rest. How they evaluate the exterior of your car will depend on, not only the upgrades you’ve made but also, the workmanship. Exterior modifications include, but are certainly not limited to, everything from your basic bolt-on upgrades like aftermarket headlight, mirrors, and body kits, to the more complex items like custom fabricated fenders and metal widebody kits. 

Whether your build is mild or wild, it should go without saying that any modifications made to the exterior of your vehicle are expected to look as though they came from the factory that way. For example, if you choose to shave door handles, emblems, moldings, etc., then they must look clean and free of imperfections. The quality of the craftsmanship on whatever you do will determine how the judges evaluate your vehicle. Holes left from factory hinges, exposed and unfinished metal, as well as exposed or extraneous wiring will reflect negatively during evaluation. All mounting hardware should be hidden and out of sight when possible too. You’ve worked so hard to get the mods so why not make sure they’re clean and presentable?

The uniqueness of an exterior modification does not only entail to parts you can buy, but also ones that can be fabricated. Don’t want to go out and purchase a rare body kit or set of fenders? Then why not have a body shop create something one-off out of sheet metal? Don’t want to run a high price tag front bumper on your car? Then why not customize yours in a way that no one else's is? 

As much as judges love seeing rare parts on a car, they love seeing customized parts featuring your own style and flavor just as much. One-off customization is the way to show the judging team that you put forth the extra time and effort to stand out from the rest of the competition.

Judges know what builders go through to get their cars ready for a show, and they also know that the fitment of a body kit, for example, is something that should be checked before the car gets to the show floor. Some owners like to bolt their bumpers on at the show and, if that’s the case, then make sure that it lines up with the rest of the car.

Judging The Value Of Modifications

It’s important to remember that more isn’t always better; it’s about quality over quantity. You might have more aftermarket parts on your car than your competitors, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to a better built machine. Your car might be sporting a custom, ten-piece body kit, but that doesn’t mean you will automatically win over the guy with a four-piece body kit.  

The real value to judges is how well your modifications are made to your car. All hardware should be of OEM quality or better, and gaps between panels should be even throughout the vehicle. So if your custom, ten-piece body kit doesn’t line up correctly or has uneven gaps between panels, while your competitor’s four-piece kit does, then that will end up costing you rather then benefiting you.

Judges also place high value on how your modifications are installed. Is that ten-piece body kit made of metal, fiberglass or plastic? That kit that’s metal, fully custom, and molded to the car, for example, would stand out to judges over a vehicle whose kit is bolted, screwed, or taped on to it.

Along with installation, judges place enormously high value on how these modifications are painted or wrapped. Are all the car’s body panels perfectly color-matched with a higher grade of paint than what the manufacturer originally sprayed onto the car? Does the wrap job look like it could be mistaken for an OEM finish? The better the quality, the better your vehicle will stand out on the show floor.  

Copyright 2019 by NCCA. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, translated, transcribed, or stored in a retrieval system in any form electronically, mechanically, or through photocopying without the prior written permission of NCCA.   

Steve Wagner's 1969 Camaro – built by Bent Metal Customs.  Photo by John Machaqueiro

Steve Wagner's 1969 Camaro – built by Bent Metal Customs. Photo by John Machaqueiro