Here in the US, modifiers don't want to do that sort of thing. The majority of us have an idea of what we want our cars to look like, and work toward it. Once we get there it basically stays there, with some small changes along the way
My impression of Europe is that owners can't afford multiple cars. So in order to conform to whatever freaky style just came out of Belgium or wherever, they strip the car down and start over on a whole new, eye-grabbing theme.
However, I want to say I really despise show cars. In my opinion, they aren't cars as much as lawn decoration. I enter shows I believe support the scene - not HIN or Streetcar Shootouts; those are for show cars. I enter the small but enjoyable club shows where I could care less if I get a trophy as long as there are people to talk to and tastefully modified rides that were driven there.
I baby my cars. I hate rock chips and scratches but I put up with it because I modify my cars to make them more fun to drive, not to look at or have some jailbait bending over it for photos while I wipe away every speck of dust.
I feel people who build show cars are modders who look at cars and ask, "what can I do to that car?" rather than, "what should I do to that car?" This leads to the bad examples that end up in shows.
Overall, whenever there's a group of peers, there's going to be some level of conformity. It's unavoidable. But I'd rather conform to a clean and smooth look I can be proud of in ten years, than conform to an over the top look that I'll be wanting to change next season.
You make some good points and talk for the majority who only modify their cars once and want to get it right the first time. However, I was challenging our view of what's right. I was also challenging those who do rebuild their cars every year to be a little more experimental.
I'm writing in response to the letter in the 9/06 issue about a shop taking four months to do a VR swap. I've also dealt with horrors of this nature. I had a '96 Golf and when the motor took a dump I figured it was a good time to do a swap. At the time, I didn't have the place or the time to do it. I had some cash so trusted the project to a local shop. Promises were made to me: "three weeks and you'll have it back." From the get-go I knew it'd be longer, but I was prepared to deal with it. After all, I know it's hard to keep schedules in a busy shop - I work in one myself.
After several months I started to wonder if it would ever be done. I did the usual calling and stopping by at least five days a week. Finally, after eight long months the work was completed. When I heard I could pick it up I dropped everything and headed out there. But the car still wasn't done!
After giving them a list of corrections and going without my car for two more weeks, I picked it up. They washed it for me and I was on my way. Since then I've been fixing things any experienced VW tech would have done in the first place.
I recently sold the swap to a friend with a '86 Golf. He finished the same swap in six weeks. A couple of autobody techs with some spare hours after work finished it in four!
If you want something done right, do it yourself.
There are some great tuners out there that offer exceptional service, and some that don't. The good ones might cost a little more, but you can see why. Meantime, many companies are complaining people buy cheap parts online and DIY fit them. Is it any wonder with experiences like this? Has anybody out there had a good experience with a shop that delivered on time and on budget? We obviously need to know who they are.