Modifying Without Compromising

Evo 6 Customized Interior

Make your own personalized interior without permanently altering your car!

Modifying a car has a lot to do with your personal taste. What seems like an amazing idea to you, may unfortunately be a deal-breaker for any future owner of your car. So how does one modify their car without compromising the resale value? Let us show you a few great ideas to get started. We will focus on the interior, because this is where your “style” mods usually exist.

Try to Keep the Original Pieces

Cobalt SS A-Pillar with Gauge Pod
Cobalt SS A-Pillar with Gauge Pod
Boost Gauge in Cobalt SS A-Pillar
Boost Gauge in the Cobalt SS A-Pillar

When you start to replace interior pieces in a vehicle, it’s a good idea to hold on to the original pieces. Let’s say for example you are working on your A-pillars. Maybe you have a new piece with a gauge pod built into it. Awesome! There are a lot of car enthusiasts out there that would appreciate this mod just as much as you do. Maybe you mount a boost gauge, or a wideband into it too. Even better. For a lot of us, having that mounted up in plain view makes it easier to check while driving. But believe it or not, when the time comes for you to sell the car, there may be some potential buyers out there who would rather not have that gauge staring at them. But hey, you saved that original trim piece, so no worries!

2009 Cobalt SS Customized Interior
2009 Cobalt SS Customized Interior

This may seem like a very simple example, but let us expand on it. Let’s say you want to change the colour of your dash trim pieces. You’ve finally grown sick of the grey colour that came with your car. Now you want it black! Sure, easy enough. But before you reach for the can of spray paint, may we offer an alternative. Find a company either online or in your city that sells vinyl wrap. They come in a variety of colours, and if you fancy, you can even get a carbon fiber vinyl wrap. Now you don’t want to over do it with this stuff either (or maybe you do, we don’t judge), but no matter what, you will easily be able to rip it off down the road.

Find a Unique Solution

So far we’ve touched on some pretty simple stuff. Keep the original pieces, and avoid permanent changes. But how about we look at something a bit more unique. Let’s say you don’t want to mount your boost gauge up on the A-pillar, and instead decide you want to mount it in the center of your dash. In some cases, your car may have a blank face piece under the radio, or even a little cubby (containing change, some random screws you found on the floor, and the expired coupon you wanted to use at the drive-thru last week). Or maybe your car doesn’t have either of those, but you’ve decided you no longer need your radio, or HVAC controls, or 12V charger. Wherever it may be, you need to decide if this is going to be a permanent change, or if you want it to be reversible.

In the case of our project Evo 6, we decided to eliminate the radio, and HVAC controls, and 12V charger. So yes, we pretty much had a clean slate to work with. But still, we wanted to find ways to alter the dash without making permanent changes.

Custom Panel Mounted in Place on Evo 6
Custom Panel Mounted in Place
Custom Switch and Gauge Panel for an Evo 6
Custom Switch and Gauge Panel for the Evo

We started where the HVAC controls were. In their place we mounted a custom panel made of ABS plastic and wrapped with carbon fiber vinyl. It houses 3 gauges, a set of toggle switches, and the start button for the car. All of these are part of a custom wiring job that was done on the car. Now even though this project car is far beyond the point of no return, we still wanted the panel to be removable without altering the dash. On the panel are 4 screws that attach it to pre-existing holes in the dash. Nothing was cut or altered to mount it.

Radio Replacement Panel for Evo 6
Radio Replacement Panel for Evo 6

Below the switch panel, we wanted to mount another piece for the boost gauge and wideband meter, as well as a few more toggle switches. To accomplish this, we once again broke out the ABS plastic, and after quite a bit of measuring, cutting, and sanding, we had a piece that fit flush against the original trim piece. It uses extruded holes on the rear of the trim piece to mount it up without ever permanently changing anything. Stay tuned for a more detailed look at this solution.

Custom Fog Switch for Evo 6
Custom Fog Switch Installed
Custom Fog Switch Solution for Evo 6
Custom Fog Switch Solution for the Evo

Another quick solution was needed when we had a failing fog light switch. Instead of sourcing out an original switch, we decided to patch it using a small plastic piece with a billet button embedded in it. To avoid gluing the piece to the dash, we instead used another piece of plastic on the back side to sandwich it to the dashboard. This made for a non-permanent solution, in case we ever did find a replacement stock piece.

Buy a Duplicate Piece

Extra Trim Pieces for Cobalt SS
Extra Trim Pieces for Cobalt SS

Maybe you want to get a bit more adventurous and have decided that you are unable to create a solution without altering the trim piece, or dash, or some other part of the vehicle. Our advice in this situation is to source out another piece. This will help you in a couple of ways. If it is an easily sourced piece (readily available from a junkyard or online) then you will have a second attempt in case something goes wrong. And if everything goes well, you will now have a spare piece for when you sell the car.

Making of A Custom Panel for Evo 6
The Making of A Custom Panel
Radio Trim Piece with Added Switches and Gauge for Evo 6
Radio Trim Piece with Added Switches and Gauge

When we originally worked on the radio trim piece in our Evo 6, we permanently altered the plastic. Lucky for us, we had found a duplicate piece that was in rough condition. We used this piece for the project, and kept the original as a back up. A hole was cut from where the 12V charger used to be, and the ash tray was replaced with an epoxied piece of plastic with holes for toggle switches. This was all wrapped with vinyl to hide the horrible epoxy job and roughed up plastic piece. The final product turned out great, and we knew that we still had the original piece if we ever wanted to revert it back.

Having a backup plan is always best when you work on your vehicle. We like to avoid regrets, especially when it comes to modifying our vehicles. Plan ahead, make sure you have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, and don’t be offended if someone else doesn’t share the same enthusiasm for some of your mods.

  • […] In order to remove the majority of the wires, you will need to open up the dash harness and carefully follow the wiring diagrams for your car. This involves the temporary removal of some of the HVAC system, and even the dash if you want to completely remove everything. But the weight savings here are going to be negligible compared to everything else, so we recommend leaving it alone. Leaving the wires there also means you haven’t permanently altered the vehicle, and can always go back and reinstall the sound system. If you haven’t yet, check out our article on modifying your car without compromising its resale value. […]

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