Modernising your retro hot hatch

Whatever decade you choose, 80s, 90s or even the early 00s there are some truly epic hot hatches available on the second hand market. With acronyms like GTI, XRI, SR and even RS floating around for well under £3000 the retro hot hatch market is a great place to pick up a performance bargain. For example the legendary Renault Clio Williams with its 150bhp and tiny kerb weight is available for under £2500.

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One factor that really puts many investors off is the fact that these cars are very much a product of their time and they do feel ever so slightly dated and outpaced by modern traffic. Don’t worry though as there are ways that you can take these old school hot hatches and bring them bang up to date with modern standards. Below we have compiled a little list of the three main areas that you will want to address in order to make your retro hatch even more of a wolf in sheep’s clothing;


Upping the power of a classic hatchback can often get you branded as a philistine and there are a hardcore few that believe they should only ever be brought back up to standard power. This though is not enough for some and if you really want to be able to keep up with the current crop of modern hot hatches you will need more power. As many of these cars will either have only a rudimentary ECU or none at all the simple step of remapping is not an option so you will need to get creative.

Adding a forced induction kit to your car will give huge power increases but can destroy the character of your engine. The best way to improve the old school is to stick with the old school techniques for eking out extra power, options such as performance cam-shafts, performance exhaust systems, improved induction systems and even techniques such as cylinder head porting can yield excellent power gains.

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With modern hot hatches being fitted with ever more complex on board computing systems and more impressive spring and damper setups they really are brutally quick on a twisty road. No matter how much extra power you have you will struggle to keep up with a modern hatch if you cannot efficiently put the power onto the road. Upgrades such as a suspension upgrade coupled with better brakes will see an instant and noticeable improvement in how the car handles on Britain’s twisty and gnarled roads.

One area in which people let themselves down is their choice of tyre, every other upgrade on a car relies on the tyres being able to grip the road efficiently. Putting budget tyres on a classic hot hatch should merit a prison sentence as a premium tyre can absolutely transform the way the car drives.

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With the best will in the world every hot hatch legend begins to look dated as soon as the next generation of the car is released. As you drive around in your hot hatch you quickly become aware of the cars age and they simply don’t have the visual impact of a modern pocket rocket such as the Vauxhall Astra VXR. There are several ways that you can increase this visual impact though and by far and away the most effective is giving your car a professional detailing. Over time the paintwork and plastic bumpers begin to fade and the car begins to really show its age. A professional detailing service includes a full polishing of all the exterior body work and will leave it looking showroom fresh once again. If you want to further modernise the look of your car then the addition of optional parts from later models can give it a real aesthetic boost.

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So if you are not inspired by the current range of hot hatches or perhaps don’t want to commit to the sizeable investment that they require then worry not as there are literally hundreds of options available. Modernising a classic will give you a car that can hold its head high among the best modern hatches on offer at a fraction of the price. If you are having any trouble finding that exact performance part for your car, be it old or new, don’t hesitate to contact us and our experienced staff will be happy to help.

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Modernising your retro hot hatch
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