Ever since cars have been accessible to the masses, car owners have been divided into two basic categories. Those who want their car to perform better, and those who want their car to look like they perform better. This basic divide has been present ever since cars existed but it became most obvious during the dawn of the 21st century with “The Fast and the Furious” hitting our screens in 2001.

Form over function

The basic definition of a riced vehicle is that it looks like it’s going fast, while in fact, it isn’t fast at all. It doesn’t really matter which car it is, you’ll easily recognize a Ricer as the one with an excessive body kit, pointless GT1-style wing or massive front bumper with a seemingly stock intercooler. When it comes to tuners, however, every change on the car’s bodywork is there to serve a very clear function and is carefully considered. On a tuner vehicle, you may still see a body kit but chances are it will be tasteful and highly functional, rather than custom body parts in unimaginable shapes and sizes. On real tuner cars, body kits are there to reduce drag, improve aerodynamics or make room for larger performance parts, not to make the cars just heavier or look cool at your local cars and coffee. Strangely, this usually means that the rear wing on a tuner car is usually way smaller than that of a riced Honda or Nissan, since its there for more downforce, not for showing off to your buddies at the car meet!

Replica Parts

Since ricers care about the looks of their cars more than their performance, it’s very common to see riced cars sporting replica parts, often being worse quality than stock! Tuners tend to take their mods seriously, for example, high spec wheels, as they serve an important purpose in improving performance during high stress driving. Ricers on the other hand, rarely bother with this, assuming eBay replicas will do the same job right? As they are all about making their cars seem fast and look cool, replica wheels are a rather cheap step towards that goal. In real life situations that involve high-speed driving, applying excessive brake force often results in these rims being bent or even broken, and that’s where replica wheels rear their ugly heads. Ever seen a friend’s replica crack with just a small shunt? The same goes for steering wheels, brake callipers, seats and many other car parts that are visible, visually pleasing and functional at the same time.

Ridiculously Loud Exhausts

Generally speaking, fast cars are usually very loud, but that’s due to the complicated laws of thermodynamics that require them to have these distinctive exhaust notes and a certain amount of loudness coming from their exhaust pipes. A good exhaust system is of vital importance to any performance car, whether it’s a supercar or a real tuner car of any sort. Ricers, however, attempting to make their car appear faster, often resort to custom exhausts that don’t do anything to improve performance, sometimes even making it worse! If you’re a car guy, I’m sure you will have seen a riced car that’s louder than a supercar, yet the power gains that the car will receive will be little to none! If you want to scream ricer, put a fart can on your otherwise stock 4banger and call it a day. That’s why obviously underpowered, yet loud cars are bona fide ricer machines, while tuners always have a balanced sound that matches the power under the hood. It’s quite simple: a loud exhaust doesn’t make a car go fast, but a fast car usually makes the exhaust go loud.

Fake Stickers

One of the cheapest and most popular ricer modifications is covering your car with excessive stickers or optimistic badges. Ever seen a BMW 318i with an M logo on the back? Or perhaps a poverty spec Mercedes diesel with an AMG badge. Well, that’s exactly what I’m talking about right here. Occasionally, you will see a car that has the original badges removed altogether, claiming an entry level 3 series is now an M3! An easy way to tell a riced car from a tuned car is if it has badges of a high-performance model on the back, yet no matching power or performance under the hood.

Secondly, riced vehicles often have stickers of various brands associated with tuning, but with no actual parts being installed anywhere in the car. Favoured places for these stickers are usually on the doors, front or rear wings, but you’re also very likely to see them anywhere else too. Some ricers will go so far with the sticker bombing that they’ll replicate a whole livery, but that won’t make the cars go faster either. Tuners on the other hand, often prefer making their cars as stealthy as possible, so excessive badging is not a thing you’ll see on these modified cars unless there’s an actual sponsorship deal between the company and the owner of the project car. Remember, with tuners, it’s always about being functional rather than just showing off!

Audio Systems

No matter what the Fast & Furious and Need For Speed franchises say, a tuner car doesn’t need to have a complex audio system in the trunk. To be more blunt, a tuner car rarely, if ever should have a complex audio system in the trunk. The reason behind this difference between ricers and tuners is quite simple, because audio components are heavy, they require a lot of space and there’s no way they can make a car go any faster. That’s what engine mods are for, and that’s why you’ll rarely ever see a tuner car with a trunk full of speakers, TV screens even worse, games consoles! (ever watched pimp my ride?). Ricers on the other hand don’t seem fussed about performance, so it won’t be unusual to see these cars equipped with elaborate entertainment systems that only add to the weight and the noise of their already deafening fart-cans.

Oversized Wings

Finishing off this list is a Ricer favourite. A lot of people would say that the way to tell a ricer from a tuner is if his front wheel drive car has a spoiler on it. That’s not actually true, however, as downforce is often required for rear wheel grip, not just traction. That’s not to say that Ricers get it right though. Most riced cars have a wing so large that it likely causes drag rather than down-force, and rarely are they capable of reaching speeds in which down-force is even a relevant factor. Tuners use wings to carefully calibrate their driving dynamics, increasing high-speed stability or mid corner traction. Large wings usually have a tradeoff, which ricers rarely consider. If you want to improve the way your car looks, why not just add a small lip spoiler at the back? The effects will be barely noticeable and you’re vehicle’s appearance will be improved dramatically!