Tip: Engine bay

Much like its interior, your car’s engine bay should be functional and attractive. If your ride has been a victim of overzealous motorheads for the past few decades, there are probably all sorts of crimes being committed under its hood. This is another area where minor changes can make major improvements.

The most obvious parts to check are the valve covers and the air cleaner-if either has been in place for more than 10 years, it is likely to be rusty, cheesy, or both. Trade up from that ’82-spec Taiwanese chrome dress-up kit and consider a set of cast-aluminum covers, which can be had in polished, machined, or black matte finish in a number of clean designs. The choices for air cleaners are vast, so you should have no trouble losing that mushroom-shaped Cal Custom unit. One of the hottest, though perhaps costliest, looks in accessories these days is the fabricated aluminum approach, where components are made from TIG-welded aluminum sheetmetal and left with a bare finish.

Of course, the engine itself will likely need refinishing, and here again, the aftermarket has stepped up with high-quality engine paints in all the OE colors for restorations. Or go with something a little more modern. A popular look right now is the metal-finish effect, using paint colors that mimic titanium, aluminum, and other high-tech alloys. These go well with machined-aluminum brackets and accessories, as well as the aforementioned sheetmetal parts.

Finish the bay out with cleaned-up wiring, a fresh set of modern spark-plug wires, and maybe a thermal barrier coating on your headers, and you’ll no longer be embarrassed to raise your hood.

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