Car Culture & Entertainment

Decade in Review: The Top Aftermarket Auto Parts Developments

By the year 2020, we all thought we’d be flying around town in jet packs and taking weekend excursions to Mars. At least that’s what I thought when I was in middle school all those years ago.

While we’ve come up short on those things, we have had some significant breakthroughs during the last decade — things that have really moved mankind forward. Big things like the rise of Pokemon Go and the invention of TikTok. And how about that Tinder?

On the aftermarket part front, there were some big developments, as well. We worked with Summit Racing to identify some of the biggest game-changing parts or part innovations of the past decade (2010-2019). We talked to Summit Racing Facebook fans and customers, as well as Summit Racing product managers.

Our list includes brand-new parts, along with some existing technologies that really took off during the decade.

Here’s what we came up with:

SPEC Chassis

Our friends at the Roadster Shop introduced an entire line of complete chassis. These kits serve as an off-the-shelf solution that provides many of the benefits of higher-end chassis at a reasonable price — and without the installation hassles associated with buying components separately.

The bottom line: it’s never been easier to acquire a high-end chassis and frame for your frame-off restoration.

Billet Lockup Torque Converters

The rise of billet lockup torque converters, like those offered from FTI Performance, has made premature clutch wear — even on serious performance applications — a thing of the past.

Throttle Response Enhancers

Companies like Jet Performance, Hypertech, and DigiPower now offer plug-in solutions to enhance throttle response and reduce throttle lag. In addition, many versions give you the ability to choose between driving modes, with configurations for better performance, enhanced fuel economy, and more.

Plug-and-Play LED Lights

Chances are you’ve seen the trend toward LEDs on older street rods and customers, and plug-and-play conversions from companies like Digi-Tails and Dakota Digital make this upgrade easier than ever. It’s never been simpler to convert your old-style taillights to modern LEDs.

Affordable Aftermarket EFI Systems

It’s now fairly simple and straightforward to convert an engine from a carburetor to EFI. More importantly, it’s never been more economically feasible thanks to companies like FiTech. While aftermarket EFI has been around for a while, FiTech’s self-tuning EFI systems reset the price point on these systems, particularly for throttle body-style setups. Companies like Holley and Edelbrock have followed suit with their own versions, along with more affordable multi-port setups.

Disguised Disc Brakes

It’s the best of both worlds: a period-correct look for your vintage vehicle, and all the performance and safety you demand. Companies like Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop and Pete and Jake’s have spent a considerable amount of time developing disc brake kits that look like the old-school drums.

HP Tuners

HP Tuners has taken the engine tuning game to a new level buy offering DIY builders and tuners a more comprehensive package than the old-ish school handheld programmers and computer chips. Although HP Tuners has been around since 2003, the company’s products continue to evolve, including its MPVI2 VCM Editor and VCM Scanner.

Specialty Tires

From drag radials to autocross tires, there have never been more options catered to specific performance needs. Companies like BFGoodrich and Mickey Thompson have led the way.

Turbos and Components

The popularity of turbochargers has exploded, and aftermarket manufacturers have developed more components to maximize performance and expand the possibilities! Start with companies like VS Racing, which has made obtaining a turbo a more budget-friendly option than before. Add in the availability of big injectors and big MM wastegates, and you’ve got the recipe to go big with your turbo setup.

So what did we miss? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. I think that another area is the choice of wheels. It is unreal what you can choose from today not like the old days when the bests choices were Cragar S/S and all brands of slot mags only in the standard wheel sizes. Today you can get any size tire and wheel combination you desire making it a lot easier to customize your project.

  2. Harold is spot on.

  3. One area that was missed is tools. So many tools that make do it your self people can use to make our passion & goals obtainable. This may may not be a hand tool but the quick jack system is VERY usable and VERY safe. This is handy for the weekender that doesn’t have the room or height for a full size lift & it’s portable!

  4. ProChargers didn’t make the list?

  5. That’s interesting! I really enjoying upgrading my car parts and have tried some of those in the list. Can’t wait to see what the new decade holds for us.

  6. Wish I wasn’t getting so old

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