When first The Fast and The Furious came, first that it did was make teenagers think their family sedans are 300 bhp performance machines. Second it did was make people spend money of small upgrades and calling them Stage 1 or Stage 2 performance mods. The Need for Speed video games are also those stage 1, stage 2 and stage 3 performance mods setting to make your cars faster. Believe it or not, we still get emails and messages from our young readers to explain what these Stage 1, Stage 2 or 3 performance mods are.
If you have ever gone through websites of companies that sell aftermarket performance upgrades like Greddy and HKS, you surely would have seen modification parts being sold under the label of Stage 1 to 3. Car modifications can get complex and confusing. So to make them easy to understand, sellers have divided the upgrades according to the ease of installation and cost. Cheaper and easier ones are called Stage 1, expensive rebuilds for massive power gains are generally referred at Stage 3. Let’s start with Stage 1 mods.
Stage 1 performance mods
Usually, anything that is considered bolt-on comes under Stage 1 mods. So changing the stock air intake with a cold air intake performance air filter or changing the stock exhaust system with an aftermarket system would be considered are Stage 1. Stage 1 mods are usually fine for your daily driven cars. Even if you are changing your stock clutch plate to aftermarket one, it can be called as Stage 1. Exedy makes a clutch plate for both stock and aftermarket specs. Aftermarket performance clutch kits are sold under Exedy Racing Clutch name. You will find they sell Stage 1 to Stage 3 kits. Or if you are looking for a bolt-on turbo kit for your Civic, the most basic kit that make 6-8 PSI and can be used on stock internals will be considered as a Stage 1. But one can argue that installing a turbo kit on an NA car isn’t exactly Stage 1. Some don’t believe that forced induction is Stage 1; some say if you are only adding a kit that doesn’t require replacing engine/transmission internals, it can be classified as Stage 1. There are supporting arguments from the both sides of the fence.
Stage 2 performance mods
Those who say forced induction kits (turbochargers and superchargers) cannot be classified as Stage 1, consider them to be Stage 2. Stage 2 mods are slightly more aggressive and require additional work to make them work. If you are installing a turbocharger, you might want to remap your ECU as a support. Stage 2 cars are usually made to run on weekends at the track. We don’t exactly have race tracks in Pakistan and hence the street racing. Cars with Stage 2 mods can be used in as a sparingly used daily runner. Running a performance clutch in the start and stop traffic is not a joke. If you are getting a TRD Supercharger kit for your Corolla, it might have otherwise a bigger pulley to make more boost. You might need to replace pistons and rods of your D16 Civic engine if you want to make more boost safely. Changing performance springs and shocks come under Stage 2, otherwise just changing springs is considered Stage 1. Maybe get some lighter bucket seats and lighter alloys with stickier rubber as well. All of these mods are considered as Stage 2 performance mods.
Stage 3 performance mods
As you would expect, these are the most extreme ones. Rebuilding the whole engine and transmission to make insane horsepower would be considered as Stage 3, if putting it plainly. Cars that are making like three or even four times more power than stock with aftermarket mods have usually gone through Stage 3 modifications. You will be replacing your suspension system with performance coil overs and completely new sturdier bushing along with chassis bracing for the rigidity. Doing a thorough weight reduction counts as well. If you want to push something like 30 PSI through your car’s engine, you need to replace a lot of engine components to support your HP goals. You will need to go for a completely new aftermarket ECU system like Haltech. The materials used and build quality of the aftermarket parts changes as you climb the modification levels. Turbocharges would be bigger, intercoolers would be more efficient, clutch kits would be harder and stronger, and so and so forth. And everything would be much more expensive.
Please do keep in mind there are always going to be debate whether a certain mod is considered a Stage 1 or 2 or 3. There was a time in our local tuning scene when grounding your car was considered as Stage 1. So yeah, there are a hell lot of variables. Many would not accept a certain something as a mod at all. I know guys who have been running aftermarket performance air filter on their CNG cars. Or installing platinum or iridium spark plugs are considered as a ‘huge’ performance upgrade. So there are no set rules to classify modifications in a dead set category. There are always going to certain leeway.
But hey, if you are happy with what you have done to your car, who are we to tell to otherwise. Happy motoring!