They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but I know you already have. I’m not surprised, though. After all, you’re used to seeing the likes of Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Honda project cars on these pages. But a Chevy? Don’t be so quick to dismiss it. Yes, it’s not your typical Modified Mag build, but that’s what makes it special.
The challenge and excitement of building on a platform that isn’t very popular makes this project one that I hope you’ll follow along closely. Why? Because, you’re going to see what it takes to make this little hatchback into a decent track car that can still be civil enough for everyday use.
It’s by no means going to be easy; there aren’t exactly scores of modified Sonics kicking around that I can look to for inspiration. Instead, I hope we’ll be the ones doing the inspiring and showing you that no matter the platform, you can always build it to be fun and enjoyable.
Luckily, this chassis is already pretty decent to begin with. The RS moniker of the Sonic lineup means it comes with a host of options that the regular models don’t get. There are the aesthetics that add much needed aggressiveness to the body lines, but the stuff that really matters is a 6-speed manual with shorter gear ratios, stiffer and lower suspension, rear disc brakes, and 17-inch wheels. I also quite like the RS interior, which adds a flat-bottom, thick-rimmed steering wheel and very sporty-looking RS badged seats. They could use a bit more bolstering, but that’s why we’re here.
This car is going to get some serious upgrades in areas that have been deemed to need improvement. Things like the infotainment system won’t get touched because, frankly, it’s as good as it gets.
I’ve had a chance to stretch the legs on this little hot hatch at the track, and as I said, it’s actually a decent package from the factory. Kudos to Chevy for not just sticking RS badging on it and faking the funk. However, to get some higher caliber performance, almost all the major components on this car will be modified, so you can expect to see a lot of parts being fitted to it in a very short amount of time.
Oh, that’s the other thing. This Sonic will be headed to the SEMA Show, and as of this writing, I have two very short months to complete this build. I bet you’re doing it again, judging. I know a lot of SEMA cars end up not running and instead just look the part, but my goal is to ensure this Sonic is functional and can be driven back to Los Angeles, then head to the track and compete in our Super Lap Battle Finals.
I want to assure you that as much as I have to focus on completing this car for SEMA, the priority is to make it into something legit and real. The last thing I want is a car that looks good but performs poorly. This is Modified Mag after all, and if there’s one thing we do right here, it’s going fast.
Without giving away too many spoilers, expect to see some pretty cool parts on this car in the next upcoming issues. We’ve got big brakes from Brembo to ensure fade-free reliability and serious stopping power. A wicked combination of track and street wheels and tires will be fitted while some serious massaging of the fenders may happen to handle all that extra rubber. Inside, seats from Recaro with a one-off rollbar and Takata harnesses will ensure the driver has a proper office to work in. The engine will get a boost in power. It’s a 1.4L turbo, so the goal is not to go overboard and make it unreliable. Instead, we’ll stick with some key upgrades to ensure reliability while increasing forward velocity.
Get ready because this project is about to go from 0-60 in the blink of an eye. Expect to see both the ups and downs of a fast build of this kind, but rest assured—it’s going to be a fun and challenging ride.