It’s a familiar story: a badly modified car appears in a classified advertisement online.

The motoring cognoscenti see it, and share it, and mock it. What a munter! What appalling taste! What ruined handling! What pointless accessories!

Well, they might be right, but the discussion is not for me, dear reader – not for Prior. Because it’s a short stride from there – and I’ve seen it taken – to suggesting that there’s something actually wrong with allowing people to modify cars badly. That somehow it shouldn’t be allowed. That people should be saved from their idiot selves and spared from their own appalling taste. Well, it’s a step I could never take.

Why? Because anyone who modifies a car – even if they happen to do it very badly – has cars as a hobby. They’re using their free time on it. Spending their money on it. Quite often, they’re young. Frequently, it’s the first time they’ve tried it. Perhaps the first car they’ve had. Perhaps they can’t afford £300 a month for a PCP on a VW Golf R. But perhaps one day they will do that, so long as they like cars for that long.Only then somebody comes along and says: “Well, that’s a bag of old spanners. What a waste of your time and energy.”

Cheers, grandpa. Way to welcome me to the team.

I’m not sure why people have to take offence at something that affects their lives in absolutely no way whatsoever, but there you go. Not just cars, is it, that one?

So, anyway, I’m not ready to say to a car enthusiast just yet that their car is a total spudder and they shouldn’t have bothered because, honestly, there aren’t enough of us around to wilfully divide us. It’s your car, mate. Your rules. You like it? Then well done.

Though here’s a thing. Granted, follow my logic to the extreme and, if somebody wanted to fit a small-block Chevy to the last Ferrari 250 GTO in the world, I’d have to let them. And I suppose I would. But, look, that’s not going to happen, is it?

Cars do get rarer. Austin Sevens are still broken up to become specials and some Ferraris get chopped to become 250 GTO or SWB-alikes. Perhaps that’s a pity. Perhaps not. And a few years ago, a customer – reportedly the Sultan of Brunei – commissioned a load of Mercedes 300SL Gullwings to be modified: out went their race-derived engines and in came 6.0-litre AMG V8s, while other underpinnings were modified to suit. Shame? Maybe.

But what can you do? You can’t have cars listed, like buildings of historic interest, because you’d have to legally prevent somebody using a car at all, lest it get damaged, which seems daft because what is a car if it isn’t moving? And how would you stop somebody selling it, anyway?

No, in the same way you’d hope nobody will buy the Mona Lisa and paint a moustache on her, you’ll just have to hope that somebody doesn’t decide to buy Thrust2, upturn it and make it a pond. And if they do, well, that’d be a shame, but so be it.

So if you want to drop a 1970s Volkswagen Golf on the deck and paint it matt black with a brush, go for your life. Enjoy it.

Autocar staff are also modifying their cars... Read about them here:

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