Saturday, March 31, 2007


In an ever expressive world, the automobile increasingly becomes the medium for the message. Bumper stickers ranging from the vain to the profane seemed to satisfy that need to show the world where you've been, how you feel, for whom to vote. The need for such expression has now consumed much more of the automobile. We have moved from the quaint customs of self expression to those of the Avant-Garde designs.

Of the two cars pictured (we're on the left) the customized ride in no longer a regulation make of automobile except on the registration. The transition from bumper stickers to radical customization is analogous to tossing the name tag you wear at work, getting your name tattooed on your chest and going into the office shirtless. It's not a casual step.

Two forces seem to be working this corner. Obviously the wish to be expressive is present, but there seems a need to remake the entire automobile in one's own image. There may also be a sense of deeper owner ship of the car after the operation. It is no longer a Honda or Chevrolet or Jeep, but it becomes a one of a kind car, an owner specific vehicle. One has revoked the car's birthright from the manufacturer and reanimated it into another life form. We resist further temptations toward the Frankenstein metaphor.

As customizing goes, this is miles apart from the breathtaking beauty of the candy apple red / metalflake paint era and seeks to knock the breath out of the beholder. The alterations are not all cosmetic. The careful eye will follow the gas pump hose as it snakes its way into where the back seat may once have lived. Whoops, no smoking in this car.

When we sat down with Jones Ford to order the Mustang, not only did we like this new blue color, but expressed some concern that red might cause the police to notice and perhaps stop us more than a milder color might. Now that we have a look at neighbor at the gas pump, we figure that red would not be much of an issue.


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