Bigger Louder Faster

Inspired by the TV show ‘Pimp My Ride,’ more Oahu motorists are spending big bucks to customize their cars. Here’s what’s hot

Yu Shing Ting
Friday - June 17, 2005
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Go ahead and look. They want you to. In the world of luxury cars, it’s all about being noticed.

From wheels to sounds to more horsepower, car enthusiasts are souping up their cars and pimping their rides.

It’s nothing new, but local car customizing shops say they’re seeing a boost in sales thanks to popular television shows like Pimp My Ride, MTV Cribs and American Hot Rod with Boyd Coddington, as well as movies like Fast and the Furious.


Here’s a look at what’s hot on the roads today:

“The newest hard-hitting trend for rims is color matching it to the car,” says David Silva, owner of Revolution Motorsports. “And, of course, big chrome. As big as you possibly can go.

“Aside from rims, there’s also a lot of grills and headlights being done. It’s brighter and reconfigured. It’s like a futuristic headlight conversion. Also, another cool thing is diamonds or cubic zirconia on the wheels. Nelly was one of the first celebrities to have this.”

Revolution Motorsports, located on Ward Avenue, specializes in the customizing of vehicles from wheels to suspension and exterior accessories.

Along with an increase in hype, Silva says he’s also noticed an increase in the age of his customers.

“My demographic has changed a lot, now it’s 25- to 60-year-olds,” he says. “Before it was 16 to 25, but you hardly see 20-yearolds now.

“In the last three years, the interest in customizing cars hit a huge boom. And in the last year-and-a-half to two years, the demographic is peaking at 45. There’s this huge increase in the 40- to 60-year-olds.”

Silva credits the above-mentioned television shows as well as his yearly $15,000 advertising budget to what’s driving sales at his shop.

According to Silva, also popular are carbon fiber hoods ,which feature a very strong and lightweight fiber somewhat like fiberglass. People use it because it looks nicer,while racers use it because it’s stronger and lighter.

David Reed, Eurosport owner, installs
an exhaust system that can create
more power

And the next big thing to look for is a new technology for cleaner rims called Suck It Up. The wheel filtration system, invented by local boy Jeff Krantz, helps keep wheels cleaner by sucking brake pad dust, roadway filth and oily grime into filters.

“This is going to be huge,” says Silva. The product will be made available locally in the next couple of weeks and costs about $200. Replacement filters cost $20 and should be changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

At Eurosport, a shop on Coral Street in Kakaako specializing in rims and tires for all makes and models, customers seem to arrive small and leave big.

“Bigger is better,” explains Matt Murota, a salesman at Eurosport. “Wheels (rims) and tires go from as little as $1,000 for a set up to $10,000. The wheels give the vehicle a more fuller look. It’s a night-and-day difference.

“As far as style-wise, it adds a whole lot more of a look-at-me kind of thing. It draws a lot of attention. And just recently with all these vehicles getting a lot larger, such as all your Cadillacs, Escalades, Navigators, all the new Ford trucks, and Chevy SUVs, the older style wheel just wasn’t cutting it as far as the look that people are after.”

Murota says the wheels people are getting are bigger and fancier. The 22-inch wheel is the most popular size.

“People are basically upgrading from the factory look because the factory wheels tend to be really plain,” he says. “We have people who drive directly from the dealership to have their wheels installed. As far as selection, it boils down to people’s preference. Some of the wheels are faceted and fuller faced. As for the spinning rims, that’s kind of a fad that has died.

Aran Shintani of Eurosport installs
twin exhaust pipes

“Within the last three years we’ve seen a significant increase as far as just interest and people actually buying wheels. MTV Cribs is probably the biggest influence because they show the cars and the famous faces attached to them, as well as American Hot Rod and Overhaulin’.”

As for your sound system, it’s not just audio but also visual with the addition of DVD machines. Locally, people have been installing DVD players in their cars for the last three to four years, while some are taking it to another level.

“Once somebody gets it, everybody wants it,” says Joey Peralta, car audio manager at Elite Electronics on Keeaumoku. “Our DVD players start at $1,000 installed. We can do an all-in-one in-dash where the screen comes out of the dashboard, as well as install additional screens on the head rest for the people in the back seat to see, or screens that drop down from the ceiling.

“We also sell subwoofers (speakers) that go anywhere from $50 and up. Subwoofers are used to deliver the low-end frequencies of your music. It’s normally found in your trunk and powered by medium to large amplifiers. We also carry co-axial and component sets (normally located in doors) that go from $50 and up.”

Peralta says the current trends for sounds are speakers that give you a cleaner, louder sound than your O.E.M. (stock speakers). Some of the popular brands include Rockford Fosgate, MTX,Alpine, Kenwood, Eclipse and Pioneer.

“The products that are out right now are cleaner sounding and handle more power than they did a few years ago,” he says. “We specialize in custom work to meet the needs of each individual customer. What’s in right now would be custom boxes with fiberglass in an array of different finishes. We also offer alarms with remote starters, window automation, and multiple different sensors.

“The next big thing is just bigger monitors with as many screens as you can possibly fit in your car. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Anything is possible.”

Mohamad Hasan of Elite Electronics shows car
stereo and DVD systems to Tok Yu, Micah
Yonemura and Anthony Nguyen

Luis Fernandez loves to customize his rides. He spent about $ 30,000 accessorizing his 2003 Ford SVT Mustang Cobra. The added toys and gadgets — Japanese custom VOLK wheels, a suspension system, a Bassani exhaust system, a Procharger supercharger F1A, a complete stereo system with TV and Playstation, a NOS system (nitrous oxide, which makes the car faster), 373 gears in the rear end, a 5- 0 shifter quick shift, and more.

“This is my pimped ride,” says Fernandez.

“I’ve been doing this since I was 15. Cars have been my hobby. It keeps me out of trouble.

“When I get in this car and drive it around, it makes me feel really good. You get a certain amount of pride because people look at the car and they appreciate it.”

Another hot item in the car scene is a supercharger or turbo charger. Both are bolt-on horsepower.

“An average car (stock) produces about 230 horsepower, but bolt on an A trim supercharger with 6 pounds of boost, and that gives you an extra 100 horsepower,” explains Fernandez. “Or you can go to the extreme, like with my car, it already comes off with 390 horsepower. Add an extreme supercharger system with 20 pounds of boost and you gain up to 700 horsepower.”

Fernandez hopes to race his car at the track for a 10-second (or better) quarter mile finish. He’s already entered it in a couple of car shows, winning three first places at the recent Import Daze, and Best in Show at Mike McKenna’s Mustang Madness.

“Usually it’s the high school or college kids that are into this,” says Fernandez. “I’m 52 years old, I have 3-year-old twins and an 8- month-old baby, so I’m a family man, but I love doing this stuff.”

What’s hot? What’s not?

• Spoilers: “People don’t do wings/spoilers for luxury anymore. People do it when they build a car for performance,” says Silva.

Luis Fernandez adjusts the Mustang
engine’s air flow mixture

• Clear corner lens: “It’s an old thing where people would put a clear lens that was like a white and a clear bulb, and it’s illegal. Now, people are using a crystal clear lens which has a glass effect on it and we put in an orange bulb. And it’s DOT-approved for headlights and taillights.”

•Huge muffler exhaust systems: “That’s old. People in the import race scene are still doing that, but they do it more for reasons of horsepower. Before people were doing it for the look and the noise, but now it would be more cool to have a smaller one that actually works.”

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