Pimpin’ out cars with chrome, performance exhaust and lights

Allison Remecheck

Guys deck out vehicles with hopes to impress

There’s something about an engine that can be heard blocks away that can get a guy going.

To him, it means more power, more speed and even maybe more girls.

And if he doesn’t have a loud engine, a bunch of colorful stickers and flashy lights are sure to do the job anyway, at least that’s my perception as a girl watching a boy play with his car.

Looking at senior technology major Matt Harvey’s ’99 Silverado pick-up truck, I realized that these boys weren’t from Mars; they were from the planet Cars. He’s only had his truck for about eight months, and he’s already customized it.

Under the hood was a 5.3 liter V-8 engine, and Harvey started his pimpin’ by replacing the intake.

An intake increases the amount of airflow into the engine, Harvey said. This makes the engine run faster and get better gas mileage.

Hanging from the back of his truck are two long, shiny chrome pipes. To amplify the engine noise, Harvey added a performance exhaust to his truck.

“It makes it sound loud,” he said.

As far as I could tell, Harvey has a thing with chrome. He added chrome step bars to make it easier to climb into the truck, chrome door handle covers to replace the old black plastic ones, and a chrome gas cap.

Harvey modified the interior as well.

“I put in white gauge faces that glow blue at night,” Harvey said. “Because the new ones look pretty and they’re actually easier to read.”

But why go through all this trouble to change a perfectly good factory car?

Harvey had the answer. Much of it was a result of a male power obsession.

“Trying to impress people, I guess,” he said. “You have a male ego.”

Adam Scherrer, a mechanic at Pep Boys, was able to give me a little more expert advice, and tell me in a little more detail what these modifications are supposed to do to the car.

He said the most frequently purchased products when modifying a car are the intake and the exhaust, and 17- to 35-year-olds are the age group he sees doing the most modifications.

They all have various reasons for doing so.

“Showing off,” Scherrer said. “Personal satisfaction.”

And girls.

“There’s a certain breed of women,” who go after guys with fast cars, Scherrer said. He called them,” adrenaline junkies. Ones who like expensive things.”

Scherrer said he didn’t know very many people who had actually experienced this kind of success after modifying a car, but added, “You see it on TV all the time.”

Harvey buys most of the stuff to modify his cars at Summit Racing and Style and Concepts. And yes, I said cars.

Harvey also owns a 2003 Honda Accord V-6 coupe. He’s pimped that one by adding Euro tail lights, among other things.

But for right now, Harvey’s concentrating on his truck.

He plans on adding new, five-spoke wheels next, “Just because they look cool,” and he also wants a brush guard for the front part of the truck.

I thought that it sounded sort of like a cage device meant to protect the front of the car, but that doesn’t seem to be the reason Harvey wants one.

“If you hit someone head on with the brush guard, they’re going to die,” Harvey said.

For the most part, Harvey doesn’t plan too far ahead with his modifications.

“I just kind of save a little bit, and buy on a whim,” he said.

And if Harvey had all the money in the world, he would buy a Saleen S7.

“It’s the world’s fastest production car,” he said.

But Harvey is happy to ride around in his truck.

“I like to drive it through the mud and over things,” he said.

Lots of guys also like to put pretty stickers and sparkling lights on their cars. I had to wonder if the guys think they’re going faster after they put the stickers on.

“I guarantee you they do,” Scherrer said. “I don’t really understand the whole sticker and light thing.”

He said people who do it must think, “It looks fast, so maybe it is fast.”

But Scherrer disagrees. “All show, no go,” he said.

Scherrer said he thinks guys modify their cars for the weekends.

“I think it’s more of a weekend-racer sort of thing,” he said.

Guys will have a daily driver that they modify to race on the weekends, Scherrer said. But most of the modifications are done for personal satisfaction.

“You get that satisfaction knowing you put your blood and sweat into that thing,” he said.

Scherrer said the modifications don’t count if someone else does the work.

“I think it’s a joke, having someone else do the work for you,” he said. “It’s not respectable. Guys judge other guys by their cars.”

Contact features reporter Allison Remcheck at [email protected].