ALL TRICKED OUT AFTERMARKET PRODUCTS CREATE FLASH, STYLE STATEMENTS.
No one dares call it the ``pimp my ride'' section, not at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the cathedral of America's car culture capital.
But that's exactly what Kentia Hall at the Convention Center looks like.
They call them ``whips'' in street slang -- personalized cars decked out and souped up with what the auto industry politely refers to as ``aftermarket products.''
Flashy, chrome wheels including spinning ones called ``Sprewells'' after NBA bad boy Latrell Sprewell. Oversize tires, some as high as 5 feet on pickups. Sound systems pumping music loud enough for a concert hall.
Sophisticated steering and guidance systems fit for an Air Force test plane. Specialized futuristic-looking grilles. Gold-plated detailing to take the place of factory-installed logos.
As no less authority than author and car culture critic Tom Wolfe put it: ``It's not worth pimping out a car unless it has something a little tacky. You have to suffer for style.''
And suffer you can, atheistically sometimes but always in the pocketbook.
If the cost of a Hummer weren't enough -- $62,000 base price -- the auto show features a ``pimped out'' Hummer. For a cool $125,000.
But as Walter Segovia of DUB magazine pointed out, that included ostrich and alligator upholstery, $27,000 for rims and tires, $5,000 for chrome, $7,000 for a special blue metallic paint and other add-ons.
``It's a fashion statement,'' said Segovia, whose customizing shop in the City of Industry provided the vehicles for last summer's ``Miami Vice'' film.
``A lot of people who buy a new car, the first thing they do is get rims and tires. They get it lowered. They put in (new) exhaust. They go ahead and change the stereo system.
``They want to be seen. Why do guys buy a Lamborghini at the age of 55, 60? They want everyone to know they're successful. It's the image that the guy can afford. Young women like older men with flashy cars.''
As he said that, a handful of beauties outfitted in Pirelli Tires spandex tights greeted Segovia.
The spokesmodels hired by DUB lure thousands of auto-show visitors to the display of ``pimped out'' sports cars, sedans and SUVs, not to mention the TV monitors screening trailers of the ``Miami Vice'' DVD that goes on sale today.
After the DUB display, though, the aftermarket products part of the auto show can be described as underwhelming.
Maybe that's because there are only so many aftermarket products and distributors -- and not enough to fill the entire Kentia Hall floor.
Next to aftermarket product displays were booths touting pain-relief and skin-care products, model toy cars and Hot Wheels, portraits of cars, Home Shopping Network-like shills selling car wax, recruiters for the Los Angeles police and sheriff's departments and some exhibits that looked like they belonged in a flea market.
It took away from legitimate aftermarket displays like Pioneer's new navigation system with Bluetooth technology and the MTV ``Pimp My Ride'' exhibit that should have been competing with DUB but lacked the lure of DUB's spokesmodels.
Having Xzibit, Buck, 2Shae and the West Coast Customs cast members of the show might have helped, but they were appearing for only a two-hour shift Saturday night and won't be back until next Saturday afternoon.
Then there was the ``car in a bubble'' -- a red sports car sealed in an inflated plastic cover designed to protect it from the elements.
With all the to-die-for cars of your dreams, one had to wonder: Who spends $100,000 or more on wheels and can't buy a house with a garage?
(1 -- color) Jodi Randolph,19, of Simi Valley takes a picture of a diamond- and ruby-encrusted rim. A set of four goes for a cool $2 million. Randolph was at the Los Angeles Auto Show looking at aftermarket items that can be added to her car.
(2 -- color) Pirelli Girls Erica Johnson, left, Krizia Vajos, Teresa Brown and Nicole Zeoli stand next to a Hummer that was tricked out by Walter Segovia of DUB magazine.
(3 -- color) Mike Siao, a technical representative from Pioneer, talks to Tyson Daun, 16, and Brady Daun, 22, of Irvine at the show.
John McCoy/Staff Photographer