Spending big bucks on customizing your ride
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 2:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 2:31 p.m.
OCALA -- To Keron Jackson, a good car turns heads.
“It’s got to be flashy,” Jackson, 30, said with a laugh.
Jackson’s car is. He has spent the last 10 years customizing his 1995 Chevrolet Caprice in an effort to create a unique ride.
The full-sized, candy apple red Chevy, powered by an LT-1 V-8 engine, is lifted about four inches over factory height and has oversized 26-inch color match chrome wheels with special low-profile tires.
The interior includes a custom steering wheel, digital dash, revamped center console and molded candy apple red door and interior panels.
Jackson’s friend, Kaneisha Williams, likes the TV in the back seat.
Two 15-inch speakers provide sound for the radical ride.
BC Customs, opened in Ocala four months ago by Brian Collins, installed the wheels and lift kit on Jackson’s car.
“We get cars shipped in from Georgia, Alabama even Colorado because we can make the custom modifications,” said Collins, 30.
He said the hot trend at the moment is rims with color accents that match the body of the car.
“These are 24-inch Forgiato wheels on this 1963 La Sabre. They are color-matched, computer-crafted wheels without spinning covers,” Collins said.
They’re not cheap, either.
Collins said big wheels can cost from $4,500 to $18,000, depending on diameter and type, with some special low-profile tires running about $300 each.
Wheels are available with up to a 32-inch diameter at the shop.
“We can modify and lift vehicles up to about 14 inches, but the trend is about six inches on cars and 10 to 14 on the trucks,” Collins said.
Steve Sutton, franchise manager at NR Custom Wheel and Performance Tire of Ocala, agrees that wheels are a popular modification. He said “floaters” — wheel covers which appear to stand still while the car is moving — have overtaken the old-style “spinners” in popularity.
“We see ‘Joe Average’ or even soccer moms (who) want to dress up their cars, almost like wearing jewelry,” Sutton said.
Sutton said many car owners are replacing stock wheels with larger 20-inch wheels, and SUV owners are stepping up to a 22-inch wheels.
Freelance car painter Tyrone Romaine, 37, partners with BC Customs and several other local shops to provide specialized automotive paint jobs.
“The most popular thing now is the ‘wet look,’ using what’s called the ‘Outrageous’ line of paint,” Romaine said.
The paint gives a “pearlescent” look and in some applications appears to change color, Romaine said.
Romaine said the paint can cost up to $1,000 per gallon.
At least a gallon and a half for multiple coats plus clear coats and labor would be necessary to complete a car.
“Some guys over time get $60,000 tied up in these cars like any collector or hot rodder might do with a 1955 Chevy,” he said.
Erik Demonbreun of Automotive Soft Trim in Ocala said he has a lot of requests for hidden speakers, using the specialized molded door panels installed by local shops, which Demonbreun’s company covers with fabric.
“We’ve done interiors for NBA players and had a 1993 Chevy sedan called the ‘Pink Slip,’ with 16 Sting Ray designs featured in a car magazine,” Demonbreun said.
Rides magazine based in New York City (www.rides-mag.com) features highly customized vehicles. “We’ve seen a lot of chrome paint used lately in colors including gold and brown,” said Mike Crenshaw with Rides in a telephone interview.
“Wheels in 32-inch and painted wheels are popular now and a cleaner look with lifts using a stance kit.
“The (1970s) Caprice and Impala models were common, and now we see a lot of the fifth generation (later model) Camaros,” Crenshaw said.
“There are a lot of customized trucks in Texas and California and a ton of custom sedans in Florida,” he said.
For owners of cars with big wheels, lift kits, specialized paint jobs and custom interiors, the style of customization may all come down to one thing.
“It’s a love affair with the car,” Romaine said about his own custom 1963 Cadillac.