Car Culture: How and Why "Ricers" Came into The Scene
Since the advent of cars, people have always wanted to play around with them and make modifications of their own preferences. Car modification has been taking place ever since we started manufacturing vehicles and the reason has been varied. There are some who did it for prowess or just for some mischief. For example, NASCAR evolved from the building of super-fast cars that were mostly a result of bootlegging. The initial modifications that people would perform on their vehicles were mainly conducted due to criminal activities. In the old cars, there was no matching of cars to engine numbers, transmission, or body frame. This made it possible for thieves to change engines and repaint a vehicle, which in turn meant they have a new car. This car modification was referred to as hot rodding. However, all this changed when the manufacturers began linking vehicles with different parts and people started performing modifications for preferences and not because they had stolen the car. These modifications are the main focus of this research, and we will concentrate mostly on modifications that have nothing to do with increasing performance. Car modification developed out of the need to increase the performance of the vehicle by changing some of its engine parts, suspension, and adding racing parts. However, there has been a new trend that emerged out of the car modification that had nothing to do with increasing performance. The individuals would modify their vehicles and give them the impression that the car is super-fast only based on the looks of the car. These individuals are referred to as "Ricers" in slang, meaning that they are only focused on the perception that their car is fast and can be used for racing. Appearances can be deceiving has never been true than in these vehicles. Basically, the aim of our research is to uncover how, and why "ricers" have come into the car scene. In the research, we will offer in-depth information on the modifications of cars and how they have progressed within the years. The research will also include information on the modifications that are merely cosmetic and focus on the looks of the car and not performance. The origins of this culture and the reasons why individuals would prefer to perform these modifications. The effects of such modifications would be analyzed briefly within the paper.
Evolution of the Car Culture
Cars became status symbols after the Word War II around the 1950's. The names on everyone's mouth were Ford, Chevrolet, Mercury, and Buick's. The car was no longer looked at as a mode of transportation, but rather like a symbol of freedom, individuality, expression, and uniqueness. The post-war baby boomer generation is the reason for the impact cars had on the generation. The baby boomers changed the car, and it became a "fashion statement" and this caused society to perceive the car differently. There was a deep love for cars, and a subculture was produced called "Car Culture." The youth were wholeheartedly involved in the car culture, and their interests and passion for this culture enabled the car to evolve into the most influential icons of the 1950's. The post-war era saw a booming economy, and car consumerism was booming, and the number of babies was increasing. Parents viewed a car as very important, and when a teenager reached 16 years they could get their driving license, and most parents would give their children cars. This was viewed as a rite of passage in both the teens and the adults' eyes. For the teens, the license meant they could have independence and some semblance of privacy. The parents saw the license as a rite of passage where they hoped their kids would be more responsible on the road (Cosgrove).
However, this was further from the reality. The teens had no fear of the road, and they wanted to live in the fast lane. The car offered them the opportunity to cruise. Teens saw cruising as driving around with no destination in mind, and it was recreational. Teens would have a cruise loop that they would follow every Friday night and would lead them to an unknown destination. Adults found this act of driving to be strange and foolish. The most worrying thing was that once a child had left the house they did not know where they would be heading and there was no way of confirming they were safe, which created worry in most adults. Teens were now rebellious, and they had the much-needed privacy. No parent knew what was going on and the teens liked it that way.
The development of car fashion came about with cruising. People were spending most of their time in their cars moving from one place to another. The main question was why not individualize the car? Every teen wanted to have some appeal to their car that was individual and to their preference. This was the birth of customizing and individualizing of cars. Car fashion mushroomed into a hobby, obsession, and concern for the teens. Out of the blue names like customs and hot rods became prominent within their vocabulary. Hot rods referred to any car that was created before 1936 and had undergone modifications. The modifications included stripping the car and souping it up for speed. The term customs referred to any post-1936 car that had been built up and individualized. Any youth involved in the world of cars had to have the latest issues of the "Hot Rod Magazine" and "Rod and Custom." These magazines included information in how to customize your car, car parts, car shows, and latest custom cars. The magazines were a big hit as most teens wanted to customize their cars like what they saw or attend car shows (Bandeen).
All the youth wanted was to have a cool car. There was no clear definition of what a cool car is, and this meant that each teen would go and customize their care based on their preferences and likes. Based on one's imagination, customizations varied and the designs were extreme. Car shows offered teens the opportunity to show off their cars and also check out other cars. Car shows were always highly attended, and these demonstrated there was a growing culture of cars. According to Wolfe, the high number of teens attending car shows cemented the fact that there was a sub-culture of cars and many teens shared this interest. The amount of time and money required to build and customize a vehicle was enormous, and teens had to create time between schools and home in order to build their vehicles. The passion that the teens had for cars and their ideas were changing every second. Customizing a car gave the teens, even more, a reason to cruise around and show off their latest modifications or additions. It goes without saying that some sort of competition would arise out of the custom cars. The competition was based on whose car looks better? Whose car is fastest? These questions fueled the desires of the teen even further, and they spent, even more, time working on their vehicles. During the evening cruises, teens would challenge each other to race (Bair). This gave birth to street drag racing. Drag racing meant that teens began working on increasing their car's performance in order to beat their rivals. Performance became the in thing, and the looks of the car did not matter provided they could beat all their rivals in the illegal drag races.
Car modifications have gained prominence especially from the video games like need for speed and from the movies too. Modifying a car is mainly aimed at increasing its performance both on the track and on the road. Modifications are aimed at improving a car's performance by boosting its speed and handling. Car movies have shown people that having a souped up car is prestigious and people are following suit by trying to copy what they see in the movies. Performance-based modifications allow people to compete and show off their cars especially in illegal street races and on the streets. The American muscle cars have gained momentum in that people see and admire the cars and have a desire to own such cars. These desires are the main reason why people attempt to make improvements on their cars. The media influence cannot be overlooked when talking about car modification. This is mainly because people have been accustomed to believing that what they see on TV or movies is achievable. This results in modifications that increase performance but does not tap into the cars full potential. The American automobile racing scene has also influenced car modifications greatly, and this has resulted in some heavily modified cars. Some of the NASCAR race vehicles have awesome modifications and attempting to perform such modifications on normal street cars is beyond the reach of many car…