There’s no question we Americans love our cars. We created them, and some would argue that we perfected them. And although the U.S. auto manufacturing industry took quite a hit over the past several decades, the government helped our automakers through the recession and they’ve come back stronger than ever. But whether you drive the largest American machine you can find or a sleek and sexy European model, the true fun begins when you start to deck it out. You could call it “pimping your ride” or simply installing custom parts and design elements, but in the end it all adds up to good, clean fun. And the only rules are that you should break all the rules. Here are five crazy ways to deck out your car’s interior, before you get started on the rest of your modifications.
First off, consider the driving hardware itself. That includes the steering wheel, the gear shift, the pedals, the emergency brake and any other features of the vehicle that help you operate. Even high end cars often treat these elements with a conservative touch. But these are all areas where upgrades can be made cheaply and easily, with each one leaving a huge impact. If racing is your thing go with a shorter shifter for better control. Look for a steering wheel that provides a firmer grip, and remove those traditional pedals for polished metal ones.
Next, it’s time to consider the seating situation. Did you settle for those simple, vinyl seats because you were up against the top end of your budget? Well now that you’ve got some cash to spend those boring seats must go. Consider bucket seats with criss-crossed racing belts. Or go old school with one long bench-style seat. Think about leather for a classier look, or a unique color scheme to brighten up the entire interior. Finally, think about installing electric heating elements. There’s nothing better than a warm seat on a cold winter day.
No article about an interior custom job would be complete without addressing the sound system. You’ve got so many choices for superior sound on the market today, there’s really no excuse for driving around with subpar tunes in your ear. Ditch the factory system for something with more speakers. Really want to go crazy? Consider installing subwoofers under the seats, so you will literally feel the music as you kick up the volume. You’ll probably need an amplifier, which will go either under the seats or in the trunk. And think about putting in neon or LED lighting throughout the car. You can use a simple program to actually make the lights work in tune with the music, giving you a roving laser light show to enjoy.
Now what about the dashboard? You can change the color the dashboard lights shine in, which is always a cool and unexpected detail. But spend some time and money on a touchscreen system. The level of craziness here is entirely up to you and your budget. But start with a touchscreen GPS system that also controls the audio, the climate and any other details you can install. There’s a new technology out that gives you a trackpad, installed next to the gear shift, which you can use to run the screen. A cursor will show you what you’re doing, and you won’t be blocking the screen itself with your hand.
If you have kids, consider two additional screens in the backseat, with a DVD player. If you have a satellite radio package you might even be able to hook the car up with television and internet feeds as well. If you don’t have children, consider one large screen that can come down from in front of the rearview mirror. That way you’ll have a drive-in movie theater wherever you go. It might not be as flashy as indoor floor fountains, but it will be a heck of a lot more practical!