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Bling Your Car

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author photo by Autotrader April 2009

A car can be more than just a practical means of taking you from point A to point B; it can also make a statement about who you are. For some people, a luxury sedan, a powerful convertible, or a big SUV is enough. But for others, the best way to get their message across is the addition of "bling." Think of it as "jewelry" and "clothing" for your car — everything from gemstone-encrusted wheel covers to interiors supplied by the world's top fashion labels. Who buys these high-end accessories? They've become very popular with hip-hop artists, athletes, celebrities and the ultra-rich for one simple reason: because they can.

Let's start with some extraordinary ways to decorate the outside of your car. Big, spinning rims in chrome or alloy are a common addition. Some enthusiasts go beyond the typical with gold-plated rims. Cubic zirconias, Swarovski crystals or even real diamonds can be set into the spokes. These can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $200,000. And if the big wheels and rims that you want are out of your reach, you can rent them.

Swarovski crystal-covered license plates are also a way to add sparkle and shine to your car, and they come in clear, yellow, blue or pink. MTV has been giving away the types of license plates made by License 2 Bling as gifts to celebrities who attend its award shows. Another company, IcedOutEmz, sells Chevrolet and Ford emblems covered in Swarovski crystals.

These shiny, sparkling additions to cars can be fun, but you can also take that esthetic and apply it to the entire body of the car. Rapper 50 Cent's Lamborghini Murciélago was already a luxury super car, but he decided to make it even flashier by getting a custom mirrored chrome paint job by Alsa Corporation. Pearlescent, prismatic and special paint jobs that can simulate the look of snakeskin, marble and other finishes are also a step above the norm. If metallic or sparkly finishes aren't your thing, consider color-shifting paint. Your car can change from green to blue and every shade in between as the light varies. Remember mood rings and those color-shifting T-shirts? You can also get temperature-shifting paint jobs that react to heat, the sun, water or even just a touch.

Gold can be the ultimate status symbol, so several companies have customized cars with bodies covered in this precious metal. Last year, German jewelry company Visualis commissioned an artist to cover a Porsche Boxter in 22-karat beaten gold and has plans to produce nine more. In fact, buyers can get any Porsche they want covered in gold. The smallest gilded Boxter can cost up to $200,000.  

Cars can also be covered in Swarovski crystals — and not just in solid colors. Burkitt & Burkitt has scale models of cars covered in images of everything from the Beatles to rap artists to the Statue of Liberty. You can commission a full-sized Swarovski crystal-covered car with any image that you want.

Now on to a different kind of light: headlights. Of course all street-legal vehicles are equipped with them, but the most popular headlights on high-end vehicles are the bright white HID, or high intensity discharge, lamps. You can also get additional lights to draw attention to your ride. LED or neon lights can be placed under the body of the car, in the wheel wells and even in various places in your car's interior.

There are plenty of other ways to showcase your car's interior. Just as your car's exterior can be chromed, gilded and covered in crystals, you can get the same finishes on steering wheels, shift knobs and many other parts inside your car. LP Wheel Group owner Tony Lee created an 18-karat white gold shift knob inset with 30 carats of diamonds for the Bentley Continental GT. Not surprisingly, this shift knob costs about as much as the car is worth.

Wearing designer clothing and carrying designer accessories — usually recognizable by their all-important logos, of course — are a sign that you've "made it." So why not take one more step and get a car personalized by your favorite designer? Special-edition factory vehicles have come from high-end designers like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Versace and Giorgio Armani. Recent examples of these cars include the 2006 Versace Lamborghini Murciélago LP640 and the Georgio Armani edition of the 2004 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class Cabriolet. Some dealers have also offered designer vehicles as dealer specials.

As you might expect, these designer vehicles are usually created in very small quantities — otherwise, they couldn't be called "limited editions." However, you can always show your affinity for a particular designer by getting your car customized. Many designers license materials in their signature colors and styles that can be used for seat and floor coverings or as replacement for your dashboard trim.

In the MTV show "Pimp Your Ride," you may have seen some amazing items installed in cars. Aside from TV screens and game and stereo systems, some of these include:

  • Aquarium
  • Bowling-ball washer
  • Chandelier
  • Cotton candy machine
  • Pool table
  • Ping-Pong table
  • Water bed

These additions just go to show that when it comes to bling for your car, if you can dream it up, there's probably a way to make it happen.

© 2007 AutoTrader.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
"AutoTrader.com" is a registered trademark of TPI Holdings, Inc. used under exclusive license.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Bling Your Car - Autotrader