Posted by James on 11/25/2013 to General
At the heart of every person who loves their vehicle lies the instinct to improve, adjust and tune to the car lover's specifications. The African American community has fully participated in this notion with Chevrolet and other General Motors models throughout the last 50 years. Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs are very ordinary road vehicles, but the influence of the black community has put new life into each model with modifications to enhance each standard factory model into an ultra unique expression of individualism.
The Chevy brand of automobile grew in popularity during the 1960s and 70s within the black community for a multitude of reasons. The vehicles were affordable, cost effective and built for durability in any environment. The Chevy vehicle became synonymous with high speeds at low prices and many black owners enjoyed the amount of space to transport families or products needed for jobs. Many people began to recognize Chevrolet as the neighborhood brand where their husbands and sons worked for their manufacturing plants in Detroit, their dealerships across the United States or learned how to rebuild and service Chevy engines and other parts. As the bond for African Americans and Chevy vehicles grew, the desire for vehicle individuality increased and the custom Chevy culture was born.
The Chevy Impala and Caprice are two of the most popular vehicles used by the black community for customization throughout each vehicles history. Many black owners of these vehicles looked beyond the large egg-crate grilles and box-styled shape and found greater potential in every model. Since the mid to late 70s, vehicles that were inherited from previous generations,bought during resale purchase or auction sales made the best custom vehicles. Fancy gold or silver body trim, brighter or shaded fog lights, changes in wheel packages and additional sound systems are all trademarks of individual modified Chevy cars. The signature to each of these vehicles is a custom or "candy" coated paint scheme. Most showroom Chevy color options were of neutral color persuasion leaving little to the owners imagination. In the black community, giving their Chevy a unique color was the authentic calling card of the vehicle's owner.
The impression this left on the community outside African American culture was an impression of wonder. Initially, those who did not understand the purposes of Chevy vehicle modification from the 1960s through today dismissed and criticized each owner who desired to have their vehicles known.Vehicle customization was too revolutionary for the mainstream public and with all forms of progressive cultural change the vehicle owners expected criticism. Through time, owners would continue to express their individuality about their vehicles and pubic opinion changed. Vehicle modification slowly grew beyond Chevrolet's black community and many Chevy lovers began to make modifications of their own. Those that owned muscle cars such as the Chevrolet Camaro added louder exhaust packages and large racing slick tires for drag circuits. Chevy SUVs in the 1990s became the melting pot of all custom culture lovers from every background because most Americans wanted to ride with style and comfort, yet the production models released gave the public a small taste of what they truly desired.
With movies, television and music videos glorifying modified Chevy vehicles, the black community influenced the buyers market heavily in America. Loyalty, individualism and the desire to stand apart are the elements of true automobile culture.