Revving up their rides



When Joey Friedrich ’09 cruises in his 1987 Volvo station wagon, neon strobe lights glow underneath his car as bass resonates down the block. Friedrich saved the archaic vehicle by installing subwoofers, amps, under glow, and interior neon lights.

“My car became a never-ending project,” said Friedrich.  “My work became popular among my friends, and there was always something to work on and improve.” 17 upper school students have spent between $500 and $12,000 on after-market upgrades.

The most common modifications on their cars are exterior body work, sound systems and new wheels. Students tune up their cars to provide better performance and appearance.
“Adding exterior body work improves the look of the car and gets a lot more attention,” said Jason Mow ’09, who added a body kit to his Audi S4.

The aerodynamic aspect of modifying vehicles directly relates to the handling as well as the appearance of the car. Five of these students installed exterior body kits and spoilers.

“I aimed to create better handling for my car by adding a European flat bottom steering wheel, racing suspension and sway bars,” Alistair Belton ’09 said. Though car tuning often relates to racing, none of these students modified under the hood to increase speed or acceleration.

The after-market products these drivers used enhance either the handling or appearance of the car.
“My parents were completely cool about the parts I ordered, they even helped me pay for it,” Adam Maltz ’09 said. He ordered $5,000 worth of modifications just before he totaled his Volkswagen GTI last June.

Maltz was never able to install the parts he had ordered for his GTI, but hopes to continue his project when he gets a new car next month.

“I love my car because it’s a creative project I can always work on,” said David Berry ’09, who installed a refrigerator and LCD screens on his Scion.

“It’s all about personal enjoyment and how you want your car to look,” said Danny Rudyak ’09. “The rims on my 550i BMW complete its bat-mobile appearance.” Five out of the 17 students added new rims to their cars, which can vary in size and colors.

“My sound system enhances my ride because it turns a small compact car into something everyone wants to ride in,” Jakarri Hamlin ’08 said. “School security is always hassling me because my music is too loud.”

Madeline Leonard ’09 breaks the trend in a male dominated activity as the only girl on the campus to tune up her ride by adding black rims.

 “It feels great to be the only girl to do this because it reflects my individual personality,” Leonard said.
“I add or change things on my ride to give it a better appearance,” said Ben Katan ’09, who painted his entire Honda Civic black. “I first think about what I think looks good to me, then what my friends will think about it.”

Meanwhile, Friedrich enjoyed working on his souped-up car while it lasted. Last June, Friedrich’s antique Volvo was stolen while on a family vacation. He believes that the car was stolen for the merchandise inside.

“I don’t have an imposing personality, but my car displayed a more aggressive and flashy side of me,” Friedrich said. “It wasn’t about the money. All the work and time that I put into was gone.” The loss of his car did not stop him. He adopted his sister’s 1995 Volvo station wagon and is on his way to replacing the gratifying pastime that he had lost.

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