Splash of color

By Claire Hong and Shana Saleh

Even though it seemed just about impossible to find a purple Volkswagen emblem, Ric Tennenbaum ’13 did not let that stop him. Instead, he grabbed a spray can and a screwdriver and got to work. While initially, Tennenbaum added bits of color to his car for fun, his hobby turned into a business he could manage right out of his garage.

“I just like pretty colors,” Tennenbaum said. “I wanted them on my car, so that was kind of my inspiration. It’s hard to get a purple Volkswagen badge.”

Last year, Tennenbaum got together with his friend Eli Kogan ’13, who had also decorated his own car, to fulfill requests from friends and classmates who wanted their own cars customized.

Although Kogan is currently doing a school year abroad in Spain, Tennenbaum has continued to exercise his talents.

“We mainly just change colors on badges and emblems or remove them entirely, as well as tint lights and reflectors,” he said.

Tennenbaum said he has noticed that customers like a “blacked-out” look on their cars, in which they have everything possible on the car painted black.

“I’m not really a fan of that,” he said. “It’s boring and doesn’t show any expression, but I’m happy to do it for people because it’s pretty easy on my part. I prefer making cars stand out with subtle color changes and alterations.”

Tennenbaum said he is especially pleased with his work on his own car. He painted his car’s Volkswagen badges white, changed the red stripe in the front of his car’s grille to a sparkly blue and removed the two GTI badges. He also painted the backing of one Volkswagen badge black and painted the other badge sparkly blue on the inside.

“I’ve played with a lot of different colors on my car,” Tennenbaum said. “I like the way it is now, and if I ever get bored I can always change it. I love cars, and I treat mine like it’s my baby. She’s always nice to me.”

Sometimes Tennenbaum does more than just add color to car exteriors. For his own car, he installed a cold air intake, blacked out his side reflector and took off his rear windshield wiper. He also added fake buttons labeled “seat eject,” “don’t panic” and “trunk monkey,” as well as toy monkeys on the side of his car.

“[The monkeys] cheer me up, and [the buttons] make me giggle when I see them,” Tennenbaum said.

In addition to being especially proud of the detailing he did for his own car, Tennenbaum said he is happy with the detailing he did on the cars of classmates Matt Edelstein ’13 and Lucas Giolito ’12.

Giolito owns a Volkswagen GTI and had asked Tennenbaum to paint the front and back Volkswagen badges, remove both GTI badges and install two different types of lights for his car’s reflectors and side view mirrors.

“Ric did an unbelievable job, and I’m very glad I went to him instead of doing it myself or even going to a professional place because that probably would have been too expensive,” Giolito said. “I have already recommended him to a bunch of my friends. He’s very good at what he does.”

Tennenbaum said he hopes to continue his business in the future.

“My favorite color is purple, so if anybody wants to make a part of their car purple I’ll do it for free,” Tennenbaum said. “I encourage anybody who has questions about modifying their cars to ask me about it. Even if they don’t want me to do it for them, I can teach them how to do it themselves.”