Customization of cars and motorcycles has always been an expression of their owners’ personalities and sense of individualities. The word customization refers to modification or personalization, according to one’s tastes, visual preferences, performance requirements, and so on. The origins of car customization date back to the pre-World war era in the history of the automobiles. The first forms of customization were carried out by European and North American farmers who would tinker with their pick-up trucks and old Model Ts, making functional modifications to their suspension and chassis, adding hooks, winches and farm tools and equipment in order to use their vehicles on the farm.
During the world war, military vehicles of all sorts had their engines and power-trains tweaked and worked upon to give them an extra edge on the battlefield.
The first hot rods date back to pre-World War II, where the cars had their roof brought down a few inches and their engines tweaked and modified for far greater power outputs.
When the market exploded with new offerings after the war, people started playing around with their cars – some looking to make a mark in performance and speed, while some looking to make a style statement with their customized cars, and differentiate them from the stock cars that were to be seen running around. Then there were those cars, which were modified mainly to level up their engine and performance specification, hence popularizing the building and customization of street rods and hot rods as a fully functional business.
Eventually, car customization became a popular passion amongst many enthusiasts who would go from improving engine output, to changing the paint on their car, their wheels and tyres and so on.
With the automotive industry booming in India, it was just a matter of time before the custom revolution took over. What started as an enthusiastic hobby, has turned into a fully fledged market where cars and motorcycles of all make and models are being upgraded, tweaked and played with to achieve uniqueness and individuality in terms of visual appeal and road presence.
Eventually, the market had flooded with goods and accessories of all shape, sizes, application and brands. Today, we have a number of performance parts and upgrades available for both cars and motorcycles ranging from iridium coated spark plugs, performance air filters, exhausts, ignition cables, high flow carburettors, aluminium radiators, fire proof wiring, and hoses, turbochargers, superchargers, cold air flow units etc.
A separate market exists for the interiors of automobiles with products like seat covers and inner linings in a number of materials – leather, felt, raxine, etc., steering grips, cell phone docks, floor mats, gps mounts, tachometers, a huge range of music systems with speakers of all sizes and custom built housing, heavy bass emitting woofers, subwoofers, tubes, amplifiers, usb readers, cd players, ambient lights, personalized stitching on the seats and linings, video screens, electronically adjustable seats, temperature controlled covers and liners for seating and more.
For motorcycles, there are countless more – some of them machined parts made from aluminium and other alloys, some vacuum formed, injection moulded – made from fibreglass, ABS plastic, carbon fibre etc.
Alloy wheels and Racing tyres from scores of manufacturers around the world have dominated the market from a long time and now big names like OZ, BBS, Fox racing, Konig, Momo, and many more have been hitting shelves and getting off them for quite some time.
For those looking for skin options, there are countless choices in custom paintjobs, theme based paint, airbrushing and 3D effect paint jobs, vinyl full body wraps, and more.
Over the last decade the customization industry has seen many names rise from being passionate enthusiasts to professional car and/or motorcycle customization outfits. Some of them undertake individual projects and do one-off builds for exclusive clients – enthusiasts, celebrities, and others with a lot of money at their disposal with a need to stand out from among the crowd.
One of them, extremely well known for his exclusive work, an experience of more than two decades in the field and an impressive portfolio of a number of aesthetically transformed cars and buses too – is CEO and Founder of DC Design, Mr. Dilip Chhabria, also called DC and India’s design guru.
Since its inception, DC Design has become the biggest car customization company in the country, carrying out not just custom builds but also manufacturing body kits for a number of popular cars being sold in India. Their most popular product range is the interior conversion for popular MUVs and SUVs like the Toyota Innova and Fortuner, Renault Duster, Ford Ecosport, etc. DC Design launched its first ever supercar – Avanti, this year at the Auto Expo 2014, after its original debut at the previous expo in 2012.
Popular motorcycle Custom Builders include Rajputana Customs – a Jaipur-based outfit well known for their Vintage and classic style builds on Royal Enfield Bullets, and Harley Davidson motorcycles.
A number of upcoming motorcycle designers and builders, over the last few years have debuted at one of the largest platforms in our country, for anything and everything related to motorcycles – The India Bike week. Hosting a number of events, stage shows and thousands of motorcycle riders from all across the country, IBW exposes new and budding motorcycle customizers to head on competition with peers and experienced bike builders where they compete against each other to build some of the craziest looking, custom motorcycles in a certain given amount of time.
In a very short period of time, the customization industry has picked up surprisingly and formed quite a chunk of the Indian automotive market. Anyone looking to customize and add a little zing to their car/motorcycle should no longer find it difficult to get what they’re particularly looking for. So go on, love your cars and bikes that little bit extra, portray that streak of individuality and connect to your ride a little more.