Monday, November 28, 2011

Top 5 Customized Vehicles From Around The World

5. Choppers (U.S.A.)

At the end of World War 2, millions of returning GI’s found themselves back home with a thirst for excitement that postwar life couldn’t satisfy. Many of them purchased motorcycles to enjoy the speed and freedom of the open road, but found the factory versions bulky and full of unnecessary parts. Putting the skills Uncle Sam had taught them to peaceful use, they modified and “chopped” their bikes to make them leaner and faster. Over the next twenty years, the art developed and a huge subculture was born. Although choppers largely faded from the public eye over the years, they saw a resurgence in the 2000’s with shows like American Chopper and brands like West Coast Choppers marketing the customized bikes to a new generation. Highly modified, dangerous and loud; perhaps no other custom vehicle better symbolizes the U.S.A. Which is lucky because that’s the only country in the world where you can legally drive one.
4. Jingle Trucks (Central Asia)

Though the name may sound silly (and maybe even a little offensive) jingle trucks are nothing to laugh at. These heavily adorned commercial vehicles are common throughout Central Asia, but the most elaborate are found in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. Covered in colorful paintings of houses, animals, vehicles, and pastoral landscapes, the jingle trucks are amazing to look at. Despite a common look, each truck is unique and is meant to be a reflection of the owner’s tastes and personality. One image common to most trucks is a human eye, meant to ward off evil spirits. But what sets the jingle trucks apart from other custom vehicles (and gives them their name) is of course the jingling. To get the signature sound, jingle trucks’ bumpers are decorated with long chains and charms hanging like curtains. In the harsh Afghan wind, these chain curtains act as wind chimes, letting everyone know a jingle truck is approaching. That’s if they haven’t yet see the giant painted eye staring at them.
3. Jeepneys (Philippines)

Originally built on the husks of surplus and worn out U.S. Army jeeps, jeepneys are a great example of how one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. When the U.S. army withdrew from the Philippines after World War 2, they sold or gave hundreds of their surplus jeeps to the locals. Happy to have a vehicle, but not so happy to have one designed for transporting soldiers, the Filipinos stripped the jeeps, extended the cabs, added roofs, and painted over the boring army green with all kinds of bright colors. The resulting vehicles were way more fun to look at and served a vital role in re-establishing public transportation in a country still trying to rebuild after years of occupation. They became a part of the culture and still exist today, although they aren’t built from old army jeeps anymore. Some manufacturers have even started to build “e-jeepneys,” jeepneys that run on electricity. These jeepneys of the future will help to ensure that the streets of the Philippines will never be drab, even after the oil runs out.
2. Customized Vans (U.S.A.)

Does anything say “The Seventies” quite like a customized boogie van? Although they first came to prominence among hippies and surfers in the Sixties, custom vans really came into their cheesy own after 1970. Inside, they were mobile living room masterpieces of shag carpeting, strobe lights and if you were really lucky, a mini-fridge full of cold brews and panty peeler. Outside, they were low culture tributes to the heroes of the day. Every sci-fi and fantasy character from Conan to C3PO was immortalized in air-brushed glory for all to see. Custom van culture combined the free-wheeling nomadism of the Sixties with the do-anything-to-feel-good hedonism of the Seventies. Moving fortresses of comfort, they cruised the streets and beaches, bringing all the comforts of home anywhere there was pavement. All that and they had wicked pictures of barbarians kicking major ass.
1. Custom Rickshaws (India, Bangladesh)

The only human-powered vehicles on the list, the custom rickshaws of India prove that just because your vehicle doesn’t have an engine, doesn’t mean you can’t trick it out. Although their use has largely faded in other parts of the world, rickshaws remain a common form of transportation in many cities in India and Bangladesh. Used as a cheap way to get around, rickshaws are an integral part of the transportation system. But what makes them great is the art. Covered in oil paintings that depict everything from movie stars to products to political commentary, they reflect the owner’s opinions and feelings while giving other people on the road something very cool to look at. In the past, elites looked down on the paintings as gauche examples of low-class culture, but recently artists and scholars have started to take them seriously as an art form. All this, and they’re environmentally friendly!


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