Pimp My E!

June 8, 2005
You might have gathered somewhere on TCC that I'm one of the few auto journalists to actually own a new car. Usually there's no need - we drive everything, and the river of press vehicles dries up only on occasion. Still, we've found it useful to keep a city car on hand for in-town business, and a small SUV for weekend trips and guaranteed access to an automatic transmission. (I won't embarrass him even more, but someone in our two-car-plus household can't drive stick.)

So my car, an '03 Element, is nearing the end of its warranty. And here's where things get interesting. Paul and Greg and I, and the TCCers you don't read regularly, have been talking about car TV lately. The truth is, not much of it is very good. The "buff book" shows play out like magazines read to an audience, with ubiquitous tire-smoking footage running in the background. Whoa, was I asleep? Did I miss Desperate Housewives?

Ironically some of the best car TV is made by the amateurs of the TV world. Overhaulin' is a great show on a network that by all rights shouldn't own it - why isn't it on Speed TV?

And one of my favorites is MTV's Pimp My Ride. Now, I dropped off the MTV bandwagon back in the late '90s, when I interviewed for a spot writing Web copy and showed up to the interview in a casual sport jacket and khakis. I knew I wouldn't get it for two reasons: 1) the woman interviewing me was wearing hot-pink ponytails, cow-print spandex pants and had more piercings in her face than a pie safe, and 2) because MTV was undergoing its annual reorganization and Cowgirl likely wasn't going to be around to acquire a matching animal-print halter top. Seriously, GM has had fewer directional changes than the House That Carson Rebuilt.

Anyway, Pimp works so well because it takes beater cars and restores them to a glory they never saw. And while I don't have the not-classic to do that, I finally have a car to call my own, after years of living on a steady diet of press cars. And since I moved in December, I have a garage where I can store my ride from the ravages of idiotic Atlanta drivers.

So the Element's going through some changes. First stop is the audio-video shop. KVH Industries makes an in-car DirecTV unit that fits right on the Element's roof rack, no drilling required. Let's see, we'll need an in-dash DVD/XM player with flip-out screen to go with it. Then, once we pass the magic 36,000-mile barrier, it's time to crack open the engine and see if there's anything to this whole turbocharging thing.

Yeah, I know. It's an Element. Not an El Camino. Not a Mustang. Not even a Corvair. But it's mine, it's "paid fa," and I can pimp anything I want to as long as it belongs to me. Right?

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