Vehicle customization is nothing new, but it’s exploded in popularity over the past few years as automakers have begun offering a dizzying array of options.
The New York Times recently explored this trend in an interesting article which showcases how crazy things have gotten. As they point out, the industry has changed significantly from the time when Henry Ford reportedly said customers can have the Model T in any color they want as long as that color is black.
Rolls-Royce is one of the prime examples of customization and the company bragged earlier this year that every single Cullinan has been personalized to some degree. These aren’t just simple or cheap customizations either as owners have ordered everything from cigar humidors to a gold-plated Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament.
Porsche is also synonymous with customization and a quick visit to the Cayenne Turbo configurator reveals customers can choose six different seat belt colors and four types of wood trim. The company also offers everything from a carbon fiber SportDesign package to stainless steel skid plates.
These are just some common examples of customization and the paper notes a more extreme case of an apparent Colorado State University super fan. A dealership employee recalled a customer brought in a gold football helmet from the university and wanted a car in that color. The dealership sent the helmet to Germany and Audi painted a vehicle in that same exact shade. The employee said everyone at the dealership was “nauseous” when the car arrived, but the customer absolutely loved it.
Even on the lower end customization has exploded in popularity. In particular, the publication talked to Mini’s Ishaan Khatri who revealed 14,000 of the more than 16,000 Mini two- and four-door hardtops sold in 2017 were customized.
The future for customization also looks bright as a study from SEMA revealed nearly a third of 16-24 year olds who own a vehicle accessorize them in some fashion. The same study also found these owners spent $7.2 (£5.4 / €6.3) billion on aftermarket upgrades and accessories last year alone.