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How To Identify A Boy Racer Car

We might loudly proclaim that we hate them and that they’re annoying, but deep down inside any serious motorist, very well hidden indeed, is a wee bit of a boy racer. Just a little bit of one.  Otherwise, why would we be so drawn to high-performance vehicles with motors that roar and purr?

All the same, few of us over the age of 35 would really admit to being a boy racer, especially if we happen to be girls. We keep that part of us well hidden and only let it out in small doses occasionally.  We drive sensible family vehicles.  If we do get to the point where the budget allows us to plonk down our hard-earned cash on a high-performance vehicle, we prefer something that combines true performance with understated style. Others of us, of course, simply own the whole boy racer image and want a proper boy racer car that looks the part. Or, more precisely, the sort of vehicle that a boy racer car aims to imitate.

The true boy racer car isn’t quite the same as a high-performance machine. To really qualify as a boy racer car, one has to take a fairly sporty number that doesn’t cost the earth (Nissan Skylines and Subaru Imprezas used to be fairly popular but there are others) and then modify it like crazy. Not just any modifications, either. If you tinker with and tune the engine to boost its performance, what you can end up with is a “sleeper” – a vehicle that might look ordinary but isn’t. Boy racer modifications are all about attention-grabbing looks… and sounds. It’s about making heads turn, especially the heads of younger drivers. It’s the motoring equivalent of pouring on half a bottle of aftershave in an attempt to impress the ladies (note: we’re not going to be that impressed).

These vehicles are referred to in the US as “ricer cars”, which is a gender-neutral term. However, I have a suspicion that this may be a slight racial slur, as I have no idea what these cars have to do with rice, apart from the fact that the cars that usually get these modifications tend to be of Japanese origin, though not always. I’ve seen pictures of some BMWs, Fords and Holdens pimped up like crazy. So “boy racer car” is what I’m going to have to call them – I mention the term only so you can have fun Googling bad examples.

To be a true boy racer car, at least three of the following modifications ought to be present:

  • Dramatically lowered suspension. This seems to be the only actual mechanical fine-tuning done to a boy racer car, as the aim is to improve the handling and make the ride a bit stiffer just like a real sports car. The rule seems to be that the lower it is, the cooler it is. Just don’t take it so low that you can’t clear the kerb or speed bump.
  • After-market spoilers. If done well, a good after-market spoiler will give extra grip and improve the on-road performance. It’s a matter of aerodynamics. However, the stereotypical boy racer hasn’t quite got it into his (it’s usually his, rather than her) head that it’s not how big it is but how it’s applied that counts. What you’ll end up seeing on a boy racer car is a massive spoiler. Sigmund Freud wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised…
  • Other body kit. If you can’t actually lower the suspension, make the car look lower by adding side and front skirts.
  • Fancy paint jobs. Go-faster racing stripes and decals are just the start. The idea is to look something like a professional racing car but without actually having any sponsors. There seem to be two main schools of thought in the paint jobs of boy racer cars. One goes for the racing car look, with longitudinal stripes and chequered flags. The other type goes for bright custom colours, often neon green, purple, hot pink and similar gaudy shades.
  • Aftermarket alloys. OK, this one isn’t unique to boy racer cars and it is possible to put on alloys that look tasteful and add a bit of personality. However, if the alloy wheel is enormous and/or brightly coloured, it’s definitely getting into boy racer territory.
  • Tinted windows. Not just subtle tinted windows or tinting that comes from the factory so that you aren’t dazzled with glare on a bright sunny day. We’re talking about stick-on tinting from your local automotive supplies shop so dark that you can barely see who’s in the car.
  • Bonnet blowers. While these have a serious purpose if the vehicle in question has been given an engine upgrade and needs to be cooled more efficiently, in a true boy racer car, it’s for looks. Again, the mentality seems to be that the bigger the better. Never mind that something that big is going to interfere with the aerodynamics.
  • Loud exhausts. Nothing says “performance” like an exhaust that roars and screams like an animal. This feature is found on classier vehicles as well. Jaguar designers, for example, are known to carefully tune the note of the exhaust so that it evokes the perfect visceral response. Boy racer cars, however, don’t have quite the same type of finesse and just go for decibels.
  • Even louder stereos. If they can’t go fast enough around town to bring the noise of the exhaust into play, then the stereo is the way to catch people’s attention from at least a block away or two. The stereos have enough bass to make the ground shake and the vehicle vibrate visibly to the point where onlookers wonder if it will make the ridiculously big spoiler held on with superglue fall off.

If you think I’ve missed any of the key characteristics, then add your suggestions in the comments below!