Sunday, January 15, 2006

10 Seven days in Fiji - A fine-tuned hot-rod

A fine-tuned hot-rod

I hopped into his station wagon and we were off to the beach. It was not one of the gorgeous beaches you see in the flyers but rather the Nadi town beach. We parked at the end of a dead end street and just talked about everything under the sun with the beach and mountains in the background. Aruind was ambitious. His passion was his car and he lamented the high cost of the accessories that would make his car unique among cabs.

Figure 6 Nadi Town Beach

Back in the 1950's when I was a small kid we used to drive into town on Saturday nights and watch the "greasers," teenagers and older who wore tight black pants, greased slicked back hair and rebuilt cars from the 1930's into Hot-Rods. Hot-Rods were the 1950's expression of America's car culture. Today they are called "tuners" and while the average slightly geeky "tuner" may not relate to the "greaser" of old their passion for rebuilding autos is just as intense.

Hot-Rods would announce their presence by the throaty roar of the straight-through unmuffled pipes. The direct decedents of these hot-rodders are the owners of chopped Harley-Davidson motorcycles whose rumble en mass can be heard from miles away. Today's hot-rodders, tuners, rumble through town in camouflaged Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen sedans. You will only know the car is a tuner when the occupants crank up the volume on their overpowered stereos. Most unmodified cars have amplifiers that power their speakers with as much as 50 or 60 watts. Crank it all the way up and most people will feel 120 decibels of real pain and quickly turn it down.

Figure 7 Aruind at Nadi Town Beach

Aruind is tuner. Tuners turn the entire cavity of their autos into drastically overpowered sub woofers pushing as much as 1000 watts. These are the cars that rumble through the streets, shaking nearby houses with a rhythmic earthquake as they pass by. Tuners, while more sedate than their candy apple red and metallic lime hot-rod ancestors still want to dress up their more or less ordinary looking cars. A Honda Civic with rotating chromed hubcaps is a "way cool" tuner addition. If you added "Mag" hubcaps, fluorescent and metallic fire appliqué and a 1000-watt stereo system to Aruind's Toyota station wagon and you have Aruind's dream cab. Add a red and blue flashing fluorescent tubes under the hood (the red timed to look like bursts of fire as the car revs up) and Aruind, being a Hindu, would think he had died and been reborn in Detroit.

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