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Car Porn.

Cars are objects of desire. Their presentation should convey an erotic attraction.

The car as stimulus.

When the eye catches a staged car, the deepest layers of our psyche are laid bare. We feel desire, feel drawn to it, and imagine symbiotically merging with it. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Italian Futurists spoke of the “birth of a new centaur” in which people would be transformed into hybrid creatures with human torsos and the abdomens and legs of horses. For the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk, there is also an organic connection between people and cars: “it is the faster and kinetically more powerful self that presents itself in the car.” The intoxication of acceleration, the sensuality of the body shape – the car’s power to stimulate at times cannot be denied.

And it has always been an important status symbol that consistently promotes desire and voyeurism. We recognize human facial features in cars and give them human attributes like sporty or aggressive. And why not dope the brain a little bit more with optics and power?

Above all, people abroad want cars to go farther and be faster and sexier. The export business is booming. In total, the national industry has about 1,000 specialized companies like Manhart, Techart, Hamann, Alpina, ABT, and Brabus. And companies like Continental and Goodyear are also represented in the Verband der Automobil Tuner (Association of Car Tuners, VDAT). With Audi Sport, BMW M and Mercedes-AMG, the car manufacturers themselves are offering a good deal of power and performance.

Tuning industry: The sex shop for cars.

For a long time, tuning was the obsession of the common man who tinkered around on his own or together with his buddies on weekends. Who can forget the fan bases of the Opel Mantra and the Golf GTI? They took to the fast lane in the name of class struggle. They did not only want to race each other but also wanted to show Porsche, Mercedes, and BMW who’s who. The GTI community at Wörthersee, where the biggest exhaust pipe and dampers from the brand “Koni gelb” still win, harks back to those good old days. However, business no longer takes place on arterial highways, parking lots, or gas stations in the suburbs but instead on the Internet and in glossy brochures. It has turned into a business worth billions. Whether chip tuning, car wrapping and tattoos, sound design or monster wheels – in Germany an entire industry now caters to the most unusual demands of tuning customers.

Tuning industry: The sex shop for cars.

For a long time, tuning was the obsession of the common man who tinkered around on his own or together with his buddies on weekends. Who can forget the fan bases of the Opel Mantra and the Golf GTI? They took to the fast lane in the name of class struggle. They did not only want to race each other but also wanted to show Porsche, Mercedes, and BMW who’s who. The GTI community at Wörthersee, where the biggest exhaust pipe and dampers from the brand “Koni gelb” still win, harks back to those good old days. However, business no longer takes place on arterial highways, parking lots, or gas stations in the suburbs but instead on the Internet and in glossy brochures. It has turned into a business worth billions. Whether chip tuning, car wrapping and tattoos, sound design or monster wheels – in Germany an entire industry now caters to the most unusual demands of tuning customers.

Above all, people abroad want cars to go farther and be faster and sexier. The export business is booming. In total, the national industry has about 1,000 specialized companies like Manhart, Techart, Hamann, Alpina, ABT, and Brabus. And companies like Continental and Goodyear are also represented in the Verband der Automobil Tuner (Association of Car Tuners, VDAT). With Audi Sport, BMW M and Mercedes-AMG, the car manufacturers themselves are offering a good deal of power and performance.

The ultimate kick.

For the absolute pinnacle, very wealthy customers can go to companies like Mansory, for instance. The tuner based in the Upper Palatinate is considered to be one of the most exclusive car tuners in the world and realizes the most extreme requests. Its clients live in a world where a normal Lamborghini Huracán, Bentley GT, or Rolls Royce Wraith is not enough. It is a world where there always has to be a little bit more, which is why they give their vehicle fleets a special treatment. Here, sports cars, SUVs, and luxury liners are completely gutted if need be and enhanced with additional compressors, gull-wing doors, gaudy special lacquers, gold, exotic ray skin, electrically retractable fittings or switchable glass –

for the price of a penthouse in Miami. The equivalent in the USA are the men at West Coast Customs, who became world famous through the MTV series “Pimp my ride”. They realize eccentric fantasies like the Audi R8 in a predator look or the DeLorean DMC-12 as a white rocket crouching only a few centimeters above the asphalt. In addition to this, there is the overkill of the interior with logos from exquisite labels like Gucci, Burberry, and others.

Where it all began: Hollywood.

Lustful vehicles are the object of desire of car spotters in the metropolises, the directors of car porns who have specialized in photographing and filming exotic custom bodies and who earn money by reaching their public through blogs and Instagram. The fan community has millions of members, especially in the USA, and is on the lookout for visual thrills. Tuning has a long tradition there. In the 1920s, smugglers used souped-up cars to outrun the police during Prohibition. Lowriders, drag cars, monster trucks, and hot rods were born here and are a way for narcissists to express themselves. So it is no wonder that the center of “hyperindividualization” is located in Hollywood near San Fernando Valley, which is better known as “Silicone Valley” and has been the center of the porn film industry since the 1970s. Designers like Robert Eugene Winfield, Syd Mead, and George Barris are considered the forefathers of what is called “customizing”, the individualized retrofitting of cars according to personal gusto and the projection surface for increasing one’s own ego. In that way, they have become the idols of an industry and inspire visionary studies, films, and advertisements to this day.

And while we are on the topic of advertising, the catalogs, brochures, films, and websites of car manufacturers and tuners are the “Playboys” of the car world. From the background to the lighting mood and the shadows cast by the side mirrors, everything is subject to a perfect overall look. The vehicles’ proportions appear wider, more powerful, and longer – simply more desirable. You can literally hear the engine roar and feel the sharp contours.

The future: The end of car sensuality?

The current development of autonomous mobility concepts as a key component of the future of cars could, however, become a turn-off. An algorithm that thinks defensively and conforms to rules will take the fun out of steering. No more adventures will be waiting for us on the road. And to make it worse, futuristic alternative concepts like the egg-shaped Google Car are ruining the aesthetics of the current design language. Will the drive for greater individuality, high-quality design, and entertainment on demand also have a chance in the autonomous future? Will manufacturers and tuners need to create new, distinctive vehicle characteristics in order to appeal to our basic instincts? Only the recipe for this could vary. Rolls Royce with the 103 EX and Maserati with its Hommage are already presenting the handsome beginnings of car porn

Digital mechanics.

And we could actually experience the digital democratization of tuning: customers with programming skills and the newest printing technologies are becoming the hobby mechanics of the new age. Thanks to 3D printers, new ideas and improvements for exteriors and interiors can be realized immediately. And if everything doesn’t fit quite right, the component is printed again until the aerodynamics of the newly designed rear wing are just right, the wheel rims shimmer perfectly, and the translucent dashboard replaces the one made out of root wood. Start-ups will develop business models that make it possible for customers to acquire the developed customizing features using a kind of app store and adjust them on their own, if necessary. Creativity will know no bounds in the end: personalized engine sounds and navigation voices composed by customers, visual displays on the windshield, user-defined ambient lighting and holographic content offers and even individual seat adjustment, as already anticipated by BMW’s visionary GINA study from 2008.

The possibilities offered by the new digital tuning in the age of autonomous vehicles will be almost unlimited. And if nostalgia strikes, we can drive ourselves once again with the special option “vintage self driving experience” – available for an additional charge – without a lot of electronics but with a lot of sense and sensuality. After all, vintage is also very sexy.

Authors: Christian Geiss and Oliver Jesgulke