DARE TO ASK: Pump up the volume on that car
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
Why do so many young men have those loud boom radios in their cars and loud
noisemakers on the exhaust pipes?
Cal N., 66, Jacksonville
It's a way of showing they have money to spend on these things - even if they
have to miss a few bills.
Jesse, 28, male, W.Va.
It's just a way to get attention. It may show how insecure many young males
J.D., 62, male, Jacksonville
It's not just men. I was in a female friend's car and could barely hear
myself think because of the booming. It's about status, like owning the biggest
mansion in a movie-star neighborhood or having the biggest army as ruler of a
A.S., 27, female, Idaho
With exhausts, some do it for performance. Others do it because they see how
much attention people with loud trucks and cars get. It's simple to tell who
those people are: the ones with the sound so loud and obnoxious you want to kick
Brad, 19, Fargo, N.D.
Does anyone know that a bigger (yes, they are louder) exhaust equals more
horsepower? This has nothing to do with age, but passion. How many 50-year-old
men and women are driving Corvettes or Vipers? They share the same passion for
speed as teens with imports.
You also tend to see a lot of this in the South. Most guys here don't drive
new trucks as their first vehicles, so they try to make them stand out. They
grow out of it when they go to college and realize nobody does that anymore.
Candin, Yazoo, Miss.
For many of us, our car has become an extension of our personality, says
Peter MacGillivray, vice president of marketing for the Specialty Equipment
Market Association. (Does this mean we at Dare to Ask are sluggish,
unpredictable and messy in the back?)
"We live at a time when people personalize their cups of coffee at Starbucks,
their ringtones, their TV programming. . . . It holds true for autos, too."
While the products in the rapidly growing auto accessories market aren't all
about noise, buyers in the 16-to-24 age bracket (who now account for $4 billion
in sales) make up a large chunk of those yearning to adjust the volume inside
and outside of their cars, Mac- Gillivray said.
"They may want it quieter, or louder, or they may want a certain type of note
from the exhaust, such as a throaty rumble."
And though a better exhaust system can increase a car's performance, young
males aren't above pumping up its sound for the bravado of it.
"And attracting the opposite sex, that plays a role in it, too," MacGillivray
said. "The thing is, young people have always tried to set themselves apart. And
older people will always look at them and try to figure out what in the world is
going on in their minds."
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers, or mail to
Phillip Milano, c/o The Florida Times-Union, P.O. Box 1949, Jacksonville, FL
32231. Include contact information. For Dare to Ask podcasts, go to
Jacksonville.com keyword: milano.