LaReeca Rucker has been a journalist for more than 20 years, and her work has appeared in newspapers across the nation. She spent a decade as a features writer and multimedia journalist with The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, where she was also a USA TODAY contributor. She is a freelance journalist and support journalism instructor in the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media in Oxford, Mississippi.

Creative cars: Not to be outdone by MTV, local Big Boyz make thier living and their mark remaking your ride

LaReeca Rucker
The Oxford Eagle

When a person reaches a certain status in society, the Joneses (who we all must keep up with) and marketing executives often convince them that they must have an automobile that accurately represents their bank account and sexual prowess.

Some choose to subtly boast with classic paint jobs and hood ornaments that demand respect. Others opt for something loud and vibrant that can’t be ignored. That’s how the big boyz roll in their pimped-out rides, and even some of the "girlz" these days.

Music mogul P. Diddy’s latest creative investment is a quintet of belting Barbies called Danity Kane (MTV’s Making the Band girls) whose first single is an anthem for independent and wealthy women called “Show-Stopper.” Show-Stopping, they explain, is a way of strutting your stuff, and a pimped-out car is a necessity.

Scantily clad in designer duds, the girls ride slow in their shiny vintage convertible Cadillac with Louis Vuittan seats and hydraulics that make their heads nod. “We’re divas, but we ride like the big boys do,” they sing, dedicating their song to the ladies in 280s Mercedes.

Bentley, Escalade, BMW, Maserati, Lexus and ’67 Chevys also qualify as show-stopping rides. Yes, even if your hood is a gated Madison subdivision, you’re still a pimp by today’s standards if you’re using a ride to flash your cash.

Pimps have never been confined to hip-hop. John Travolta was one. He knew that customizing his systematic, automatic, hydromatic "Greased Lightening" would rev a few engines. And when Danny Zuko added overhead lifters and four-barrel quads, fuel injection cut-off and chrome plated rods, purple French taillights and thirty-inch fins, a palomino dashboard and duel muffler twins, his ride was officially pimped.

MTV offers regular folks the chance to have their automobiles tricked-out and transformed into show-stopping rides and so does Big Boyz Toyz at 846 Centre Street.

The bulk of business at owner Bruno Clark’s Ridgeland body shop is tire sales and automotive repairs, but since the business moved into its present location a year ago, Clark has pimped a few rides, including a 1975 Oldsmobile Royale. A bright blue paint job, air suspension kit under the wheels and lambo doors that open and rise above the vehicle gave it show-stopping appeal.

Clark said lambo doors are pretty new to Jackson, but have been around a while elsewhere.

“We are kind of behind the west and east coast,” he said. “They have had lambo doors for 10 years. We’ve only seen them here the last six months. You could ride around in Jackson a year ago, and you might see one or two.”

Suicide doors that open backwards are also emerging on the Jackson scene, and big boys like big wheels. Clark’s next project is to put a lift kit and 28-inch wheels on a 1968 Impala 4-door. For those who can’t envison the result, wheels that size make a car look a little like a skateboard.

The Big Boyz also plan to pimp a Dodge Magnum with a Chrysler 300 grill.

"A lot of cars are interchangeable,” Clark explained. “Ten years ago, people were putting Escalade front ends on Chevrolets.”

And Clark’s crew will pimp a golf cart by lowering it, equipping it with a stereo system and painting it blue like the Olds. Other auto trends to watch for in the Jackson metro area include floaters that have replaced the once popular spinners.

“With floaters, the car moves, but the wheels stay perfectly still,” said Clark. “When you see it, it will freak you out.”

Learning to pimp rides is a constant challenge for the Big Boyz team, but Clark has proven since childhood that he’s the right man for the job.

“His mother used to say that he’d get his toys at Christmas and play with them, and 10 minutes later, he’d get bored and take them apart to see how they worked,” Bruno’s wife, Alicia Clark, said.

To keep up with the trends, Clark’s crew daily checks an Internet blog on which custom specialists across the U.S. share ideas and pictures of their work.

“We are always learning,” said Clark, who understands, better than most, the importance of riding with the Big Boyz. He does it in his very own black Ford F-250 monster. “Your car is kind of like your house,” he said. “You want something that stands out.”


The Journalism Portfolio of LaReeca Rucker