Decorating Your Car

Whether you just bought a used car that doesn’t feel quite yours yet, or the car you’ve been driving could use a makeover, there are several ways you can decorate your car cheaply. A car that reflects your personality is not only fun to drive, but also easy to find in a crowded parking lot full of generic looking automobiles. While everyone else wanders around the lot with a cart full of groceries looking for their blue Honda Civics, your car will stand out from the crowd and beckon to you with its uniquely decorated personality. Here are some ideas for decorating your car:

The Toy Collector’s Car

Sure you can put a stuffed animal collection on the back ledge of your car to show your affection for toys, but you can go a few steps farther when decorating your car. Action figures and plastic gumball machine figurines make great dashboard accessories. When decorating your car with plastic figures, you need to decide how permanently you want them to stick. For a less-than-permanent solution, try double-sided tape or sticky foam (also called mounting tape) for lighter weight objects. Sticky tack or wall putty works for some cars in some climates, so you might want to give that a try as well. For permanent dash decorations, use a strong epoxy to adhere your figures. I recommend Crafter’s Goop for its uncanny ability to adhere plastic to plastic. Crafter’s Goop works particularly well on uneven surfaces and for heavier objects.

For car decorations that look like they’ve come straight out of a Toy’s R Us catalogue, you must consider all surfaces in your car as possible places for adornment. Glow-the-dark stars and planets adhere particularly well to ceiling upholstery. Bingo chips, googly eyes, and dice stick well to steering wheel panels and other available plastic surfaces when glued.

Top off the look with a cartoon steering wheel cover and an antenna toy.

The Hot Rod

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a Camaro or a Mustang to decorate your car like a hot rod. After all, even a Focus needs to cut loose on the freeway from time to time. The custom license plate is essential, and it should say something about how fast your car is or how cool you are. Be creative though, because “2 FAST” just doesn’t get your point across as emphatically as “EATDUST.”

Customizing your exhaust pipe to spew flames might be a bit out of your price range, but decorating your car with flames is always an option thanks to the large door decals you can now buy at places like Auto Zone and Murray’s. Seat covers in animal print or featuring a flame motif go a long way in improving your soon-to-be hot rod’s interior, and can also be purchased at car supply stores.

To emphasize the “My car is tougher than your car” look, you’ll need a shifter knob shaped like a skull. For the truly over the top, decorate your car with air fresheners depicting bikini clad women or shirtless men on motorcycles.

Dangle some fuzzy dice from the rearview mirror, and you’re ready to roll.

The Mystery Machine

Today’s hippies are just as likely to drive hybrid SUVs as they are to drive Volkswagen Buses, but that doesn’t mean they can’t ride in 1960’s style. The classic hippie-mobile sports painted designs on the exterior, but you don’t have to use spray paint to achieve your desired look. Auto supply stores like Murray’s and Auto Zone, as well as major retail outlets like Kmart, Wallmart, and Meijer sell car enamel, which is special paint used to repair scratches and dings. You can use car enamel to paint flowers, rainbows, and animals over the paint that is already on your car without the tasteless look and environment-damaging aerosol of spray cans.

To decorate your car’s interior in classic mystery machine style, buy or make beaded seat covers. If you are exceptionally crafty, you can try making seat covers out of braided rugs or woven southwestern style blankets.

For a truly psychedelic ride, replace the floor mats with shag rugs or colorful bathmats.

The Activist

You wear your heart on your sleeve, so why not wear your cause on your car? To decorate your car like an activist’s ride, bumper stickers are crucial. When it comes to bumper stickers, the more the merrier. Be forewarned, though. If your particular cause happens to be the legalization of marijuana, and your bumper stickers proclaim for the entire world to see that you partake in illegal substances, you increase your chances of being pulled over and your car searched by law enforcement. The same goes for bumper stickers that say less than flattering things about the police.

When it comes to decorating your car’s interior, you have a lot of options depending on your political persuasion. Cutouts from zines and pamphlets taped or glued to dash provide interesting reading material for your passengers, and campaign buttons can be pinned to the fabric on your car’s ceiling.

If environmentalism or legalization of marijuana is your thing, look into custom made hemp seat covers.

The Soccer Mom’s Ride

Despite the jokes about soccer moms, they know how cool it feels to be involved parents. Soccer moms already know a bit about how to decorate their cars, because every one of them has a sticker about their kids making the honor roll or being good citizens. Why not go all out with the school or team spirit, and let the kids paint the van with temporary car paint on game days? That way, you can show your support and still drive a respectable vehicle to work.

Graduation tassels and miniature pompoms in school colors dangle nicely from rearview mirrors. Instead of an ordinary car trash bag (which is essential for driving kids around), use a miniature trashcan with team colors, or have a picture of your children playing their sport transferred onto a canvas bag that you can hang over the back of one of your seats.

Last but not least, buy or make a pennant featuring your child’s team to fasten on the inside of your rear window.

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