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Custom cars have been a source of fascination and admiration for many car enthusiasts, but they are also controversial among some people. Justin Bieber’s custom Rolls Royce had every passerby turning their heads, for good reasons and bad. There are conflicting viewpoints about car customization and what should and shouldn’t be allowed.
Why Are Custom Cars Controversial?
- Aesthetics: Some people may find the modified designs of custom cars unattractive or over-the-top, particularly if they deviate significantly from the original manufacturer’s design. This can lead to disagreements between those who appreciate the unique look of custom cars and those who prefer more traditional or conservative styling.
- Safety: Modifying a car can sometimes compromise its safety features, especially if the modifications are not done properly or do not meet safety standards. This can put the driver, passengers, and other road users at risk. As a result, some people may view custom cars as dangerous or irresponsible.
- Lack of standardization: Custom cars are often one-of-a-kind creations, so there is no standardized process for inspecting or maintaining them. This lack of consistency can make it difficult for mechanics or insurance companies to assess the value or condition of a custom car, potentially leading to disputes or misunderstandings.
- Misconceptions: There are various misconceptions about custom cars and their owners. For instance, some people assume that all custom cars are excessively modified or that their owners are reckless drivers. These stereotypes can perpetuate negative opinions about custom cars and their owners.
The Justin Bieber Rolls Royce Controversy
In 2016, Rolls Royce released the 103EX, a futuristic concept car without a steering wheel and powered by the AI version of the Spirit of Ecstasy.
When singer Justin Bieber saw the car, he fell in love with it and wanted to get it for himself. He called Ryan Friedlinghaus from West Coast Customs to help him buy it. Sadly, Rolls Royce didn’t intend to make the car driveable. So, Friendlinghaus proposed to Bieber that he design a custom car based on the 103EX design.
Bieber bought a Rolls Royce Wreath, and then Friedlinghaus and his team designed a new body for the car. They tried to reimagine the futuristic style of the 103EX and bring it to life.
After three years of restructuring, polishing, and painting testing, the result was Uriel: The Light of God. This Rolls Royce custom floats on the road with two-tone leather interiors and a studio-like sound system. Frielinghaus boasted that Uriel represented the skill and dedication West Coast Customs is capable of.
Some people loved it, but more people thought the design left a lot to be desired. In his review, Supercar Designer Frank Stephenson explains that the car pushes people’s buttons due to its design. The blueprint is not the typical form of language that people have seen before.
He also points out that some of the lines of the car flow into directions people wouldn’t expect in auto design. This is probably one of the biggest reasons people dislike the Uriel’s design. The triptych of lines defines the character of every Rolls Royce ever made and changing such a significant part of the design may have been jarring to some viewers.
Justin Bieber’s Rolls Royce is among many designs people have felt needed more work.
What’s the Deal With Luxury Car Customization and Blocklists?
For some brands like Lamborghini and Rolls Royce, people have the freedom to customize however they want. Too much customization could land you on the blocklist and ban you from accessing exclusive Ferrari models. Don’t join Justin Bieber on the Rolls Royce blacklist.
Some of the Ferrari rules that warrant a place on the blocklist include:
- No Lamborghinis: Ferrari and Lamborghini’s long-standing rivalry persists, with Ferrari prohibiting car collectors with at least one Lambo from joining VIP lists for limited edition cars.
- Unauthorized modifications: Ferrari offers perfect cars as-is, with VIP clients having the option to customize their car at the factory in Maranello. Ferrari prohibits tampering with the engine, bodywork or paintjobs and requires all maintenance and repairs with Ferrari parts.
- Length of ownership: You can only sell a car in the first year or with notice to discourage flipping for profit.
The most well-known blocklist cases include Kim Kardashian, 50 Cent, DeadMau5 and Justin Bieber.
- The marque banned Kim Kardashian in 2022. The reason isn’t clear, but you would probably guess that it has something to do with her latest customization: a Lamborghini Urus covered inside and out with the same white fuzzy/fluffy fabric she uses for her SKIMS clothing line.
- Ferrari banned Justin after two rule-breaking incidents. In 2011 he painted his white Ferrari 458 Italia electric blue and fitted it with a Liberty Walk widebody kit. The final straw was that he covered the Ferrari badges in electric blue. In 2017 he auctioned off a 458 Italia within the first year of owning it.
- The most infamous blocklisted case is electronic DJ Joel Zimmerman, better known as Deadmau5. He customized his Ferrari 458 with a light blue wrap and added Nyan Cat wrap with custom badges. As a celebrity, he wanted to show off the car to as many people as possible, so he took the car to rallies and other automotive events.
Ferrari sent a cease-and-desist letter for trademark infringement, diluting the brand because DeadMau5 replaced the Ferrari badge with ‘Purrari’ and a leaping cat. Eventually, Zimmerman replaced the Prancing Horse, removed the modifications, and sold the car. He then bought a Lamborghini and modified it to the Nyanborghini Purracan.
Ferrari is one of the most unique brands and its Prancing Horse logo has a reputation. You could contend that a car company has no authority to instruct you on handling a pricey vehicle. However, Ferrari is one of the most valuable auto brands in the world. Ferrari owns the brand, not the car and will take tremendous measures to guard it from practices that taint it.
The Uriel also brings to mind the controversy around customized luxury cars among the rich and famous. Critics argue that flashy and expensive cars are a careless waste of resources that promote a culture of materialism. However, customizations offer freedom of expression and creativity and give emerging artists and designers opportunities to showcase their work.
Justin Bieber and Rolls Royce: To Customize or Not?
Custom cars can be controversial due to concerns about aesthetics, safety, lack of standardization, and misconceptions. However, custom cars also bring joy to their owners and fans and play a significant role in automotive culture and innovation. Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian love their cars and some people enjoy adding personality to their cars.