'Tricked out?" I asked Patrick, incredulous. "You want to get the minivan tricked out? Let's get serious. I'm not sure that a Toyota Sienna is the sort of car you trick out. More importantly, I'm not sure I'm the sort of gal who rides around in a tricked-out minivan." That was two years ago, and to my amazement and chagrin, my husband is still at it. Call it an early suburban midlife crisis. "It's not as if I want to get a little red sports car," he complains. "Just silver flames on the side of the van." Now, I think I might have found a way to cool his accessory fever. Last week, I spotted a Sienna very much like ours -- except this one had a spoiler up above the back window. Nothing huge, but definitely there. When I mentioned it to Patrick, his eyes got big -- success.
The next day, I placed a call to Jeff Hebbel of getspoiled.com , a company that specialized in just the sort of thing I was after -- adding custom or factory spoilers to cars. For something like a minivan, said Hebbel, "a spoiler is basically just there for aesthetics. Usually, it's on sporty cars, things like the Ford Mustang. It's aesthetic there, too. But when you get something like a Formula One race car, there the spoiler can be moved up and down at certain angles to deal with the aerodynamics of the vehicle. The position of the spoiler will give more or less wind resistance, and thus more or less speed."
Factory spoilers, said Hebbel, were just that -- spoilers designed at the factory for a particular model of car. "Not all cars have an option for a factory spoiler. A luxury sedan like the Lincoln Town Car won't have one, but the Ford Mustang will. So will the Dodge Charger, but it will be completely different from the Mustang's." So, if you want a spoiler for your Town Car, "we can put on what's called a universal spoiler. They're made by aftermarket parts companies, and they fit on multiple vehicles."
Get Spoiled is aimed primarily at car dealerships, places "that don't want to get really fancy and tricked out, because then the cars won't appeal to a wide audience. I do mainly factory-style spoilers, stuff that they know they can sell to just about anybody. There are, of course, companies that will do racecar-style spoilers and ground effects -- stuff that goes along the bottom edge of the vehicle. That's geared toward the younger generation." (And possibly silver-flame-seeking suburban dads.)
At the dealership, "my company will go in and install a sampling of a couple of different spoilers on various vehicles. For example, the Dodge Charger XRT has a spoiler standard. It's a higher-end model -- it'll have things like leather seats and a better engine and also a higher price tag. We might add a factory XRT spoiler to a base-model Charger. It gives it a higher-end look and makes it look more sporty, but it's a better price. A spoiler is the single most cost-effective way to enhance the appearance of your vehicle." (Hear that, Patrick? Not flames. Spoilers.)
Or, if a customer is bringing their car into the dealership for service, they might notice the spoilers on the cars in the lot and decide they'd like to add it on to what they're already driving. The dealership calls Hebbel, and he drives over and does the job. "I'm mobile. I can also go to someone's home or office. And color-match is no problem. I have a few different suppliers, and they paint the spoilers for me. A black metallic Charger has a color code of PXR. I'll order it, and a computer mixes the paint to the factory specs. I stock many of the most popular spoilers, but I can get almost anything in three days to a week. The most popular one is the Ford Mustang -- a Mustang without a spoiler looks weird, right? The Charger is popular, too. And every once in a while, I do a minivan. Toyota makes a factory spoiler for the Sienna."
Most spoilers, said Hebbel, attach with screws. "First, I get it in position. Some come with templates, others with measurements in the instructions. If not, I'll go and measure a factory-installed spoiler to get the exact dimensions. I'll use a couple of different drill bits during the installation. First, a small bit to mark the hole. Then, a quarter-inch bit to make the hole in the trunk. And if the trunk has a second panel underneath the metal, I have to drill through that to get access for my screwdriver and nut driver. The screws go up through the bottom of the trunk into the spoiler. In between the spoiler and the top of the trunk, I place a rubber gasket pad. It acts like a cushion, and it seals the gap so the spoiler is flush to the deck and water can't get in. Some spoilers have brake lights in them, and that requires an additional wire installation. If it's a factory spoiler, there will be a built-in hookup in the trunk. Otherwise, I'll tap into the brake-light wire in the quarter panel or underneath the trunk."
Cost for the service runs "anywhere from $295 to $350 , depending on the installation process. That includes paint and onsite service. That's the price I charge everyone -- dealers and individuals. Sometimes, a dealer will mark up the price; other times, they'll throw it in at no extra charge when they're trying to make a sale."