The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), based in Diamond Bar, has 5,000 member companies trying to tap and re-tap into the $29 billion-a-year market for custom auto parts and accessories. Some of the more intriguing new products:
Animal-skin textured rims, in such varieties as Chrome Alligator and Gold Zebra. Finally, dope-ass dubs for the Sierra Club crowd. Or maybe not. ($309-$450, Lexani Wheel Corp., Corona, CA, 909/808-4220, www.lexani.com)
AutoLoc Deluxe Exhaust Flamethrower Kit
The manufacturer claims that this device shoots a stream of fire up to 20 feet from your tailpipe and disclaims any liability. Not only an impressive sight but also an effective anti-tailgater measure. ($125-$199, Advanced Automotive Technology, Portland, OR, 503/693-6608)
Extreme Exhaust Flare Tip
Rev your engine and a spinning turbine blade emerges out the end of your tailpipe. This gadget is strictly decorative no plans yet for a Cuisinart attachment. ($30-$60, XEX Auto, Taiwan, www.xexauto.com)
A child-safety device for James Bonds au pair: This license-plate frame has a built-in camera that connects to a 3-inch monitor mounted above the rearview mirror so you can check both at once. It even comes with night vision. ($799-$999, HitchCam, Commerce, CA, 323/724-2279, www.hitchcam.com)
NASCAR Signature Series Toothbrushes
The powerful NASCAR marketing engine is in top gear and now wants to make its money where your mouth is. Definitive proof that NASCAR fans not only have teeth, but actually brush them. ($3.99-$4.99, 3D Multi Dimensional Marketing, Jenison, MI, 616/662-4343)
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SoundSak Sonic Audio Backpack
A backpack with built-in 4-inch speakers and a battery-powered amp, plus a pocket for a hydration reservoir to replenish fluids lost while mountaineering or moshing. Not exactly a car product, but its made by a car-audio accessory company, so what the heck. ($130, Scosche, Oxnard, CA, 805/486-4450, www.scosche.com)
Street WaveZ License-Plate Frame
Used to be only truck stops and blimps had scrolling LED message screens; now your license-plate frame can. Luckily, messages to other drivers are composed at home on a computer, not in the heat of the moment. ($99-$199, SignWaveZ, Broken Arrow, OK, 918/252-5570, www.signwavez.com)