There was a time in L.A. when sports car tuning meant blinding chrome, rims the size of Ferris wheels and candy-coated bodies. The Great Recession put a sting on the bling, and all of a sudden every celebrity had a matte-black ride. One tuner had it right all along: CEC in West L.A. has been tastefully transforming German cars for more than 20 years and has been the official American retailer for Brabus (for Mercedes), Techart (for Porsche) and AC Schnizter (for BMW). CEC's autos are faster and lower, but they're also (mostly) modestly adorned with ground effects and wheels. It would seem that every Laker in town has at least one ride that's been touched by CEC, founded by Claus Ettensberger. When asked to reveal some celebrity customers recently, CEC vice president Sherif Wyssa told us, “Andrew Bynum, Sly Stallone and the whole Criminal Minds cast.” 10349 Santa Monica Blvd., W.L.A. (310) 767-1111,

—Dennis Romero

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