The Truth About Cars » SLAB http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:51:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » SLAB http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com A Primer On SLAB Culture http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/a-primer-on-slab-culture/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/a-primer-on-slab-culture/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:55:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=794826 title

This well-traveled Houstonian thinks his town is Pistonhead Nirvana, proven every month via fanboi scale and diversity at Cars and Coffee gatherings.  Or with every 1000+hp racer on at Texas2k, every shoestring budget’d LeMons racer and Art Car fanatic: it’s all here. Except there’s nothing like Houston’s SLAB culture.

A confession: I know automotive subcultures, no matter which socioeconomic population nurtures it, always raise the ire of outsiders. My response?  Every generalization about SLABs applies to anyone building a custom, race or show car. We are all the same, deal with it.   

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Like most automotive hobbies, the Houston SLAB scene starts with the belief that the factory’s work needs improvement.  While spec racers turn a depreciated hulk into a track beast, the SLAB rider takes a slice of unloved Americana, bringing it back to a time when Japanese cars were cheap rust buckets that’d never threaten General Motor’s existence! I mean, look at our grilles and look at theirs, right?

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A car that traces its roots back to the 1970s Pimp Rides is necessary to make a modern SLAB: Camcords need not apply. Any Blaxploitation movie gets you up to speed on Pimp Rides, but the Houston SLAB scene uses them as a springboard to something new.

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Depreciated American luxury cars are the norm: Cadillacs, Buicks and certain Oldsmobiles are preferred.  Lincolns/Panthers and Chryslers are cool too, even Jaguars and Quattroportes pull it off vis-à-vis distinctly luxurious proportions.  But don’t break your budget on the ride, GM’s W-body is one of the most common platforms for good reason, as costly modifications are necessary to pay homage to the Pimp Riders while advancing the game:

  • Massive stereos, some are IASCA worthy with a little tweaking.
  • Kitted out power popping trunks, slathered in custom vinyl and personalized phrases in neon/mirrors.
  • Wire wheels much like the Cragar units supplied as OEM for Cadillac in 1983 and 1984, except replacing the fragile tin content with 100% steel. Texan Wire Wheels sells them as “83s” and “84s”, seemingly cornering this niche market.
  • Vogue tires in new sizes for new cars, naturally.
  • Replacement steering wheels, usually with wood grain rims.
  • Candy Paint, just like any vintage rodder.
  • Reupholstered interiors, taking advantage of the latest trimmings on the market.
  • Aftermarket HID lights, custom LEDs, Lambo doors, flat panel TVs and anything else you’ll find in the custom car scene.
  • Oversized brand logos, like the tailgate emblem from an Escalade.
  • Lowered suspensions (often aftermarket Air Ride) for obvious curb appeal.

That stance is at the SLAB’s core: it’s a sweet American luxury sedan ridin’ close to the curb.  Close to the concrete, up against the “slab”…hence the name. Some suggest that SLAB is an acronym for Slow-Loud-And-Bangin’ but that definition seemingly came later.

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But the wheels make SLABs so eye-catching: references percolating through Houston’s music, Houston’s culture.  Originally a re-pop of those Cadillac rims from 1983 and 1984, some are fed pro-baseball grade growth hormones to extend the hub far beyond Cadillac’s factory specification.  Ordinary wires have “pokes” while insanity ensues when you go “super poke.”  While not sure of their origin, odds are that having more poke comes people’s need to out-do each other. Like everything else in this world!

IMG_1759Your taste in poke is subjective, but they are all known as swangas and elbows.

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Elbows are when the hub and spoke of your wheels “poke” out of your body just like your arm’s elbow when perched atop the door sill.  Makes sense, but Swangas?

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Again, not sure: it’s connected to the organized dance that multiple SLABs do on an open stretch of road.  It’s like watching racers warming up their tires during pace laps.  It’s infectious: even the cops do it.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Here’s what I saw at the first annual SLAB Parade, put on by the Houston Arts Alliance.  This cow town’s been good about supporting the art scene, especially our Art Cars and our screwed and chopped Rap artists.  While H-town Rap is a “thing” for the likes of Jay Z and Justin Timberlake, Detroit has yet to embrace Houston’s re-branding of their Camry prey/Rental Car fodder and their highline euro-wannabes. Aside from the Chrysler 300, of course.

So welcome to the Third Coast, the coast that actually likes American cars. How they were: with real names, impressive proportions and maybe even SLAB hugging overhangs, too. And the people who make them?  They are no different than other car nuts.

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No doubt, Houston is the best place to be a car fanatic, mostly thanks to our diverse population.  Love it or hate it, hopefully you enjoyed seeing this slice of Automotive Americana while I avoided the pitfalls of a milquetoast overview of an automotive sub-culture. Fingers crossed on that last part.

 

 

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Piston Slap: Why dented roof, Regal? BECAUSE S.L.A.B. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/piston-slap-why-dented-roof-regal-because-s-l-a-b/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/piston-slap-why-dented-roof-regal-because-s-l-a-b/#comments Tue, 02 Apr 2013 10:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=483212

Ed writes:

Hello Sajeev,

Recently my GF and I became the owners of a 1999 Buick Regal with about 225k miles on it. We weren’t in the market for a Buick, but when a limb dropped on its roof from a dead tree was combined with a higher deductible and a desire to keep the claim off our homeowners policy, the natural thing to do was buy the dented car for the $2500 asking price. Now our question is what is the best way to get most of our money back from this “investment”?

A roof panel goes for 125-200 from the yards near me. I could cut out the old dented one, and set up the replacement to be welded in. I’ll be in it for the rear window, replacement panel, something for the welding and something to get it painted. I’m guessing $750ish, which doesn’t seem worth it. Now on the other hand, I could bang out the roof so its straight enough to get a rear window in there and buy some white vinyl and make a half vinyl top for it and try to get what I can for it. I’ll probably only be in it for an additional $300 max I think and would ask 2k or best. Or I could just cut my losses and take the $4-500 from a scrapper for it. Its got a 3.8 and still runs good. Whats the correct solution here?

Sajeev answers:

Quick answer: I’d fix the dent decently enough for a new rear window/headliner and go the full padded roof route instead. No half-vinyl tops on sedans without significant B-pillar trimming to make it work! (1980s Panthers, for example). Depending on where you live (i.e. the American South, anywhere with old people, etc) there’s a decent market for old school Buicks with even more old school styling. I’m talkin’ the moden NeoClassic, FWD General Motors’ family sedans dressed up like Super Fly’s sweet, sweet ride.

I’m talking 84s; SWANGAS on SLABs…son!

And, in the case of a white Regal with a gray(?) interior, make the roof material a contrasting color: dark blue, maroon…or money green if you got the balls of a baller. I see red and blue actually improving resale.

Ed replies:

Thanks for the quick reply, going with a colored top is a great recommendation. (No shit, really? Wow! – SM) I see a dark blue or dark maroon cloth instead of vinyl. It will probably cost a little less, they have some outdoor fabric at the fabric store, and the sewing machine we have will be able to handle it. I can put a couple of seams in there and make it all fancy :). I’m in RI, we have a good helping of older folks and urban folks that might like an older Buick. There are one or two other minor things to do, but the car runs strong. Just driving it around the block the pickup was enough to make me pop the hood and check for a blower, no super charger, just the NA 200hp there. The other good news is rear windows are $45 per car-part.com. If I can get this done for $125, that’ll be a victory in itself.

Any idea or links what/where to get foam padding? I’m thinking just some Home Depot insulating foam sheets if its thin enough, but I haven’t looked yet.

Sajeev concludes:

You are on the right track! I don’t know a good way to trim the material around the end of the C-pillar and base of the A-pillar, so I’m curious to see your solution! The aftermarket tops (installed by dealerships, or their sub-contracted accessory outfitter) have a custom metal trim with big, shiny screws to mount to the sheet metal, but maybe you can fab that up too.

Padding?  See what’s used in outdoorsy camping equipment, find that raw material at a fabric shop.  Even better, a fabric shop that sells Marine grade fabrics.  If all else fails, perhaps some sort of high density, high-grade packing foam will do?  You just want to make sure the stuff won’t turn into dust after a few years of heat cycling.

You have a real opportunity here: turning an American hooptie ready for the scrapper into a proper American Icon for a subculture that both creates and demands respect.  Be it for old people or, uh, young people.  We all like the same shit…and if you pick up a set of chrome rims for cheap, you’ll definitely remember the time you made lemonade out of a serious Lemon. That’s a seriously worthwhile memory.

Any way you dig this one: respect to you.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: 100,000 Mile Tune Ups, Dex-Cool, Grandma’s S.L.A.B. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/piston-slap-100000-mile-tune-ups-dex-cool-grandmas-s-l-a-b/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/piston-slap-100000-mile-tune-ups-dex-cool-grandmas-s-l-a-b/#comments Mon, 11 Feb 2013 12:52:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=477112 Justin writes:

Sajeev,

I have a 2001 Buick Regal LS. I bought it in 2007 with 14,000 miles on (yes, from a grandmother). It has 72,000 miles on it as of this morning. It’s not a great car and has required plenty of maintenance (for example, I’ve had to replace the brakes completely 3 times already). However, I have a few questions about long term items:

1. Spark plugs. Should I change them? The owner’s manual specifies 100,000 miles; does time play a factor in that at all? I’ve read that sometimes the back 3 never get changed anyway (apparently it’s a PITA).

2. Coolant. I had it changed once in 2008 (it’s Dexcool) because I had been reading the horror stories. How often should I be changing this?

I’m unsure how long this car is going to last, but I’ll keep limping it along until the cost gets too high. So cost is a factor here too.

Thanks!

Sajeev answers:

As you learned, buying a low mile original car isn’t necessarily a great idea. Unless you buy it for an occasional, collector type of vehicle. (*cough* H-town swanga *cough*) Though a 6-year-old car with low miles doesn’t exactly fit this definition: you replaced the brakes three times in the past 58,000 miles?  Whaaaa?

 

Either you got screwed by a mechanic or you are a seriously aggressive driver that needs elbows and vogues to slow yourself down.  Perhaps you should take a page from the Houston playbook, and keep that GM sedan Slow Loud And Bangin’.  But I digress…

  • Spark plugs: the 100,000 mile tune-up interval has been proven valid for every car I’ve seen, mostly because platinum plugs are that great. There’s a chance that age hasn’t been kind to the ceramic part of the plugs, but if the car idles smooth when cold, gets good mileage, decent power, no check engine light, etc…don’t worry about it.
  • Previously discussed here, here and here, Dex-Cool is a bizarre case where you can either flush it out (entirely, no margin for error) and switch to another type of coolant, or continue topping off with a Dex-cool compatible coolant, or you can continue to use Dex-Cool and service it as per the owner’s manual.  If you choose the latter, I’d service a little more regularly than suggested…out of fear of the Dex-Cool devil that comes from neglect.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

 

 

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Question: Which Is More Gloriously Extreme, Houston SLABs or Bosozoku Style? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/question-which-is-more-gloriously-extreme-houston-slabs-or-bosozoku-style/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/question-which-is-more-gloriously-extreme-houston-slabs-or-bosozoku-style/#comments Thu, 13 Dec 2012 15:30:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=469872 In recent years, there was no way any car customizer in the world was going to come close to the absurd lengths that practitioners of Bōsōzoku Style in Japan went to when modifying their vehicles. Six exhaust pipes sticking ten feet straight up out of a slammed Corona with an octo-wing? Not enough! That’s a shame for patriotic Americans, because we once ruled the world when it came to brain-scrambling, utterly senseless customized vehicles. But wait! The love of 84s and old-timey lowrider-style kandy paint in Houston has led to a renaissance, and the SLAB (Slow, Loud, And Bangin’) may be knocking the Bōsōzoku Style machines off their pedestal.

A SLAB is typically (though not always) a GM luxury sedan, and it boasts wheels with way more “poke” than anything Cragar ever imagined for the ’84 Eldorado (the aftermarket has stepped in with 30-spoke “elbows” that stick out 18″ or more), kandy paint, neon, 10-billion-watt sound systems, and so on. The green Cadillac at 0:13 in the video above may well be The Greatest Car of All Time. Take that, Japan! As Mike Jones says in his SLAB anthem, “tippin’ on four ‘bows, wrapped in four Vogues.”

But then… check out what’s going on over there!

Yeah, put on some Melt-Banana, add another 20 exhaust pipes, and maybe the SLABs have another couple of years before they can match Bōsōzoku Style. What do you say?
Bosozoku car image at top courtesy of Bozozokustyle.com

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