‘Pimp My Ride’ has its fans in Morocco

John Laurenson Jan 24, 2012

Adriene Hill: This next story about change in the North African Kingdom of Morroco. Not big political change, not massive economic change — instead we’re talking about gleaming new hubcaps, snazzy paint jobs; suped up cars, inspired by the MTV show “Pimp My Ride.”

From Casablanca, John Laurenson has our story.

John Laurenson: At a garage on the outskirts of Casablanca, hubcaps gleam and under-lighting glows as mechanics fit doors that open upwards like beetle wings. Reclining on the hand-stitched red leather driving seat of a souped-up Porsche, Ouarda Alami is definitely a fan.

Ouarda Alami: When you are here you feel like hot.

Laurenson: Yes!

Said Sebbane is hot too. Though he drives a Peugeot.

Said Sebbane: I want my car to be more beautiful and more interesting. I’m having filters put on the engine, which will bump up the horsepower.

Said and Ouarda are of a new generation that’s into tuning because of the long reach of American TV.

Mehdi El Khammal, one of Morocco’s top customizers, says the TV show “Pimp My Ride” is a cult series here. It’s made car-tuning a mass movement, he says, because Moroccans love everything that’s showy and luxurious. El Khammal can make your car lower and wider, turn it into a convertible and airbrush your son’s portrait on the passenger door. In Morocco, he says, there are still craftsmen who can sew a logo into your seat leather or turn an original car part on a lathe. Repair shops on the edge of almost every town have their own original, customized way of doing things.

Moroccan journalist Omar Radi.

Omar Radi: In Morocco, there’s a bit of artistry about the way the mechanics work. They haven’t had any formal training so they don’t follow rules — they follow their instincts.

So when the sun goes down, you can get into your car and cruise along the Casablanca seafront with the best of them.

Laurenson: Here we go.

In Casablanca, I’m John Laurenson for Marketplace.

Laurenson: That’s a nice noise.

Alami: Nice noise!

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