We're souping up our rides. The neighbors are furious

Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

"For some of us, the sounds of a powerful engine make us happy, and the sound in a tunnel or echoing off the buildings is enjoyable," said one member.

"The sound of a V-8 engine is stress relief for me and I like to hear it," said another.

But irate people weary of the noise have had enough.

"Just yesterday something drove by and it was so loud my ears were splitting and I know it had to be hundreds of feet away from me. I'm gobsmacked at how loud some cars are," one member wrote.

David Barnes, a 59-year-old Southern Californian who works in industrial security, said he doesn't really understand the push toward ever larger amounts of horsepower and loud exhausts. But when he went shopping for his 19-year-old Ford F-250 pickup with 191,000 miles on the odometer, Barnes got the sticker shock of his life.

"I looked at the new trucks and everything I would have wanted to have a newer version of what I have now," Barnes said, "and I was going to be looking at a truck that was going to cost $80,000 to $100,000."


He turned instead to California aftermarket performance parts specialist Gale Banks Engineering in Azusa.

Barnes' truck spent a week at Banks' garage, where a new cold air intake, a new exhaust system and a replacement intercooler was installed along with a turbocharger upgrade. Banks' mechanics also added a new electronic controller for the truck's transmission. The cost for the makeover, Barnes said, came out to a very reasonable $10,000. The verdict: better than a new version of his old truck.

"This was a no-brainer actually," Barnes said. "I picked the truck up from them, and I was a little timid about it at first. And I got to tell you, I thought, 'Let me light this thing up,' as I'm driving away from their facility. It was like, 'OK, this is like brand new.' "

Gale Banks Engineering is having its best sales year ever, said Banks, 79. The pandemic isolation, he said, has inspired a lot of people to overhaul their old recreational vehicles, giving them their own bubble for travel. The other big business these days are automotive makeovers of older vehicles.


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