Business Booming for Asheville’s Luxury-car Distressers Correction

WEST ASHEVILLE, MONDAY — There’s one thing that Asheville twenty-somethings won’t be caught dead in — a nice car that has been given to them by their parents.

That’s where entrepreneur Chris Nichols comes in.

Car modders work

“I noticed that there were a lot of people taking flack for driving newer- model, upper- end cars and SUVs,” Nichols said one recent morning while working in his shop distressing a 2003 Toyota Land Cruiser. “They didn’t have the time or know-how to give their cars the beat-up, down-home look that is so desirable here and it broke my heart.” 070507disccarwork

Nichols gets paid top dollar to take clients’ new vehicles and scuff, scrape, fade and nick them until they convey an earthier, “good-people” vibe, and business is booming.

“I had a shiny, perfect-condition, new Suburu wagon that I was deeply ashamed to be seen in,” said one of Nichols’ recent clients. “Using nothing but a hammer, a can of spray paint and several dozen nonsensical bumper stickers, Chris helped degrade my ride and, in doing so, vastly improved my selfesteem.”

According to Nichols, many of his customers are going for one particular effect — decreasing public perception of their net worth.

For an extra $400, Nichols will even install an unconnected pan beneath his clients’ cars that is designed to slowly but steadily drip vegetable oil, providing the owner with unimpeachable Asheville bona fides.

Flush with success, Nichols is already planning his next venture.

“I could get top dollar hawking forged birth certificates that would enable those who are ashamed to admit they have moved here in the past 10 years to instead boldly proclaim they were born in an overgrown field in Madison County,” Nichols said. “And the certificate will empower them to bring that fact up in every single casual conversation they have, just like an authentic local.”