2/24/10

Wheel Squeal - Being a fake asshat is still being an asshat.

Dateline Hot Rod magazine, 1972. The world gasps before the unprecedented coolness of a product so earth shattering it promised to change the world of being an asshat forever! Wheel squeal: the electronic burnout simulator!

"But bro," you're surely mumbling, "are you telling me I don't have to crater my clutch to get that super bitchin' burnout sound?" No sir, my good jackass! With Wheel Squeal, you can get that highly radical burnout sound electronically. Just send $6.95 in 1972 to the address shown in the ad.

For your $6.95, you got a tape and some instructions. The instructions almost surely showed you how to mount speakers in your trunk and not much more. That's $35.39 in current money, and for a cassette and some directions, it's also a ripoff in any era's currency. The sunny side of doing business with the kind of mouth-breathing jerkoffs who buy the Wheel Squeal is that if you dangle the carrot of mythic burnout coolness before their eyes, they'll hand over as much of their burger-flipping money as you ask for.

Who was the market for the Wheel Squeal? Well, the ad attempts to appeal to the reader's judgement, arguing that popping your clutch to achieve wheel spin costs "big bucks". True enough, but the flaw in their plan is that even the marketers behind the Wheel Squeal found a way to overestimate their customers. They're hoping that buyers will be desperate to win the admiration of "the crowd" with burnouts, but will have the wisdom and forethought to be concerned about their car's well-being. Doing burnouts for social status and responsible car maintenance are mutually exclusive. Unless, however the inventors are more clever than that. It may be more likely that the Wheel Squeal target market does not maintain their cars well enough for them to be capable of doing a burnout. What with the low compression and worn out spark plugs and filthy air filters and general shittiness of the cars belonging to the people whom I'm going to go out on a limb and assume are - get ready for this - boneheaded male teenagers, wheel spin may be nothing more than a distant dream. In 1972, $6.95 could probably buy an air filter and maybe some spark plugs, but that probably wouldn't be enough to place our theoretical meathead in the rarified air of burnout heaven.

But, for $6.95, he could buy himself some street cred among his knucklewalking friends. Also, maybe taking money out of the hands of really stupid people in exchange for a stupid product is a a favor to us all.

3 comments:

Craig F. said...

I can't wait to get Wheel Squeel (sic) for my Camero (sic). It'll look bitchen (sic) with my Cregars (sic) and Ebeldock (sic) manifold.

Phil Are Go! said...

Well, what with the electric cars being designed with artificial engine sounds (for pedestrians' safety), can this idea be far from making a comeback (for "coolness"). It'll first appear as an add-on for your electric car's moto-sound unit, but then people with gas-poweered cars will install it too, for posing purposes.

Thanks for the comment, Craig!

craig f. said...

When I had my Camaro, it had a lame six-cylinder and an automatic. But luckily, I bought the cheapest tires made. They were bias ply banana peels from Sears.

They only resembled a tire, actually, in that they were round, black and smelly. I'm not even sure they were round, now that I think about it.

Anyhoo, they were made of the same material that they make billiard balls out of. I could spin them at the drop of a hat, and squeal them on a dirt road, just like the Rockford Files.

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