Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hollywood's Hottest Wheels Latest Craze Is the Suburban - Customized

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hollywood's Hottest Wheels Latest Craze Is the Suburban - Customized

Article excerpt

GOODBYE, Range Rover. Goodbye, Humvee. The latest Malibu status symbol is the Chevrolet/GMC Suburban.

In a town almost singularly obsessed with cars and the image they confer on their owners, the boxy Suburban and its 20-inch-shorter cousins, the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon, would seem an odd choice. But the Suburban, the popular chase car in presidential motorcades that's big enough to carry an entire soccer team, has become Hollywood's hottest set of wheels.

Malibu surfers, Brentwood housewives and entertainment moguls have swapped the BMW and Mercedes-Benz for these four-wheel-drive behemoths jammed with creature comfort and performance nimbleness.

"I went from a Ferrari. Now, I drive a Suburban," Michael J. Fox, a father of three, told Jay Leno on the "Tonight" show.

Who else drives these things? Bruce Willis, Rod Stewart, Janet Jackson, Charlie Sheen, Jennie Garth, John Larroquette, Martha Stewart and Mary Hart. Jim Carrey just ordered one.

But these aren't your everyday assembly-line products.

Zooming through toney neighborhoods and lining parking lots at trendy watering holes these days are $85,000 Suburbans jammed with goodies: Nintendo games, videocassette players, cellular telephones in front and back, satellite tracking systems to help navigate, burled wood accents and plush leather seats.

Beverly Hills Motoring Accessories, known as the "Neiman Marcus of the automotive world," caters to these whims. No hard-sell salesman here - many clients use fax machines to order their custom wheels.

With hefty $40,000 price tags from the dealer and a gas-guzzling 12 miles per gallon, the Suburban isn't for the thrifty. But affluent baby boomers with kids love them, and Beverly Hills Motoring transforms mere vehicles into dream machines dripping with luxurious amenities.

Besides the interior creature comforts, there's a supercharger, custom headers and special exhaust to goose performance. Alloy wheels, special tires, flared wheel wells and fancy fog lamps dress up the ride.

Security concerns? Top-of-the-line satellite-based security systems, as well as bulletproofing that meets U.S. Secret Service specifications, can be ordered.

Recent gas hikes exceeding $2 a gallon didn't faze BHMA's well-heeled clientele. …

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