Are Parody Branded Brake Calipers the Next Big Thing?

We look into the endless possibilities.

Steven Rattenbury on Facebook (left), Reddit user bse50 (right)

Throughout time, trends are consumed, digested, and reinterpreted in new forms, setting the stage for the cycle to repeat over and over again. In the 2000s, for example, we saw moddders' parts list decals give way to satirical grocery list stickers. With how old that joke now is, it's ready for execution anew, and its rebirth we may be witnessing, because instead of people painting brake calipers red with Brembo, Wilwood, or StopTech logos, some enthusiasts are giving their calipers the donk treatment and adorning them with whimsically unrelated brands.

We learned of this trend through stance-oriented Facebook page Steez Boyz, which recently shared an album of "custom" brake calipers found online. In the album are calipers liveried in schemes such as Chiquita banana, Kinder chocolate, and Marlboro cigarettes. While unusual lighting makes the Krispy Kreme calipers look like Photoshop mockups, they are in fact real; their livery was designed by a Brit named Adam Crawley, and a caliper painting specialist executed them to a stunningly high standard.

The simpler M&Ms calipers are also real, and are currently installed on a Holden Commodore some Down Under. To figure out what motivates a mod like this, we talked to their creator, Steven Rattenbury, who explained that while looking to expand his "VF" Commodore's subtle yellow-on-black color scheme last summer, he saw the above photo of Kinder-branded calipers. A lightbulb went off in his head, and after a dash of yellow paint and some stickers, Rattenbury's stock brakes bore M&Ms branding, an Easter Egg as sweet as their namesake.

"They love it," Rattenbury told us of observers, many of whom miss the painted calipers for the car's brazen windshield banner.

"I do have a Brazzers sticker on the window, that gets a lot of attention," he added. "It takes some people a decent look to notice [the brakes], and some spot it straight away, but [it's] always a thumbs-up and smiles."

A pair of Autoevolution articles and a Reddit posts date the Kinder and Chiquita brakes—which appear to be part of a full Chiquita livery on a Lotus Seven—to the first half of 2016, meaning this mod's peak popularity is already four years past. At the same time, the fact that painted calipers like these failed to reach fad-hood (look at you, roof racks) means they never became played out, and if reactions to Rattenbury's Holden mean anything, they're still funny, so there's no reason why this trend can't pick up steam now. After all, there are far worse trends in vehicle modification that we'd be glad to see replaced by something that makes people smile instead of a sneer.

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