John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
Max Siedentopf is “improving” cars in the depth of night, one paper spoiler at a time.
Imagine the delight in finding that, overnight, your rusty beater had changed into a kick-ass sports car. That’s not exactly what Max Siedentopf is doing, but his heart’s in the right place: Under the cover of darkness, he’s accessorizing random vehicles in Amsterdam with cardboard spoilers, grills, and Mad Max-style superchargers.
“We live in a time where individuality, self-expression, and status are at an all-time peak. We want to personalize everything to be unique,” emails Siedentopf, who’s 24. “However, for some reason the individualization of one’s car has drastically decreased over the past few years. Resultant out of this realization, I tried to think of a way to make the most ordinary cars for just a few euros into their own supercar.”
The resulting endeavor, captured in the photo series “Slapdash Supercars,” has had cars around Amsterdam festooned with cartoonish parts that look taped together in a grade-school crafting exercise. The owners are absent from the pictures, as Siedentopf typically works from 4:30 to 5:30 a.m. But he hopes the “improvements” bring a smile to their faces, at least until they have to rip off the cardboard because the neighbors keep ragging on their ratchet rides. “[I]t’s not the real deal, but I hope they appreciate the effort and see the lighter side of it,” he says.
For folks who actually do like these modified autos, you can get an idea for a really souped-out version by checking out this guy’s cardboard Ferrari.