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Essex chav car culture waning

The financial crisis and disappearance of easy credit contributed to the contraction, but there's also been an aesthetic backlash. The popularity of Max'd cars peaked after the 2001 release of the first installment of the "Fast and the Furious" movie franchise, which centers on the illegal street racing culture, said Mark Guest, a former editor of the now-defunct magazine Max Power.

After the movie, modified cars "became very cool. Everyone wanted cool black civics and undercar neon. But now, modifieds have become associated with 'chav' culture," said Mr. Guest, using the derisive term often attached to white, working-class British youths some associate with criminality. "The image of the 'boy racer' became so unfortunate that the scene was driven underground," he said.

At its peak in the mid 2000s, Max Power sold 250,000 copies a month, Mr. Guest said. By 2010 it was out of business.

Weekly get-togethers, or "cruises," became targets of police intervention and public scorn, said Mr. Guest. In February, the local government in Southend-on-Sea, the Essex town known for its robust modified scene, issued an injunction against a planned cruise, citing prohibitions against, "cars driving in convoy, excessive speeding, racing, performing stunts, making excessive noise by, for example, sounding horns or playing radios."

According to Max Power's internal vision statement, the modified scene is made up of numerous "tribes." There are the ICE cars, which are characterized by their in-car entertainment systems; the Cruise Kings, which incorporate "big kits, big ICE and plenty of bravado;" Sleepers, or highly tuned but otherwise ordinary-looking cars; and the "Rat Look" cars, which are "deliberately made rusty, with stencil-painted graphics and plenty of weathered accessories."


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