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Bright neon lights beaming on the road beneath the car.<p>Laser lights spitting red from the tailpipe.<p>Blue lights glowing on the hood.<p>And thin green lights on the gas and brake pedals.<p>That's your kid's car. <p>It's a rolling — literally; the wheels have lights, too — billboard for sunglasses at night.<p>Outrageous lighting inside and out has become the hottest custom touch for car lovers, mainly those in their teens and twenties.<p>Richard Crowder of Dallas has spent more than $30,000 on his 1995 Honda Civic the past six years, about 80% of it on custom lights and the rest on engine and interior modifications. He's managed to light things you wouldn't expect. His trick Civic includes glowing, colored fluid in the stereo's Bazooka subwoofer system.<p>"You want to have something new and different," says Crowder, 34, who started his project when he was 27.<p>SEMA members intend to give Crowder's crowd what it wants. Cars and trucks outfitted with neon lights, strobe lights and fluorescent lights are all over the SEMA show floor, making the place look more like a casino than an auto display.<p>While they are big business now, lights are a small part of the $26 billion annual auto-accessory business, ranging from fuzzy dice to racing engines.<p>The annual SEMA show has grown from a small exhibit where hardware makers showed their wares to one another to a huge show attended by major automakers looking for tomorrow's gotta-have features. Ford Motor, for example, began offering turn signal blinkers in the outside mirrors two years after seeing the feature at a SEMA show.<p>Mazda, Toyota, Subaru and DaimlerChrysler all are displaying cars with light kits.<p>Accessory lights range widely. There are $10 flashers that replace the tire-valve stem caps to create a circle of light on each wheel; $90 tailpipe lights to make the exhaust showy; $250 glow lights that attach under the car and make the car seem to glide on a colored cloud. The road-glow setups also cost hundreds of dollars to install and sometimes require expensive upgrades to the electrical system, such as a bigger battery or higher-output alternator.<p>Clearly, the young customizers are serious about illumination.<p>"We have provided products to 25 different manufacturers and suppliers for displays at SEMA," says Steven Hamilton, marketing director for StreetGlow, a maker of light kits for cars. StreetGlow's business has doubled each year since 1990, when the company began making light-studded license-plate brackets for cars. More than 30,000 stores carry the kits.<p>Just as hot-rodders of yore ran afoul of the law by uncorking their exhaust systems for better performance — and more noise — so the light crew is playing close to the foul line. <p>Crowder's car, for instance, attracts tickets for lighting violations so predictably that he usually keeps the thousands of dollars of lights off unless the car is parked, or he's making a quick run in the neighborhood.<p>Federal regulations determine the color, brightness and location of lights installed at the factory by automakers. State and local governments regulate lights installed by owners.<p>The usual objections to accessory lights is that they are too bright, distracting or resemble lights on emergency vehicles.<p>Police enforcement of vehicle-light laws varies across the country. Louisiana's St. Tammany Parish, about 30 miles north of New Orleans, issued a warning in May that sheriff's officers would ticket vehicles with objectionable lights. "We are not trying to be the fashion police, but they can blind drivers of oncoming cars and they can be mistaken for police vehicles," says James Hartman, spokesman for the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff.<p>Sometimes SEMA not only provides clues to the next hip gadget, but also highlights a trend already underway that automakers could exploit. <p>For instance, SEMA members have sold so many brilliant blue-white high-intensity discharge headlights to Ford Focus owners, Ford decided to make HID lights optional on the '03 Focus. HID lights usually are found on luxury models, not $15,000 cars such as Focus.<p>"They use SEMA as a (research and development) facility," jokes SEMA spokesman Chris Horn.<p>"You do really depend on the show to get a good sense of where the market is going," says Alan Hall, spokesman for Ford's SVT, the company's in-house performance division.
 
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