One of the few decorated cars travels two continents

The Foxy Shehzad, a decorated Volkswagen bug, has successfully traveled from Islamabad to Paris. The blog chronicles the trip, which was initiated by a Pakistani trio including two doctors and an IT specialist. From their account, it looks like the mountains in Turkey near the border with Iran were the biggest obstacle to the small vehicle. Like most displays of truck art outside of Pakistan, the initiative is an excellent form of cultural diplomacy and displays a side of Pakistan that is unfamiliar to most. Their corporate sponsors should be satisfied as the effort seems to have generated abundant media attention. The car itself is beautiful and the Rawalpindi artists seem to have done their best work. There’s a nice tribute to Benazir on the left door of the car and Jinnah on the front.

The Foxy Shehzad in Islamabad

The car raises one of the questions that I’ve had about decorated vehicles since it first piqued my interest. In a country where jingle trucks are the norm, why aren’t there more cars with ornamentation? Truck art is, as the name would suggest, found mostly on trucks or, occasionally, other large vehicles such as shared taxis, buses, or tractors. Yet I’ve never seen a jingle car before the Foxy Shehzad. I thought about putting some colorful, jingled hubcaps on my car, but this would be far outside the norm.

What accounts for the paucity of jingled cars? A first explanation would be that a family car is considered a finished product, bought from a showroom complete without the need for any blandishments. But at the same time, when the cost of car improvements is so low and many Pakistanis accessorize their vehicles, with flashy stereo systems and wheels, it really doesn’t make sense that there are not more jingle cars. Perhaps the more accurate explanation is that a culture has developed around jingling trucks, which has not extended to smaller vehicles. Alternatively, there’s also less of commercial impulse with vehicles used for personal use. However, much of truck art is not advertising related.