Global Update


On the cover of the China Market Report ( is a photo of a Chrysler 300C with a fireball flame custom paint job on the hood and fenders. This picture was taken at the 2007 edition of the China International Automotive Aftermarket Industry Show, aka CIAAI, and it was the only car at the show that had this kind of custom paint.

What a difference a year makes! This year there were two aftermarket shows in March. The Beijing-based China International Auto Accessories Industry Fair 2008 (CIAAI 2008), held March 14–17, and the CIAACE 2008, Innovative Festivity for Auto Accessories and Customization Industry, also held in Beijing earlier in the month. 

The growth in the number of cars with custom paint jobs at these two shows was remarkable. They were inside the venues at both shows, both as display cars in booths of various aftermarket product exhibitors, and more interestingly as ‘art gallery cars’ by custom paint manufacturers and custom paint shops. More examples of the same could be found in the outside exhibition areas and in the car parks of both shows.

Another noteworthy point was the brands of cars that had the custom paint on them. There was a broad range of vehicles with paint on them, with examples of U.S. (Cadillac and Harley), Japanese (Mitsubishi, Nissan, Suzuki), and Chinese (Chery, Geely) models being used as the medium for the custom paint jobs.

It's important to point out that car modifications, according to the national Road Transport Act, are currently not allowed in China. The law is quite vague and creates confusion as to what is or is not permitted. However, the law is specific regarding aftermarket paints. The "unauthorized" changing of the color of a vehicle is illegal, according to the 2004 law—even too many stickers is regarded as infringing this rule. Though there have been crackdowns in the past, current enforcement is nearly non-existent and business is growing despite the ban.

One of the works on display at the 2008 CIAACE Show was a GM Buick Excelle hatchback with a pair of "angel wings" molded onto the C-pillar (see photo). When asked about the response of the police to his interesting and outlandish modification, the owner laughed and said, “Oh, the local cops know me and the car very well now. They think it is really cool and don’t bother me these days."

There were similar casual responses to the same question by other exhibitors and owners of overtly stickered, painted and modified cars at both exhibitions.


The USA Eagle booth had both a custom-painted motorcycle and a new model Cadillac, both of which generated a lot of interest.


The "angel wings" on this Buick Excelle hatchback were an unexpected sight.


A Mitsubishi-badged minivan boasted a beautiful undersea-themed coat of paint.


Chinese models were also represented with Chery showing a minivan with a cracked earth and lava flames theme.


The CIAAI 2008 had quite a few Suzuki Swifts acting as a blank canvas, with some interesting results.


ALPINE had a custom-painted car to display their wares and increase brand awareness.


This Citroen was the only Euro brand to get in on the act.