I see this car all over Modesto. You can't miss it! lol
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All Dolled Up
Modesto teenager gives new meaning to phrase 'toy car'
By MADELINE KEY
TEENS IN THE NEWSROOM
Last Updated: September 29, 2005, 07:06:38 AM PDT
It's been known to attract stares, catcalls and honks. It even stops traffic.
It is the car every little girl dreams of — a 1998 Kia Sportage that looks just like Barbie's Jeep.
Painted pink, adorned with flowers and pink carpeting, it is driven by De'Ondra Salazar, a 17-year-old senior at Modesto High School.
Although her friends have been known to compare Salazar, who is blonde, to the popular fashion doll, she insists the idea of the Barbie car came from the vehicle itself.
"I bought the Kia because I liked the style," she said. "But all of my friends and family kept telling me the car looked exactly like something Barbie would own.
"The idea seemed cute, so my parents and I toyed around with getting something simple like a sticker on a side panel."
The idea quickly escalated. The Salazars approached Design Interactions, a design firm that specializes in applying vehicle wraps, or full color graphics on vehicles.
Mike Stampar, creative director at Design Interactions, said the car became his pet project.
"Because it was so personal and so fun, we wanted to see how far we could truly take the idea and push the limits," he said.
The process cost about $4,000 to $5,000 and took several weeks. Now, the Barbie car is completely customized or "wrapped," inside and out.
The result is jaw-dropping. The car has seats with "Barbie" printed on the headrest and dozens of multi-colored flowers on the interior and exterior.
The outside features two shades of pink. The license plate reads TOOPINK.
Tom Hatfield, owner of Advanced Interior Restoration Services, assisted Design Interactions on the interior of the car. He printed the seats with a Barbie logo using a unique process.
"There has never been an attempt to print full color on leather, as far as we are aware," he said.
That's just a minor detail to casual observers, who are constantly getting into the spirit of the car.
"You wouldn't believe the questions I get asked. It ranges from 'Where's Ken' to asking where I got the car," Salazar said. "There have even been a few people that asked for my autograph."
Although she enjoyed the attention at first, she now says it is overwhelming.
Radio station KHOP once asked listeners to "find the Barbie car." Listeners called in with their sightings.
Salazar's boyfriend refuses to ride in the car because he's too embarrassed. And Salazar feels that she can never go out unless she's well-dressed and wearing make-up.
"As much as people are looking at the car, they're also looking to see who's inside," she said.
Is it all worth it?
"Definitely," she said. "I still love it."
Madeleine Key, 15, is a junior at Modesto High School. She is a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom journalism program.