BUSINESS Autos

California aftermarket: Pimping rides, tweaking Humvees [video chat]

Gale Banks Engineering of Azusa is one of about 1,000 companies in California that are part of the nation's $30-billion aftermarket industry.

Join David Lazarus and me for a live video chat with Banks, age 70, the aftermarket automotive legend who sold his first car engine when he was 16. As president of Banks Engineering, he's involved with enhancing the performance of a broad array of vehicles.

It's called aftermarket because these companies are involved in virtually all aspects of improving the stock, showroom condition of the cars we drive.

"There are companies involved in styling, making cars look like they are going fast even when parked," said Peter MacGillivray, vice president for events and communications for the Specialty Equipment Market Assn.

Photos: The most American cars and trucks

"The definition of performance enhancement here goes beyond speed," MacGillivray said. "It's brakes, suspension, cornering, efficiency. They say you can’t reinvent the wheel; our industry does it day in and day out."

There are more such companies in California by far than in any other state in the U.S.

It's a heritage that dates back to post-World War II days.

Live chat with Gale Banks at 3 p.m.

American veterans came back to the U.S. full of mechanical knowledge of everything needed to keep military aircraft and ground vehicles in working condition.

After the war, they began tweaking the appearance and performance of their civilian cars and trucks.

Banks Engineering is a designer and manufacturer of power-enhancing products for diesel- and gas-powered light trucks, motor homes and sport-utility vehicles.

One of his latest projects has been designing performance improvements for the U.S. military's Humvee.

Join in on the conversation. Come back to this post later today and ask Gale your questions.

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