You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

My other car is a movie theater

Who needs airbags? Drivers skirt the law as highways fill with mobile screening rooms

With in-car video systems as common as cup holders, automotive interiors have become a bauble battleground.

“To stand out now, you have to have a certain type of flavor, an elaborate installation that sets you apart from the crowd,” says Gary Fisher, who owns Canoga Park’s Safe & Sound Design with Jeremy Wolfe.

Still, standing apart shouldn’t mean standing on trial. Safe & Sound turns down many requests that, while inventive, are illegal. Here’s how to keep your blingmobile on the right side of Johnny Law.

AIRBAG REMOVAL: NO. Clients often ask if their autos’ airbags might be replaced with something more useful — say, a flush-mounted screen or a safe. “People at the car companies were getting upset,” Wolfe says. “We do have some legal guidelines.”

PORN: YES. Everyone has a story about automotive exhibitionists — people in the next car who find it soothing to screen “Raw Desire” while stuck on the 405. However, while it might seem illegal, there’s no legislation in California prohibiting specific viewing content in cars.

WATCHING WHILE DRIVING: NOT REALLY. Drivers aren’t supposed to see any video display except GPS. However, Safe & Sound will install front-seat screens — but they all come with a switch that the driver must activate in order to watch it while the car is moving. Wolfe says these clients also must sign a waiver absolving Safe & Sound from all liability. (The California Highway Patrol issued 900 LCD-screen citations last year.) The company draws the line at screens large enough to block the rearview mirror — unless the client also installs a rear-view camera.

TROPICAL FISH: PLEASE DON’T. One client asked Fisher to install an LCD screen fronted by a custom fish tank in his 2005 Corvette, giving the appearance that the screen was inside the tank. “We never suggested that he should put fish in there,” says Wolfe, who also installed a plug underneath the car for easy draining.

However, some of the most outrageous aftermarket installations have no safety factor because they’re meant to be used when no one’s at the wheel. Dentist-to-the-stars Dr. Kevin Sands owns a Supercharged Range Rover featuring a two-screen system paired with Bose audio. The first place he watched four-wheeled features was right at home.

“Last night, my girlfriend and I just sat in the driveway and watched ‘Million Dollar Baby,'” Sands says. “It was awesome. Like sitting in first class, but with no jet lag.”

More Scene

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

  • Mick Jagger

    Mick Jagger Makes First Post-Surgery Appearance at Rolling Stones Ballet Premiere

    Rock legend Mick Jagger made his first public appearance post-heart surgery on Thursday night to catch a glimpse of the world premiere of the Rolling Stones ballet “Porte Rouge.” “I hope you are going to enjoy this wonderful new ballet, and, of course, the music,” the frontman declared in a pre-recorded message to the audience [...]

  • Adam Driver appears at the curtain

    Adam Driver on Starring in 'Burn This' for a Second Time

    The Hudson Theatre’s new production of “Burn This” marks its first Broadway revival since it premiered on the Great White Way in 1987, but Adam Driver is no stranger to the work. He starred as Pale in a Juilliard production of the Lanford Wilson drama when he was still a student — and only now, [...]

  • PMC Event Rome

    Film, Fashion, Formula E Mix at Rome E-Prix Bash

    Film, fashion and Formula E auto-racing fused during a dinner and celebration of the Rome E-Prix on Thursday at the Palazzo Dama by the Piazza del Popolo in the heart of the Eternal City.  Guests mingled and sipped cocktails as hors d’oeuvres were passed around in a former home of the Italian nobility with conversation [...]

  • Katy Perry, Diane von Furstenberg, Arianna

    Katy Perry and Anita Hill Honored at the DVF Awards

    Katy Perry was among the honorees at the 10th Annual DVF Awards on Thursday night. The singer was recognized for her advocacy work with both UNICEF and the LGBTQ community. “Music has opened the doors for so many opportunities for me,” she said while accepting the inspiration award. “The ability to meet people and champion [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content