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Consumer Reports

Now we can all nurture our inner-gangsta | (KRT) DETROIT — Looking for a way to establish your street cred without shelling out thousands for bling-bling spinning hubcaps, sport mufflers or a booming bass that raises people's hair as you drive by?

A new fad lets you ride around with the mystique of surviving a shootout without any of the risk.

The latest object of affection: stickers that look like bullet holes in your car's body or windows.

They look so real that you'll think twice before getting close enough to tell whether it's a bullet hole or a cheap imitation.

Daniel Morton of Oak Park, Mich., knows the double takes all too well. He's seen plenty since he plastered his car with the stickers in June.

"I've been at gas stations and people are like, 'What happened to your car?' " says the 21-year-old who works for Exotic Automation & Supply in Farmington.

"Some people take it with the wrong intent, like I'm doing this because I want to be a gangsta."

My bad.

Turns out Morton, who has a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Detroit Mercy and hopes to attend law school, isn't trying to make light of the tragic results of gun violence or the people who've lost their lives.

He's just having a little fun with his car, a 1994 two-door Honda Accord.

The front-end damage -- that's real, courtesy of a fender-bender earlier this year.

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The bullet holes? Morton first saw them a few months back on a friend's car and shopped at several stores before finding the stickers at an AutoZone. He can't remember which location.

But they're easy enough to find on the Web. Just do a search for "bullet hole stickers," and dozens of places selling them will pop up.

That's what I did to find Hardley-Dangerous, one of the producers of this fad. Surprisingly, the company's not based in New York or Los Angeles -- or even Detroit. (Hey, we know that's what everybody thinks about us.) It's based in the Smokey Mountains in Andrews, N.C.

Other Web sites sell them, too, in .38-, .22- and .50-caliber varieties. You can find stickers that look like bullet-pierced car armor or shattered windshields.

At, the shoot-em-up stickers are sold on the same page as 16-inch Peace Motion Lava Lamps, Zen rock gardens and flashing baby pacifiers.

You can't make this stuff up.

At, here's the sales pitch:

"Have you always wanted to be part of a gang, but didn't like all the violence and stuff? Well, now you can have the best parts of being in a gang, without any collateral damage.

"Cruise the streets in style, knowing that all the real gangstas are envying you and your bullet-hole-ridden vehicle."

That allure is not what sold Morton on doctoring his car to look like he'd been in a shoot-out.

"I'm not trying to be a thug," he says. The front-end damage makes it easy to believe the worst. "Some people assume people were shooting at me and I lost control of the car and got into an accident, stuff like that."

But in reality, "it's just something to be different," Morton says.

"I can't be college educated, going to law school, and people remember me as that kid who had the bullet-hole stickers on his car."

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© 2003, Detroit Free Press Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services