Illustration for article titled The Guy Who Invented That Neon Underglow Changed His Name To They

I suppose that headline pretty much gave everything away, huh? It's like the opposite of clickbait. Is that click-repellent? Shit, I hope not. But it's all true, and it's bizarre. The inventor who came up with the idea of sticking neon tubes under your car is legally known as "They."


I know today the neon-ground-effect look gets pretty derided. And, sure, it's sort of silly, but part of me really loves the effect. Say what you will about taste or dignity or any of those other vastly over-rated qualities, but having a car cast a vivid-colored glow from below is just pretty fun.

Even though it was invented back in 1987 by the then-named Andrew Wilson, those illuminated ground effects still manage to convey a feeling of wild, optimistic futurism.


Wilson changed his name to "They" in 2004 as, from the best I can tell, something of a joke. He wanted to be the one everyone was talking about when people say things like "they say..." As he told SFGate,

'They do this,' or 'They're to blame for that.' Who is this 'they' everyone talks about? 'They' accomplish such great things. Somebody had to take responsibility."

The name also wreaks havoc grammatically, being a plural pronoun used to reference a singular person, but I suspect that just makes it even better.

Anyway, I just thought you should know.

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