A pimpmobile is a term used to describe a large luxury vehicle, usually a 1970s-model Lincoln or Cadillac car, that has been heavily customized in a garish, extravagant style. Features such as headlight covers, hood ornaments, stereo systems, unusual paint colors, and shag carpet interiors were used by car owners to advertise their purported wealth and importance.
These customized vehicles were popular with pimps and drug dealers in the ghettos of large cities of the US in the 1970s and 1980s, especially New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles as a symbol of their power. By the 1990s and 2000s, the term was used to describe any large, extravagantly customized vehicle, such as a customized SUV truck.
The most popular cars for this customization were Cadillacs and Lincolns, especially the Cadillac Eldorado and Lincoln Continental produced between 1971 and 1978, although lower luxury models such as Chryslers, Buicks and Oldsmobiles, were also common. One notable exception is the "Corvorado" used in Live and Let Die, which was a Chevrolet Corvette with Eldorado body panels. Conversion was done by custom car shops across the country such as George Barris, E & G Classics and Auto Gard, Inc. as well as many smaller shops.
Probably the most famous pimpmobile fabricator was Les Dunham of Dunham Coachworks in Boonton, NJ. Les built the cars in Super Fly, as well as the "Corvorado" and the Cadillac Fleetwood in the James Bond film.
Large luxury sedans have been on a decline since the early 1980s where sport utilities (SUVs) such as the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator have been used for pimpmobile conversions. Non American cars, including Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce (Don "Magic" Juan has a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow in his vehicle collection besides Cadillacs), and Lexus have replaced large cars as latter day pimpmobiles. During the transition, pimpmobiles still retain the aftermarket grille conversions (still manufactured by D&G), although aftermarket rims have built inroads (e.g. 22" to 30" rims are most popular, although smaller, usually 14" or 15" wire wheels are still popular.
The TV show Pimp My Ride would usually customize a vehicle other than a Cadillac or Lincoln (for example, Chevrolet Caprice or Ford Crown Victoria). The vehicles created were "pimped" or extravagantly customized, but not always made into classic pimpmobiles.