In case you didn’t know, it’s a little over a year since the downfall of American Products Company. APC shut it doors in February of 2007 and eventually sold all their remaining inventory to Pilot Automotive. I imagine it had alot to do with all the fines they were incurring for manufacturing and selling aftermarket lights that failed to meet federal safety standards. That and other companies like TYC/Depo were beginning to come out with their own line of stuff and competition was too much for APC to handle, especially with all the money they were paying back….
Never has a company had such a huge effect cheesing up the automotive aftermarket industry. This is my ode to American Products Company…the company that allowed so many kids to think they were “JDM” without ever selling one product that ever came from Japan. Never has a company also had a name that contradicted itself. American Products Company…..made in Taiwan.
“The Chronicles…” is proud to bring you an indepth look at the horrible idea that was APC…
The “Altezza” Era…
I remember the exact moment when I first saw “Altezza” lights. I always looked through Importfan.com for light conversions and what not. I’m sure many of you remember back in the day when Import Fan was not a commercial site yet but merely a site where someone was posting pics of every headlight/taillight conversion ever done. It was an interesting site to say the least. I recall the guy that was running the site had a link for “Altezza-style” Civic taillights. I had no idea what the hell he was talking about. I was collecting Option magazines at that time and was familiar with the Toyota Altezza so I was intrigued. I clicked on the link and remember the image taking forever to load. I was on a 28.8k connection at the time (I was behind on the times) and the image had to be over 1200 pixels. The moment it loaded…oh man, the thought that crossed my mind was clear as day: “what…the…fuck…is this?” Something very Civic about it in the shape of the light but it’s like they shoved something red inside there that’s really nothing Altezza-like. I was even in my ricer stage at the time and I still hoped that these lights wouldn’t catch on. APC products weren’t really heavily distributed at the time and I think Pep Boys was the first people to really carry their stuff. This was when Pep Boys was experimenting with import/sport compact parts. The first time I saw a set of these sitting on the shelf at my local Pep Boys, I had a sick feeling in my stomach…like the feeling Andre Rison had when Lisa “Lefteye” Lopes burned down his house. Or maybe even closer to the feeling that 14 year-old girl had the moment she realized R. Kelly was urinating on her….
Little did I know how popular these things would become. Leave it to APC to completely whore this shit out and make “Altezza” taillights for everything….Civics, Accords, Chevy Astro vans, Ford Mustangs, motorhomes, you name it, they had a set of Altezza/Euro taillights for it. They multiplied faster than the Gremlins did after you put water on them. It was bad….So bad, that people with stock IS300’s were starting to get pulled over for having these and their lights for OEM! Thank you APC, for shoving anything red and round you could into every possible square light and making them look like terminator-versions of traffic lights. This shit was so whored out that people who were molding real IS300 taillights into their cars were getting pissed off. The worst part about it was that APC was so busy riding the money train selling these things that they never bothered to get them DOT approved. That genius of an idea ended up costing them alot of money and ultimately paved the way to their demise… Careless? Yes… Ironic? Yesssssss…
APC Attempts to take over the import industry…
How do you ride the success of non-DOT approved aftermarket light excellence? Attempt to make more money making useless shit. How does one go about cashing in on the booming import industry? Umm….make fucking EVERYTHING…
I remember when I was an assistant manager over at Kragen Auto Parts when APC shit was blowing up all over the place. It got so big that Kragen, who once was only involved in domestic aftermarket performance, decided that it was their turn to cash in and dedicated an entire section of their store front to strictly APC stuff. At that time, I was not only the only asian person working at my store, I was also the designated “import specialist”. Funny thing about it was that my store manager didn’t really know I was into cars at the time. So deeming me the import specialist was a decision based solely on the fact that I was asian. Hmm…now that I look back on it, I think I should have been insulted. Nonetheless, I spent the majority of my day peddling this APC garbage to every kid that would listen…
Man, they made EVERYTHING. Neon floorplates, neon underbody kits, Dodge Neon bodykits, racing seats, umm…cigarette lighters, neon in-car post masturbation hand wipes, EVERYTHING. I honestly would have had a little bit more respect for their products had they represented any shape or form of anything manufactured with quality, but that just wasn’t the case. To call it “American” was an insult to Americans who hire illegal aliens to work at my dad’s restaurant. Wait, what? The craftsmanship of their products was horrible. I mean, their shit ALWAYS came back. You can sometimes chalk it up to dumb kids not knowing how to install shit, but I mean, the shit would fall apart in your hands. I think sometimes kids would steal the shit from the store and then bring it back because the parts were defective….You know what always bugged me? People would always buy and/or order an intake for their car. Yes, APC made intakes for everything too. I mean, I would almost be disappointed if they didn’t at that point. But why the fuck was it always yellow? Not the pipe but the silicone boots. And the filter too. I just don’t understand. Speaking of which, here’s some other goodies…
What the fuck is this thing for?!! Why do I want my “diamond cut” floor plate to light up? And once I’ve accept the fact that it does light up some words totally unrelated to me, why does it look like it’s not gonna work or on the verge of breaking? Is that some glue under the light? Why does it have so many holes in it? What’s going on here….
You know what? This interior looks like shit. I’m thinking it’s like an 84 Nissan Stanza but yes, it does resemble some sort of fecality. Of course I created that word. Fecality, think fecal, and then apply Mortal Kombat rules….I’ll wait…..Do you find yourself going back to the image of this interior? I think my point is made. Usually when you have an interior that looks like shit, the only thing you can do is make that interior look better. I mean, shag carpet on my dashboard might do the job, but I would most likely change the steering wheel because it’s big enough to attract alot of attention. By changing out the oem wheel, there should be some sort of improvement. Despite all the other terrible things that have already been done to this interior, the APC steering wheel manages to add the perverbial cherry ontop of this steaming pile of poop….
I don’t have any actual pics since the APC site is long gone now, but they even manufactured their own bodykits. They had like a widebody kit for the EP3 chassis Civic and even a kit for the newer Mustangs that didn’t look half bad. Does anyone remember going to shows like Hot Import Nights and Pep Boys had their huge displays with all the APC demo vehicles? They had that flat white Mazda 6 that looked like a life-size version of a chassis schematic. I believe they also had a Nissan Sentra on some Gram Lights and that purple EP3 hatch that had like yellow tribal graphics all over the side of it. I never took any pics of them and generally stayed away from them completely but man, they were huge at that time….
If these seats look terribly constructed to you…that’s because they are. The top is all lumpy, the center section is already coming apart, for some reason, when I look at it, I kinda feel oily and dirty and want to take a shower. That pretty much sums up APC racing seats. Fake Brides with their crooked ass stitching had better construction then these badboys…
APC’s coup de grâce… The RSX Civic front-end conversion kit…
I’m pretty sure that APC wasn’t the one that originally came up with this idea but I was flipping through their catalogs one time when I was still working at Kragen and spotted this thing. No, it’s not a photoshop image. This was their RSX conversion kit for the Civic coupes. It came with the “C-West” front bumper, conversion fenders, RSX headlights, and “Mugen” hood. I’m happy to say that I’m delighted that this never caught on. It might have been this generations version of the “Cali Type R” that we were so used to seeing as kids….
APC’s legacy will definitely be forever associated with the “Altezza” taillight craze. It helped spawn a generation of tuners that created the ricer movement. APC windshield banners, Altezza tails, “Mugen Replacement” grilles, and interior accessories galore. You can call them Pep Boys tuners, ricers, noobs, anything you want. But APC did it’s job in making the casual car owner feel like a car builder. The problem with making the casual car owner feel like a car builder is that these kids then believed that they were the Fast and Furious cast come to life. Ricer fly-bys ensued, dangerous street racing, and kids “going JDM” (What does that even mean?). I’m happy to say that in 2009, APC no longer has a presence in our community. Sure you still get the altezza taillights popping up every now and then, but the heavy-influence they had on the unsuspecting “tuner” no longer exists.
APC was like the ugly girl in highschool that always put out. Everybody fucked her, but you never understood why….You would hope that one day she would calm down and not be such a dirty slut, but she was reckless and contracted AIDS, now she’s dead and gone. Here’s my ode to APC, whore bitch of the import industry….thanks for the memories.
best logo evaR!
What happened to the ceo I think his name was brian horwitz or something like that?
Being from the East Coast (MD) different trends deffinately kick up here. The “altezza’s” started it for sure. But out this way the stupid piece of crap that caught on most was those stupid red/blue/purple/yellow fire extiguishers that mounted to the A-pillar. I never bothered to look at them in a store but some them on every rice rocket in town. Always matched with a giant APC sticker blocking half the rear window. That I understood less than anything, a 2 foot by 4 foot vinyl banner that probably cost more than the “extinguisher” it self. Did that thing even work?? I was never much for the sticker covered “role call” look myself, but I can understand some one wanting to rep their crew of a company they spent three months rent getting 32 way triple adjustable remote resevour coilovers from. But why would you even want anyone to know that you don’t have the will power to resist shiny crap you found next to the bugs bunny floor mats at pep boys.
Stupid APC, I remembered those shitty altezzas, and their “rice your car with $10.99” catalogs…I knew a kid in college that had a 99 SI fully loaded with all APC parts, headlights, taillights, LED windshield squarters, floormats, cluster, extra gauges, you namee it, he got it all…and I do mean all…and he was so proud of it, he even got huge APC banner on his windshield and rear window…..that makes me embaressed to be a honda driver mang….shiesh, thank god APC went bust..
Thank god APC is gone.
I remember cars with a long rear tail light like the CRX and EF’s had a complete replacement set up….
The all clear tail lights for the CRX sell for $300-$400 today. Not the ones with red in them. They look like what clear side marker lights look like.
Great informative article on APC. I accidentally came across this site after searching for bankrupt tuning companies. This brings up memories of the days of car tuning with fake M3 logos, spoilers on wiperblades, led bulbs on tyre valves etc.
I had a webstore selling once these tuner boy products, could not believe the amount of money people paid for the altezza lights we called fish bowls because after a good rainy day they were swamped.
Nevertheless I cashed in on this tuning frenzy and sold my share of parts that guaranteed a minimum of 5% extra bhp when fitted like air intakes and oversized mufflers. Nobody ever proved the performance gains, it was all down to bullshit marketing campaigns that fed the young boys minds with terms like bigbore less resctrictive, high top-end, improved throttle response, straightening dips in perfomance curves due to boosted fuel pressure bla bla bla.
I finally lost interest after fitting a custom bodykit to a Mazda MX3 when the front bumper brace had to be removed so that the empty tuning bumper could be fitted. If the car would have a frontal collision the bumper would fly of the couple of screws holding it and the chassis would split in half without the brace keeping it together. This all due to an industry just focussed on cashing in.
So for nostalgia let us hail APC for bringing us altezza lights and going bankrupt to serve as an example for future tuning companies!
i fuckin love this article
I worked at Pep Boys while in High School from 1999-2000 & Ill never forget the day the APC stuff came off the truck. I was like what in the hell is this! Now being 17 years old at the time I thought some of it was pretty cool BUT I had a ’85 Pontiac Fiero GT so my choices of parts were very limited. The 2 things I did buy for my Fiero were the APC Euro Clear Head Light Lenses & APC H4 Blue Head light bulbs & there was a white Integra on the lense case. It did say for off road use only on it to lol. Now my OEM Head lights sucked & when I put these APC’s in I was in AWWW they freakin lit the tree tops up with the high beams & they were super blue. I loved them & the bulbs litterally lasted until I sold my Fiero in 2015 which was insane. I’ve gone through Sylvania silver stars in a year & they’re shit compared to the APC bulbs. I recently tracked down the exact same APC bulbs for my ’00 Honda CRV & they’re just as I remembered them. Now dont get me wrong APC made A LOT of really shitty parts but they made a few really cool ones too. The all clear tail lights with no color on them are highly sought after in the Honda community to this day. I wish I knew that back then when we couldn’t give the stuff away I woulda bought all of them. An the same for the Honda “H” badge in Red, & White. Once in awile ill come across a person that has 100’s of brand new APC parts from steering wheels, Shifters, Tail lights, Air Intakes, Spark Plug Wires & Decals & I always wonder where the hell they find them at??? When my Pep Boys stopped selling APC parts they just got marked down until they were sold. I guess maybe some stores went out of business back then & the parts got stuck in storage. Who knows…but APC wasn’t all shitty they made some good parts.
I know where thousands of parts from apc are being stored in ca
Reading this in summer of 2019 – thanks for the nostalgia!
There is way more to this story. I believe Brian is somewhat the innovator of clear taillights… and then went to the Altezza style taillights. There were a few different companies selling clear taillights back in the late 90’s… Toucan Industries was one… there were others. Interesting article.