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Whereas some people drunkenly shop on Amazon, I occasionally shop for car parts after a few libations. The other day, after a nice tromp at home with a good meal and a glass of wine or two, I found myself scrolling around the Fiat 500 forum in a wormhole of the plethora of accessories. “Oh, man, that would look so cute on my car,” I thought to myself, as the alcohol melted away the “no dumb cosmetic mods” mental block that kept me from buying trinkets for any of my old cars. But drunk purchases are secret sober desires, right? 


With a freshly paid-off credit card, I threw caution to the wind and filled a cart up with little doodads for my Abarth that definitely don’t make the car go any faster. I got a weighted shift knob, a set of rubber OEM floor mats, some stickers, and red valve stem caps. These are all easy mods, yet the mod I’m most pleased with didn’t even go on the car. It was a key case that changed my boring black plastic into a racy Ferrari-like red shell. The fun little mod got me thinking, why don’t we customize keys more?

New Red key
Kevin Williams

The key is currently under attack, as most automakers are trying their damnedest to erase it from existence, for reasons that don’t make sense to me. While many new cars come with key fobs or smartphone applications that can unlock a car, new Teslas come with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) keycard. The fully electric automaker and its annoying Twitter fans are pretty vocal about how they think physical keys (or even a key fob) have no place in the new automotive hinterland. Horseshit.

Fiat 500 Key Fobs
Fiat offered a number of OEM key case options for 500 owners. Fiat

Aside from maybe your steering wheel, your vehicle’s key is probably the part of your car that you interact with the most. Think about it. It sits in your pocket or purse, and you touch, fondle, and canoodle with it every single day. Although it’s likely made of cheap plastic, it’s a reminder that you’ve spent a huge amount of money on a thing. People pile on keychains for their keys, so why not decorate the key itself?

Fiat leaned into the idea that keys need love and attention too. The key itself is cute, with a long rounded rectangle shape and a switchblade key. It’s fashionable, yet simple. The plastic case has oodles and oodles of OEM and aftermarket custom sheaths with themes that range from cute and fun to racy and exotic.

While inebriated, I saw a video of a European Abarth 500, and the owner had a red key. Mentally, I said, “I want that too!” but after I sobered up, I realized it was kind of a waste of money. The next time I had a few glasses of pinot grigio, those intrusive thoughts came back, and I knew I had to cop. 

These key cases are incredibly easy to swap out.

Keycards could get in on the fun, too. I mean, people stunt on social media all the time by slamming their heavy Apple credit cards on tables. If we’re going to use a keycard for access, why not a rose gold metal one? Or one with some custom artwork? Wouldn’t that be fun?

It might be a silly thing because it’s only a little piece of red plastic, but customizing my key made me love my Abarth even more. As an inexpensive mod, it’s an accessible way people could have a bit more fun with their cars.

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