WEKEAST 2013 Coverage…Part 2: The Morning…

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East vs. West….which is better? Ahh, the never-ending debate continues…

I remember back in the early days of the import scene out here in California, the debate wasn’t between the two coasts. It was an interstate battle between Southern and Northern California. Enthusiasts would always argue over which region was better and which produced better cars. Things eventually shifted and Cali united, then the argument between the West and East coast began. The scene has become so broad now that you can’t really just limit everything to just the two coasts. The South can hold their own, the Midwest produces some cool builds and the Pacific Northwest is perhaps the biggest sleeper of them all. Great builds come from a variety of different places and it is pretty hard to really determine who is “better” without sounding ignorant. If you want to decide who is better just based off of going to both Wekfest events on the two coasts, you really couldn’t determine that either, because neither is better in all aspects, the two are just very “different”. From someone who has gone to both and seen the best that each show has to offer, allow me to provide you with some immediate observations. You can agree or not agree, I don’t care really, these are just MY observations. I’ve been to events all over so I’ve been collecting these thoughts of mine for awhile now…

The West overall, has a better ratio of high-caliber Honda builds than the East does. I feel that the Honda community out here is better developed and thus, the builds out here represent that. There are some incredibly good Honda builds out in the East, but most of them come from older enthusiasts who have grown with their scene. The crowd of Honda owners out there seems to be a bit younger and so their cars are still relative to what is popular or trendy at the moment. If you want to find a higher rate of timeless Honda builds, you look to the West for that. Rare parts are being circulated all over the World now so it has nothing to do with who has the better parts, it has more to do with overall execution and putting together a final product. The really, REALLY, great Honda builds out East are miles above the rest of their fellow enthusiasts. Over in the West, it is a bit of a closer race…

Variety also provides a huge disparity between the two coasts and really makes it difficult to really decide who is better in any sense. The East provides a great variety of makes compared to out here in the West. Over here, the Honda community is still strong, but the VIP scene is growing steadily and the whole stance-craze is still as big as ever. Mitsubishi and Subaru builds are big too but I feel that the East is a little bit further ahead sometimes when it comes to building these cars. Many of them look very similar out here and they all seem to utilize the same aero parts. Over in the East, they have their own twist on things and so their Subarus and Mitsus are executed very differently. Some are more based on just wheel fitment and stance so you’re definitely going to see more Evolutions and WRX STIs on air out there. Here I think it is still shunned upon to put bags on an AWD vehicle, though I see it steadily getting more popular. There is still more of a functional ideology here when it comes to building those cars and I hope it stays that way. It would be a shame to see a completely Voltex’d-out Evo on bags, you know? It’s just odd…

The East also offers more Toyota Supra builds and Nissan Skylines. And I’m not talking about R35 GT-Rs either, I’m talking about R32s, R33s, and R34s, which are cars that you would rarely see out here anymore because the government has stepped in and taken all of them from us. Just from chatting with some enthusiasts out there, they’ve informed me that most of their Skylines are coming from Canada, which makes sense. You won’t see any Skylines making their way into California because they’ll get taken the moment they make it into the state. It is great to see these cars in person though after not seeing them for so long. They just aren’t stock Skylines either, guys are actually putting parts on them and modding them which is even better. You’ll see later in the coverage what I’m talking about. WEKEAST was the first place where I got to see a 32, 33, and 34 together since I was in Japan for Tokyo Auto Salon, and even at TAS 2013 it seemed like R34 GT-Rs were few and far between. There are a lot more Supra builds out there because of one simple fact: SMOG. They don’t have to deal with the smog regulations that we do out here so people aren’t afraid to dump money into Supras to make a shit ton of power out of them. Here, there is still a very strong Supra community but they remain very low-key and keep to themselves. The only time you get to see a gathering of built Supras is at a Supra meet and not at a car show. The Supra owners in the West are also older guys too who are either done and finished with the car show scene or they just weren’t ever into them. The Supras I saw over there did seem a little dated in terms of parts selection so they could also be older guys or just don’t keep up with the times, haha… I remember back in the early 2000s when Supras were sweeping up awards at shows here because they were such badass builds. Now not so much. When you do see them though, they are often pretty good builds. At WEKEAST, you’ll most certainly find more than one Skyline and Supra. Here, ehh, not so much. I remember just the weekend before I was so excited to see an R34 again at Nisei Showoff and it was almost stock. In New Jersey I saw three in five minutes, haha…

If you want to compare the growing VIP community between the two coasts, then let me be the first one to tell you that the East, currently, is doing it better. Guys just seem to be more willing to fork out the change for the right parts and their builds are more reminiscent of VIP builds you would see in Japan. It used to be like that over here until this crazy stance madness took over. Now guys just want buy beat-up old LS400s and throw wheels on them. That’s not what the VIP scene is about. When you build a VIP-styled car, it is supposed to look very lavish and consist of parts that would improve upon the car and make it look more luxurious. The idea seems to be lost somewhat nowadays. Now you slam the car on used VIP wheels and call it VIP. I call that a bad attempt at execution and taking shortcuts to achieve a look to fit in. The VIP scene in 2013 here in the West is like their Honda scene out in the East. The really, REALLY, good ones stand miles apart from the rest of the pack. It’s like going to a buffet and seeing only one dish you like. You keep going back to that particular dish and the rest are just, well, “around”…

Another random thing that I noticed that is almost fitting to how completely opposite the West and East are is the FR-S/BR-Z chassis. In the West, the FR-S chassis is EVERYWHERE. Everyone seems to be building an FR-S chassis and you can’t go to any events without seeing a multitude of them. The Subaru BR-Z is a bit limited in numbers here. I want to say the ratio is maybe 8:1 when it comes to how many you’ll see at a show on the West coast. Out East, it is a completely different story. I have never seen so many Subaru BR-Zs in one place before and there were only like 1 or 2 Scion FR-S’ present. Of the two, only 1 had the Rocket Bunny kit on it. The TRA Kyoto kit is everywhere in Cali, most likely due to the fact that we have a lot more manufacturers out here who build Rocket Bunny FR-S’ to use them as demo vehicles…

Where they shine in variety, we on the West are ahead in overall fit and finish. Overall execution I feel is more important out here because the standard was set a long time ago. Paint and body seems to be better here too but that is mainly because our weather conditions are more friendly to custom vehicles. All in all, it is difficult to compare the two. Like I said, there are great builds all over the country so it wouldn’t be fair to just relegate the argument to the two coasts. Hell, it wouldn’t be fair for there to be an argument at all anyway. The different regions present different aspects that are unique to them. I’m sure people will still claim that their particular region is better but who really cares, right? As long as the passion is the same we can all come together as enthusiasts and continue to push this community further…

If you missed Part 1 of the WEKEAST 2013 Coverage, please click the link below to go back and view it before proceeding forward…

WEKEAST 2013 Coverage…Part 1: Eastbound and Down…

Now, onto the second portion of our coverage. Today, we are going to be looking at the morning of WEKEAST. I’ve always felt that the roll-in portion of any Wekfest event is usually the best for coverage. You guys have seen my Wekfest SF coverage in the past as well as my coverage last year for Wekfest Texas, so you should know that a lot of my coverage comes from the early morning set-up. I like covering it because the photos are much more organic. You see the cars moving around and they are outside in a more natural environment. When the show begins, the cars are all parked in one place, often facing the same direction so the photos can get repetitive at times, especially when you are shooting indoors with a tripod like me. I am after the cleanest shots possible so I usually shoot indoor shows with a tripod just to be safe, as I don’t like half the cars being out of focus and what not. While I am really happy with those shots, again, they can get sort of repetitive, especially at the same angles over and over again. I try to switch it up as you will see later, but I thoroughly enjoy covering the cars as they arrive at the venue and as they prepare to enter the venue…

You’re going to see a lot of photos today of the cars from RavSpec/GT-Spec. I am familiar with some of their cars and so I was very interested in seeing them for the first time in person. I also got a lot of photos from them because they were the first ones there that morning because they had the biggest group of cars and they were a vendor as well. I just snapped away and captured whatever I liked so be prepared to see the same cars multiple times. When it comes to me traveling across the country to be at an event, I just try to get whatever I can because I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to see some of these cars again. I’m out there maybe once a year so some cars get parted-out, some are sold, or some are completely changed from the previous year. Add to that the idea that I’m one of the few that actually make it out to the East for a show so I’m documenting as much as I can for the enthusiasts out here and in other parts of the country that aren’t exposed to the cars out there. I’m sure you guys won’t complain but don’t think I am playing favorites in any way. I walked into the event with no bias and just enjoyed myself as an enthusiast who has never been to a show in the Tri-State area… Enjoy…

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The original plan that morning was to arrive at the New Jersey Exposition and Convention Center by 6 am. Our hotel wasn’t too far away so it totally seemed possible, even though most of us were out late the night before. By the time we rounded everyone up and hopped in our rental cars, we arrived at around 6:20 am or so and the RavSpec guys were cruising right beside us. Vendor roll-in that morning was at 7 am but being the professionals that they are with like 25 cars or something, they decided to show up early to get ready…

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The first car in their line-up that I saw that I immediately went over to check out was Marty Chen’s Honda S2000. I’ve known of this car for some time but he rarely brings it out and DPK Jared, who is good friends with Marty, had nothing but great things to say about him so I wanted to meet him. I saw photos of his S2K last year at WEKEAST but they were few and far between. I don’t think many of the younger generation appreciate this car but this is fucking gold for guys like Jared and I. I love the BackYard Special front lip on this AP1 and though I have never been partial to silver Mugen MF10s, especially with black caps, they look just perfect here. The car isn’t anything wild or mind-blowing, but that’s just what you need sometimes. It’s a good-looking car that will last the test of time…

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The next car that I wanted to finally see in person was Dave Tormey’s S2000. Dave is one of the co-founders of Canibeat and I’ve met him a couple times, but never had the opportunity to see his car. Like Marty’s, it is another good example of a timeless S2000 with its Powerhouse Amuse front bumper and Advan Racing RZ wheels…

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Work Meister S1Rs look good on just about anything, but look spectacular on this bagged Infiniti G37 sedan…

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I don’t know if I mentioned this earlier but I was really surprised by how many cars were on air suspension over there. It seemed as if everyone I talked to during the show had bags and were all happy them. On the internet, all you ever hear about is the stupid ass comments you get from guys who are static and are all about “that static life”. When it comes to building a pure show car and cruiser, there really isn’t anything wrong with bags. Over the years, I’ve noticed that many of the guys who argue against bags are those that can’t afford them. I will admit that it is odd to see so many AWD Subarus and Mitsubishis with bags on them though. They look great slammed to the ground but damn, I’m sure the diehard performance and rally guys are fuming when they see these cars bagged, haha…

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One of my favorite Hondas of WEKEAST 2013 was Kyle Crawford’s EF hatchback. He had just recently completed the project and was excited to bring the car out for the first time. I think he was a little surprised by how the car was received but it really shouldn’t be because it is a great looking car. Everyone loved it and had great things to say about it. I liked the color choice and how it screamed pure Japanese Kanjo-style. All it needs is a window net and it is set, haha…

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We followed this AE86 Corolla into the venue and on the way there, it was crawling over some railroad tracks pretty slowly. Aaron, Wekfest head judge and driver of our rental car, joked and said “Man, there is no way this guy needs to drive this slowly because his car isn’t even that low. The only reason he would really need to is if he had a Honda F20C swap.” I’m telling you this story because we later found out that it indeed was F20C swapped and we all laughed about it later. The body and paint were on point on this AE86. Pristine restoration with a twist under the hood…

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Rick Gonzalez’s Subaru WRX STI that was featured in Super Street magazine after it was spotted at WEKEAST last year. The car makes around 450 horsepower and yes, it is bagged. It uses a bag over Cusco coilovers…

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WEKEAST marked the first time that I had ever seen a Varis widebody 86/FR-S/BR-Z since my travels to Tokyo Auto Salon in January where the kit debuted. This is one of the first Varis widebody kits here in the U.S. for this platform and was put together just in time for the show. I think it looks a bit off without the Varis wing to complete the set-up but it looks really good still…

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Advan Racing GT wheels were a good choice to fill the massive fender wells…

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I have to admit that I had a smile on my face when I turned and saw this white R34 Skyline GT-R. They are one of my favorite cars of all-time and you just never see enough of them anymore. This particular BNR34 also had some of my all-time favorite wheels as well, Work Meister S1. It was a win-win combo…

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White Subaru BR-Z looking good on Volk Racing TE37RTs. I was also surprised by how many sets of the new TE37RTs I saw at WEKEAST. You don’t see that many around here in the West yet but some out East have really taken a liking to them…

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This T&E Vertex Lange widebody S14 from Tarmac SPL was one of my favorites from WEKEAST. The hood was closed at the time of this photo but I later discovered that it featured a GM LS2 engine-swap…

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Tarmac Speed Performance Lab also brought out this Subaru BR-Z….

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A crowd formed around the Varis BR-Z and its owner…

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Nice and simple Civic sedan slammed on 2-piece welded Work Meister S1…

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A couple more of the BNR34 Skyline… love the bronze/graphite finish on the Work wheels. Looks amazing on white…

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BR-Z on TE37RTs again with a red R35 in the distance…

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Another angle of the TM-SPL Kouki S14 on Meister S1s…

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An instant favorite of mine was Miro’s E30 BMW M3 from J.SUTAI. I got a chance to talk to Miro later that day and he’s a good dude. Love the color choices on this M3 and how it has a very one-off look to it. I first spotted it in photos from the Tuner Evolution show a month before and it was great to see it in person…

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A quick staff meeting before they started to allow cars into the venue…

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Once everything was good to go, the staff started to begin the roll-in process. Here you can see how menacing the front end of the Varis BR-Z looks…

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The F20C-power 86 on Work Meister CR-01…

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Pink camo Subaru WRX STI from GT-Spec reppin’ Scoobies & Boobies…

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Gonzalez’s Subaru airred-up and ready to cruise into the New Jersey Convention Center…

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Can’t enough of Marty’s S2000… Here he is enjoying some Chinese pop music and smoking a cigarette…

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Kyle Crawford and his EF on Almighty Grey Regamaster EVO…

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Spot-on ride height and wheel combo….

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Dave Tormey’s S2000 once again…

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Here Dave is talking to USDM FREAX photographer Siva Somya…

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Last shot of the LS2 S14 in this post, I promise, haha…

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VIP-themed Lexus SC430 with a ton of custom body mods on Work Meister S1… Another car that I was happy to finally see in person…

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I don’t know if it was because these guys aren’t used to going to events or what, but every time I took a photo, everyone was always looking right into the camera, haha…

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Aggressive custom widebody Mitsubishi Evo on CCW Classic wheels…

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Something else that I found interesting that day was how many guys had custom vanity plates. I mean, you see them out here but it was surprising to see how many guys had custom plates with “LOL” or “JDM _______”, etc…

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Deep-dish CCW Classics with tan/cream faces on the Evo…

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All the custom vents are a bit much but it’s a popular style in the Japanese VIP community so the owner is doing it correctly… Nice color choices too with the deep red/brandy wine tone on the gunmetal faces of the Work Meister wheels. Cool to see how they integrated the exhaust tips from an LS460 into the rear bumpers…

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Evo with Voltex aero and polished Advan Racing RS-D…

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Lexus GS from Liberty VIP… I had a quick chat with the owner of this build and he said he was going to be moving out to Cali very soon so I guess we’ll be seeing this car pop-up at events next year…

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Nice Evo 9 on white Advan Racing RGII…

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Civic with Wings West lip kit on polished SSR Professor MS1. Haven’t seen a carbon hood painted liked that in a while…

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One more of the E30 M3 from J.SUTAI…

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Danyelle Hash’s J’s Racing Honda Fit on Sprint Hart CP-Rs…

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Adam Holt’s J’s-themed DC2 Integra Type R with rare FEEL’s rear spoiler and blacked-out Work RSZ-Rs…

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Gonna close Part 2 with a shot of Mike Yushinsky’s ZF1 Honda CR-Z equipped with J’s Racing aero and Magnesium Blue Volk Racing CE28N…

So much more roll-in photos to come in Part 3 so stay tuned for more! Thanks for looking and share this with your friends if you like it!…

15 thoughts

  1. I muss say something on West to East…I am not from USA, but in these time in my eyes doing both same thing..The half of these car is immaculate, spendig a thousand of dollars on it, but is not functional..I remember when I first sign up in HT-forum, hondas gonna build for race and street use, now is all maked in one direction, clean bay without wires, many rare parts and all is bling bling..But you make the way and scene and your influence going to UK market where people make same thing..Ek9 stanced….Oh good please nooo…;)) At all, Stickydiljoe.com…good job…

  2. stickydiljoe’s comments were exactly right. I live on the east coast myself, and there are lots of variety GT-Rs are everywhere; older models are garaged, but r35s are always out driving…EVERYWHERE! And everyone knows who the sti and evo guys are, but overall highly executed builds are mostly in the west. over here everyone stays true to stock form, mostly because the weather isn’t kind to us. But things are quickly picking up over here.

  3. To justify the use of bags here on the east coast,
    Most of the “average” tuners here, who do not have a dedicated show car, daily drive there subarus and mitsubishis. We love our AWD for snow and our terrible road conditions. It is much easier to put a vehicle on bags to raise and lower the vehicle at will, than to lower and raise a car on coilovers every season preparing for the upcoming weather patterns.
    In response to the problem with our “Fit and Finish”,
    We simply don’t have as many car shows as the west coast. Our car culture exists 2.5 seasons out of the year. Some of our smaller local events are often rained out. People are discouraged in building higher quality cars with higher quality mods when they can not be justified through out the year. This is at least an excuse that people use for equipping their vehicles with XXR’s or Rota’s. With out having more car shows that are upto par with WEKEAST, the standards are never improved. People with Work wheels or Volks are seen as snobs by some. Our culture of “mod it now mod it cheap” is a huge problem.
    Since you brought up vanity plates,
    An interesting thing to look into is the license plates in the state of Deleware. People transfer their license plate numbers instead of get new ones. You can sell the right to your license number. People with triple digit license plate numbers can get thousands.

    Oh and where the hell is noonelikesthetuna?!

  4. Is that a new Infiniti M next to the white S2K in the second shot? Would LOVE to see some more up close shots of that ride. I haven’t seen anything outside of a stock M and that one looks pretty rad.

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