Wekfest Florida 2015 Coverage…Part 1…

Wekfest Florida is always an interesting event for me. Normally by December, I’m fully removed from anything car-related and taking a break from all the commotion that happens throughout the year in our bustling car community. It served as a nice little month-long break for me to recover and reflect until Wekfest decided to start doing its Florida event in the middle of the month. Miami was interesting last year. It my first in-person glance into the car community that exists down in Florida and I also got to experience Miami for the first time. It was fun and educational, but I left with the confirmation that the “scene” in Florida is way different than my other annual stops. I always thought it was just me, but it seems like there had been a lack of development over the years down in Florida. I remember things being very different in the early 2000s and the Sunshine State was a major point of inspiration for us U.S. car enthusiasts. They seemed to always get some of the coolest stuff from Japan, even faster than we did out here in the West, and it was always interesting to see what Florida had to offer because of all the major events that happened out there…

Things have most certainly changed.

In 2015, the car community down there is no longer one of the premier locales for automotive tuning. Cars now offer a much more basic, simpler, motif. Most are just lowered on air suspension, Vossen wheels or something similar, and “stance” is what seems to be the most popular style. I get it, it is a different generation, but where did things start to shift?…

I wanted to know so I got to chatting with some of the locals down there and they all seemed to have similar ideas as to what happened, especially the older guys who have been around to see the changes. The most prevalent answer that I got was that theft and stolen property deterred many enthusiasts from really wanting to fully invest in their cars. Theft down there is bad, like REALLY bad. The numbers can be questioned, so don’t quote me on this, but I remember talking to a couple guys who even mentioned that at one of the more recent Honda Day events in Florida, some 30 cars got stolen. THIRTY CARS. What the fuck. Let me add that the entire K-Tuned booth and all of its merchandise was stolen last year right before SEMA at Honda Day. Literally, everything was taken and the container showed up back at the K-Tuned offices completely empty. That would be enough to scare anyone away from trying to build their car. So over the years, as theft got worse, so did the want or need to invest in a hobby. Still, some people just have an undying love for our car culture and this hobby so they continue to move forward. They just do so with incredible caution and make sure their cars are hidden from public view any time they go out. I went to a meet the night before the show and some of the guys there even mentioned that there were just thieves walking around casually looking through people’s cars. And we thought we had it bad out here in California…

Another interesting notion that actually applies to enthusiasts throughout the country is that times have just simply changed. Changed in that the new generation of car guys just have very different cars to work with than we did. While our generation got the Civics, Integras, and Nissans that had a plethora of aftermarket options from Japan and everywhere else, most of the younger post-Fast and Furious era car guys/gals are left with fewer options with their entry-level cars. We had access to older Civics and what not that our parents already had and now parents are buying or helping their kids buy newer cars that do not have nearly as much aftermarket support. We could bury our older project cars with tons of parts from Japan but the newer cars, with the exception of the FR-S/BRZ/86, are far-less popular in terms of overall tuning potential. You mostly see cars with just lip kit, air suspension, and wheels because, well, that’s pretty much all they can imagine doing. The more serious car enthusiasts who are willing to do custom modifications and who have the money to do it are probably not willing to do so because of the theft issue mentioned above or they just lack that point of inspiration because the car scene had so quickly faded away in this area…

Is the Florida car community in dire straights on the cusp of 2016? No. Not at all. There is growth there, or potential for growth. And things are necessarily bad here, it is just…different. At a quick glance, it would almost appear as if someone simply hit the reset button on the Florida car scene and it is just rebooting. It is a hard reset so there is some memory-loss, but it will recover in time. I noticed that there was a nice mix of cars at the Florida Wekfest event. A chunk of them were from out-of-state, but most were from the same general area or adjoining parts of Florida. I liken Florida to Texas a couple years back when I first jumped on the Wekfest tour. I probably mentioned this last year but Texas was also like how Florida is now. The cars were very simple, a few really stood-out above the rest, but over the years, it has grown signficantly. There seems to be a better understanding of how to go about creating a more intricate, detail-based car build, while the younger generation is still doing the more simplified, “stance” style builds. If “stance” is what you’re into, that is also perfectly fine to. Someone asked me at Wekfest Florida if I felt like the “stance” scene would ever eventually die and I told him that I don’t believe it will ever completely die-out. I think it is one of those styles that will just stick around because of how easy it is to pull-off, you just won’t see  as much of it later because many will continue to evolve with their cars and do other things. They will see others who will inspire them to build differently. Stance now is like the bodykit era of the late 90s and early 2000s. Everyone could do it, and there wasn’t anything overly difficult or expensive about it. It will continue to be a genre of car build that will stay. Some will like it, some will hate it, but we will all move on and continue to do what we enjoy…

Below are the first batch of photos that I shot that weekend in Florida. I didn’t do video this time. As I mentioned in previous posts, I’m dividing the Vlogs into different seasons from year-to-year and all the events in November effecttively wrapped-up the first season of The Chronicles Vlog Series. I felt like I was doing way too much video in the past few months because I was having so much fun with it and just sort of stopped doing any type of serious photography. I want to continue to improve as a photographer so I decided to just stick to photography this trip and just shoot like I used to. There was never a point in time when I actually thought the video stuff would take off but it has and now I have people asking me when the next Vlog is coming out. For Wekfest Florida, there is just photos, sorry folks. Season two begins in January and I promise it will be good….

I’ve rambled on quite a bit in this post so I’ll save the rest of my thoughts on Wekfest Floriday for Part 2 of 2. Today, we’re going to check out some photos from the early morning roll-in, as I’ve always covered it on the Wekfest Tour….

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One of the big surprises for the Wekfest Florida event was the first Wekfest-debut of the RCG EM1 Civic build, owned by Mike Schietroma. I haven’t seen this car since SEMA in early November so it was cool to see it stretch its legs in Florida…

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RC and Mike have been making the rounds to smaller events since SEMA, but wanted to make an effort to bring the car out for Wekfest Florida to see how people on that end of the coast felt about the car. It was pretty cramped and dark at SEMA where this build was displayed so I made sure to get some better photos of it this time around. RC started the drive out from Arizona a few days before WFFL. There is quite a bit of distance between Florida and Arizona, but he made it just in time with a friend and they just slept in the car overnight because they too were weary of thieves and how prevalent theft was in this state. They woke up in a brightly-lit parking lot in West Palm Beach, and then proceeded over to the convention center to set-up. Of course they were the first ones at the venue because they really didn’t have anywhere else to go…

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I got news that RC was coming when I arrived from my flight to Florida Thursday night. I must admit that I was a bit surprised to hear RC was coming, but also very much not surprised because RC just likes to do crazy shit like that. The guy is not only a dedicated car builder, he is also a dedicated enthusiast who tries to make it out to every event. The Mugen DC2 he built last year was also out and about from California to Texas and everywhere in-between…

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Mike’s EM1 has been down for over a year now in preparation for it to be in this current, finest, form. The entire car has been repainted inside and out and the engine bay is everything you would expect from a high-caliber RCG build. They went a different route this time around and decided to put the car on air suspension. There is no effort in trying to disguise this build as any type of race car or similar, so they put air on it with no remorse because it helps to get the car on and off the trailer easier. Yes, it is a show car and we can all live with that. I mean, there are literally parts of the interior of the car that has been shaved smooth and left with no interior panels just so they can show off the quality of the bodywork and paint. Everything on this car is presented to you as RCG and Mike would want you to see it. There is nothing that this car isn’t supposed to be, if that makes sense…

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Bringing the RCG EM1 Civic build was also perfect for the Wekfest Florida event in that it gave a lot of enthusiasts from this area a good idea of a really detailed, high-quality, award-winning build from the West Coast. It is a very different end of the spectrum that most probably would not be used to seeing, especially the younger generation…

Now, moving onto the vehicles who were outside waiting to get in to set-up for the show…

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Mercedes AMG GT on Vossen wheels waiting to roll into the building for display…

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Bagged Lexus RC coupe on bronze Vossen wheels…

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Honda Integra Type R on Desmond Evo Brites with a mildly-built K20/K24 engine…

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Good to see John Perez and his Japanese EF-inspired Civic build. He probably has every JDM Honda optional accessory you can think of for the EF, and his EF is about as “J-spec” as it gets other than the car being its original left-hand drive configuration. Not much has changed since the last time I saw it a year ago, only a set of Mugen M7s have been added along with an updated JDM B16 swap…

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Bright magenta vinyl-wrapped CL9 TSX with CL7 Euro-R conversion and Enkei NT03 wheels…

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I spotted this CR-X in the parking lot of the hotel we stayed at. I guess the owner decided to stay at the same spot. I didn’t want to get too close to it because theft is pretty bad in Florida and I didn’t want to alarm the guy, so it wasn’t until the morning of the show when I realized that this CR-X has a B-series swap with a Rotrex supercharger equipped…

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Matt Hamilton recently messaged me on Facebook to show me some updated photos of his S2000 build. I guess after Wekfest Miami last year, he decided to tear the whole car apart to rebuild it. I looked through the build photos and was pretty impressed with the progress. It ended up being one of the builds that I looked forward to seeing in person once again in Florida… Here is how the car looked last year at the Miami Wekfest event…

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Matt decided to keep the Voltex front bumper because, let’s be honest, it’s a Voltex bumper and probably one of the best aero pieces you can get for the S2000, but he did switch up the front fenders to wider J’s Racing pieces, along with ASM rear fender flares and ASM rear bumper. The entire car was also repainted “Nardo Grey” from a 2016 Audi…

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Daniel’s custom widebody IS300 bagged on AG wheels. Interesting tidbit, Daniel also happens to be a police officer in West Palm Beach…

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Black chrome-wrapped AP2 S2000 from Fly Automotion…

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A nice, simple AP1 S2000 on Volk Racing TE37 with a J’s Racing rear wing…

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Z33 featuring a INGS+1 N-Spec front bumper and Powerhouse Amuse front fenders…

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Bagged BMW i8 on Vossen wheels…

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R34 Nissan Skyline GT-T with the rarely seen RB25DET NEO motor…

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David “Slim” Whitehead’s turbocharged rootbeer-colored DC5 RSX…

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EF8 SiR-themed Honda CR-X build on WED’S SA90…

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Custom widebody Lexus IS wearing Aimgain GT aero and aggressive Work Meister S1…

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This Porsche 964 911 was one of the few air-cooled vehicles in the building that day…

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RPS13 240SX with rear blistered quarters and Volk TE37SL…

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Matt Hamilton officially broke his car in with this new iteration by ever-so-slightly damaging his fresh J’s fenders…

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Another 240SX hatchbach, this one on Leon Hardiritt Ordens…

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Really aggressive yellow IS300 with mismatched Work wheels front and back…

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Lexus 2GS with a TTE front lip bagged on WED’s Kranze wheels…

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A couple more of the RPS13 from earlier, including a glance at the engine bay which houses a RB25DET engine swap…

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This SR-powered S14 Zenki looked pretty interesting with the pastel lavender hue of the engine bay with its tubbed wheel wells…

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AP2 S2000 on air suspension and Blitz Technospeed Z1 wheels…

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Not too far away from the bagged S2 was this AP1, which hosted a Spoon Sports front bumper, OEM hard top, and custom copper Desmond Regamaster EVOs….

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Z33 on custom Work VS-XX…

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The guys from Fortune Minds brought this CL9 TSX to Wekfest Florida featuring a J’s Racing front bumper, T1R big brakes up front, and concave Volk TE37…

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The TSX also had a custom headlight retrofit which featured a housing from a Acura RDX…

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Another angle of the CL9…

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One more of Daniel’s IS300…

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…as well as the Aimgain GT widebody 2IS…

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Xavier Ortiz from Wireworx brought out his long-time Civic hatchback build. He’s recently added some new stuff to the car which I’ll get into more in Part 2…

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Always liked how versatile the RPS13 chassis is. You can put wheels that would be considered more “VIP” or luxury-styled on an S13 and it’ll still look good, unlike guys/gals who try to make an S2000 “VIP-style” which never works…

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K-swapped Civic with a J’s Racing front lip and Type S hood…

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Xul Colon from XMP’s Honda Domani with an engine bay that was just recently finished hours before Wekfest Florida took place. The K-swap hosts a Gato intake manifold and a wild custom exhaust manifold…

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Jessie from Fortune Minds’ imported JZS161 Toyota Aristo V300 wearing Black Pearl Complete aero and AME Shallen wheels…

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Red chrome vinyl-wrapped Subaru WRX wagon on WCI 3-piece wheels…

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EJ1 Civic coupe from Fortune Minds on 15-inch Regamaster EVOs , BackYard Special front lip and ARC side winglets…

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Jay from O.C. Garage’s Ferio-inspired Civic sedan wearing a very rare Doobie/Purplespeed front lip and sideskirts…

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Color-matched First Molding front lip on this Civic sedan sitting on 16-inch EVOs…

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This 50’s Chevy Deluxe was one of the more unexpected sights at the 2015 Wekfest Florida event…

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Widebody Z33 with huge rear wheel arches that house deep-dish VIP Modular wheels…

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Jeremie Echelon’s black Civic hatchback wearing a JBlood front bumper and one of the cleanest sets of Sprint Hart CPs I’ve ever seen…

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Another of the Purplespeed Civic on SSR Type-C…

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…and a close-up of the Doobie/Purplespeed lip…

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All-metal widebody Acura 3.2CL on WED’S Kranze Rapier wheels…

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Wrapping up Part 1 of the coverage with a shot of this 1940s VW Beetle. I’ll try to get the rest of the coverage up by Christmas Day or maybe even before that. Happy holidays folks, stay tuned!!…

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  1. Pingback: Simply Clean 7 2015 Part 2 | SOUTHRNFRESH

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