“Saturday Night Special” From The Sneeky Kids Clan… Part 2…

Ever since we moved to our new shop location, I haven’t really seen Kam all that much. He’s come by a few times but it definitely isn’t how it used to be when we were basically right next door to the NO RUSH shop. Back then, he would just come by and chill, we’d watch a movie maybe, or I’d walk over to watch him work on his Corolla. We basically saw each other almost every day. Times are different now since we are a bit further away. Now it takes him much longer to drive-up to our area from Long Beach and it probably isn’t the most fun of a drive-up the 605 North Freeway when there’s often traffic. I was a big fan of his TE72 Corolla. It was pretty rough around the edges but was so undeniably cool, and also very much “Kam”, as in it reflects his personality quite well. Guys like him know how to build cars because they have their own particular sense of style that can’t typically be replicated. Any time somebody tries to recreate this type of style, it usually comes off as someone who is trying too hard because they just don’t understand it. You can copy anything from an aesthetic standpoint but if you don’t live that particular lifestyle that helped to create that imagery, it comes off very unnatural. In my years of covering the automotive tuning community, I’ve seen a lot of things. A LOT of things. What I’ve come to understand is that style cannot simply be bought. You can fork out as much money as you want to own something or to place a part on your car but you can’t exactly “buy” style. Style is an idea, an ideology. Something that people exude even when they are not even trying. You either have it or you don’t. You can learn and understand style but more often than not, you can’t emulate it. You can take those ideas and derive something completely new and your own, but it is much like clothing in many ways. You can put that same set of clothes on another man or woman but it doesn’t make them the same. It is all about how you carry it and personify what you wear or have that defines true “style”. Building cars is simple from a mechanical standpoint. Those are things you can learn. Parts can be bought, installed, etc. They are very black and white. Some may be better than others, true, but anything you can see you can learn how to do. How do you interpret it though? How do you understand it? Can you execute these things the same way someone else could? Execution is not easily explainable. It’s special, I think. Some people have it, some will never get it. You can put two of the same cars side-by-side, put the same parts, wheels, etc. on it. Paint it the same even. On paper, they will look the same, right? Assign the exact same build to two different people. I guarantee you they will not look the same. That’s execution. Execution makes style. How these two builds that should be very much the same can look completely different is all based on individual style. Perspective and understanding is so important. They make or break cars…

I say all this because I firmly believe that Kemritte “Kam” Seang gets it. Some may not like his cars, many more will, most won’t understand it, but that in itself I think is essentially “style” at its core. You can talk to Kam about cars for any period of time, proceed to look at any of his cars, and you’ll think to yourself that his vehicles exude his personality. He’s not the clean-cut car guy that does all the right things, only buys parts or installs specific things that people would classify as being “trendy”, or ever have the cleanest build. That’s not him. He’s from a gritty section of Long Beach, is a bit of a gritty guy himself, but when you get to know him, you’ll understand that there is way more to him than just his scruffy appearance. Such is the same for his S13 before, the TE72 Corolla I snapped photos of last year, and exactly how his new AE86 build looks like right now. It is a work in progress and like him, he is making the most of what he has in his current life stage. He does things in a very interesting way, as you’ll remember from my post last year detailing his TE72 Corolla. Eventually I wanted him to get the car in a more “finished” state so I could shoot his Corolla for a print feature, but he moved on to this AE86 before he could finish his TE72. He’d been wanting to build an 86 for the longest time and I’m glad he has one now. It’s a car that his friend owned previously so he was familiar with it before eventually taking over the reigns of it. Now it is in the process of being re-imagined in his own mind. The car is far from finished, still very raw and new as far as process goes, and well, it’s pretty fucking cool already…

I’ve been itching to shoot photos again since it feels like it has been forever since I’ve done anything. So when Kam came by on Sunday to hang, I decided to pull the camera out, shove a shitty basic Canon 50mm 1.4 lens on, and snapped away. I always like shooting photos of his cars because I can do very different things with the photos considering the gritty nature of his builds. I want the photos to look (no photography puns intended) RAW, exemplify the cars nature, and show that it is exactly what you see. No dress-up, no glam, just photos of a car that is currently going through the process of a build, beat-on occasionally, and built with whatever money he can save from working full-time. Many of the parts from his TE72 have been re-purposed for this car, including the motor and all, and he’s been slowly working on making the exterior look the way he envisioned it to be when completed. The Advan-style livery is not his idea, but a vision of its previous owner, and the Japanese Corolla Levin front end was the only major physical change to the car that he’s done. I guess I don’t really expect people to “get it” or to understand the car. Style is also one of those things that you kind of come to understand when you know more of the person. You wouldn’t really know what Kam was trying to do unless you knew how he was or who he was. If you’re an AE86 geek, you’ll probably understand it. A lot of the parts are pieces that many 86 aficionado would seek out. He puts it all together pretty well, and I can’t wait to see it with some paint on it. He’s evolving as a car builder and even though I don’t see him that often these days, I see that he’s become more knowledgeable as a builder and has made a lot of progress in understanding how to do things correctly the first time, instead of doing something to get it to work, and then ultimately later realizing that it can be done in a much better way later. I don’t ever doubt his ability to make something look cool. That’s just something he has…

I look forward to its continued progress. For now, here are some recent photos of it I captured on a random Sunday evening…













That’s all for today, thanks for looking…

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  1. Nice article ! What camera and lens do you use ? Pictures are awesome !

  2. This guy Kam really has a certain style like you said, rough but well put together. It’s simplicity makes it feel more real..this is character if i’ve ever seen it.

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