The Archives: Import Showoff EXC 1999 Coverage… Part 1…

The craziest thing about what you’re going to see below is that it actually correlates directly with the post that originally got me started again on this entire quest to seek out old photos from “back in the day”. If you missed the post or don’t recall, the last event coverage post I made was actually on the 2017 Spocom Anaheim car show. While I was hanging out that day, just walking around for hours and hours at this show, I came to the realization that I enjoy Spocom because it is the last reminisce of what I felt was the car shows of yesteryear. Stuff like this will really date me and show my age, but I grew up in the late 90s going to car shows and got into cars because of these shows. I would read magazines every month, looking at features on import/sport compact cars and was just fascinated by the entire idea of building a show car. I loved it. Things have obviously evolved over the last decade or more and the car community now is just very, very, different. Trends come and go, styles evolve, and people grow-up. As enthusiasts get older, some stick around and many more younger people get into cars and ever since the whole “Fast and Furious” boom came along, more people are getting into cars than ever. It is a hobby that is as popular as it has ever been and there doesn’t seem to be anything slowing it down, at least in the foreseeable future anyway. Spocom has always been that “traditional” car show that holds true to the criteria created by the Import Showoffs and Hot Import Nights of old. The judging is all the same, many of the people growing up in the industry created and ran the show, and the show is still based purely on competition in regards to the rules that have always been considered the “standard” since the 1990s. When you’re at a show like Spocom, it doesn’t feel very different than the car shows I used to go to growing up. The faces change and obviously the cars look different, but…well…it still has that nostalgic feeling…

I went on to talk about this with Yuta Akaishi in my new Podcast Series, “Chronicles On Tape”, and continued to dive deeper into what made car shows great back then and how things have changed over the years. I began thinking about these old shows more and more, looking at whatever photos I could find online and while talking to my boy Terry Suvonnarith one day, he brought to my attention that he listened to my podcast and went and dug-up his old photo albums of car shows he used to attend. Interestingly, Terry had photos from car shows that he attended down here in Southern California, and Terry grew-up and still lives in the state of Washington. How odd for him to have photos from these cars shows from that time but I didn’t ask too many questions. He showed me some samples and I immediately asked him to do me a favor and send his albums to me. With these albums, I could continue to grow my collection of photos from the past and group them together with the photos that I shot when I was a teen. He was worried that the photos wouldn’t be any good but honestly, they are some of the best I have seen in the past ten years or so and all of our photos weren’t necessarily the greatest to begin with because we took these photos as kids. We didn’t know how to use a fucking camera at the time. We just learned how to load film and then we shot whatever we could with no understanding of lighting, how to light a car, or how to even frame a photo. We all cringe a little bit now when we look back at these photos but the notoriety of actually having them and appreciating our younger selves for even taking them triumphed any sort of inability to use a camera in 1999…

Terry always comes through and in a few short days, these albums were in my possession. The first album I dug through, coincidentally enough, was from an Import Showoff event in 1999 held at the exact same Anaheim Convention Center that would host the Spocom event I just went to in 2017. In my hands were photos from a car show that is nearly 20 years old… a car show that nearly two decades ago occurred in the exact same venue that inspired me to dig around for these photos in the first place. And I had no idea until I looked to the very end of his photo album where he managed to tuck away his ORIGINAL TICKET STUB into one of the photo album slots. Haha, it sort of gave me chills, I won’t lie. Things happen for a reason as they say, and coincidences are crazy when you really think about it, especially in this case. It’s so weird. These are the photos you’ll see today….

For those of you who are younger and/or are of the newer generation of car enthusiasts, a lot of this stuff may come off as incredibly ugly or “ricey” to you. That’s understandable. Even by our standards back then and especially looking at them now, it is understood that this is a style that is probably best reserved for that time period. It seems ricey to us too, trust me. Not all car enthusiasts built cars this way back in the 1990s. These just happen to be the ones that we’re looking at because they were captured at a car show during a period when this look or way of execution was at its peak. It’s was incredibly popular to have big body kits at the time, particularly with full interior work, turbo kits, bigger wheels, and headlight/taillight conversions. Things were very different then. “JDM” wasn’t a household, overly-used, acronym yet, winning car shows were all the rage, custom audio was almost a standard for every major car build, the colors were brighter, and style was all about expression. Parts availability, especially parts from Japan, were at a bare minimum. You couldn’t just go online and order a part from Japan and have it delivered to your door a week later. People had to go to tuning shops, ask for the part, and if there was actually someone that knew how to order parts even existed, you’d have to wait quite some time for this stuff to show-up. Most of the time people had to have friends who were either in the military or lived overseas to be able to get anything from Japan. There was no HMO or anything of that caliber bringing in loads of parts every few months. Hell, if you wanted to look at a single image online you’d have to wait a few minutes for it to load, hoping that your mom didn’t pick-up the phone while the photo was loading and ruining the internet connection. Understand that things were different and embrace them for what they were, a specific period in your hobby’s rich history. Instead of looking back and laughing it off and saying it was stupid, realize that people honestly worked with what they had and were able to create a lot of really cool cars during that era with the limited resources that were available to them. Creativity was at an all-time high back then. People had crazy ideas and it inspired others to think just as creatively. It opened the doors to people’s minds in terms of what was capable with these little economy cars. Trends were created, replicated, played-out and then transformed into something entirely new, just like what is going to happen with your car community today. Whatever you’re experiencing now will eventually get old, something new will come in to inspire and create something new. Bits and pieces of it will be recycled and used to fuel another idea, and whether you like it or not, whatever it is will become a trend and people will be hyped about it for a few years. Then the cycle will continue. Maybe some day ten years from now, we’ll look back and see all this stance stuff or over-fender business and people will think it was fucking hilarious. We don’t know where things will go, but it is important to remember where we came from, what existed, and how it shaped what is here today, and whatever is here today will grow into something else for the next generation….

These roots are important, no matter what you think of them or how far beyond understanding it may be for you. For the older guys, trust me, I am just as happy as you are to be able to sit here to day and go over these with you. I’m glad that we have this stuff to look at. These photos came from the days before we had the internet to remember everything for us. Like the trends in the car community, we too will one day be gone and whatever we have created during our time will help to fuel the future generations. It is a really cool thing to be able to look through these photos, no matter how bad or good they are, and be able to use technology to bring them to life again in digital form. I appreciate people like Terry who actually held onto this stuff for safekeeping. I don’t even know if he knew what he was going to do with them when he originally shot the photos. Thank goodness they exist. I have a couple more albums from him to go through still and I’ve also had other enthusiasts who are submitting photos to me because they were also big enough car nerds to hold onto the photos they captured back then. That’s pretty fucking cool.

I made a post similar to this one a couple years ago that became quite popular and circulated on the web for awhile. They are of some photos that I took when I was still in high school and attended car shows like Import Showoff and Extreme Auto Fest. If you have the time and are feeling incredibly nostalgic, I invite you to look at the link below…

Some of it is NSFW so look at it at your own discretion…

EXCLUSIVE CONTENT…THE IMPORT CAR SHOW SCENE FROM ’99 – 2001…

Consider the photos you’ll see today and the photos coming in the near future as an addendum to that above post, because it really probably is the post that started all of this archiving madness…

With all that said, whenever you’re ready, let’s punch this ticket and take a trip down memory lane to Import Showoff EXC “Exclusives” presented once to you by Mainstream Productions and now brought to you by The Chronicles…

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Huge thanks to Terry Suvonnarith from Trik Speed for making this possible. All photos were taken by him back in 1999, sent to me 18 years later, scanned and cleaned-up by myself. I guess you can say that this coverage was 18 years in the making…

ALSO… everyone should note that when I say “Buddy Club kit”, it does not mean it is an actual Buddy Club kit from Japan. By this time they were crazy in popularity and everyone was rocking Buddy Club-style kits that were created to fit various chassis…

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In the late 1990s/early 2000s, VIS Racing was already pretty popular, and could be considered as one of the companies that really pushed the envelope of people running replica aero and body kits on cars. The thing was, replica parts weren’t even that commonplace at the time so VIS was making money producing aero that most casual enthusiasts didn’t even know were actually copies of parts from overseas. Like some of the early knock-off wheels, many didn’t even know what the originals were at the time because the brands weren’t known stateside yet. For example, the Integra above with the JDM ITR front end conversion is running a VIS “Ace” front lip which was actually a direct copy of a Japanese Azect front lip. This baby blue color was also quite popular during that period. Wheels are Volk Racing F-Zero Challenge…

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The rear of the Integra sports a VIS Racing “Xtreme” rear bumper and a BB6 Prelude taillight conversion which honestly doesn’t fit too badly…

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In terms of Honda builds that were far ahead of their time, this Integra featuring a full Mugen kit from Art-N-Motion looks like it could be a very relevant build even now in 2017. This is the only photo of it that Terry captured, but I have another shot of it from a different event that I posted in the other post I linked at the beginning of this post… Click Here if you wanna find it…

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Honda Prelude running a Street Fyghter II (There were very creative names back then for kits, obviously) front bumper and sideskirts, with a Ground Designs 2000 Black Widow rear bumper. Not much dress-up under the hood, just some purple wireloom to add some contrast to the H22A engine which also match the custom purple/white vinyl interior…

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Iridescent/Chameleon paint was all the rage back then, even though now everyone wants to paint their cars Nissan “Midnight Purple” because they think its cool, and the owner of this Civic coupe even went as far as to pinstripe it. This Civic featured a Buddy Club front bumper and 5Zigen Heidfeld wheels, back when the original Heidfeld was still a multi-

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This Honda Civic coupe was a Axis wheels-sponsored vehicle and had a full graphical livery done by Modern Image Signworks, a graphic shop down in San Diego, who I believe is still around today. This coupe featured a full Wings West Avenger kit and then-new Axis Seven wheels. It also featured a full Sparco-themed interior to match the red Sparco bucket seats…

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ZC-powered Civic hatchback on Racing Hart C2 wheels with shaved door handles and a massive Street Fyghter II front bumper. White vinyl interior was super popular back then, almost considered the norm, and usually done by interior shop, Car Craft…

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From this angle you can see that the Civic also has a paint-matched rear roll bar and molded-in sideskirts with the MR-2 side vent retrofitted in there…

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Back then, you had to have a Autometer Monster Tach on your dashboard and you really couldn’t leave the house without being able to play one or multiple video game systems while in your vehicle…

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Molded-in Wings West rear bumper and the ever-popular JZA80 Supra taillight conversion, which has been shaped into the Civic with a working rear hatch…

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While some were going the crazy extreme body kit route, some kept it simple like this Civic which had Volk Racing Evolution III wheels, clear corner lights, a OEM-style carbon fiber hood, and Wings West front lip. You can’t forget to add the mesh from Grillcraft for that sportier look…

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Whoever owned this Supra was either incredibly good at selling drugs or had the means to build themselves a Chameleon-painted HKS-themed JZA80, wearing a VeilSide aero kit and staggered Blitz Technospeed Z1 wheels…

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Looking like something straight-out of Japan was this FD3S from Rotary Xecret 7 rocking a full Knight Sports aero kit and Volk F-Zero Challenge. I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve seen a Knight Sports kit since 1999…

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I always loved this Bride livery on this Mitsubishi Eclipse. If anything, it was this car that put the whole idea of “Bride seats” on my radar back then. This Eclipse featured a “Kombat” front bumper, Baer brakes, RH C5 Evos, and of course, Bride seats…

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Team Hybrid was already doing big things back in ’99. They had a host of really well thought-out builds (by 1999 standards) and most of their cars had custom paint, tons of body work, and full interior work. Above is a candy magenta Honda Prelude running a Black Widow kit, Racing Hart C2 wheels, and a custom turbocharged H22A set-up…

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The rear was really interesting to guys like me back then because the owner of this Prelude was one of the first to make the IS300 taillight conversion look good, being that the shape of the taillights closely resembled the body lines of the Prelude body. It almost looks like it belongs there until you notice that the rear of this Prelude has been widened for the taillights to fit. Check-out the Sparco gas filler that has been integrated into the body…

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Turbocharged D-series Civic coupe utilizing the opening of the Black Widow front bumper for the front-mount intercooler. The owner went a little crazy with the red Hose Techniques kit and rear wire loom but that was the way to dress-up an engine bay back then before there were crazy wire tucks…

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RJ de Vera’s mom, Charlotte’s turbocharged Honda Odyssey was a huge hit back in the day, considering how it cleaned-up at car shows and was drag raced. This I believe was the final evolution of the Odyssey wearing an Azect kit and widened front fenders and rear quarters…

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Junko’s Integra was probably most popularly remembered for its Top Fuel-look but before that, the Team Kyosho member had her JDM ITR-faced, HKS turbocharged, DC2 wearing a Buddy Club body kit and Advan Racing Model 6 wheels…

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The last time I saw this Integra was in 2012 when Junko and her husband Hugh Le were kind enough to bring the car back to life to bring-out for my “GENERATIONS” display at Nisei Showoff. You can see how it looked in 2012 by click HERE. The car eventually was sold a few years later and is in the hands of another highly-respected Socal Honda enthusiast…

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Many will remember LJ Garcia’s FEEL’S widebody Civic in two distinct stages: first when the Civic was all dark blue, and second when it was completely yellow. Not many remember it during its in-between period when it was a little bit of both. During the winter of 1999, LJ Garcia’s Civic was on the cover of Import Tuner alongside Francine Dee, and Garcia decided to switch things up to make it look a little different for the Showoff EXC event. This was probably it’s “busiest” phase when all the sponsors began jumping on board, knowing that LJ’s car was the “IT” build of the time. I will forever remember it being blue, I appreciated it still when it was yellow, but I think I’d prefer to forget about this look, haha…

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I think LJ’s engine bay eventually got way crazier than this but despite its wild exterior appearance, the bay looked as clean as ever. The B16A swap featured a Drag Generation III turbo kit and direct-port NOS system. Most turbo set-ups at that time were easily identifiable because most guys ran Turbonetics Deltagate Mark II wastegates at the top, looking like a tiny spaceship that doesn’t belong there…

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A closer look at the NOS direct-port set-up. STR, the manufacturer of the fuel rail you see above, was fucking huge at the time and everybody was running STR stuff.

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The custom black/yellow interior of LJ Garcia’s Civic before he created the Ichiban brand and started putting Ichiban shit everywhere. Gauges custom-mounted throughout from VDO, including a tachometer mounted in an air vent, but don’t forget about that Spoon Sports cluster…

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The thing I loved about LJ Garcia’s Civic was that his Racing Hart C5 wheels were actually sized correctly to fit the FEEL’S widebody kit. He also had clear taillights with some custom touches and you can see his rear audio set-up and NOS bottle mount…

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I still remember seeing this Accord sedan back then and admiring the custom bodywork, as it was done quite well on this build. The Accord featured a Buddy Club front bumper that even included a front splitter, which wasn’t very common then. Also check-out the BF Goodrich Scorcher tires…

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In the rear was a Buddy Club rear bumper, Tanabe Medallion exhaust, big spoiler, and IS300 taillight conversion, which like the Prelude you saw earlier, also flowed quite well with the body. The license plate garnish has also been molded to the trunk for a more seamless look…

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The legendary turbocharged Integra of Ron Bergenholtz, regarded by many of that generation as probably one of the best DA/DB Integras ever built. I just wish I had more photos of it to show you guys…

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A quick glimpse of Bergenholtz’s engine bay…

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I couldn’t tell you from photos if this CR-X had legit Mugen CR-X PRO.2 sideskirts but I can’t blame the guy for trying. It even sports the Mugen badge on the skirt, like the real thing. I can however, tell you that this CR-X was most likely running a full Wings West kit judging by the front bumper…

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This CR-X was also sitting on SSR Shumacher wheels and if you look closely, it has a taillight conversion as well, with 90-93 Integra taillights grafted into the rear…

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JT Autostyle made some really weird looking kits at the time, even for guys like us who were around during the body kit period. They just looked super strange. This Accord sedan from Advance Tech was completely done by JT Autostyle running their Accord kit and FEEL’S-style fenders and rear quarters which have been molded to the body…

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Custom two-toned interior with yin-yang symbols shaped into the seats, Pikachu when he was still a teenager, and a Goldensilk.com poster featuring the likes of Jasmine Fox Li, Kristen Muranaga, and Christine something or other…

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Goldensilk was a website that covered import lifestyle back then, featuring car show coverage and model features. It was one of the main spots for Asian car hobbyists to connect and also for strange people to masturbate to photos of import models, haha. Anyways, the rear of this Accord sedan had the FEEL’S-style rear quarters molded to the body along with a rear wing inspired by the VeilSide RX-7 double-deck wing…

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After you finish spotting a young JDM Wong and Eddie Lee in this photo, set your eyes on this SW20 MR-2 from 935draggers. This MR-2 was one of the cars that I grew-up seeing all the time, as the owner of this MR-2 had a sister who went to high school with me. I’d see the car cruising through the high school parking lot when I was sitting on the school bus on the way home, and cars like these were what inspired me to get into cars in the first place….

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This was the later stage of the car, when Streetweapon, a then-new body kit company had just opened. Check-out the custom audio set-up under the hood, with a Playstation mounted next to an amplifier and CD changer…

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The interior of the MR-2 hosted a custom blue/white motif, with a Sega Dreamcast inside the glovebox…

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What stood-out to me most about the MR-2 whenever I would see it at school would be the Supra taillight conversion. It was one of the first cars I saw with a taillight conversion back then long before I started going to car shows…

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Buddy Club, I guess we should start calling them Buddy Club-style since most of them weren’t actually from Buddy Club Japan, front bumper on this Civic hatchback on Axis Touring Cup wheels. Full white vinyl interior with orange piping to match the exterior aesthetic as well…

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I still remember the first time I ever saw this del Sol in person. It pulled up to Epic Motorsports, a local tuning shop that I used to buy stuff from when I first started getting into cars. It was probably the first well-done, “complete” build that I’d seen. This del Sol eventually landed in Import Tuner as well, if I remember correctly, and was from Formula One, a popular car crew at the time. It was also sponsored by Injen. I loved how well-rounded it was and the whole car was just quality to me. It even had Dzus Fasteners for quick removal of the front bumper, and nobody was really doing that at the time.

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The custom green interior of the del Sol, with the “Injen” logo stitched into the headrests….

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This might have been Hugh Le’s Civic, I’m not completely sure but if it was, this was in its earlier stages before he went with the full Top Fuel-theme. I only think it’s Hugh Le’s Civic because it looks like something he’d build, especially with the Advan RG wheels back in 1999. Also because it had a full Buddy Club kit like Junko’s Integra. This was another build that carried a lot of Japanese inspiration with it and looked like it could have been plucked straight from there… Assuming it was Le’s, it was also running a turbocharged B20B with Blitz K3T turbo…

Of all the Buddy Club (style) kits at the show that day, the one on this Civic is the only real one actually from Buddy Club Japan. You can tell because the front is two-piece and the rear is a add-on rear lip unlike the copies that were all one-piece…

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Another build that always stood-out to me was this Civic coupe from CARisma, highlighted by a BMW Z3 headlight conversion, Buddy Club front, FEEL’S style widebody…

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…and BMW 3-series taillight conversion. The trunk was also shaved smooth and license plate moved to the bottom of the bumper…

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Many of you who knew or know of the legendary AMSEVEN car crew probably won’t remember this EF build from the crew back in 1999…

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One of the first replica wheels that I ever knew of was made by Konig and a direct copy of the popular Volk Racing AV3 wheel. They were so popular at one point that, like the GAB Sport wheel in the 2000s, was completely forgotten as an original wheel and people just thought that Konig came up with the design. You could see the wheel here on this champagne-toned Civic running the popular Street Fyghter II front bumper. Also make note of the “raked” front suspension, as the fronts were lowered at shows to give the cars a much more “slammed” appearance, while the rears were left untouched. People just assumed you’d see or photograph the front of the car and not the rear so they just slammed the front by removing the lower fork or clamping the front spring…

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Really well-done H22A engine swap executed during a time when H-series swaps hadn’t become the norm yet. This was probably one of the cleaner swaps that I can remember and judging by the header and how clean the block was, the swap had likely just been completed and didn’t run yet…

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Gotta have that Autometer Monster Tach on the dash. Integra leather seats replaced the stock Civic seats and the rear trunk has been shaved and filled, with only the outer clear tails remaining…

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It’s time to return to 2017 but I leave you today with one parting shot of this Toyota MR-2 from Team Hybrid sitting on Volk Racing CV-Pro…

Still a second part of Showoff EXC 1999 coverage to come. If you like what you see, please share it with your peers! Thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!…

4 thoughts

  1. These photos just gave me life today lol I remember being pissed as a military kid living in Germany going into the exchange to pick up my monthly fix of Lowrider magazine(or Euro Lowrider/Bicycle for the matter) and they weren’t out on display! Magazines were all we had to get us by as car enthusiasts in some in of these locations. Super Street was right there bright and bushy eyed and I needed something to get me through the day. Same day a kid from Hawaii ended up seeing me flipping through the pages and hit me with a lesson on what the hell I was looking at. The rest is history!

    I love flipping through the old mags and trying to pick out builds that could still hold their own today. The DC2, I don’t think I picked up on it until a Import Tuner feature I believe when it belonged to Chris Rios, would have easily been overlooked as the flashy builds with that baby blue paint and ICE catching my eye initially! I felt like the initial scene was trying to establish an identity by pulling bits and pieces from other genres but the Japanese had already paved the way. 15+ years later it’s solidified that was always their best form. History is definitely repeating itself in some of these trends. I do know in Europe, many were doing aggressive fitment even back then. I need my BRZ to be that build that lasts as I finish up my teggy but it seems like we’re(stateside) influencing the mass now-a-days and I don’t think the JDM influence will pack the same punch on the 86/BRZ platform. Awesome work!

  2. Honestly so awesome to see the roots of what basically started it all. Keen to see the rest of the albums!
    Also, I’m 99% sure that white Knight Sports FD is the same one that raced Letty’s S14 at race wars in the first F&F film, has the same side skirts, mirrors and wing 😮

  3. Pingback: The Archives: Import Showoff EXC 1999 Coverage… Part 2 of 2… | The Chronicles© - No Equal Since 2008 | www.stickydiljoe.com

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