Wekfest Chicago 2019 Coverage… Part 2…


I can’t think of a better way to unwind lately than by just being able to sit down and post the things that I’ve collected while I’ve been gone. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been to so many events this year already and most of them haven’t been here at home in California. There isn’t a shortage of things happening here either, they just happen to all be going on while I’m not physically here. I’m not complaining or anything, and honestly, I don’t miss it. The variety has been great and I thoroughly enjoy seeing new things…

California is great, but it feels like things have been a little stagnant in the last couple of years. Guys who are building their cars in their garages are being pretty secretive about them and I appreciate that. Some enthusiasts are enjoying their quiet time and building their cars for themselves. I think that want and need for ‘hype’ has gone down now and social media isn’t so much an indicator of what’s really going on here in Cali. I love that the older guys are back wrenching on Hondas and just suddenly popping up out of nowhere with fresh builds at local meets. There is no need to be the ‘next big thing’ now. The bolt-on widebody rage has calmed down a bit too and I’m sure many are overjoyed by that. It’s a down time out here on the West Coast, almost like a transitional phase, where we don’t know what’s coming and its refreshing…

Meanwhile, out in the Midwest, Wekfest Chicago happened and it was a strong reminder that there is still plenty of variety out there as well, infused with their traditional street style. You see a lot of enthusiasts out there with imported vehicles from Japan, wearing a lot of Japanese aero and rare parts, while the younger crowd is still very focused on building what is popular right now, which are cars with a lot of bolt-on over fenders or ‘stance’-themed builds. You get a lot of cars that aren’t heavily-built but more on the side of simply running air suspension and vinyl wraps, which makes sense for people who have to drive their cars every day. The roads are super fucked out there from what I saw, thanks to harsh weather and what not. Like Yasu said, (Chicago) doesn’t have that many show cars, they have street cars. I imagine its difficult to keep a car as mint as some would like with the weather the way it is there and the roads as bad as they are. You probably can’t even drive the cars anywhere. I will say this though, the few ‘show cars’ that I did see out at Wekfest this year were some pretty fantastic ones, especially the Hondas. I’ve noticed in the last few years doing shows in the Midwest that there aren’t too many super nice Honda builds showing up, or Hondas at all for that matter. They’ve become few and far between. The good ones seem to be coming from out of town or tucked away in a garage, protected from the elements. The car that ultimately won the “Car of the Festival” or ‘Best of Show’ was a Honda Civic built and owned by Mike Gnatz. His Civic was as clean as I’d ever seen, just recently completed in time for the show. I enjoyed his build not only because of the quality of work, but also because of the circumstances that came with him getting the car to the show that weekend. Not only was he working on a tight schedule, taking the car on its maiden voyage out of his garage directly to Navy Pier, but there were so many things going on in his personal life. Not in a bad way mind you, so we weren’t feeling bad for him at all, he was actually welcoming his second child into the world and his wife was literally in labor days before the event. That same week, try the day before Wekfest Chicago, it was the birthday of his first child and they had a big party for him and all. AND he still managed to get the car done in time. That’s super commendable and I love hearing stories like that. That time crunch didn’t leave him taking any shortcuts with his build either and I can’t offer enough praise for that fact alone…

Today we’re going to take a look at Mike Gnatz’s Civic as well as some other really well-built cars that were at the show. Variety is the spice of life, they say, and on this occasion it was the exact ingredient that we needed for this year’s Chicago Wekfest event. Thanks to all who came out and I’m excited to go back next year now to see what other gems appear…

Let’s pick up right where we left off from Part 1…

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David Guerra aka Darks_Dave from Dark Squad pulling up to Navy Pier with his 240SX looking good as always wearing a custom blue pearl paint job…

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The rest of the Dark Squad guys pulled-up shortly after…

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Dave’s 240SX is a mixture of classic Japanese aero components with the front bumper, canards, and splitter from Msports, sides and rear from T&E Vertex, vented hood by D-Max, and a Koguchi Power GT wing…

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One of my favorite cars from this particular region and one that has long stood-out to me since I first saw it at a Final Bout event was Tommy from Dark Squad’s SR20DET-powered PS13 coupe. It looks like something straight out of a Minkara album of Japanese street cars you’d find from back in the early days of the Internet, and you honestly can’t help but appreciate the devotion to that old Kyusha/Works style…

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While I was busy watching the Dark Squad guys pull-up, these really clean 80s-era Toyota Corollas zoomed by, one a mint Corolla 1.8 SE Liftback on SSR MK3 wheels…

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…and the other a Wagon variation with mismatched classic Speed Star Racing wheels and a 80s-dedicated graphical livery…

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Just look at this thing, it’s damn near perfect when you consider the styling cues and what look he was going for, especially with the rare B-Wave Wangan wing. I’d say I preferred the coupe when he had Watanabe wheels on there but the Work CR-01 also fits that era-specific look. Let’s not forget those Bomex side mirrors too with about as much glass as a fingernail clipping, lol. Can’t see shit, but you don’t need to when your car is fucking cool…

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Julio from Dark Squad’s S13 coupe is another great-looking S-chassis build from their group, wearing full Final Konnexion aero, Advan Racing wheels, and vinyl graphics to match the finish of the RS wheels…

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One more of Tommy’s S13 coupe with a look at his LED taillights and that B-Wave rear wing…

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Imported Honda Acty Kei truck carrying a customized Ruckus and Grom in its bed…

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One of the more interesting builds of this year’s Wekfest Chicago event was this RPS13 180SX running a Spirit Rei Odyvia front conversion and rear widebody…

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…But unlike other Spirit Rei Odyvia builds, this one also featured a custom R32 Skyline taillight conversion which, in all honesty, doesn’t look all that bad. It kinda flows actually…

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When I walked back inside to see what was going on with the staging, I ran into one of my favorite NSXs, a legit RHD Honda NSX owned by Kay Syviengchan running double-staggered bronze Mugen MF10 wheels and a complete Advance aero kit. Execution of this car is on point, down to the yellow Recaro seats…

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…to match the yellow valve covers of the C30A engine. Everything else has been blacked-out to highlight the Spoon-inspired valve covers and titanium engine brace…

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I wasn’t sure it the car would actually make it in time for the show, but sure enough, Mike Gnatz was not only able to bring his Civic, he also drove it all the way to the venue for the first time since wrapping-up the build. I’ll explain more below when I show you more detailed photos…

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The rear of the Advance Honda NSX and a peek at the Saclam exhaust…

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Not only does Syviengchan own that beautiful NSX, he also just recently finished-up his black Integra Type R, also running bronze Mugen MF10 paired with a Mugen Gen. II rear wing…

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Simba Nyemba’s S13 from PROCEED looking all cleaned-up for a rare car show appearance. I’ve seen this car in so many different states, with body parts hanging off the car, mismatched wheels, etc., but its safe to say that it cleans up nicely when it has to…

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Andre Bourne’s EF8 Honda CR-X is one of the top Honda builds in this area and he’s recently upgraded with some new parts like a set of black Volk TEs…

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Under the rare FEEL’S Twin Cam vented hood is a new turbocharger set-up and center-feed intake manifold which hosts some great titanium piping fabrication utilizing Ti-Con pieces…

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Mike Gnatz’s Civic is more of a restomod build compared to some of the other Hondas in attendance at Wekfest Chicago. It started out as a white EH2 Civic shell from San Diego before Mike purchased it and began the teardown and rebuild. Most of the money invested in the exterior of the Civic was on whatever OEM Honda components were still available with just a set of Spoon mirrors, rear wing, and BBR Competition wheels as the only obvious aftermarket modifications. Mike is a painter by trade so he painted the entire car himself in a custom green hue that he mixed…

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The shaved and cleaned-up engine bay hosts a K20A2 swap with an assortment of K-Tuned products to get everything running. The RBC intake manifold has been coated in silver, contrasted by a paint-matched valve cover, and the radiator has been tucked away under the core support. Managing all electronic functions is a Rywire Mil-Spec engine harness…

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Donnie’s turbocharged K24-swapped Civic CX on display at the CTB Garage booth…

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Clean turbo set-up in the bay utilizing a Sheepey Race turbo manifold and Precision turbocharger…

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Damon Young’s Type-X look 240SX on silver Volk TE37 wheels at the TF Works booth. Make sure to check out his Blog which is oddly named (like mine) called ‘Camryonbronze’

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Sitting on the new Volk TE37Saga Time Attack Edition wheels was this red Honda S2000 wearing a Voltex front and J’s Racing front wide fenders…

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This Championship White Acura Integra Type R was actually the first car to arrive that morning at Wekfest Chicago with WEDS TC05 wheels and a Mugen Gen. II wing…

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The JDMChicago booth hosted Mike’s Varis widebody Mitsubishi Evolution X on new Desmond Regamaster EVO II wheels…

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Chicago has its share of cool street car builds but we can’t forget that it also has its fair share of race cars, like Eric Kutil’s Honda Civic, which is raced competitively in Grid Life’s time attack series…

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Kyle Harty’s supercharged Lexus GS4000 VIP build made the drive from Minnesota to compete at Wekfest…

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Lexus IS bagged on Airlift suspension and Rotiform wheels…

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Another imported Nissan C33 Laurel wearing Final Konnexion aero and SSR Vienna Kreis wheels. I believe the other C33 Laurel at this show also had the same Final Konnexion kit…

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Toyota 86 wearing the sleek Aimgain x Stancenation widebody kit and Work Emotion CR2P wheels…

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This Zenki 240SX was an interesting one. The molded sideskirts and rear bumper tells me that it may have been built a few years back when this particular style was popular, but what went on under the hood told me otherwise. It’s not particularly “VIP-styled” or assembled in a way to resemble a drift or race car, it was just a little bit of everything…

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The engine bay was super clean, shaved down and smoothed-out before being resprayed. The most obvious pieces on the SR20DET swap that stood-out were the titanium intercooler and charge pipes…

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The engine itself has been painted a gloss black but the valve cover is paint-matched and the hardware used is gold to match the pulleys and titanium plumbing…

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The welds on the titanium pieces looked fantastic but overall the build looks like a mix of different eras which makes this build pretty unique…

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Also standing-out from the fleet of cars in attendance was this Civic Wagon on rare classic SSR Hasemi Sport S’5 wheels…

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The hood of the Wagon was propped-up to reveal a turbocharged B-series set-up crammed into the tight engine bay…

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This slammed W126 Mercedes S-Class looked fantastic sitting on BBS RS wheels and a rare BBS front add-on spoiler…

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This Advance Honda NSX sits just perfectly at this height and the bronze pops so well against the silver paint and anodized blue center caps…

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If Kay ever gets tired of his NSX, let’s not forget he has this black DC2 Type R sitting next to it in the garage…

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John Krueger’s custom widebody Y33 Q45 on Superstar Leon wheels coming down the way from Minnesota for display…

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PROCEED 2JZ-GTE powered Lexus 2GS parked with the massive Final Bout display…

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Black AE86 Corolla Levin sitting on RS Watanabe wheels…

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The turbocharged C33 Laurel running Final Konnexion aero exiting the Navy Pier venue…

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Another shot of Eric Kutil’s wheel-to-wheel Civic race car…

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Adam Jabaay’s recently completed Grid Life time attack Civic hatchback representing Ramblers Racing crew…

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One final parting photo of the guys from PROCEED and Final Bout watching the cars exit the venue as they mentally prepared themselves for Final Bout Gallery the following weekend…

On that note, we wrap Wekfest Chicago 2019. I’m still currently working on Final Bout Gallery photos as I type this and there are some great photos in there. I’m pretty excited to post them up even though we don’t cover that much drifting stuff here on The Chronicles. I think it’ll be a nice change of pace and something different for you guys who need that break from seeing constant car show coverage. Stay tuned and thanks for looking!!…

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1 comment

  1. Some perfect looking Hondas! Is stance finally realizing its overdue death?

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