It has been a very long and busy week for those of us working on the Motor Mavens project! We’re an extremely small staff, but we’ve been keeping ourselves real busy with back to back meetings and photo shoots! We have also spent quite a bit of time this week on planning out the next stages of development for the website. We have a few new contributors coming on board, so the next few months will be very exciting!
So let’s get back to our Showoff photos. Although Import Showoff was founded way back in 1994, with the first event held in March of 1995, the first actual Nisei Showoff didn’t take place until 2000. As Showoff founder Ken Miyoshi explains it, “the people that organized the Nisei Week festivities in Downtown LA’s Little Tokyo wanted to bring enthusiasm from younger people back into the Nisei Week Festival, so I decided to work with them by throwing the first Nisei Showoff.”
“Back then, all the JA (Japanese-American) guys with dope cars used to go to OCBC (Orange County Buddhist Church) during their Hanamatsuri (Flower Festival) and cruise with their friends,” Ken continues, “This was also happening in Little Tokyo; there always used to be a carnival in the original Nisei Showoff parking lot location (2nd Street and San Pedro) and a parade as well. People from the carnival used to chill out on the curb, and wait for all the fixed up cars to cruise through Little Tokyo. Back in the day, we used to see crews like Black Magic from SGV (all black cars with different types of SSRs; SSR Superfins, Supermesh, Neos, Work Emotion, Gale Racing, Bang Vecs), Shoreline Racing (old school Toyota guys from Gardena/Torrance area), NRG from Cerritos, Split Second from Carson area, Redline Racing from the San Fernando Valley, and a whole lot of others.”
For me, hearing stories about the early days of the import scene in Southern California is so interesting, especially when Ken Miyoshi is telling the stories, which are usually filled with some cool info that only an insider could know. This is one of the reasons why I think the Nisei Showoff is so important to the scene. It has a lot of history, even though many people probably don’t realize it.
Even back in the day, DA Integras were the car to have. Southern Cali based crew As1 had a clean right hand drive DA Integra at Nisei Showoff, rocking Sprint Hart CPR wheels. The wheels caught my eye immediately… I absolutely love the classic Japanese, sporty design of the CP-Rs. It makes me think of old school Group A racing in Japan. In fact, I liked these wheels so much when I first saw them, that I bought a set for my very first car, a super slow (but cool looking at the time) 1986 Toyota Celica coupe, which had 16×7 Sprint Hart CPRs and a 5Zigen Border 3 dual exhaust back in 1996.
One thing that most cars back then didn’t have were individual throttle bodies. I don’t know the owner of the car, but I was told that this Honda Civic is actually from the Bay Area. I was impressed that the tips of the velocity stacks on this Civic’s B-series engine (how can you tell the difference between B16 and B18s anyway? I can never tell..?) were anodized purple to match the valve cover and wheels. Peeking out from underneath the purple valve cover are anodized bronze Toda Racing camgears, which leads me to believe that this engine might be packing some punch. Full Toda valvetrain and cams maybe? This engine must shake, because it has some beefy looking polished Hasport engine mounts too.
I think this custom finish on the Volk Racing CE28Ns looked pretty awesome, especially with the color matched lugnuts and everything. But I just wish the wheels were wider; that would be even sicker.
Not too far away, I spotted another dropped Civic with some eye catching sex appeal. I’m talking about those fully gold dipped Work VSXX faces. Crazy, but I wonder how hard it would be to get wide barrels for these wheels? Also, I must watch too much late night TV, cause these wheels keep making me think of that Cash4Gold commercial. Who would ship out their random gold stuff in the mail anyway?
Speaking of mail, here’s a USPS employee and AE86 owner that I met when he was working at Longo Toyota. This is Chunks! He is such a die hard AE86 guy that he even got the old school Toyota katakana logo tattooed onto his forearm!
Nisei Showoff is all about cool cars rocking the most fashion forward colors. Colors even seemed to be the theme of what many of the more fashionable peeps were wearing too – check out those bright red dunks that this girl is rocking. Fresh.
Speaking of kicks, you know you’re ballin if you have a white R35 GTR to prowl the streets in… but you know you’re even more ballin if you have some BBS LMs with gold faces to fit your GTR. Sorreeeee Mr Moneybags!
As I was walking around the show, checking out some of the AE86s, I noticed a girl sitting all by herself behind the row of 86s. This kind of reminded me of when I used to bring my own AE86s to events; when my former gf would go with me to the shows, she would always complain that I would spend so much time talking to all my car friends at the show that I didn’t get to spend much time chillin with her and giving her attention. I hope that this chick didn’t lecture her boyfriend about that as they drove home from the show, I used to hate hearing that crap. In fact, I still hate it. LOL
(Ladies, if you have this problem, you should bring one of your cute girlfriends to the next show so you’re not bored. And you’re always welcomg to hang out at the MotorMavens booth if you’re CUTE and feel like you’re not getting enough attention. haha)
This Subaru schoolgirl’s name is Ashley. She was taking a look at some photos that her bf Brian took at the show. Hopefully she didn’t see all the raunchy import model upskirt pics he was taking of other chicks at the show. He works for D-Sport, and you can only imagine what some girls will do to be on a magazine cover! (HAHA Brian, I hope your girl sees this and gets mad at you for all the trash I just made up!)
It’s not often we see Passat turbos on Work wheels. I think it’s interesting when European car owners choose Japanese wheels for their cars. This particular turbo V-dub is owned by Christopher Haydostian of R Technique, who brought his car all the way out from Las Vegas! It would be dope to see this car with even wider wheels!
Aqua and purple seem to be the most popular colors of this summer, if you take a look at streetwear trends… so I wasn’t too surprised to see the color combo on a few Hondas at Nisei this year. This particular EG Civic (which had a Japanese Integra Type R face swap) really stood out to me though; not because of the ITR face-off, but because the owner had the faces of his Work Meister wheels custom powdercoated aqua, with anodized purple lips and matching lugnuts! Crazy, now that’s some detailed planning! Hopefully in the future, this DC (err… EG) will have some wider purple lips on these Works. Even more impressive than the colormatching wheel and engine bay scheme, however, was the K20 Twin Turbo setup it had under the hood. A lot of time and money was put into this car.
Several of our good friends showed up to the Nisei to say what’s up to Ken and show their support. Up front is none other than fashionable Pacific Rim rockstar Daijiro Yoshihara, who is now driving for Falken Tire/Discount Tire. Lurking behind him in the white shirt is Felix Tang, who can’t help but blush when he sees Dai. LOL sorry Felix!
Here’s Jacob Leveton from EverythingDrift, who briefly attended the show with his girlfriend Thao Nguyen right before heading over to Ron and Celine’s wedding (If you saw the line of slammed gangster looking Infinitis that cruised past the Nisei Showoff, then you saw their wedding party). If you live in the 626 area of Southern Cali, you have probably seen Ron and Celine at carshows with their crew, Superstar, or you more than likely have attended one the car meet that they organize, TAB Tuesday at Store 13 in West Covina. Congratulations Ron and Celine!
There were a bunch of young girls hanging out at the LOT USA booth, taking photos with all the guys with cameras… this stuff never fails to crack me up, especially when I see kids that look like they’re 12 years old (or guys that look like they’re 45 years old) trying to take upskirt photos, and the girls don’t seem to mind. Ladies, when the camera is low to the ground, aiming upwards with a flash, don’t fool yourselves by thinking they’re trying to create an artistic angle… they’re just trying to get upskirt photos!
This SC430 attracted a lot of attention with its slammed stance. Just imagine how much hotter it would look with wheels that came all the way out to the fender!
Nisei Showoff is not only about slammed Hondas and hachirokus. William Ko brought out his super clean restored 1971 TE21 Toyota Corolla, which was sporting the cleanest 1971 metal grill I’ve seen in my life. I love the old school Japanese license plate on this car – the two digit number “55” on the top signifies that it’s a RARE old Japanese license plate from the 1970s. Newer plates would have three digits, like “530” or something. For more info on this car, check out Japanese Nostalgic Car very soon!
Most people are probably drawn to the OEM steel fender mirrors, but what really impressed me was the super rare round fender emblems on this car. And just look at the nice OEM fender grooves. This car has been completely restored and repainted the right way, great job William!
I’m so glad that William’s car didn’t receive the “fake SR5” fiberglass fender flares that most old Filipinos put on every single car they get their hands on. I hate it when clean old cars are cut up and ruined by car owners who don’t have common sense.
It doesn’t get much more period correct than this. Rather than having swapping in the 1600cc 2TC hemi engine that came in 1972-79 Corollas, or a newer and more powerful 1800cc 3TC engine that came in 1980-83 Corollas (3TCs were the engines that were made legendary at the dragstrip by the Puerto Ricans on the East Coast), William kept his car old school, with a period correct 1200cc 3KC pushrod engine, which appears to be all stock. The 3K engine is slow as hell. It doesn’t have any power AT ALL. However, nowadays, I think it’s cool to keep with the original OEM theme of this car. This is a museum piece in the making. Look for William’s car in an upcoming Toyota commercial!
I just love wheels. I was drawn to the GAB wheels on this EK Civic, but due to the absence of the original GAB stickers, I was unsure if they were real GAB wheels or fake Rotas. No offense to the owner of the car if they were original GABs! It made me realize that I never really took a close look at the fake GAB wheels made by Rota, so I don’t know how to tell the difference between the fake and the real, without taking the wheel off and inspecting the back of it. I used to have low offset 16″ white GAB wheels with polished lips… I was keeping them because I eventually wanted to buy an SW20 Toyota MR2 turbo, but ended up selling them to some guy with an S2000 a couple years ago. They were brand new in the box, with the curved GAB valve stems and original GAB center caps still sealed in plastic. They also had the original GAB stickers for the wheels. I miss those wheels!
As I walked around the show taking more photos of cars, I randomly met this girl, who was on the phone, but kept insisting I take a photo of her tattoo on her upper thigh, and post it on the website! Haha… I think she was drunk… and I didn’t get a photo of the whole tat. Nice legs tho! Those are un-photoshopped.
This Datsun 510 has been repainted in the iconic BRE (Brock Racing Enterprises) livery that made Datsun 510s famous.
The 510 was originally designated as the Bluebird by a Japanese company named Prince. The original (JDM) Nissan Bluebirds had a different roofline than the made-for-export Datsun 510s. Bluebirds have shorter rooflines and a more angled (less vertical) C pillar, making the rear end look longer. Japanese Bluebirds also have a cool three piece taillight assembly that goes from the left of the car all the way to the right. Very cool!
This particular BRE replica Datsun 510 is owned by Lawrence Keller, an accessories designer who works for Toyota Motor Corporation. Lawrence and his 510 have been featured in many Japanese magazines that feature vintage Japanese cars in the United States.
If you’re interested in Datsun Bluebirds, you might want to take a look at this Datsun Bluebird photo shoot and story I did when I was still working as a consultant for EA Games, developing content for their Need for Speed-owned car website, Speedhunters.
Period correct on Lawrence’s car are the 13×6 American Racing Libre wheels, which were the same wheels used by the BRE racing team when they campaigned in the SCCA Trans Am 2.5 Liter Challenge in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
BRE was a racing team that did a lot of the early racing development for the Datsun 510 and 240Z. Headquartered in Torrance CA and led by Peter Brock, the BRE team made the underdog Datsuns competitive (and successful) in road racing, competing against cars like BMW 2002s, MG, Mini Coopers, Alfa Romeos, Toyota Corollas and such. With young race driver John Morton behind the wheel, the BRE team fought long an hard against their rivals, Horst Kwech and the Alfa Romeo team. Watch some super cool footage of the BRE team and their success in the 1969 SCCA TransAm seasonon by downloading the film, Against All Odds. If you like vintage racing like I do, you’ll love it. It’s awesome.
I like the California Historical Vehicle license plate and “John Morton for President” sticker on the back of Lawrence’s 510, not to mention the vintage Mikuni sticker on the rear fender of the car! Damn! I’d love to get my hands on some old school Mikuni stickers! If anyone reading this website has some, please HOOK ME UP!!!
Okay, that’s it for this installment of Nisei Showoff coverage, stay tuned to MotorMavens for more, coming soon!
:: Antonio Alvendia