SoCal Scene: Crossroads First Friday Meet Coverage

Before I knew it, the first month of 2013 had come and gone and I had attended a whopping total of zero car shows/meets all 31 days. Disappointed in my lack of commitment, I set my sights on the Crossroads First Friday meet in Torrance, charged my camera battery, and drove southbound with “Eye of the Tiger” playing loudly on the radio. Nice.

As I rolled into the Torrance Crossroads Shopping Center around 7:05PM, a small group of FR-S and Club4AG owners greeted me in the southern corner of the parking lot. While I took out my camera and started shooting test shots, I was surprised by the seemingly low attendance. Apart from the small FR-S crowd, there was a Datsun 510 here and there, a first-gen Scion xB, a blacked out third generation Camaro, and a Porsche Carrera GT. Wait what?

See, these Crossroads First Friday meets are supposed to celebrate classic Japanese machinery. While I had expected Datsuns, vintage Celicas, and first-gen rotaries, I had not expected a half-million dollar German supercar to show up. Not that that was a bad thing in any way shape or form.

At first, I forgot that I even had my camera. The Carrera GT is one of my all time favorite supercars and even in car-obsessed SoCal, where you can see aBugattiand Lamborghinias often as you see taco trucks, the CGT is a rare sight.

This is most likely due to the fact that the German minds at Stuttgart didn’t let a four year old child come in and draw guns, lightning bolt vents, and a double decker spoiler on the CGT design sketches.

That doesn’t stop the Carrera GT from being a gorgeous car though. The curves are simple, the vents are gaping, and the engineering is straightforward, functional, and full of materials like magnesium and silicon carbide. Yet, while the CGT’s appearance is far from shouty, there is one thing about the car that IS very shouty – and that’s the car’s 5.7L V10.

Swathed in a gorgeous three point carbon fiber subframe, the Carrera GT’s 5.7L V10 was originally derived from a 5.5L unit secretly designed for competition in Formula 1. Thanks to a surprising amount of interest in the CGT prototype at the 2000 Paris Auto Show and the revenue generated by sales of the Cayenne, Porsche upped the displacement to 5.7L to offer more torque and driveability.

But that’s enough of that. I could’ve written a whole article on it’s own about the Carrera GT, but that’s for another time. When I had finally stopped gawking at the CGT and taking in every serious German detail, the lot had nearly tripled in attendance. There was suddenly so much to take in and the next few rides to catch my eye were of a more Japanese nature.

Perhaps the most recognizable spoiler in the automotive world, there is no mistaking the distinctive wing of the MKIV Toyota Supra. As if they knew I was here, two red MKIV Supra’s rolled into the lot together, shortly followed by one of their silver brethren.The Carrera GT may be one of my favorite supercars, but the MKIV Supra is the top card in my book. I’ve raved about the car in previous articles, but I will never get enough of Toyota’s most sporting production machine to this date. Not until I own one at least.

Interestingly enough, the most modified Supra of the group was still naturally aspirated. I had the impression that most Supras almost immediately went under the knife to fit turbochargers of ever-increasing size. In fact, I remember an issue of either Modified or Sport Compact Car back in 2005 that featured three ridiculously turbocharged MKIV Supras with a horsepower counttotalingover 3000!

Needless to say the 2JZGTE gets plenty of love for supporting such stupid power levels. Tonight though, I was most interested in Brendan’s naturally aspirated JZA80 because he had done what I want to do with my future Supra – and fitted individual throttle bodies.

For seekers of naturally aspirated power, there is nothing like the responsiveness of individual throttle bodies. Unfortunately for enthusiasts, ITBs are far more expensive and complicated than their single body counterparts, preventing manufacturers from putting them on all but their most sporting models.

I had to stop there though. Seriously, I could have titled this article “A Porsche Carrera GT and three MKIV Toyota Supras in Torrance” and probably filled it with technical blathering, but this meet was far more diverse than my personal interests extend.

And yet another article title that would have sufficed would have been “Freddy’s Automotive Imagination: In Real Life”. I’ve ALWAYS wondered about converting a first-gen Scion xB into a ute/truck thing and how practical it would be.Unfortunately, the xB’s bed didn’t appear to be very deep. Although I can’t imagine most xB owners will need the sort of practicality an actual truck bed affords. After all, you don’t see very many xBs (if any) hauling around entire tree trunks or other things that appear in Dodge Ram and Ford F-150 ads.

Perhaps the most shocking thing about the car, ute/truck conversion aside, was the sheer lack of brake/caliper clearance. I don’t know how well the picture shows it, but there was hardly room for two credit cards. Seriously, those are the kind of gaps that people brag about on fitment and stance forums. Not sure you should leave such little room for brake clearance though…

Sitting politely next to the xB (and with plenty of caliper clearance might I add), was one of many kitted Scion FR-S‘s wearing what I believe were Super Advan Racing Version 2’s. It’s generally fairly difficult to pull off the three spoke wheel look, but I think this FR-S manages it just fine.

As I ambled through the increasingly crowded parking lot, I came across another car that had become famous to me through that aging medium that is print. If I’m not mistaken, this is Cheston Chiu’s 2003 Nissan 350Z.

Representing Super Street in the 2009 Castrol Syntec Top Car Challenge, Cheston’s 350Z faced off against Modified’s Evo 8, Honda Tuning’s EG Civic, Import Tuner’s Evo 10, Eurotuner’s Audi S4, Mustang 5.0’s 95 Mustang Cobra, and Lowrider’s first-gen Chevrolet Caprice. For some reason, I can’t remember or seem to find out who won right now, but rest assured this 350Z is absolutely no slouch.

As soon as I attend a meet, I’m reminded by how fortunate we are in SoCal to live in such an automotive hotbed. Inspired by finding Cheston’s 350Z, I poked around the lot some more and came across another very unique Porsche.

While I didn’t get a chance to speak with him, I immediately recognized Amir Bentatou’s 1976 Porsche 911S from a feature article on Stanceworks. Rocking a kind of gritty, RWB-esque, Martini-liveried-banana-winged look, Amir’s 911S can definitely compete with the Carrera GT in both the standing out and cornering department.

A quick peek inside the Stuttgart machine reveals a nearly fully gutted interior. This is definitely no cushy German seating area (or a Panamera for that matter). As a driving instructor at Extreme Speed Track Events, Amir hits the tarmac with his car and hits it hard.

As you may or may not have noticed, the Crossroads lot was lit by numerous tungsten lights – which can be cool provided you’re looking to saturate your image with high levels of Twinkie yellow. Of course, if I had a penny for every time I went to a car meet or show that had quality lighting, I’d probably have about three pennies tops.

Because I never carry a tripod around at meets, I started using my phone’s blinding LED in an attempt to shed some more neutral light on the cars. In the picture above, I attempted to illuminate Amir’s rare Hartmann Twist wheels. Look at the light that’s being cast on the Rennspeed RSR flares at the rear and you can start to see the post-processing nightmare I would bring upon myself.

Photography’s all about learning and trying right?I started adding flash along with my handheld phone spotlight and unfortunately, it didn’t seem to make things any better as I tried to capture this RX-8 leaving the lane to join his/her fellow rotorheads.

It’s always nice to see RX-8s being modified. As the last say in the rotary-powered car world, the RX-8 has massive track potential right out of the box and those funky doors are actually cooler than you think they are once you start using them. It’s really too bad that the RX-8 didn’t inherit much of the FD RX-7’s good looks and still retained the RX-7’s big thirst for fuel.

For me, the NB generation of Miatas was always my favorite. The first-gen was just a little too cutesy and the third-generation NC seemed as if it had been given one too many American-sized portions of meat pies. This silver example was parked alongside a fellow NA and it appeared that both of them were no stranger to the track and fast lap times.

You know, I totally forgot the following car even existed until I saw it at the meet. In the two years that it was being produced, the Dodge SRT-4 made quite a lot of noise in the small sports car crowd. Transforming Dodge’s lowly rental fleet filler Neon to a turbocharged FWD SRT-4 was done in-house by Chrysler’s Performance Vehicle Operations (PVO) group (to eventually become Street and Racing Technology, aka SRT).

I never wanted to like the car because I knew that it had Neon underpinnings, but back in 2003, the SRT-4 was one of the quickest little cars you could get for under $20K. When Sport Compact Car tested it in their January 2003 issue, the SRT-4 would go on to soundly thump seven of its peers, including the likes of the Ford Focus SVT, MINI Cooper S, Honda Civic Si, and even the VW GTI.

One very distinctive rumble later, I turned my head to catch a blobeye Subaru WRX STi passing by looking for a spot. I went looking for the Subie and later found it sitting next to an Aero Jacket-equipped FR-S, but then again, there were a lot of cars sitting next to FR-S’…

There’s something about the “blobeye” headlight generation of Subaru’s design language that just appeals to me. The “bugeye” look was a little too polarizing to me and for some reason the “hawkeye” headlights never seemed all that extraordinary.

It probably helped too that this particular STi was liveried up with some Subie-correct graphics and was fitted with a roof vent. Although, I’m not entirely certain where the air that’s being directed by that vent would be going.

By this point in the meet, things had started to die down a little bit – until some idiots in their lifted trucks started screeching around the lot. Mind you I’ve got nothing against lifted trucks, but I can’t stand it when a few attention-needy people ruin it for everybody else. Fortunately, I was suddenly very distracted by something very small and British.

The first time I saw an original Austin/Morris Mini Cooper was in an episode of Mr. Bean. somehow, through some engineering MacGyver-ing and finagling, Rowan Atkinson had managed to tie down a sofa chair to the roof of his Mini. He then proceeded to drive it back to his house with ropes and a broom/mop for throttle controls. Fantastic.

And that’s just the thing about the original Mini. Everything about it is so quirky and fantastic in it’s own way – and the car has a rally heritage to boot! Yes your buttocks are just hovering above the ground, yes you could probably drive under one of the idiots in their lifted trucks, and yes you are severely lacking in the power department.

Of course, if you’re like me and very interested in purchasing an original Mini Cooper, you’re most likely not worried about any of those things. And even if you are worried about the power, there are plenty of Hayabusa-powered examples on the Interwebs and Youtube to inspire you. I’m pretty sure this one was stock, but that didn’t detract from the appeal.

Because Nyan Cat sticker on an FD RX-7.

A surprising number of clubs/communities had turned up to the meet. A buzzing swarm of 240SX variants dropped in at some point, followed by a dense group of Nissan Z32’s. There was also a surprising turnout by a group of various generations of Ford Mustangs that parked some distance away from all the imports. Finally, as expected, the FR-S/BRZ community turned out in droves.

While having all these different groups together was great, there was also a bit of what I’m gonna call “model fatigue”. With so many groups of the same cars, my eyes tended to skip from group to group and only settled when there was something really unique and special. I was however, able to capture some of the sheer diversity that SoCal car culture represents with the following shot.

At any other meet, you’d be hard pressed to find a matte black Nissan Hardbody truck parked up next to a first generation TA22 Toyota Celica and have that next to a 60’s-era Ford. This is what being an automotive enthusiast is all about.

Walking back to my car, I spotted a few very clean Datsun 240Z’s that demanded to be photographed and apart from missing a 280ZX, a Z31, and a Z34, there was almost a complete line-up of Nissan’s Z-Car heritage. Although I’m realizing as I write this that that means only 50% of family was here. Close enough.

I’ll leave you with this shot of the three Supras sitting pretty next to one another and you can make it out to Torrance, you should definitely stop in on the first Friday of March for the Crossroads meet. It’s good to be a car guy (or girl) again.