SoCal Scene: Night Import Presents “Collaboration” Meet
College kids refer to it as the “the start of the weekend”. You probably know it better as Thursday night. Often overshadowed by the likes of Friday and Saturday, Thursday nights are often wasted in vain and not enjoyed to their fullest extent. That philosophy shall be no more. It is now my firm opinion that Thursday nights are heavily underrated. Especially when there are things like Night Import’s "Collaboration" Meet going down.
I was unable to attend NI’s first meet, so I made sure I could come out for owner William Lee’s second gathering. Titled “Collaboration” to encourage all cars of all styles and philosophies to get together, the meet served as a representation of all the hard work Mr. Lee has put into Night Import to get it to where it is today. Proper respect. Now let’s see what Collaboration was all about…
The first thing(s) I saw when walking into Descanso Spa’s underground parking lot? Three second generation Toyota MR2’s. It was going to be a good meet. You can’t start off a meet with three SW20’s and have it end poorly. It would involve bending the rules of physics. Especially when one of the MR2’s is Armand’s infamous red SW20 rocking the TRD widebody and gold Work Meisters.
This was actually the first time I’ve seen Armand’s MR2 outside of the Internet. With the widebody’s shoulders bulging out, Toyota’s little midship has all the presence of a readied linebacker. Fitment on the Meisters is almost flawless and the one-off Corolla TRD wing is immediately recognizable.
Here’s something interesting. While the US loves soaking up almost anything Japan does or thinks of, Japan’s “bosozoku” car culture hasn’t quite made the cut yet. Defined by wickedly custom (and often non-functional) aesthetic modifications, bosozoku car culture is about individualism and standing out. The tailpipe on this LS400 was a perfect example. Necessary? Nope. Functional? Not quite. Undecidedly individualist? Absolutely.
I won’t deny it, my project car definitely has some potential “boso” touches on it as well. Moving forward, I found a car that had no trace of non-functionality to it, A car that I knew I had seen somewhere before on the interwebs. For a while, I couldn’t place it until…
Even though SoCal may be the ultimate car culture hot spot, there are very few places for the Los Angeles track enthusiast to wring out a bit of their car’s performance potential. Adams Motorsports Park (aka AMP or Adams) is one of those few places. While the track is primarily used for karting and pocket motorcycles, AMP runs Time Attack Tuesdays and Drift Night Thursdays – for bargain prices.
I had seen this car in a time attack event video at Adams. I knew it was familiar. Owned by Peter of PVR Motorsports, the blue EVO X on blue Enkei RPF01’s had no issues spitting flames from its dual exhaust setup.
Specializing in carbon fibre products, PVR Motorsports provided Peter’s EVO with a lightweight carbon fibre hood, side skirts, and rear diffuser. Not that most EVO X’s need a lot of help going fast. Regardless, getting to see a car in person that I know has been driven hard is always a rewarding experience.
Honestly, I didn’t think Collaboration could get any better after starting off with three SW20’s. I was so wrong. A few of you may not be familiar with this car so allow me to introduce you, reader, BMW 8-Series. BMW 8-Series, reader.
I first saw this car in The Italian Job and even then it was only onscreen for the briefest of seconds. Commandeered by Handsome Rob when the group met up with Stella, the deathly black 8-Series screeched to a stop into the frame and forever etched itself into my brain. Definitely one of the more uncommon BMW’s, the 8-Series was BMW’s flagship supercar in the late 90’s. Utilizing CAD tools to create the body shape, BMW released the 840 with a V8 and the 850 with a V12 mated to a six-speed transmission.
Alongside the MR2, the 8-Series is one of my all time favorite cars and seeing one on the road is fairly rare, let alone finding one at a non-BMW specific meet. Needless to say, at some point in my life, there will need to be an 8-Series in my driveway, gas prices be damned.
After sufficiently fawning over the 840, I came across some of Nissan’s Z heritage in the form of two mature 300ZXs and a sprightly young 350Z – all in white.
This would definitely turn out to be a trend throughout the show, with different car groups and models parking closely together. Keep an eye out for it.
A column away from the Z lineup was a starkly Blaze Orange Metallic second-gen Acura RSX. While I’m personally not a huge fan of the color, I love the name. Maybe just putting the word “blaze” in anything makes it cooler. With the parking garage lighting providing a very industrial, fluorescent mood, the orange Acura simply jumped out of the shot, screaming to be seen.
If the parking garage were a grocery store, Aisle 8 was stacked with Honda’s. I walked from the RSX to an S2K, to a group of EF Shuttles and finally came to a stop at a vividly colorful threesome of GE Fits.
I personally own a GD Fit and while the model isn’t known for supercar speeds, I can stuff the contents of my entire room into the Fit. It is an amazingly efficient and practical little car and the second-gen model is no different. I find the Fit community to have a great sense of solidarity and the cars reflect a great sense of creativity and freedom.
Can you guess the car? I’m a HUGE sucker for titanium exhaust setups. If you run a titanium setup, there’s roughly a 95% chance that I’ll be taking photos of it.
Dual exit dual titanium tip setup on a WRX sedan? You’re spoiling me. Even though the rest of the car was fairly stock, I Youtube’d the sound of the Invidia exhaust when I got back and it is MEAN.
What meet would be complete without a showing by the Nissan S-chassis? Apart from a very low S14 back near the RSX, I had been surprised by the lack of 240s up until now. Perhaps the ultimate representation of the budget/fundamentals drift crowd, there were quite a few 240s to pick from. Looking back and forth, I finally settled on a dark red example sitting on a set of Work Emotion CR-Kai’s. The headlights were the kicker. I really like the look of “lazy” headlights on drift cars; they seem to embody the DGAF mentality that comes along with grassroots drifting.
Apart from the expected JDM badges, this Honda was running one of my favorite wheelsets – Sprint Hart CPRs. Originally, these wheels were only available for purchase in Japan for drivers who would be participating in “lightweight competition driving”. Hence the “for Competition” part of the sticker…
Honda sure knows how to name its car colors. I mean come on, “Blaze Orange Metallic”? Anybody up for some Championship White? This EK had all the right ingredients for a great Honda recipe.
Know your roots!
I don’t know if I’d ever get a Hello Kitty sticker on my car, but if I did, it would probably be this one.
I simply couldn’t believe the diversity of cars that had turned up the Collaboration. Seriously? A Z3 M-Coupe? On top of that CCW’s are never a bad choice. Just wait until you get a better look at the engine.
While the stock model was fitted with the same engine as the E36 M3, this Z3 M Coupe was clearly not stock. I also had no idea the entire upper half of the front clip popped up. The Z3 is also the only car I can tolerate with “Z3-style” fender inserts… Funny how that works.
For all the more uncommon models at Collaboration, the expected surge of NSXs never came. After almost a complete loop around the parking circuit, I finally found some of Honda’s most sporting sheetmetal. What do you guys feel? I like the look of the pop-up headlights the 90’s models sported, but the post-2000 fixed headlights also look really good.
I’ve seen the GreenPleco NSX around before, but never knew what the company was all about. I knew what plecos were because my brother has an aquarium (they are awesome little fish). After a quick web session, I found out GreenPleco is a games studio that specializes in mobile games. I’m not sure the company or its vision necessarily relates to the tuning scene, but they definitely know how to pick their cars to sticker.
This rather stock, but stupendously clean AP2 S2K on black Meisters thought it would be alright to take up more than a single space. I later saw him slide into a single space and I understand the desire for some additional space security, but at the time it seemed a little unnecessary.
At some point in the future, I’m going to start an undeniably correct list of wheels that can make any car look good. I’m fairly confident Work Meisters will be going on that list.
There have been a recent slew of Lexus’ with matte paint/wrap jobs across the Internet. This IS-F was no different and perhaps the bigger reason I stopped was that it the matte job was green. Not many cars can wear green very well and even then it had better be British Racing Green. This Wald International kitted IS-F changed a number of my opinions.
I feel like the Wald kit has really gained popularity in the Lexus crowd and for good reason. The aero enhances the stock lines of the IS-F instead of fighting them and giving the usually mild-mannered Lexus sedan a bit of hulking attitude.
Scoobies! A number of SocalSubie forum members brought out the entire STi/WRX family line. From the GC8 (my favorite version), bug-eye/blob-eye/hawk-eye GDB, to the latest GE platform, the Subaru corner was well represented and decked out in trademark WR Blue Pearl.
I’ve always thought that the STi face maintains a quiet sense of composure. In contrast, Mitsubishi has kept making the EVO look angrier and angrier.
I also had a chance to meet and talk to Justin and Akiko, owners of the blob-eye GB and the GE hatch respectively. Super chill and Justin even had the same Ken Block + Subaru hoodie I have (before he switched over to Ford and the Fiesta). Justin was kind enough to pop his hood and give us a glimpse of what makes his Subie fly.
There was however, one pressing question I had about Subie modifications that I had never figured out before. On many cars you can see two red discs in the middle of the front vent. I always thought that given their location, they were some part of an intercooler or something designed to deliver more air.
I thought I was at least mildly correct. As it turns out, they’re actually horns. For honking. Forgetting that we were in a enclosed parking structure, I let Justin blast my eardrums once just to hear it for myself and promptly had the eyes and ears of almost every attendee at the meet. Learning new things about cars? Good times indeed.
I will say that while I was extremely surprised by the more unique cars that had turned up (840, Z3 M, etc.) I was a little disappointed in the lack of Toyota’s most sporting machinery, the Supra. Fortunately, while talking with the owner of the 840, I had a chance to meet Carlos and Mike. Both Yotaheads, Carlos had brought out Collaboration’s only Supra while Mike’s All-trac was still being worked on.
While Carlos has a number of future modifications in mind, he fully intends to keep the stock Ice Blue Metallic paint. One of the more unique colors from one of the most conservative automakers in the business, IBM seems strangely correct on a MK3. Fitting the color to a JZA80 would be a whole different story.
Surprises were the name of the game at Collaboration and Carlos’ Supra didn’t disappoint. With the hood up, gone was the 7MGTE, replaced by a more familiar face to many non-Toyota enthusiasts – the 1JZGTE. Some enthusiasts argue that Toyota went backwards with development of the 1JZ and others will claim that the 7M can only wheeze its way up to the power and reliability of a 1JZ. But what else is new with car guys?
Hiding quietly in the corner with Carlos’ Supra was more Toyota-powered machinery in the form of a pristine white Lotus Exige. A tiny car by any measure (the Exige was about as tall as the vintage FJ40’s tires next to it), a stock Exige is powered by a supercharged version of Toyota’s 2ZZGE following Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s philosophy of lightness first.
I can’t imagine how scary it must have been to be a driver back in Formula One when Chapman was around. Apparently, Lotus test drivers often came back to Chapman telling him that his cars were unbelievably fast, but incredibly frightening to drive. Drivers begged for a little more weight to help stabilize the car at high speed, but Chapman would have none of it.
It’s always a privilege to see a Lotus in person and witness what modern technology has been able to achieve with Chapman’s vision. His philosophy of “simplify, then add lightness” made so much sense to me when growing up and has served as my personal guide/reference for building my own cars. Remember that “adding power makes you faster on the straights, subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere”. Hopefully Lotus can still keep that in mind for the future.
By this time, a number of cars were starting to head out, leaving the parking garage in a vibrato of metal and tuned cylinders. Picking up the pace in case missed opportunities would leave me behind, I snapped off some shots of this fairly stock looking NISMO 350Z. Of course, no NISMO 350Z is ever really stock…
With aerodynamic additions based off the highly successful Super GT 350Z, the NISMO Z33 has a much more aggressive stance than the base Z. NISMO also provided a tuned mult-link suspension and exhaust system while Brembo worked over the brakes and RAYS provided some unique gunmetal 5-spoke alloys.
Coming back to where I had started, I found that an AW11 MR2 had parked itself next to Armand’s SW20. Now I was just sad that I hadn’t taken my own MR2 out to complete the midship family. Next time. Next time for sure.
The Screaming Eagle (or sometimes referred to as Screaming Chicken) emblem on the first generation MR2 is unquestionably awesome. The design evokes the spirit of Native American art while representing “aerodynamic beauty through evolution”. I don’t know if I’d call the AW11 “aerodynamically beautiful”, but with a Screaming Chicken emblem my argument is invalid.
As the cars rolled out, I caught one of the few R35’s that had attended the meet and was just able to capture a shot of just how dusty it was in the garage.
Moving to the exit to try to get a few shots of the rollout, I was extremely distracted by a very wide S2K with titanium exhaust! I mean, don’t get me wrong, the aero on the car was fantastic, but come on. Titanium exhaust!
I made one last dash around the parking garage circuit and spotted a white FD wearing bronze 5zigen FNO1R-C’s that had only just come in sitting next to the GreenPleco NSX. I never pass up the chance to shoot a clean rotary and the curves of Mazda’s triangle-powered sports car made for a great contrast against the more angular NSX.
Considering this happened at Import Showcase as well, I’m gonna start keeping track every time I see an RX-7 next to an NSX. Happened twice already.
On my way back to my car which I had wisely parked on the upper level, I took one last peek in at the underground garage. A stock red AP2 S2K had replaced the black SW20 that had been there earlier on, but the boso LS400 was still there. Does she really like it?
I was definitely in good company on the upper levels. I counted a number of R35’s, an NSX, another RX-7, a 370Z, an E46 M3, and my immediate hatchback companions. A modified Black Cherry Pearl xB and a Taffeta White GD had parked up next to me. I have to say, my very stock and very blue GD felt a bit inadequate. Hopefully that’ll change soon.
Collaboration was a great time. Got to meet a whole bunch of new people, learn a few new things, and saw a few cars I’d never thought I’d see at a meet like this. It was also really interesting to poke through my pictures afterwards and see how most of the cars I had shot were white, red, blue, or silver. The orange RSX and matte green IS-F still jump out at me as I look at them now. Good times. The bar is quite high for next Thursday, but we’ll see what happens. Until next time. Signing off…