We lamented here a year ago the end of a tuner institution in the Los Angeles area, the final Nisei Week Showoff car show -- the end of the line after 10 years of highlighting some of the most insane Japanese domestic market-influenced project cars in North America. After a decade, new owners had taken over the lot where the event was traditionally held during Nisei Week in downtown and planned to develop the land, thus displacing the show. It was a sad occasion.
Turns out we shouldn't have been so bummed. In spring, Showoff organizers learned the lot was still untouched, and asked the new proprietors if it would be possible to hold yet another meet on their property. One thing led to another, and before anyone knew it Nisei Showoff was back on for an 11th straight year, the date set for August 14.
That's where we were last Saturday, cooking in the August sun on the northeast corner of Alameda and 1st Streets, absorbing as much Showoff goodness allowable, fearing this would in fact be the last time we or anyone else would be doing this.
The old school was honored with several examples of restored and otherwise modified rides form the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s (reminding us that the Japanese Classic Car Show is not too far off -- September 12 at the Queen Mary in Long Beach). Fairladies outnumbered other platforms, but we also spotted a Honda N600 and one especially pimp third-generation Toyota Corona. Our favorite, though, was the Datsun 620 pickup rocking bronze TE37s, Wilwood brakes, an NRG steering wheel quick release, and refurbished Honda mini-bike in the bed.
VIP purveyors repped alongside the sport compacts of Nisei Showoff, and we were pleasantly surprised to see Acura TL from a couple of different generation getting the big tucked wheel, J gangster treatment. The Lexus GS is still probably our preferred VIP platform to tweak, but that super-hot Infiniti Q45 on Air Runner bags and JDM Weds Jkränze rims really made us stop and take notice.
It has been said that Nisei Showoff is above everything else a Honda show, and while there have always been makes and models of all types at the event, the H badge (and its Acura counterpart) tends to dominate numbers. The same can be said for 2010, where everything from Civics and Integras to one engine-swapped Odyssey populated the aisles of cars. Honda's sexy roadster, the S2000, has a special place in our hearts, especially when done up in individual throttle bodies, Project Mu brakes, and custom painted CE28Ns.
Civics from the EF-chassis generation on down gathered in downtown LA, in copious numbers. EG Civics were particularly plentiful, with seemingly a million different variations on body kits, wheels, engine swaps -- even the color (or chrome, as the case may be) used to paint one's valve cover. We liked those that stuck to the J-spec aesthetic, though, like the photographed Type R front- and rear-end swapped current-gen. sedan.
We're still trying to figure out the connection between JDM and the M3, but there were a few at Nisei Showoff, including an E30 version. The BMW that impressed the most, though, was the pristine white and wide-bodied 1602, a true sport compact from before the term even existed -- such a cool little car.
Is the boxy and hip JDM crown about to be passed? Used to be the first-gen. Scion xB (a Toyota bB in Japan) was the rave among fans of quirky conveyances, and the scene is still highly active today, though without a JDM equivalent we expect the current-gen. xB to go a different direction aesthetically. Enter Nissan's Cube, which is small, angular, cute, and as JDM as they come. The white Cube on purple CE28Ns (and green lugs, no less) at Nisei was rocking our world.
Mention "Corolla" in the same paragraph as "JDM" and most tend to think AE86 chassis, but at Showoff we saw a couple of different variations, including cleanly restored third- and fourth-gen. liftbacks. The fender-flared, Cal-Trans orange 86 was our fave, rocking a Honda S2000 F-series mill under hood.
The EVO and WRX crowds offered new and inventive uses for carbon fiber (and carbon-fiber wrap, which we understand is now available), but the cream of the crop was probably the metallic mint Evolution X, painted by PJ Bonicafio, grouped with the High End Performance cars. The Mitsu was flossing black SSR Professor MS rollers shod in Yokohama Neova stickiness and a crazy Seibon wide-body kit with Voltex rear wing.
Finally, the trend from Nisei Showoff we dug most of all, without a doubt, was people transforming fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-generation Honda Accord wagons by dumping them and throwing on some nice wheels. The simple elegance of oversized mesh BBS or Mugen M7 rims tucked up in each fender turns the grocery-getter into something simply fierce.
The future of Nisei Showoff is unclear at this point, but you can keep up with news about the event at www.showoffcafe.com.