OLE ORANGE BANG: TILL DEATH DO US PART

It saddens me everyday as I drive around Los Angeles, stuck in traffic surrounded by big metal things with four wheels. They are not cars, they are simply methods of transportation, also known as ‘mots.’

You don’t fall in love with a mot. You trade it in when it gets old, you smash it into things when you get bored. It’s a cookie cutter world and most people drive mots.

Speedhunters is about car culture and Ole Orange Bang is most definitely not a mot. It is a car, and it has become a living breathing part of my family. ‘Till death do us part.

On my wedding night instead of being ferried away in a fancy limousine, I drove my beautiful wife home in my 1970 SR20DET-powered Datsun 240z.

Since it had been sitting for a few weeks, I thought it was about time to take it out once again – not only so it could see the light of day, but also to do some much needed canyon carving.

Wedding burnouts really take a toll on the cleanliness of the car, so I wanted to make sure it looked its sunday best before I took it out for a stroll.

Nothing pains me more than seeing carbon fiber parts fade in the sun, so I always make sure to take extra care of my hood.

I am sure this is a familiar sight for you Speedhunters out there. It’s funny because my neighbors look at me weird and ask me why I don’t just take my car to a car wash. They just don’t understand because they drive mots.

Since my last post I haven’t done much to the car besides adding a new steering wheel. I really liked the wooden look of the stock wheel…

… but it was too large. That, and I’ve always wanted a premium steering wheel.

I left the Kazama shift knob alone because I actually really like the feel of it. It’s solid and quite heavy and as our fearless leader Rod Chong always says, one of the most important parts of the car are the surfaces that you touch when you’re using it.

Because I’m away from home for weeks at a time I end up having to jump start my car everytime I want to drive it. My wife took notice and bought me this trickle charger. You see why I married her?

I’ve made it a ritual now everytime I drive the thing. I have to unhook the battery charger…

… and I have to check all its fluids. As this is an old car, at one point or another everything has leaked.

The summers in Los Angeles get quite hot so I added some Red Line Water Wetter. I also figured I would put in some Fuel System Cleaner as the motor already has about 3000 miles on it now since it was built.

Just one last touch and I was ready to hit the road. This metal Speedhunters license plate surround will be available soon…

I’ve driven nice roads all over the world, but there is something special about a palm tree-lined road leading into the mountains.

With a full tank of fuel and the pre-flight check looking good, it was time to do some canyon carving.

I decided to hit up some local roads just a few miles away from my house. This road sign should actually read “Fun for the next 20 miles.”

The road is much less traveled as currently it does not go anywhere. You can check out the route (courtesy of Google Maps) here.

It’s located right next to the much more famous Glendora Mountain Road, also known as GMR.

On the way up you pass this beautiful recreation area. There are many places around here for camping and hiking, as well as one of the largest shooting ranges in the area, located in the mountains. This is America after all.

This area is also an off-road haven for the four wheelers and trail riders out there. You just have to pay a small fee.

Here are some of the trails that you can drive on. Just don’t get stuck.

It seemed like the ribbons of hot asphalt were never-ending on the lower portion of the road with many sweeping third and fourth gear turns. I always take it easy as there’s no way to tell what is going to be around the next bend.

As I was about to start climbing to around 7000 feet I left my AEM multi gauge on the water temperature setting just to keep an eye on it.

As I neared the top section of the road, the turns got tighter and tighter, which meant I was mostly using second and third gears.

In the winter time it actually does snow up here. It’s hard to believe you can walk on snow just a few miles outside of Los Angeles.

I’ve driven these roads before with snow banks lining the outside. It can be quite dangerous though, as they don’t use salt on them so black ice can form very quickly.

Since I’m covering events on the weekends the only time I get to take the Z-car out is during the week.

This road is practically empty with very little traffic during the weekdays. Sometimes I try riding my road bike up the same road, only to fail half way and turn back.

It was about 95 degrees fahrenheit down by my house, but up in the mountains it was a cool 65 degrees.

Many people come up here on the weekends to go fishing at Crystal Lake, and that’s pretty much the only traffic this road gets now.

This road used to connect to the other side of the mountain, but a few years back it rained very heavily and the road was damaged due to landslides.

Ever since then they closed the road to all traffic. It has created a sort of motoring heaven, as you don’t really have to worry about traffic.

Maybe in a couple of years they will fix this portion of the road, but until then I will continue to come here and enjoy the wonderful drive.

If you look over the cliff you can see the stretch of road leading up to the top.

The view from the top was breathtaking as always. You can see the smog in the distance creeping up the mountain, but the air quality was drastically cleaner up here.

Every now and then I could hear the note of a performance exhaust echoing off the face of the mountains, but it was quite rare.

As a tradition I always stop by the cafe located right next to the lake for a bite to eat.

They should probably just leave the needle on critical, as it always seems like Los Angeles is on fire in one part or another.

If you ever happen to drive this dream road make sure you spot by this little trading post – they make great tuna sandwiches. Everybody loves the tuna there.

My car is now 43 years old, much older that I am, but from the day I laid eyes on it I’ve taken good care of it. It has brought me so much joy and hopefully one day my children will be able to enjoy Ole Orange Bang…

What sort of dream roads do you guys drive your cars on?

 

Larry Chen

 

 

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TOYOTAFEST SPOTLIGHT-O-RAMA: SWAPS ‘N CLASSICS

When I set out last Saturday to round up some cars for a Spotlight-O-Rama post from Toyotafest, I wasn’t specifically looking for a selection of vintage cars. But as I made my way around the show, it just seemed that all the cars drawing my interest were from the 1980s and earlier. I guess the appeal of properly done classic is just too hard to ignore? Whatever the case, here’s six vintage machines that caught my eye at Toyotafest.

Let’s begin with this 1987 MX73 Cressida that was representing with the Sparkle Garage crew. In contrast to some of the more pristine show cars of the day, this Cressida was wearing its battle scars with pride. You could easily sense that this thing gets pitched sideways often.

Helping to get those rear tires spinning is a 1uZ-FE V8 swap mated to a W58 five-speed transmission from a Lexus IS300. The quad cam V8 just looks right at home in the Cressida’s engine bay, doesn’t it?

The car was also sporting an aggressive set of 15″ Volk TE37Vs with their bronze finish perfectly matching the Cressida’s tan body color.

It’s a unique and tasteful looking car with a cool engine swap that’s also driven hard regularly. Hard to get much better than that.

The chance to see rare cars is one of the big draws of Toyotafest, and the word rare can certainly be used to describe this 1972 TA12 Carina. Because it’s one of those models that was only imported for a couple of years, it’s easy to forget the Carina was actually sold in the United States.

It’s fitting then that this particular Carina has been kept largely original – with the exception of a few tasteful exterior modifications…

…like a set of 14″ Hoshino Impul wheels with a pristine finish that leads me to believe they were recently restored.

The same theme carried over into the interior: mostly original with a few changes, like a Mooneyes shift knob and a cool vintage steering wheel that I’m struggling to identify at the moment. Any of the old school experts have any ideas?

In comparison with some of the other cars in this post this Carina is very mild, but that’s actually one of the big reasons I liked it so much. Sometimes simple and clean is just the way to go.

Next up, we have another rarely seen Toyota model from the early 1970s: a ’74 Corona Coupe. I think I’m just a sucker for the sleek hard top lines that these cars have.

The Corona also looked to have a gone through an thorough restoration, with a keen sense of detail both inside and out.

Under the Corona’s hood sits a twin cam 18RG with with forged pistons, TRD cams and a very mean looking high rise header set-up. Thank goodness for smog-exempt cars in California!

Inside there are a pair of old school Recaro seats with, the rest of the upholstery done to match. The old TRD steering wheel is another nice little touch.

The modestly sized BBS RS wheels probably won’t win over any stance freaks, but they actually suit the car quite nicely. To me it’s high quality restorations like this that define what Toyotafest is all about.

Next up we have Eugene Garcia’s ’84 KP61 Starlet: a car that was drawing a lot of onlookers not only with its tasteful period correct ’80s styling…

… but with its very impressive engine bay. That’s a fully built 4A-GE setup based on a low compression GZE block with an HKS GT2540R turbocharger.

Eugene told me the setup is good for about 300 horsepower, which is somewhere around four times more than the car made when it left the factory. Yikes.

The Enkei wheels mounted on the car aren’t something you see often in the US, but Eugene says they were quite popular in the Philippines: a place that’s well known for its love of old Toyotas.

A very clean and tasteful KP61 street car with a big horsepower turbo under the hood. Definitely one of the standouts from this year’s show.

Next up we have a very subtle-looking 1975 RA22 Celica coupe that I would certainly classify as a sleeper.

Why a sleeper? Well, for starters the original brown interior doesn’t do much to hint at the car’s performance potential. The steering wheel is really the only non-stock item that sticks out.

The same goes for the factory type steel wheels with trim rings and center caps. If you look closely though, you’ll see that they have been enlarged to 15 inches – a cool and subtle touch.

But then you look under the hood and see that a 1UZ-FE V8 has somehow been wedged into the engine bay. When it comes to bang for the buck, it’s really getting tough to beat the 1UZ. They are cheap and extremely plentiful on the used market thanks to the thousands of  junked Lexus models equipped with them.

I imagine this car gets some pretty strange reactions from people on the street who think they’re looking at a nice restored Celica and then hear that wonderful four cam V8 sound.

Last but not least, we have a car – or truck that is – that’s been seen on Speedhunters in the past. In fact, Sean included this 2JZ-swapped Toyota Hilux in his Spotlight-O-Rama from last year’s JCCS event.

But seeing as how this truck is clearly an on-going project, it’s always nice to check in and see what sort of progress has been made.

As you can see, the turbo setup looks a bit different from before, with the HKS mushroom filters replaced by a pair of pipes ready to shoot giant gumballs at anyone who comes to close.

When Sean saw the truck at JCCS, the bed was not installed. Now it is, and you can also see some of the additional work done to the truck’s rear-mounted cooling system.

This goes without saying, but I think we’ll have to get a hold of the completed truck for a full feature once it’s finished.

I think that’s a good note to close out this Spotlight-O-Rama and also my event coverage from Toyotafest 2013. Hope you’ve enjoyed it.

 

Mike Garrett

 

 

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1993 Honda Civic CX – Hard White

To be completely honest with you, there isn’t very much we know about the owner of this Championship White 1993 Civic CX. We know that his name is Joshua Antolin and he hails from the great state of Hawaii-and that’s about it. Instead of going the traditional route of telling you a story behind an enthusiast’s build, we’re going to try something a little different. Let’s break the “fourth wall”, so to speak, for a different twist on what you’re used to reading. If you don’t know what the hell the “fourth wall” is, try to remember an episode of Saved by the Bell when Zach Morris freezes time, turns to the audience and speaks directly to them-that’s what’s considered “breaking the fourth wall”. (Still clueless? Clearly you’re too young to know what SBTB or who Kelly Kapowski is.) What I’m trying to do today is something similar-sort of. Breaking the fourth wall usually means that you’re being pulled out of an imaginary scenario but in the world of automotive publication, what you’re seeing and reading is very real.

In the years that I’ve been writing for Super Street, we’ve seen it all; all types of cars, different styles of tuning and getting to know each personality that makes up our crazy world. How these features come together before they hit print is pretty predictable. We see a car, find the owner, arrange for the car to be shot and have them fill out various forms, one of them being the ‘tech sheet’. These tech sheets open the lines of communication between the owner and the writers for the magazine, and usually includes every important piece of info you’ll need, from knowing which parts were used, right up to the entire back story on how the car came together. Some tech sheets are filled out in an incredibly detailed fashion, with every important aspect of the build documented, but sometimes you get little to no information at all, with the questions we ask responded to in one or two words. In those instances, it is our job to get in touch with them to see if they can give us some sort of story about their build. If for whatever reason we can’t get a hold of the owner, we then have to proceed to use the power of the worldwide web to dig up any information we can on the owner and their car-(begin sarcasm) the part we love most (end sarcasm).

If Joshua was planning on living off the grid, he’s done an incredible job of it because there is little to no information on his Civic. He doesn’t peruse any internet forums, doesn’t have a cool internet nickname that people would immediately recognize, and (gasp) the guy is non-existent on any social media outlet. A decade ago, it would be considered “normal” but in the information-age, the guy is practically a ghost. The age-old phone call and email were also extended but with no response. We noticed his car was spotlighted one other time on a popular car website but after a thorough reading, they, too, weren’t able to squeeze a whole lot of information out of the guy. To offer you a better understanding, one of the main questions on the tech sheet was “Why did you build this vehicle?” Joshua’s response was simply, “To be cool.” We agree that his Civic is indeed cool but it would have been great had he tossed us that proverbial bone.

The only other tidbit of info is that he’s from Hawaii, and let’s not kid ourselves, you’ve read plenty features about vehicle builds from Hawaii. Let’s not forget the cliché play on words to try to manipulate something Hawaiian into the opening title. All you need to know about Hawaii is that they produce some great cars and that they’ve been doing so for years now. Some of the most inspirational and memorable Hondas from the past have been from the 808. The island may be small but buried in all that beautiful scenery are some true gems-you just have to find them.

Devoid of any sort of backstory, all we are left with are visual depictions of a story left untold. The Civic itself is a very well-executed build that represents the clean and simple style that Hawaiian enthusiasts have come to be known for. You’ll rarely find extensive race-bred Hondas there because it’s not what they are about. Hondas assembled on the island are built to be clean street cruisers and Joshua’s is just that. Outside, the entire 19 year-old chassis has been massaged, door dings and minor damage repaired before being sprayed the ever-classic Honda Championship White. A BackYard Special front lip and rear duckbill spoiler serve as the only aftermarket additions to the body while OEM J-spec lighting all-around give it some Japanese chic. Both front and rear fenders have been significantly altered to house an aggressive set of staggered 16×8/9.5-inch JLine wheels. Fitting the wheels required some trickery and a lot of help from negative camber adjustments. Providing the appropriate ride height is essential to pulling of this type of wheel fitment so Function & Form was called upon for their Type 2 adjustable dampers.

As stated, an everyday street Honda in Hawaii is rarely built with a full track car appeal in mind, it just has to function and look good doing so. Joshua’s engine bay reflects that. Under the hood, you won’t find any forced induction components or custom oil catch cans and breathers. There isn’t anything but the bare necessities like your typical air intake, header, and exhaust. The rest has been stripped down and the only major addition other than the 2000 ITR motor is negative space. Helping to free this space is a custom radiator that hides beneath the core support. On the firewall, the factory brake booster has been eliminated and mounted in its place is a Wilwood brake master cylinder. The bay was then shaved smooth and color-matched to the rest of the shell. All electrical connections deemed unnecessary are disregarded by utilizing a Rywire engine harness. The cockpit of this CX hatchback mirrors the exterior and engine bay’s minimalism. Besides the MOMO steering wheel and NEXT Miracle X bar, there isn’t much to go nuts about. A near complete JDM SiR interior has been supplemented but only the Honda-lover with a keen eye would catch that.

While the info for Josh’s Civic is sparse, perhaps this story doesn’t need to be about a car that’s been stuffed to the brim with as many parts as a given tech sheet can handle. Its overall simplicity speaks volumes on its own. I’d drop another random Saved By the Bell reference but my sleep deprivation is starting to kick in; I’d better end it here.

Tuning Menu

1993 Honda Civic CX

Owner Joshua Antolin

Hometown Honolulu, HI

Occupation Painter

Engine 2000 Honda 1.8L B18C5; Innovative engine mounts; Skunk2 Pro Series intake manifold; AEM fuel rail; PLM header; Password:JDM dry carbon fiber Power Chamber intake; All-In Fab radiator, coolant lines; shaved engine bay; Rywire engine harness; Odyssey battery

Drivetrain Honda S80 manual transmission; Exedy clutch

Engine Management Chipped P28 ECU

Footwork & Chassis Function & Form Type 2 coilovers; Wicked Tuning front camber plates; Blox rear camber plates; Function7 rear lower control arms; ASR subframe brace; NEXT Miracle X bar

Brakes Chasebays brake line tuck; OEM 2000 Civic Si brake proportioning valve; Wilwood brake master cylinder, cluster master cylinder reservoir

Wheels & Tires 16×8″ +5/16×9 +0 JLine SDMSL2; 205/40R16 Falken Ziex 912; Blox lug nuts

Exterior PPG Championship White paint; BackYard Special front lip, rear spoiler; Vision TC side mirrors; JDM OEM window visors, headlights, corner lights, taillights; rolled and pulled front/rear fenders

Interior JDM EG6 SiR front seats, rear seats, interior panels, instrument cluster; MOMO steering wheel; JDM OEM Gathers head unit

Thanks You New City Fender, Jake, Chang, Marc, Dexter, Alex, John, Guillermo, Roger, uncle Herbert, and my dad

THE YOKOTA MUSEUM

Nestled in the hills of Japan’s scenic Gunma Prefecture lies a car museum unlike any other I’ve ever seen. Actually, to even call this place a “car museum” is to understate just what you’ll find here. A visit to the M. Yokota Museum is like taking a trip back to a different era, and the exquisite selection of vintage Japanese cars is only one part of the experience.

I’d seen snippets about the place online over the years, but on my most recent Japan trip I was determined to see the museum for myself. Those images of Yokota’s race car collection alone were enough to put it high on my 2013 winter to-do list.

So one morning my wife and I hopped on a train at Tokyo’s Ueno station and made our way out of the city and toward the countryside of Gunma.

After a two-hour train journey and a short bus ride from the Shibukawa station, we arrived at the destination. The building’s architecture was interesting to say the least.

It’s certainly not something you expect to see on the side of a road in rural Japan.

But enough about the outside. It’s what’s inside that counts, right? Being a Speedhunter, it was of course the collection of vintage cars that brought me here – but the The Yokota Museum is so much more.

In fact, the official name of the place is the “Ikaho Toy, Doll, and Classic Car Museum” and even that doesn’t properly sum up the fascinating and sometimes strange world that’s found inside.

More than anything, the museum pays homage to post-war Japanese culture – the automobiles, toys and dolls are the artifacts used to bring the past back to life.

The entire place is full of items that call back to Japan of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

From vintage movie posters…

…to photographic tributes to the country’s long line of pop singers and teen idols.

Along with so many other things that tell the story of Japan’s rise from post-war gloom to becoming the economic, technological, and cultural powerhouse it is today.

But how exactly did the Yokota Museum come to be? What’s the story behind this nostalgic wonderland in the hills of Gunma?

It’s all the work of Mr. Masahiro Yokota, a carpenter originally hailing from a poor working class background. After mastering his craft  he was able to have a very successful career as a house builder working during Japan’s massive economic boom of the 1980s.

And while he was able to achieve financial prosperity through his career, he never felt fully satisfied. The money was there, but he really wanted to do something that made people happy. After traveling the world and seeing how the economic landscape was shifting in the United States and Europe, he knew Japan’s bubble economy was going to burst.

So in 1994 Yokota-san decided to take a leap of faith. He left his building career behind and created this toy and doll museum.

During his years of tearing down old houses and building new ones, he started to amass a big collection of unwanted toys. He felt bad seeing them thrown away, and it was this collection that became the starting point for the museum. But more than just a display of old toys, he wanted the museum to speak of the era in which they were manufactured and used.

This was actually a bit of a risky proposition. At the time, there wasn’t a whole lot of nostalgia for the Showa period, so the idea of a “modern” museum with toys artifacts from the last couple of decades was unheard of.  Not to mention, Japan’s economic bubble had in fact collapsed, just as Yokota-san feared.

But it turns out there was a demand to travel back to this not-so-ancient period of Japanese history. Perhaps it was actually good timing. Maybe the tough economic times of the ’90s had people yearning to return to a simpler and more optimistic era?

Whatever the case, people from all over Japan were soon coming to Gunma to see Yokota-san’s new museum. He was soon on his way to paying off the massive bank loan he’d taken out to construct and run the museum. More importantly though, he had accomplished his goal of building something that put a smile on people’s faces.

Of course, for me it was automobiles the brought me here in the first place, but to be honest I found the toys and other bits of nostalgia just as interesting.

While I can appreciate an ancient temple or traditional Japanese garden as much anyone, it’s really Japan’s more recent contributions to history that led me to fall in love with the country. In that sense, the Yokota Museum is an absolutely fantastic place.

But what about the cars? Well, they actually enter the picture a bit later in the museum’s history. Yokota-san had always been a gearhead, and has owned hundreds of motorcycles. During the height of his business success he drove Ferraris, Porsches, and other high end import cars that were rampant on Tokyo’s streets during the boom years.

And while he loved these bikes and exotic imports, he’d never paid much attention to the automotive contributions in his own country.

But that all changed when he was in Yokohama one day and first laid eyes on the iconic Toyota 2000GT. He’d heard of the car as a young man, but it wasn’t until much later in life that he actually had the chance to see one in the flesh. It was love at first sight. A beautiful, timeless automobile designed and built in Japan.

His encounter with the 2000GT ignited a huge passion for Japanese kyusha, and soon his collection was growing to include a number of legendary domestic vehicles from the ’60s and ’70s.

Not only had he fallen in love with these vintage machines, but they served as perfect addition to the museum. A perfect complement to the assortment of Showa era nostalgia he’d already assembled.

So in 2004 the classic car section of the museum was officially opened with a group of 70 hand-picked and fully-restored vintage cars. Yokota-san had already found an enjoyable and rewarding way to share his passion for vintage for Japan with the public, and the process of collecting and restoring these cars made things that much better.

The cars in the collection have all been restored with painstaking authenticity. Everything from the original gauges to the period correct bias-ply tires have been accounted for.

While the majority of the cars in the museum are street models, a number of race cars feature in the mix, too.

There’s some mouth-watering machinery on display, but I’ll wait until the next post to dig into the cars in detail.

One thing that’s especially cool about the car displays is the way they’re accompanied by artifacts from the period they were built.

Sometimes it’s as simple as factory brochures and old model kits…

…or promotional items like this cool Toyota 2000GT-branded hand bag.

Some of the other displays are even more thorough – here’s a tire rack loaded up with vintage rubber for example.

And in another corner, a shelf packed with steering wheels, mirrors, hub caps, and many other cool old car parts.

Check out these S30 Fairlady Z coil springs from Race & Street Service Toyoshima. To quote the English motto written on the front of the box: “The most revolutionary advance since the invention of the suspension. It’s a power and balance experience. We have been producing inquiry suspension for new generation. Who could ask for anything more?”

Promotional models, diecast toys, old car magazines – it all makes for so much more than just a collection of old cars.

With the continued success of the museum over the years, the facility has expanded to include a teddy bear museum, as well as chocolate and wine museum…

…which includes this bartender of the future. Admission to all of the displays are part of the modest 1,050 yen (about $10) admission fee.

There’s even an outdoor area that includes a squirrel habitat. To use the old cliche, it’s fun for the whole family.

It also happens that the squirrel area sits directly across from Yokota-san’s Ferrari F40. A bit surreal, but it’s all part of the experience.

The Yokota Museum made me nostalgic for a time and place decades before and half a world away from my own youth – something I’d say speaks of its effectiveness.  Judging by the young and old faces I also saw enjoying the vintage atmosphere, it’s safe to say Masahiro Yokota’s dream has become a reality.

Next time I’ll return with a closer look at the machinery that calls the Yokota Museum home.

Mike Garrett

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VANNING IS BACK

Vanning. It swept the USA during the 1970s in an explosion of side pipes, murals, and velvet interiors before it disappeared just as fast as it began. For a long time after, custom vans were looked at as embarrassing pieces of the past rather than nostalgic classics. That is changing though. During the last several years, more and more 1970s style custom vans have been popping up at events and at this year’s Mooneyes X-Mas Party there was a separate area dedicated specifically to vintage vans.

The result was not a small smattering of vans, but sizable display with around 30 examples present. For those that were around during the peak of vanning in the ’70s it was nostalgic trip, and for the younger crowd it was a fine look at a movement that was long buried in automotive history.

While I can’t speak for the entire country, it appears that Southern California is becoming a hotspot of the vanning revival. There are even a few clubs dedicated just to vintage vans.

It was a difficult to tell which of the vans were actually customized during the ’70s and which ones were modern recreations, but either way all of the period elements could be seen. This Dodge has covered all the basics, graphics, sidepipes, porthole windows, custom wheels, and a few spoilers for good measure.

This Chevy meanwhile is sporting an aggressive set of fender flares and a big front air dam to match. Looks like it’s ready for the IMSA circuit, doesn’t it?

As an example of  just how big the vanning craze got during the ’70s, Dodge actually released a factory custom version of its popular Tradesman Van known as the “Street Van”.

While they didn’t sell in huge numbers, the Street Van could be had with just about anything a van freak could want, including a plush interior, wide mag wheels, and wild graphics.

They were also identified by these awesome badges.

Having the right rear window design was crucial for your custom van. Some went with the classic porthole, while others went the diamond as seen on the Street Van.

The teardrop design was yet another popular choice along with the good old heart shape. These were the sort of tough decisions that vanners had to make back then.

Ask any vanner, any real vanner. They will all tell you the same thing. You can never have too many louvers…

The selection of vans also brought with them an array of vintage wheels to match. Some, like these finned jobs with Cooper Cobra tires looked like they’ve been mounted for quite some time.

The classic slotted mag wheel is another popular choice, not just on vans but for just about any car from the 1970s.

The same goes for the Cragar SS, which are usually fitted to vans in some very wide sizes both front and rear. This one also gets extra points for its Mickey Thompson Indy Profile tires.

The Keystone is another one of those cool old wheels that doesn’t pop up nearly as much it should.

For those looking to give their van a bit more of a Lowrider vibe, the Astro Supreme is another good choice.

This Chevy takes the Lowrider thing a bit further with wire wheels and a healthy amount of pinstriping.

Pinstriping is of course just the beginning when it comes to vans and paintjobs. At their wildest, they were less vehicles and more rolling canvases for elaborate murals. Are you the mysterious wizard type?

Or perhaps you are more into the flame-spitting dragon?

A proper custom van should also have its own name.

Only the best of the best could claim the elite” Vantasy” name. The same goes for the equally exclusive name, “Vantastic”.

You can sense the the increasing popularity of old vans when you see what they sell for these days. They are no Muscle Cars for sure, but sometimes it’s surprising to see how much early models like the Dodge A100 and Ford Econoline go for on Ebay or Craigslist.

I quite liked the look of this short wheelbase A100 with big and skinny Cragars. It’s simple by custom van standards, but very effective.

In most cases you can usually pick up on a few small differences between a modern build and survivor, but many of the vans like this Dodge look like they were came straight from the ’70s or early ’80s.

The National Street Van Association still exists, and based on their website they seem to be active as ever with a particularly strong presence in the UK.

Sometimes I’m highly disappointed that I didn’t get to experience the 1970s first hand…

Some of these custom vans grew to be quite large…

…in which case a double rear axle conversion is always a good choice. I’m not quite sure about the functional benefits, but it definitley makes for an unique look, and that’s what vanning was (is?) all about.

From the giant twin axle dodge to a tiny little Subaru mircovan. Vanning does not discriminate by size or place of birth!

In terms of both cars and fashion, it seems that everything eventually comes back into style. I can only see the vanning revival get bigger and bigger from here, so if you want an old van you better scoop it now before they hit Ferrari GTO price levels!

-Mike

 

 

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HT Cup Challenge Racing with Raceline

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

This past weekend, I was given the opportunity to join my friends from Raceline USA and JDM Zipties at the series opener of the Honda Tuning Cup Challenge at Buttonwillow Raceway. There are three announced HT Cup Challenge events for the 2013 calendar so far – Buttonwillow, Chuckwalla Raceway, and Streets of Willow.

Raceline also added a new component to the trackdays they organize – a challenge series for the new 86 Platform,”Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ. Even though it is called the 86 Challenge (coincidentally the same name as the previously announced 86 Challenge from Speedventures), the series is tailored towards Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ drivers, not AE86 owners.

Elton Lo Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

This is Elton Lo. He’s the head honcho at Raceline, even though he came to the track disguised as a King Taco employee.

Elton Lo Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

Raceline USA is a race shop in Temple City, CA, specializing in race car builds and maintenance. Although they’re capable of working on any type of car, most of their popularity stems from the modified Honda scene. This being said, it came as no surprise that there were some pretty good looking Hondas and Acuras trackside running the Raceline banner, like this Integra Type R. It’s awesome seeing well cared for cars built with top notch parts attacking the race track! This is what Raceline is all about!

Elton Lo Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

At the start line, one of the Raceline staffers, Jay Meot Gerolaga, was organizing the run groups and helping people on their way out to the track. Here he is giving some direction to Tony Jackson of Eibach Springs. Or maybe he was hitting up Tony for sponsorship? Haha!

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

I wonder if I’m the only one who thinks Eibach’s Marketing Manager Tony Jackson looks sort of like Tony Hawk? He was even cruising the Buttonwillow paddock on a skateboard! Ollies and 360s aside, Tony was tearing it up at Buttonwillow in his EG Civic. He actually fought his way to the top of the podium, winning First Place in the HT Cup Challenge, and that was no easy feat!

Elton Lo Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

Here’s Tony in his EG Civic hatchback negotiating the Bus Stop section at Buttonwillow.

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

Follow the leader. It was pretty awesome seeing these three drivers run full throttle down the main straight! They were battling each other the entire time they were on the track, and there were lots of people gathered near pit road, trying to watch the action as they charged through the entire course! So awesome.

Elton Lo Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

On pit road, Elton took the time to speak with some of the drivers as they exited the course, or stopped in at the Yokohama Tire booth for tire advice or assistance with their air pressure. I was so surprised to see Matt from Yokohama out there at the track. Most tire companies don’t care enough about small grassroots track events to do this type of stuff!

Scion FRS Subaru BRZ Raceline USA 86 Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

Even though Raceline’s trackdays are primarily attended by fast Hondas, there were a few Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ owners in attendance as well. It looked as if only a few competed in Raceline’s actual 86 Challenge, but there were several FR-S and BRZ drivers scattered throughout different run groups.

Scion FRS Subaru BRZ Raceline USA 86 Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

It came as no surprise to many that the fastest FR-S in attendance was owned by this man – Robert Fuller of Robispec.

Scion FRS Subaru BRZ Raceline USA 86 Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

When Robert wasn’t out on the track, he was cruising around the pits, talking to other FR-S and BRZ owners, like Jeff Lushe here. It looks as if Robispec is yelling at Jeff Lushe in this photo! If that were true, it wouldn’t be the only time Jeff got yelled at during the track day… hahaha

Scion FRS Subaru BRZ Raceline USA 86 Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

Here’s the FR-S/BRZ lineup charging down the front straight and into Sunrise corner! All the cars were pretty dusty and dirty, looking as if they all went off course at the racetrack! However, this wasn’t the case. (Well, I saw a couple cars go off course! Hehe) Most of the cars were dirty, however, because we all had to pass through the snow covered roads of The Grapevine on the drive up to Buttonwillow early in the morning. The Nissan 370Z I drove at the track that day looked filthy from driving through snow/dirt covered roads!

Scion FRS Subaru BRZ Raceline USA 86 Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

Here are some of the Scion FR-S drivers from the FRS/86 group! But I’m sure these guys need no introduction…

Subaru Motorsports Puma racing shoes 86FEST Scion FRS Subaru BRZ Raceline USA 86 Challenge

It was super cool seeing one of the guys in the FRS/86 camp rocking these brand new Subaru Motorsports Puma driving shoes that we raffled off at our 86FEST event back in October! This guy was a lucky winner!!! Man, I didn’t even save a pair for myself…

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

This E46 M3 from Platte Forme AG was sitting pretty in the pit area. This female driven E46 turned a 2:14.8, a new personal best for the driver, Renée Lee. Car is 100% stock other than Suspension Techniques Coilovers & spring conversion and Fikse Wheels wrapped in Continental Tire Extreme DW (340TW) tires.

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

This Mazda Miata looked pretty awesome with its crazy aggressive rear under-bumper diffuser and GT wing. By looking at the track stickers on the rear panel, it’s apparent that this driver is no stranger to the racetrack. Do YOU recognize all the tracks on the rear end of this Roadster?

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

Check out the mounting brackets for the under-chin spoiler/front splitter on this Miata, and the license plate mounting bracket. This car was repping our friends from GarageStar in Sacramento.

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

This Evo X MR looked like it was covered in dirt from the drive up to Buttonwillow as well… but it still looked awesome covered in dirt!

Mark Hutchinson Slide Squad Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

Even though I didn’t know many people at the Raceline event, other than Elton, Danny from JDMZipties, and the FRS/86 guys… I spotted some familiar faces walking through the paddock. This is Mark SlideSquad on the right in the North Face/Nord Schleife parody shirt. Mark recently bought an FR-S, and didn’t waste much time getting it onto the racetrack. I just realized I never really met his friends, but I think the guy in the middle was driving the track too.

Mark used to be very active in the Southern California drifting scene with his S13 Silvias. He’s done many different S chassis buildups, but my favorite is possibly his red S13 Silvia with the RB engine swap and Regamaster Evo wheels. I remember that thing ripping through California Speedway in Fontana back in 2004, pushing out big smoke from its fenderwells. In fact, I have a few photos of it in the hardcover book I published on Drifting back in 2006.

Mark Hutchinson Slide Squad Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

Here’s Mark driving his FR-S out on the track. Not sure how he placed in the 86 Challenge, but he looked as if he was pretty fast.

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

This is Dave SlideSquad. Before you make any assumptions about these guys being brothers or being in a domestic partnership or something, let me clarify. Slide Squad is the name of their old drift team from Thousand Oaks California.

I met these guys a long, long time ago at a race track far far away. Dave had an incredibly slow, incredibly low EF Civic hatchback that had camouflage spraypaint and Riken mesh wheels if I remember correctly? Dave’s car was always super cool looking, because it was styled to look like a Japanese drift car.

Back in the late 1990s, most of the Civics in Southern California looked horrible. They almost all had Altezza taillights, Saleen Mustang wings, Integra headlights, colored vinyl interiors, Ground Designs 2000 body kits, and 17 or 18-inch garbage wheels.

Dave’s EF was the antithesis of all that crap. It was low, yet purposeful most of the time. (At one point, Dave built an army green graveyard in the spare tire well of his Civic. I’m not sure how functional that was, but it was definitely representative of his quirky personality.) In fact, Dave’s Civic (and Mark’s S13 Silvia) were featured in the now defunct Japanese car magazine Young Version, where they showed off their American interpretations of early 2000s Japanese drift style, complete with stickers from drift teams that Dave met on his trips to Japan to watch drifting.

Yup, these guys were into drifting culture and canyon running “before it was cool.” Japanese car culture hipsters, if you will. Back in those days, Dave and Mark were among the only non-Asian guys I knew in Southern California who were into the car culture of Japan. I can’t believe I’ve known these two guys for over ten years. Damn, we’re getting old.

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

The Loi Spec Garage guys rolled deep to the track! They looked as if they had a pretty big crew gathered around their pit area, and they looked pretty damn fast out on the track, too.

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

If the Loi Spec cars were as fast as they looked, then maybe this might have something to do with it. Meticulously built engines that run well.

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

After packing up at the end of the day, many people took time out to take some cool sunset photos of their cars at Buttonwillow.

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

After I finished shooting my own sunset photos with the Z, I rolled up to the FRS/86 guys and told them to hurry up! We were all supposed to have dinner together at Willow Ranch BBQ at the Buttonwillow McKittrick Exit!

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

It started getting pretty cold and the Z Roadster had the top down, so I pulled my beanie down pretty low. I don’t know why everyone was trippin out when they saw me drive up… HAHA Kenny Truffin captured this pic of me telling the FRS/86 guys to hurry up so we could eat! LOL

All in all, the Raceline open trackday was so much fun! The atmosphere of the entire day was super chill, and everyone I met there was super cool. THANK YOU so much for inviting me to the event, Elton and Danny! Driving Raceline USA trackdays is a blast! I can’t wait for the next event at Chuckwalla!

We all left the track together, but our adventures didn’t stop there…

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

When we finally arrived at Willow Ranch BBQ, I noticed this Girls of Willow Ranch Calendar sitting in their display case. I started cracking up because Jason Dienhart from Global Time Attack sent me a Twitter message, telling me to pick up one of the Willow Ranch Calendars. I had no idea what he was talking about at first..? I assumed he was joking! But he wasn’t. They really do have a Willow Ranch Calendar! LOL.

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

This was our waitress, Kendall. Nice! She should have (I hate when people write SHOULD OF) worn that outfit to work that day! But she didn’t. We were so disappointed.

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

If you ever visit Willow Ranch BBQ, make sure you order the FRUIT PUNCH. It is sooooo damn good. After killing one of these glasses of delicious fruit punch, it’s almost like your can feel the diabetes developing inside your body. But it’s so worth it. Mmmmmmmmmm!

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

One of the new additions to our crew, Kenny Truffin, was sitting next to me at the table. He ordered the beef ribs. Damn son. They look good!

Raceline USA Honda Tuning HT Challenge Buttonwillow Raceway Eibach

Over the past few months, I cut 90% of the red meat from my diet… but I had to make an exception for this trip to Willow Ranch. I ordered the Tri Tip & Pit Beef combo. Pretty damn awesome. So worth it!

:: Antonio Alvendia

 

 

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source: motormavens.com

 

 

SPOTLIGHT-O-RAMA: AN ALL AMERICAN SELECTION

In yesterday’s post I gave you guys a broad view of the Goodguys All-American Get Together in Northern California, and today I’d like to narrow in and focus on some of the specific cars that caught my interest at the show. As I mentioned in the first post, there was huge variety of cars that came out – and I think this selection of six vehicles conveys that pretty well.

Let’s begin with one of those most unique,and also one of the coolest cars I found all day – a 1961 Chevy Corvair Lakewood wagon lowrider. Now just seeing any Corvair wagon is quite rare in itself, but to see one dumped to the ground on wire wheels is something completely unexpected.

With the rear wheels cambered well into the fenders, it gives the car a slightly European or Japanese vibe. It’s fitting, considering how much different the Corvair was from any other American car of the era.

Elsewhere, the car was very subtle. The body (with the exception of some mild shaving) and interior were largely original – and in pristine condition.

It’s always great to see people think outside the box, and that is exactly what the builder of this unique cruiser did. Well done!

From a slammed compact wagon to a high riding bruiser. Another car that caught my eye was this badass Plymouth GTX Gasser. While ’66 and ’67 Plymouths have always been popular among racers and restorers, I can’t recall ever seeing one built quite like this.

All the correct Gasser elements were checked off the list. Straight axle conversion up front with fenderwell headers, and a fitting combination of skinny Cragars up front and big steelies in the rear.

Let’s not forget the equally important set of velocity stacks popping proudly through the center of the hood…

A peek inside the car reveals a cockpit that is much more street car than it is racing machine. That’s just one of the many things that I love about 1960s era drag cars.

If there was one negative, it was the fact that the car looked slightly out of place sitting on the grass at a car show. You can just sense this thing is waiting to be unleashed at the drag strip.

Representing the custom world, we have a stunning ’62 Chrysler 300 created by well known builder Richard Zocchi of nearby Walnut Creek. Known as “Cool 300″, this the latest in a long line of Zocchi’s custom creations.

While the body of the Chrysler has been heavily massaged, the angled headlights are a factory feature that was left intact. An example of some of the bold styling features seen on American cars of the early ’60s.

It’s hard to think of a more fitting wheel and tire combo for this car than wires with knockoffs and wide whites. It just fits with the high end custom style so well.

Glancing through the heavily chopped roofline, you can see an interior that’s been done in the same “sherbert” color scheme.

To show just how well this car has been received, it was selected as the winner of the George Barris Kustom D’Elegance Award at this year’s Grand National Roadster Show.

The Chevy Nova/Chevy II is an extremely common car at shows like this, and it can be very hard to build one that stands out. This ’66 from the city of Rocklin has managed to do just that.

You might be asking why, because the exterior looks pretty standard. Indeed it does. With modestly sized rallye wheels at each corner, it looks like your typical cruise night special.

The same goes for the basic looking, bench-seat equipped interior. It’s all very nice and tidy, but nothing out of the ordinary.

But then you look in the engine bay and see this – a 6.0 liter LSX motor with a massive turbocharger affixed to it.

It’s not rare to see old cars with big power LSX swaps and forced induction, but they are usually accompanied by giant wheels and tires, racing seats, and other overt modifications. This one on the other hand is a wrapped in a very unassuming package. One of the coolest sleepers I’ve seen in a while.

History is one thing that can make a car very cool, and this ’51 Chevy has plenty of that. It was originally a mild custom in Southern California and in the early ’60s it was converted into a drag car.

With a straight axle conversion, it ran in gas class competition at places like Irwindale and Lions Drag strip before it was put into storage in 1967. In 2006 it underwent a complete frame-off restoration where modern running gear was added to match its period looks.

While the interior looks straight out of the ’60s, that shifter is actually mated to a T56 six-speed transmisison. The motor is a 383 stroker with nitrous, making over 600 horsepower on pump gas.

Gotta love the big cheater slicks sitting under fenders that were originally radiused back in the early ’60s.

It’s fast, cool, and has a ton of history. What more do you need?

Lastly, we have a rather interesting 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. Wait a minute. What’s the deal? What’s so American about a VW?

Well, this is no normal Karmann Ghia, but a fairly mental build out of Lewiston, Idaho. It’s got a custom-fabricated chassis and wasn’t built just for show but for open track events.

It’s powered not by an aircooled Volkswagen motor buy by a fully built 331 cubic inch Ford small block that’s somehow been wedged into the front cargo compartment.

While the Ghia is clean enough to be a show car, a peek inside the interior further reveals its athletic intentions. There are full bucket seats, a custom transmission tunnel and of course a roll bar.

And just to make things that much better, the big Wilwood brakes are covered by a set of Work Emotion XD9 wheels. A German car with an American engine and Japanese wheels. Why not?

So there you have it. Just a little slice of the automotive extremes from the Goodguys All American Get-Together.

-Mike

 

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source: speedhunters.com