SoCal Car Culture at a Glance

America! The shining beacon of civilization, freedom, and to many -- the most abundant, diverse and very accessible car culture.

Every time I visit this part of the world I can't help but notice how important cars are in every day American life, and at the same how passionate Americans are about their four wheeled machines.

During my visit to SEMA I was amazed at not only how massive the show was, but at how main-stream the automotive after-market industry is in this country.

Many people often compare Tokyo Auto Salon to SEMA and I am no exception, but what stood out the most from my perspective was the business-like attitude of the Americans. 

Whereas exhibitors at Tokyo Auto Salon are there to show off their skills, creativity, and sometimes beyond any possible imagination insane builds,

for Americans it's always business first, but at the same time don't even think about underestimating the skills and creativity. But no matter how skilled or creative American builder might be, when it comes to SEMA, it's always "Business First"

It is therefore I have always enjoyed the outdoor part of SEMA more than the trade show itself as business takes a back seat and builders show off their achievements in best possible way - under bright sun of American South -West.  This is something that organizers of Tokyo Auto Salon I wish would consider - a large outdoor exhibition, and even though Makuhari is no Las Vegas, the tall buildings and wide areas can be a perfect set for a quick photo-shoot.

My opportunity at having a closer look at this kind of showmanship was at this year's Formula Drift Long Beach event held under beautiful California skies in early April.

As always drift events are accompanied by a car show, various sponsors booths, and lots and lots of tire smoke.

And while drift competition is as exciting as always my lack of press pass was limiting my ability to deliver any quality action shots.

So just take my word for it -- it was awesome,

In this post, however we will have a look at some of the show cars exhibited around the track.

As soon as I stepped into the venue, it was evidently clear that US car culture is as strong as ever.  You just a never see such a great diversity of fans in Japanese events.

And the cars were just out of this world gorgeous.

It may be the California sun, or more satisfying lunch options, but I could swear -- cars always look better in this part of the world, and it was immediately seen once i started going through the photos.

And there were lots of them.  The feeling of "what on earth I am going to do with all these pictures" was back,

Well, let's pick though them one by one,

Starting with the Ferrari Powered Toyota 86, built by non other than Formula Drift's own Ryan Tuerck

I have featured this build on my SEMA post, but finally seeing this car under natural light in a way revealed the bigger picture, and ultimately as more details became visible you can't help but appreciate the degree of craziness and engineering excellence behind this project.

Unfortunately the car didn't take part in the competition as Ryan chose the 2JZ version of the 86 to slide around the track.

Not far from it was this amazing Fly1 Motorsports' Niko Edition carbon wide bodied Z34 on Platinum Forged D57 wheels.

As for older Z cars there was plenty to check out as well

Classic Z cars are still very affordable, but something tells me it's not going to be for long.  Aftermarket world loves this platform, as chassis seem to be able to handle ridiculous amounts of power from various engine swaps and mods.

Americans love to have their builds stand out, their extreme level of showmanship was seen at last year's SEMA show,

but these builds don't go anywhere without a lot of work being done under the hood.

Just look at all the work that went into building this wide bodied Evo X sitting on mag blue TE37 wheels.

Personally, I liked this super clean EVO X on SSR GTX01 wheels.

The new Lexus RCF has proven to be a fan favorite as well. The after market options are rapidly expanding while owners are taking notice.  We have seen a supercharger kit at Tokyo Auto Salon, and here is one dressed in Rocket Bunny kit.

I will always have a soft spot towards Infiniti G37, as my two years of ownership were nothing but fun,

but seeing what Americans do when it comes to customizing this platform makes me want to own one again.  Hmm... Maybe Q60... someday...

As some of you may know, G37, and later Q50 and Q60 are labeled in Japan as Skylines.  Seeing a Skyline in America, however is a rare sight... Especially like this.  I still find it hard to believe that this 700 HP monster was a base model GTE in its previous life.  It's like me reincarnating into Rambo. 

This R34 Skylne GTR on Volk Racing TE37 wheels pretty much defined perfection. 

While this R32 was so perfect it still had its Yokohama plates!

If you still want to pick up a GTR, the R33 is still within affordable range, but hurry up -- once it gets to the 25 year status, prices are going to through the roof.

While there is always a place for Rocket Bunny R35,

this Pandem R32 stole the show.  The kit was presented at this year's Tokyo Auto Salon, but already found its way into North America!  Good job!

Of course, these shows never go without Supercars

There weren't any rarities or unicorns like we often get in Daikoku or some of Japan's events, but what do get is same approach as the rest of the car guys, readiness to mix it up with the JDM groups, and true passion for anything on four wheels.

Let's face it, supercars play a whole different role in global car culture than they did 15 - 20 years ago.  Prior to dotcom bubble most people who could afford such cars were esteemed businessmen or high ranking retirees, and most of them had no desire to challenge themselves with quirky uncomfortable flashy vehicles that were a nightmare to drive on city streets.

Nowadays, an average Ferrari owner is a lot younger, has a lot more to prove, and at the same time - supercars are  a lot more accessible and can be driven by virtually anyone.

This resonated very well with the manufacturers as they started releasing a whole new class of cars, positioned at very top of the price range, but driven mostly by younger individuals.

Mercedes Benz used to be known as old man's car, but unless you are an old man in very good physical shape, you simply won't be able to get in and out of this AMG GT.  This young owner, however did not hesitate lowering it even further and installing some after market rims.

Perhaps Porsche is the only car brand that hasn't adopted to any of the trends.  The models in their top range say loud and clear: only for those who love and can drive.

But with that said, people do still like to experiment as old Porsche customizing scene needs no introduction.

Throughout history of entire automotive scene and global car culture BMW has always played a very special role as it was always one of the most sought after, respected, and above all -- enjoyed.

The abundance of Bimmers in this little event illustrates my point.

most were very tastefully modded,

and some returned straight from SEMA, sporting the awesome PSM Dynamic kit,

This M2 needs no introduction, but now on a set of HRE wheels it looks even more aggressive and sporty.

But it's this violet F87 M2 that did the trick for me.

Unfortunately I haven't had a have a chance to find out whether this is some kind of indivudal color option or just a very well done wrap job, but regardless of what it is, it looks stunning.

This, however, was most definitely  a wrap and it was definitely the most challenging car for a photo shoot as it confused the life out of my poor CMOS censor.

But with a bit of help of editing software I was able to present to you what can only be described as the most unique E90 M3 out there! Say what you wish, but I was just happy to find an E90 M3 :)

So there we have it.  In a nutshell that's all the time I had to spend with cars in Sunny California during my latest trip.

I personally can't wait to get back there,

but until I do please enjoy some of the cool content coming up from the Land of the Rising Sun.

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