EVENTS: The Very Last Nisei Showoff

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Way, way back in the day, nisei (the Japanese word for second-generation Japanese Americans) held informal cruise nights all over the greater Los Angeles area. They were some of the first guys ever to modify 510s, Celicas and the early Mazda rotaries. Eventually, that evolved into an actual show, the Nisei Showoff, sometime in the early-to-mid 90s. There’s a lot of history there, but sadly, this will be the last one.

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Originally called the Import Showoff, the show underwent a name change when it was incorporated into the nearly 70-year old Nisei Week Festival in Little Tokyo. And as any Angelino knows, Little Tokyo has been morphing the past couple of years. New luxury condos and annoying hipster clothing chains have sprung up, taking up real estate. By this time next year the parking area where the Nisei Showoff takes place will be gone.

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FF compacts and large FR turbo machines dominated the scene for much of the Naughties but a welcome resurgence of J-tin, like this bright white E20 Corolla with matching painted Longchamp XR4s, turned out to see the Showoff off.

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Most people prefer the quad-headlight version of the TE71 Corolla and we tend to agree, but a beautifully stanced TE71 Corolla can overcome any reservations about squares up front.

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Always keep your wheels clean.

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We were not allowed to touch this 510.

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The AE91 Corolla hardly gets any love at all, but this car is proof positive that anything can be improved with the addition of fender mirrors. A heap of JDM trim pieces and sexy TOM’S wheels don’t hurt either.

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We love variations on the AE86’s two-tone – same scheme, different colors.

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Everyone’s favorite of the show seems to be the TE72 Corolla Wagon in the lead photo, and we can’t blame them. Bright white Diamond Race customs are a sharp contrast to the metallic brown body and you could probably fit a wedding cake in each one.

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Chalk up the Nisei Showoff as another victim of gentrification. But it’s not over yet. The organizers have put together the Mega Matsuri Car Show (named after local festivals in Japan) to carry on the torch.

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8 Responses to EVENTS: The Very Last Nisei Showoff

  1. Great looking Stuff out there.

  2. BlownArrow! said:

    Love the wheel and stud setup on that wagon! :-D

  3. Neil said:

    Hey right on! I have Diamond race wheels on my race car. They are the only company that will custom make any wheel, any size, any offset, any bolt pattern.
    The custom ones are a little pricey as far as race wheels go but they are the most durable rim I’ve ever “tested”. They look pretty nice to.

  4. Toyotageek said:

    I’m kinda surprised this hasn’t drawn more of a reaction. Even though the current Japanese nostalgic car scene has it’s roots in many things and places, Southern California’s Little Tokyo and various ‘matsuri’ held there are major contributing factors (even if indirectly). The Japanese American culture of the 70’s and 80’s spawned all sorts of car clubs, most of which are gone today, but they are the forefathers of todays movement (hmm, sounds like something for a future magazine article).

    There is a lot of potential here. Little Tokyo and the city of Los Angeles would greatly benefit by having more events here. I wish the organizers of the Mega Matsuri Car Show all the best.

  5. Ben said:

    Very well said, Toyotageek. The article is something we’ve been talking about but we want to do it justice and are going to take our time with the research. We’ve also seen great nostalgic meets spring up recently, so maybe it’s time to start some new clubs, eh? :)

  6. DUFFM4N said:

    all the love the wagon got from the show on the internet…yet, no trophy :(

    oh well…internet love > trophy

  7. Great coverage and beautiful pics.

    And Duffman, +1 on “internet love > trophy” !

  8. Javier_Flores_TE70 said:

    where can i get a bumper like the 1 on the orange te70

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