2019 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 08 — 90s Kids

With 90s cars now eligible for JCCS it is suddenly quite obvious that the cars of the Tuner Era are have arrived at JCCS. This coincides with the Youngtimer movement in the collector car community as a whole catching steam. Many of the cars we once saw gracing the covers of the old print media magazines back in the day, and with most having had the life driven out of them, are now rubbing elbows with the chrome bumper royalty we typically think of when we think of “classics.” 

Cars like Eric Mendoza and Andre De La Chaussee’s EG Civics were once the go-to first cars for many Millennials, There was a formula when you got a Civic: the first two paychecks went to wheels and coilovers, next came exhaust and intake, and finally an engine swap. If you were really ballin’ circa 2006, you’d sprinkle some JDM goodies and a lip kit on the car like a fine parmigiano cheese. Both of these B-series swapped  Civics were prime examples of what you could do with that formula, and each made a strong case for each body style, EJ1 Coupe or EH3 hatchback.

One of the most iconic liveries for the Honda community has been the Spoon Sports blue and yellow paint scheme. The Civic VX like Dion Thurow’s started out as the fuel economy model but gained a new life with racers as it was ultra lightweight and could easily be modified to utilize the performance D16Z6 head and P28 ECU. Dion’s car has a lot more than the mini-me D15Z1 block and D16Z6 head combination; it’s running an Integra GS-R engine complemented by a glut of suspension modifications for track days.

Speaking of Integras, there was a huge number of second generation DAs at JCCS this year. Honestly, it’s more than I’ve seen at any single car show in the last decade. These Integras were sorely overshadowed their younger siblings, the DC chassis Integra for nearly their entire existence. That being said, they hold an important place in the history of import drag racing. In the 1990s when Hondas were first being dragged in large numbers, it was none other than Tony Fuchs in his daily driven second-generation Integra that first ran consistent 10-second passes. So you can thank the second generation DA Integra for proving that fast Hondas weren’t just a fluke.

As cars of the mid-90s are coming into JCCS, the Hondas of the show were in their prime this year. Now, the CD Accord, DC Integra, BB4 Prelude and second-generation Acura Legend can have their time in the sun as well. Ryan Ordinario’s Accord wagon with Mugen body kit, steering wheel, custom-barreled NR-10 and CF-48 wheels was a great representation of the 5th generation Honda Accord and a compilation of the Mugen catalog.

The second generation Acura Legend was a little light on the representation this year and, frankly, that is to be expected. They’re great cars but they were much larger than the rest of what was available to the Honda world and never got as much love by the tuner community. That being said, it has it’s community that is extremely dedicated to the chassis. That community even includes Ludacris, who’s restored 283,000-mile sedan made it into SEMA back in 2015.

For its part, Honda brought out an immaculate Legend Coupe and the circa-1999 Super Street Civic Si. This was the car that ignited the debate between Ben and I about whether the wilder sides of the sport compact movement would ever make a nostalgic comeback (It will).

The Honda Prelude was always an avant garde option and served as Honda’s testbed for advanced tech for most of its lifespan. Preludes hold a strong place in the world of Honda tuning as the basis of some of the best builds of all-time. Jeremy Allgier’s BB4 Prelude was one of the best Preludes in show this year. The car featured an ARC Magic theme, and was equipped with a set of massive TE37 wheels, among many other modifications.

Abbey Road Company, or ARC Magic as most people call it, were famous for their braised aluminum pieces in the mid 2000s. With mirror finishes on almost all of their parts and the rainbow burnt look on their welds, they helped popularize the trend of burning every piece of stainless steel you had on your car. While many imitate ARC’s parts, few can match the actual quality of their pieces. The parts on this Prelude are over a decade old and still hold their luster. They combine to make this H23 with a Jackson Racing Supercharger look like it belongs in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles.

Battle of the Imports 1997 has really stepped it up and we’re excited for the direction this series is headed. Although it seems that the Hondas are taking over the track, it’s always dope to see that an AE92 Corolla can hold it down over at the car show. The alloys give this car a fresh modern look and the banging system in this car is the only way to listen to Prodigy.

Excuse our time warp; I don’t know what happened to this picture but it fits an era-correct AE92 Corolla perfectly.

Traditionally the cars outfitted with the most JDM parts are Hondas, but that’s not the case with Rodrigo Catibog’s AE101 Corolla. Not only does it have the obvious bits like JDM fender mirrors, skinny bumpers, and mirror delete plates, but Rodrigo went as far to get the JDM AE100 Autronic ECU voice and sound warning which, instead of beeping at you, speaks in Japanese about the related warning. Finally the car keeps its modifications era correct with only parts from the 1990s TRD Stage 1 catalog.

Not all of the cars from the 1990’s in show were the well known cars of the era, this NX2000 represents not only the sole NX2000 at JCCS this year but one of only maybe five that I have seen in person in the last 20 years. Much like it’s Pulsar predecessor, the NX2000 is a car that is exceedingly “of the era.” While any car that is 25 years old is hard enough to maintain, it isn’t hard mode until you have to describe the car when searching for parts for it. Jun Andrada is the original owner and modified it in period, with VIS body kit and HKS exhaust.

The Sentra SE-R owned by Juan Ramirez represents Nissan’s greatest version of the Sentra. Lightweight and powered by the venerable SR20 engine, the B13 SE-R begs to be flogged around a racetrack. Juan’s car sports a laundry list of modifications that makes the car competitive even 29 years after it left the dealership.

Charles Barnes sports an alternative take on the SE-R, while keeping it just as competitive. The car has been owned since new by Charles and sports a SR20VET swap which has been the 5th iteration of this vehicle since new. We can’t help but applaud Charles’s dedication to the craft. The majority of B13 SE-R owners use their car exclusively for track days, so it is refreshing to see a few shined up and on display for all to see.

The car is running on a flex fuel system with metal intake piping, a Treadstone intercooler and plenty of other work. The engine has a list of modifications that literally runs off of the registration page. If you’re not familiar with the particular variant of the SR20 used in this car, the SR20VET engine from the factory makes 280 PS in the homely little crossover it was made for. In this application though, it would be shocking to see anything shy of 400 horses.

Of course, the SE-R was overshadowed by its bigger, rear-wheel-drive sibling, the venerable Nissan S13. Jordwynne Ginez’s silver Silvia-nosed 1993 was loaded with original parts like NISMO LMGT4 wheels, a NISMO 2-way LSD and power brace. Bride seats and Apex’i exhaust complete the JDM look. Meanwhile, Spencer Rieker’s purple Silvia conversion with SR20DE with Tomei Poncams, SARD injectors, custom header leading to an HKS exhaust, all wrapped up in a period C-West drift-spec body kit.

Not quiet nostalgic but already rare in unmolested form, the S14 Nissan 240SX in clean and tastefully modified form were a pleasant surprise. We were especially fond of Oscar Carrera’s (what a name!) red 1995 zenki in old school and rare Navan aero kit and a Japanese-market Silvia K’s rear bumper and wing. A Trial bucket seat and D-Max suspension complete the Drift Era mods, but are thankfully on a car that survived the Drift Era itself in tact.

A couple of Infiniti M30s populated the field, including Andrew Risteen’s unrestored survivor 1992 convertible. With only 79,000 miles on it, we think Three Kings-era Ice Cube would be duly impressed.

Perhaps even more astounding was the the sight of a brilliantly kept Infiniti J30t. So few of them survived that Infiniti themselves only recently acquired one for their own collection. The cutting edge styling was controversial when new, and some say it has not stood the test of time well, but it was a prime example of how different Infiniti was from the typical luxury car companies back then.

The 90s (well, 1989, technically) also gave birth to one of the finest driving machines of all time, the Mazda Miata. Seen here in Mariner Blue, semi-rare Sunburst Yellow, and Classic Red provided a perfect trio of primary colors.

Louie Maximiano’s British racing green bikini-top speedster exemplified many of the modern Miata tuning trends. Mirrors from M2, Jass headlights, and a US Racing Sports Mk3 bumper mixed of worldwide Miata parts, showing just how extensive the aftermarket support of the roadster is.

The Mazda RX-7 FD3S is one of the quickest appreciating 90s heroes in the Japanese car world. This is partially due to the rarity of unmolested examples, but also the fact that it was perhaps the last sports car from Japan that took a lightweight design philosophy to the extreme (nowadays, you just throw power to make up for the mass). The problem with lightweight materials is that they are often brittle, all the more reason clean FDs like Eiji Mihara’s red example on Volk TE37 SL are increasingly sought after.

While it is technically a 1999, Len Saichaie’s all-original 22,000-mile Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 represented the sole 3000GT in show. That being said, I couldn’t think of a better car to do the job. The final iteration of the 3000GT was 90s Mitsubishi at it’s finest. It was the 3000GT at its busiest and most wild looking, it had countless vents and curves on the body, the front end looked like it escaped Area 51, but everything had a purpose. Nothing was fake, it was honest and brutally fast.

To a lot of us, this era was the peak of the internal combustion engined automobile. The cars were more fun and more attainable than ever before. While we had the 3000GTs to aspire towards, we also had Integras that we could afford. A lot of old timers are afraid that car enthusiasts are a dying breed but with the next generation coming up with the cars that they loved, it makes us all know that everything will be okay.

To be continued

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10 Responses to 2019 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 08 — 90s Kids

  1. Nigel says:

    The Sport Compact Car and Granturismo 2 / 3 generation !!

  2. MikeRL411 says:

    That’s my 1997 Infiniti J30T! According to the paperwork it was built in Jan 1996 [so tested to 96 pollution standards to the consternation of smog checkers], used by Nissan until sent to the dealer in 1998 and then I bought it. So that makes me the original purchaser if not the original owner. It has a factory 10 CD player in the trunk. 56 thousand miles to date. Use them, don’t abuse them.

  3. Ant says:

    That red Sentra is a lovely bit of work – seen it around the internet quite a bit recently, and the way it looks and the way it’s been prepared look pretty much perfect.

    One thing that concerns me if the early-2000s-era look returns to the compact segment is how few nice-condition cars from that era are actually left.

    It worked at the time because Civics and Sentras (or if you’re in Europe like I am, Corsas, Saxos and Escorts) grew on trees. But would anyone be willing to turn a ’99 Civic Si coupe into a car like that Super Street example now?

    I think one of the reasons the current modification trends for older cars are popular is because they don’t actually change the shape of the original car that much – people have realised that actually, just a set of wheels, some decent suspension and a few OEM+ touches can make for a great-looking build. Some go further obviously, but it’s difficult to imagine people tearing up the last few pristine compacts from that era to attach enormous bodykits to them…

    The trend might instead happen to the current generation of compacts, but then some of those look pretty wild already – I’m thinking the latest Civic, particularly the Type R. It’s pretty much wearing the kit an aftermarket company would supply already!

    • Max says:

      The trends seem that way for JNC enthusiasts, this place had a high bar for quality and appreciates the way cars look from the factory, but trust me, I am trying to keep a 1999 Prelude in good condition and those are being hacked up by young drivers just like the 2000s, It’s just that they don’t do big body kits anymore, they do cut fenders, cheap tyres, spacers and camber…and the matte black…so much matte black!

    • Ben Hsu says:

      Ant: You don’t know the US, where every other owner is trying to get Instagram famous with their car. We don’t include them in our coverage of various shows, but there are plenty of hacked up cars that would make you cringe.

      Max: A noble effort!

    • The good news is with the trend of bringing back the 90s and early 2000s style cars is most of the efforts are based around preservation and restoration of those cars, rather than taking a good stock car and doing the modifications. If anything, particularly poor cars may go this route if it is a fresh build as the parts are rather difficult to find and the style is worth significantly less than a preserved car.

      The ideology of this trend of the bodykit comeback is based more around seeing this part of import car history rotting away in a state of disrepair than trying to subject the survivors to the treatment.

  4. teddy says:

    that bikini top Miata is beautiful, love seeing these things in good condition

  5. Dion Thurow says:

    Thanks so much for the mini feature of our civic hatchback! My wife and I have had a lot of fun building it and putting on the livery. We had a blast at this year’s JCCS Show. More stuff is in the works for next year, you can follow the progress at our YouTube channel below, R&D Garage. Thanks again!

  6. Jeff F says:

     I was also heavily involved in this 90s scene tuning and modding my own honda in my late teens and into my twenties, so i remember the earlier import scene with the NIRA drag events and also SCCA autocross events. I also prefer the clean setups that defined the early modding styles, emphasizing a more performance, purpose built, sometimes sleeper look with JDM and oem+ mods, before the “fast and furious” era where it got too flashy and tacky and too popular. The 90s scene that i knew, circa 94-97, was the sweet spot for me, where the import scene was still rather unknown to the mainstream and so still exotic. Tuned imports were still pretty rare in 95, at least on the east coast streets. I remember driving from NJ to MD during summer of 96, convoying with a friend in our modded civics headed to a friend who was just starting an import performance parts shop out of his garage, and we were getting additional parts installed from him. We noticed people in other cars pointing at our cars and looking fascinated at a toll booth, eyes big, as if a modified import compact was foreign to them and something they had never seen before. I’m sure they were fascinated more with my friend’s car, a 95 eg civic hatch that looked like it was imported directly from Japan and looking like it was prepared for a Japanese road race series, with a clean look with no body kit, lowered on performance suspension, JDM race wheels, and Japanese performance part decals arranged cleanly in a column style on the front fenders, real sports catback exhaust with a slightly tilted up and angle-cut tip and fully chambered muffler (no fart cans existed back then thank goodness) for a deep throaty sound. He had all the N/A upgrades as well to back up the exterior, including ported head and performance cam, which were considered quite aggressive mods for the time. He introduced me to Japanese car video series such as Best Motoring and Options video, which played a big role in keeping us informed on the latest in Japan and kept us drooling at the cars we couldn’t get here like the skyline gtr and early mitsu EVOs.   At the time, he had to order them from Japan so there were no English subtitles (unlike now with youtube). He also introduced me to the real “fast and furious movie, “Thunderbolt” with Jackie Chan (1995).Big names and pioneers in the import drag scene were adam saruwatari, tony fuchs, abel abarra, eddie bello, vinni ten, charles madrid, david shih, stephan papidakis and others. Those who were really into the scene will recognize at least some of these names. Ah,These were good times. Really missing the 90s.  Gen X forever. By the way, a couple cars that were  a fixture in the 90s import scene are missing here. One is the Toyota Supra mk4. The other was also a rather significant part of the 90s import scene, namely in import drags. That was the mitsubishi/DSM eclipse. These cars, namely the awd versions,were some of the fastest cars at the drags and in general, easy to modify for big hp with it’s legendary 4g63 turbo motor, and easy to launch off the line with its awd. Very high performance for the money.

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