The Nisei Showoff is a special time of year for us. It's not a tour that occurs throughout the year such as Hot Import Nights or Extreme Auto Fest. It's one distinct day filled with awesome builds and people. In the early hours of the morning car builders have to roll in and set up, while car enthusiasts line up prior to gate opening under a scorching sun. If that doesn't show the energy and passion for the import scene, we don't know what else does.
For many years we worried about the future of Nisei. But founder Ken Miyoshi rose to the challenge and pulled off one of the best shows of the summer, once again. To say that Nisei Showoff 2013 was a success is an understatement. We can't remember seeing this much foot traffic in previous years and that may have been because it joined forces with Stance Nation. Which explained the variety of car geeks that showed up.
The import lifestyle has come a long way and many of the popular tuning styles were repped at the show. Spectators enjoyed both form and function cars with a sprinkling of a few Japanese classic cars. Speaking of Japanese classic cars, a few of them made it onto our list of favorite Toyotas from this year's event. In no specific order, here are the Top Five Toyota builds from Nisei.
Kaaz USA Toyota Trueno
It's unfortunate that a certain cartoon show created what many call the "Takumi tax" on the now more expensive used AE86s for sale. Even an AE86 in bad condition can cost an astonishing $5,000. We found this clean example in the far corner of the event area. "It's got the 20v engine from a front-wheel drive Corolla in Japan. Right now there's no special tuning aside from the individual throttle bodies," says the owner Ray Nakatate.
Eric Lam's Toyota Supra
The Toyota Supra, a car that was produced in the '90s and made famous for its rear-wheel drive and in-line six engine layout. Like most Supra owners, Erica went with a single turbo compliments of a Greddy T78 turbo. The exterior was repainted to Imperial Jade Mica. " Using 91 octane, we're hitting close to 500 horsepower. I'm going to try to do an E85 set up and go for 650," says Eric Lam. He drove all the way from Northern California to compete at Nisei and actually won a few Toyota awards that day. Way to go Eric!
Big Mike's Toyota Levin
If you're ever at a Japanese Classic Car Show or a Toyota Owner's Day listen for the loudest car and it's guaranteed to be Big Mike's rare 1973 Toyota Levin. Finding a Levin in this condition is close to impossible. The lightweight Levin coupes rolling around the Philippines - his birthplace - inspired Mike to import more than one later in life. His engine was built for road racing and autocross. Which explains the ear piercing exhaust note.
"It has had several different Toyota motors: 2TG, 3SGTE, a turbo motor and then finally I went with the rotary. I was at the track one day and I got drive one of the rotary cars, the R100. The car was incredible, easy to manage and high revving, so I went with the rotary. I actually went with a rotary turbo first, but it was too overpowered. Then I went NA," says Big Mike. For an extended interview with Big Mike on his Levin, click here. As if his car wasn't special enough, Big Mike sourced a set of TRD Tosco's. Listen for this car at a show near you.
Toyota Sports 800 Coupe
Nothing stirs our emotions like a classic Toyota. If it weren't for cars like the Toyota Sports 800 Coupe we wouldn't have seen the likes of an AE86 or the more modern Scion FR-S. The nostalgic Toyota was produced in 1965 and seeing it at the 2013 Nisei Showoff was nothing short of spectacular.
Carl Zamuco Lexus IS250
Feast your eyes on Carl's Lexus IS250. You would expect a VIP car to go with a VIP wheels, but Carl went with SSR Professor SP1s 19x10" in the front and 19x11" in the rear. When asked what's his favorite part of his build, Carl simply responded, "My fitment. I'm always in the pursuit of perfection."
Speaking of perfection the Aimgain aero was a perfect addition to his car. The facelift gave the Lexus IS250 a much more aggressive look. Carl admits, "I was told that Aimgain was the Louis Vuitton of aero. So I got it." There were two Best of Show awards given out that day one to Jesse Sabater's Nissan GT-R and the other to Carl's Lexus IS250. "I wasn't even expecting that kind of award," says Carl. "I was about to warm up my car when I saw two remaining trophies." Great build Carl. #mbn