We're always asked how the popularity and success of the aftermarket scene is doing. A good indicator that we often look to is how the quality and quantity of major events are doing, such as AutoCon, Wekfest, SpoCom, Tuner Evolution, etc. AutoCon is one of the premier show series on the West Coast and they've been doing their thing for eight years. Their recent show at the LA Convention Center didn't just check all the right boxes but showed us things aren't slowing down for '17, and today's scene is more popular than ever.
Over 10,000 people walked through the front doors of the convention center and you could feel it, too, as there wasn't a time from beginning to end where the show felt dead. The overall vibe was upbeat, positive, and inviting and there was plenty to see from nearly 50 vendors, roughly 300 display cars, and a beautiful stage setup that has become signature for AutoCon.
The stage puts 10-plus of the best cars from AutoCon in the spotlight as the chosen vehicles are pushed or driven up a ramp for the entire audience to see while the owner is interviewed on the loudspeaker. This year, the most important car on stage was easily the '17 Honda Civic Type R. Instead of debuting the production model Type R to a room full of journalists, which OEMs typically do at major auto shows, Honda decided to unveil the car to real enthusiasts, like us, at a real enthusiast event, like AutoCon. This was big and we gotta give props to AutoCon and Meguiar's for helping to make this happen.
Another big deal was attendance of members of SEMA on hand. This year SEMA has teamed up with AutoCon to award two of the scene's best builders with an all-expense trip to the '17 SEMA Show, along with transportation for their car to the show, and a display spot. One winner will be selected at the New York show in June, the other winner, namely Dylan Coleman and his RB-powered BMW E36 M3, was selected during the LA show. Built by LTMW, the midnight purple Bimmer showed face at SEMA last year, however it was unfinished. Dylan ensures us it'll be fully operational soon - we can't wait to watch his road to SEMA and Battle of the Builders footage!
Lastly, we had one of our own awards to hand out which was our favorite pick of the show. It wasn't easy with 300 registered vehicles to sift through, but Jonny Grunwald's Mazda RX-7 was exactly what we see in a perfectly executed, JDM-inspired project car. His FD features a TCP Magic widebody and he recently ripped off the livery, which was on the car during the '16 SEMA Show. Now, we can't help but feel that it looks as if it was something we'd see at Fuji Speedway or Tokyo Auto Salon. Great work, Jonny!
AutoCon continues to get better and better every year and they'll be hosting the car shows at Formula DRIFT Long Beach and Irwindale, in addition to their show in New York this summer.
Is our aftermarket scene on the decline? Far from it, and a visit to AutoCon is more than enough proof that it's still strong and the good times still rolling.