Twelve years ago, San Diego-bred AutoFashion USA put together a gathering small enough to fit within the confines of a rather narrow parking lot in front of their original location. Over the years the annual get-together, dubbed VIP Fest, has progressed steadily, and although the parking lot at their current location allows for more cars, it's simply not enough space to accommodate the masses.
That's what triggered the move to Green Flash Brewing, Co., located in Mira Mesa, a city sandwiched between the 15 and 805 freeways in San Diego. Truth be told, though Green Flash provides more square footage, VIP Fest is busting at the seams as AutoFashion's Freddie, Elroy and Kevin, along with a host of volunteers, including Steve Wong of Falken Tire, do their best to pre-plan the layout and squeeze in as many cars as possible, maximizing the given real estate while still leaving enough room for locals to stroll through the event. It's not an easy task, even after having done it for so many years.
Falling on the weekend after SEMA week, it's tough to get motivated for more event coverage after four long days of non-stop walking, talking, shooting, and writing with very little sleep. The trip from Orange County to San Diego is only about an hour but feels like three hours after SEMA. The great thing about VIP Fest is that it doesn't feel like a typical car show yet it's far more organized than your local meet. The cars are filed into the lot in groups, so there are new cars consistently rolling up the driveway to get set up.
I arrived early enough to catch some of the roll-in and the Lexus sedans that you would expect certainly took up the majority of spots, but it doesn't begin and end with a single make. Over the years the variety of cars attending VIP Fest has expanded greatly and although VIP style builds hold the largest numbers, there's plenty more to take in. In addition, wheel, suspension, and lifestyle booths offer products and info, music remains going all day and if you're into a cold beverage to relax with, Green Flash Brewing is open and serving throughout the event, and patrons are allowed to walk around the show with drink in hand. In fact, Green Flash even offered a VIP Fest-specific beer based on an American wheat ale with lemonade and raspberry.
In order to control the parking and execute their game plan perfectly, AutoFashion staff rolled the display vehicles from the temporary parking lot across the street...
..to the show area in pre-determined groups. This maintained order and gave everyone adequate time to position their car without worrying about the next guy.
When you hear VIP Fest, you probably only think of sedans sitting on the ground with high-priced body kits.
And while those examples are in place, there's more to see, like this R31 Skyline wrapped in iconic Calsonic vinyl, for example.
We spotted this LC 500 last year parked in the same spot, and just like 2017, it had people talking. Sitting ultra low on SSR Minerva representing T-Demand, it was parked right next to...
..this LS 500, perched on SSR Executor CV04S wheels that, if I remember correctly, were on the LC 500 last year. Both cars sport T Demand brake upgrades and sat millimeters off the pavement.
Team Wild Cards has been blowing minds as of late and the streak continues as a crowd gathered around this 1977 Celica sporting a BEAMS heart and a unique gold and bronze finish on its Work Equip 40s.
A SoCal event is bound to bring in an RWB-kitted Porsche or two, and on this day this Motul livery version on matte black and gunmetal SSR wheels hovered into the lot, just a few days removed from its SEMA appearance.
At a glance, this widened Porsche might have you muttering "RWB" to yourself but take a closer look and realize the bulbous fenders and overall girth, though similar, completely do away with raw rivets and additional break lines and instead its deep green paint goes uninterrupted from front to back. The body additions come from Sunburst, a Japanese manufacturer that's said to have been around longer than most, though not as widely known.
Subaru's Forester, in my opinion, doesn't get nearly enough love from the enthusiast community—and maybe that's what makes the few that we catch at events that much better. This trio was tough to miss as all three were well put together and had me once again contemplating picking one up.
An ideal people mover for someone like myself, my only issue with the Forester is trying to exercise a little restraint to keep from modding it too much.