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HT Throwback: Nisei Car Show 2011

A look back at one of SoCal's most anticipated annual car shows.

Jul 30, 2020

About a decade ago, Nisei car show served as one of the most highly anticipated events of the year in Southern California. Well known for bringing out debut builds, major overhauls and plenty of surprises, it was the Honda crowd that flourished at the all-import makes and models show.

Over the years, the event continued to grow but eventually plateaued and then began to slow considerably. Attempts to rebrand the event with help from groups like StanceNation were expected to inject new life into the event but it was up against incredibly stiff competition from the likes of touring events like Wekfest, Spocom, Tuner Evo and others. More recently, a jump to its DekoCar Showoff makeover focused more on Itasha, or cars with anime-themed livery.

Way back in 2011, we covered the 12th annual event which, as with every year, coincided with Nisei Week—an event that's celebrated Japanese American culture and history in the heart of downtown Los Angeles since the '30s. We were able to dig up some old images from the event with some very familiar cars that long-time Honda Tuning fans will no doubt remember.

Nisei Car Show 2011 Sheepey Turbo AP2 S2000 Photo 30/30   |   HT Throwback: Nisei Car Show 2011

Before he was building an empire based on building and turbocharging high-dollar exotics, Sheepey was setting the benchmark in the Honda world.

His AP2, which landed on the cover of HT in 2011, was a departure from his long-term Civic hatchback build and as he dove deeper into the world of boost, he would eventually transition to running his own business, dubbed Sheepey Built, before it snowballed into Sheepey Race / Sheepey Exotics.

Nisei Car Show 2011 DPK David Civic Photo 30/30   |   HT Throwback: Nisei Car Show 2011

Being a Honda-heavy event, customized engine bays were never scarce. Although the K-swap craze had not yet reached its peak, plenty of versions were on hand in 2011. DPK David, owner of this black chrome-plated, K20-swapped EJ Civic coupe was a regular at every SoCal event and was featured in Honda Tuning with a B-series swap, then Import Tuner in 2010 with its K. David held on to the car until recently, when it was delivered to its new owner in Japan.

Nisei Car Show 2011 RCs Garage EG8 Civic Photo 30/30   |   HT Throwback: Nisei Car Show 2011

RC Chacon of RCs Garage fame put a ton of work into this fifth-gen. Civic sedan that landed on the cover of HT in 2012 and was just one of a string of builds that RC was responsible for.

Nisei Car Show 2011 ITB K20 Photo 30/30   |   HT Throwback: Nisei Car Show 2011

ITB kits seem to always mesh well with various Honda engines, and in 2011 they were everywhere. This K20-powered Integra Type R from ATS*Garage, built by Fred Chapman featured teal powder coat touches throughout the bay for a cohesive, well thought out look.

Nisei Car Show 2011 Toda ITB S2000 Photo 30/30   |   HT Throwback: Nisei Car Show 2011

High dollar Toda "Sports Injection" replace the F22's factory intake manifold on this yellow AP2, featured in HT shortly after this event.

Nisei Car Show 2011 Frank Garcia Photo 30/30   |   HT Throwback: Nisei Car Show 2011

Over the years, Frank Garcia has worked toward growing his Downstar Inc. business and the hard work has paid off with the brand finding success in a niche market and few business owners in this industry are as involved as Garcia. From his attendance at countless events nationwide and even internationally at times, to his consistently updated podcast and other business ventures, he shows no signs of slowing down.

Nisei Car Show 2011 Downstar EG6 Civic Photo 30/30   |   HT Throwback: Nisei Car Show 2011

In 2011, his Civic EG was sporting a native B-series engine but he'd later go on to opt for a K20 swap. The shaved and tucked bay served as a demo vehicle of sorts to highlight the brand's various options.

Nisei Car Show 2011 Big Mike Prelude V2 Photo 30/30   |   HT Throwback: Nisei Car Show 2011

Version II of Big Mike's long-term Prelude build was packed with intricate details surrounding his Kinsler ITB-fitted F20B. With its makeover, he nabbed the cover of HT in 2012, followed by yet another reimagining of the '92 Prelude which debuted at SEMA 2016 before capturing its third cover, this time with Super Street magazine.

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