So here we are, the finalissue for 2008. Earlier this year we announced that Aaron Bonk, longtime Honda guru, would be taking the helm of Honda Tuning, marking yet another editorial change. We've seen so many over the last two years that many figured it was just another day at the magazine. It wasn't until the new team's first issue hit the newsstands that readers began to realize the major changes though. The content, the layout and, most importantly, the magazine's direction was in full swing. The feedback from readers like you hasn't stopped, much of which has been nothing short of praise for the upgrades. So the blueprint's complete, and now it's time for the magazine to naturally progress and continue offering the best Honda coverage in the industry. Surprisingly, other publications have taken note of the undeniable popularity of the Honda badge and have started running our beloved H-cars in their pages once again - some even gracing covers. With the drift movement silently fading away, it seems that Hondas are back in the spotlight once again. It's funny how things move in cycles. At any rate, here are some trends I've noticed during the last 12 months:
There weren't a whole lot of changes in the aero department this year. As you'd expect, JDM remains the dominant factor across the country, with many taking the extra step and importing authentic, RHD project cars for builds. High-end aero definitely made a comeback, as body bits from companies like Mugen, Spoon Sports, J's Racing, and Back Yard Special have popped up at car shows and track events all over the nation. Giant wings and rear diffusers have crossed over from track monsters to the show world, even on some street cars.
Japanese wheels continue to be the most sought-after item for enthusiasts. From old school to brand new, used to fresh out of the box, expensive rollers are a hot commodity, especially on the forums where they're traded and sold in mass quantities. Super-wide, low-offset wheels have gained a massive cult following, and there's no sign of it slowing down. Wanting to move away from the high-offset "sunken ship" look that most have grown accustomed to, some have rolled and cut fenders, dialed in the negative camber, and stretched their tires to accommodate some mind-blowing sizes. The look is certainly aggressive, though the safety of stretching tires on a street car remains debatable.
K power is the engine of choice nowadays, and change isn't on the horizon. B-series swaps will be around for years in both naturally aspirated and boosted forms, but there's no denying the incredible potential of the K. Most of the Honda crowd is either planning a K swap or daydreaming about one. Aftermarket support for the K is at an all-time high, which is enough to draw in even more enthusiasts.
Races And Shows
Time attack events have steadily grown in popularity with no signs of letting up. Professional race teams, shops, and weekend racers alike have found common ground on the road course. Open track days and organized amateur events have become a bit harder to book due to popularity as people are finally realizing how much fun it is. On the other hand, drag racing attendance and participation is continuing to decline, which is unfortunate since it's served as the catalyst for Honda's growth throughout the '90s. Of course, car shows have been around for years, and I don't see them stopping any time soon. However, it's obvious that they don't have the same level of energy they once did. Various event planners include "extras" like motocross and skateboard exhibitions, DJ and dance competitions, even fashion shows, which all contribute to lost focus on the cars themselves. Mega-meets like those thrown by Eibach and www.NWP4life.com and JDM Theory have a much tighter-knit feel with a relaxed atmosphere that draws a more diverse selection of street and race cars, not just full-time show competitors.
Perhaps the biggest trend, and in my opinion one of the coolest, is ground-up restorations. Many are documented on the forums via build threads, highlighting a daily or weekly account of the project's progression. The fine details and intricate build process helps to shed light on areas that many aren't comfortable with. It's always been a learning process for the do-it-yourselfers and the online documentation acts as their textbook, guiding readers through the process.
What 2009 May Bring
It's tough to predict what next year may bring when it comes to Honda trends. I don't think the low-offset, wide-stance look will slow down at all. In fact, I have a feeling it's going to explode. JDM parts will most likely continue to carry a huge following, but I think that custom, one-off parts are slowly making their way onto the hardcore builds.
One thing's for sure: No matter what 2009 brings, we'll be there to cover it.