Nisei Showoff 2012: Part One

Words by Matt Willis

Each year, Nisei week takes over Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles. One of the flagship events during this time is the annual Nisei Show Off car show, which takes place in a small parking lot at the corner of 1st and Alameda Street. 

At first, we were torn on whether or not to cover the Infamous show, which was a much bigger event down in Long Beach; but at the loss of missing Nisei. Going to Infamous would have meant going to the usual “lifestyle show”:  a bunch of the same cars we’ve been seeing for much of the show season, vendors, a couple DJs (at least) and a half dozen (at least…) models. Aka Spocom. Aka Motion. Aka Autocon. Aka Hot Import Nights. It gets old; and its not that we don’t enjoy the scene, but moreso its just us being burnt out on the same old thing. A single show season often turns into a broken record for us. This discouraged us from going to Infamous, especially since we were at Spocom the week before.

Nisei has never been a “lifestyle show”. It’s more of a collection of honors; a gathering of timeless cars that represent the import scene and Japanese culture in a small street-corner venue. The difference is that you get people in attendance that actually have connections with and appreciate the vehicles that have shaped (and are shaping) the automotive scene.

This year’s Nisei was extra-special, thanks to Joey Lee of The Chronicles… awesome “Generations” lineup. It featured some of the most groundbreaking and pristine Honda builds of our time (many of them before our time) in order of past, present and the future. As a Honda owner myself, I love seeing cars that are/were done differently from the mainstream trends, and there was certainly a great mix at Nisei.

One of the first cars that I think caught everyone’s attention was this Top Fuel Integra. This car has apparently been out of the spotlight for several years.
The one-off Recaro seats are perhaps the coolest feature on the car.
This 97-spec Integra Type R was one of my favorites from the show. I’ve always been a fan of the pre-facelift front end on the USDM Integra. The 98-spec is sleeker, but I like the look of the older style…something about it rings more “true” to me. The meaty Nitto tires on SW388 wheels, gutted interior, Verno banner and Mugen wing really just set it off. I would love to grab some shots of this thing on the track…
It had one of those fancy Spoon clusters, too.
DA Integras (90-93) were never all that attractive to me, probably because I haven’t seen one that’s really been over the top. These DAs were built with meticulous detail and craft, definitely some of the best Hondas I’ve seen.
Love the wheels!
Big Mike’s Prelude is an example of the “present” generation. His setup utilizes modern tuning technology with simplified/tucked wiring, combined with his own unique color/craft on the paint, body and interior. There are just no other cars like this one, and that’s why it’s been winning awards everywhere on the show circuit. Plain and simple…
Very cool third-gen Civic hatchback with a B-series swap.
It also had very rare BBR wheels…
Love this cream EF from ATS Garage.
Nice touch on the wire shield…
Another build of the present from Ryan Der at ATS Garage, who has also been making the rounds on the show circuit this year.
The Del Sol is becoming an rare breed within the Honda community. In fact, my first thought when I saw this car was, “damn, I haven’t seen a Del Sol build in ages…”.
Love the front on this DB8…
Spoon steering wheel in front of a retrofitted S2000 gauge system…
The Loi-Spec Garage fleet. I remember seeing all of these cars running hard out at Chuckwalla towards the beginning of the year.
Beautiful Horizon Gray 4-door. I believe this car is from Arizona. Love the candy red valve cover…
I love this FD2-converted Civic. The sharp aluminum aero really sets it off.
Beautiful K-swapped EG from the Bandits group. Love the neochrome touch on the ITBs and carbon Spoon lip.
Perhaps one of the coolest cars of the show was this old Legend.
The old Sony discman and car phone are period-correct…
Chris Sakai’s EK…
Awesome red-and-bronze EF…
The black EG belongs to a former member of the community who passed away several years ago. His friends and family maintained and stored the car in it’s last condition ever since. You might remember the green EG as the “Tank”.
This NASA-prepped CRX was all business. Love everything about this ride…
Elton Lo’s Integra and the other RACELINE USA cars…
I thought this RSX was cool. You don’t see a lot of done-up RSXs out there anymore, especially the pre facelift versions. The body work is a tad zealous, but I think it works…
Sportcar Motion’s K-swapped CR-Z that we saw at EAF a few weeks back…
Another CR-Z; this one sporting white Mugen MF-10s. The CR-Z definitely represents the “future” generation. It’s still a young breed and I think it will be a couple more years until we really see it take off.
This orange Si has been on and off the show circuit recently. I remember first seeing it at the Its JDM Yo! Anniversary Meet a couple years ago.
This ITR looks normal from the outside…
…Sure it as a K-swap…
But this is what sets it apart. Getting a BAR sticker for a K-swap is nothing short of a feat.
The entire fuel tank from an RSX had to be swapped over. The owner swapped in the RSX dash as well to simplify the connectivity with the ECU, gauges and other provisions.

Going to leave it at that for today. More to follow soon!

Thanks for looking.


2 responses to “Nisei Showoff 2012: Part One”

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