Pixel FRS

As with all the cars I’ve owned, I decided to make a pixel version of it and what it is currently. I’m thinking I’m going to try and add the Varis kit along with a GT wing on it to make it complete but for now this is as good as it gets. It’s quite sloppy – especially the TE37’s but I just did it to get an idea… I’ll have to go back and clean it up when I do a better version of it.

You can see how bored I am and how dead the site is over the winter… Not much content and I’m in a lazy mood lately to go through unedited shots… Maybe later this week!

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Frozen Carbon TE37 Render

So I’ve been going back and forth between colors for the TE37’s – at times, I thought I was just going to keep them red and run with it for a season, other times I’m convinced that I hate the color and I’m not going to keep them. I mean, I still have lots of time to decide but until I settle (or until it’s too late), I’ll keep juggling with ideas.

I’ve really been loving the frozen carbon concept that Bulletproof Automotive recently brought to the scene and it’s a nice, subtle touch to already amazing wheels. The best set they’ve currently done was the frozen carbon on a frozen BMW grey Advan GT for a GTR going for about $6500.

A trend is a trend and I know this is one of them but I love the look… Especially on grey or even black to be even more subtle. I used the original grey from Volk on these pics but a darker grey or black would look just as mean. What do you guys think?

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The Car Family

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to post something – truthfully I have nothing left to post. It’s been a busy year and I surprised myself with how many shoots I actually got done when I think about how many I thought I would. Summer came and went faster than I can remember and so now I’m really left with updates on the FRS as I get them throughout the winter. As usual – like every year around Christmas, it’s super dead around my site but everyone else is probably busy doing winter-type things anyway.

During the winter, I sometimes get a lull in my day where I just think of things and I feel like sharing. This is one of those days…

It really revolves around the idea of modding our cars – I feel like I’ve talked about this before a while ago, so forgive me if I sound like a broken toy. The reason why it came up again was because of my recent shift of priorities in life – I have a house to take care of, I have to think of my future more than ever, I have other needs and wants outside of my car, believe it or not. So this is more or less just how I feel about a hobby that used to run my life (and wallet) now that I’m in a different place than I was even 2 years ago.

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Most of us start off with a dream to build something great. For me, it was reading magazines like Import Tuner and Super Street before the days of social media and waiting anxiously every month for a new copy to drop so I could get ideas. I spent most of my days reading through magazines over and over, nit picking parts and absorbing as much as I could about parts and cars. I’m sure most of you can relate, but I went from knowing nothing to thinking I knew everything – all from reading magazines.

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I went through the parts catalog in those magazines, picking out the Altezzas I loved the most, or an exhaust that looked the biggest, and I would add it up thinking I could afford it if I saved up enough lunch money for X amount of weeks. Simple, right? Unbeknownst to little jobless Jason, it wasn’t so easy to make paper and it certainly wasn’t easy to build a good quality car on a budget.

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I slowly went from thinking that this was the easiest task to getting a big, hard hit from reality showing me that money was more of an issue than saving up pay cheques or lunch money. At the time, I thought I would be able to work part time, and be able to pay for a brand new RX-7 and that the NSX was only a few more years and pay cheques away if I wanted it bad enough.

Fast forward to my first real car – my 2006 Honda Civic – I was blessed to be lucky enough to have parents that gave me a car that I wanted as long as I stayed within budget. Immediately I regressed back to my little, magazine-indulging, day-dreaming ricer self and put parts on the car left, right, and center. I didn’t know anything but I did know that I loved doing whatever the hell I was doing. Personally, for me – I had a lot of inspiration and guidance along the way so my careless spending on “bad quality parts” per say were curbed quickly.

In fact, I remember when I was finally ready to buy wheels, I was looking at brands like Tenzo and Konig and even Rota. Before I knew anything about real and fake parts, I just wanted what I liked. I gathered up some courage, called up Tunerworks and asked them to get me a set of Rota Circuit 10’s in bronze. He replied with a “Yeah, Jason – we can totally get those for you… But I think I have something you’ll like better”.  That was when he introduced me to my first set of WORK XT7’s – mind you, I still didn’t know what WORK Wheels was, how significant they were in the car community, or what exactly I was buying. I just knew they were a lot more expensive than the Rotas I originally wanted and I knew I had to have them.

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Very quickly after that I drowned myself in getting to know brands and parts and most importantly – what quality meant to this ever-expanding community. There were threads about real vs fake, about why not to support certain companies, about why things were thousands of dollars compared to hundreds of dollars. At the end of the day, it ultimately came down to building a car that people (this is the defining word of my post) recognized your car because of the parts you put on it and in what arrangement it is done in.

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That’s what it’s all about right? Building a car that people liked and agreed fit the convention. However, I got tired of joining a forum and reading through build threads filled with comments of “what’s your wheel specs?” or “where did you get that part?” or “the *insert eBay name here* front lip thread”. It gets old quick and yes that eBay lip looks alright, but it’s not what I want. I don’t want my black Civic to look the same as every other black Civic – despite the fact that it looks fantastic. I wanted my own fantastic… And sometimes wanting your own type of style means to stop looking for acceptance from other people.

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As soon as you step across that line of acceptance, you open yourself to criticism and opinion. (The car community is full of that, in case you didn’t already know). Sometimes you even fall into believing that what you’ve done is actually wrong or it looks bad – there’s just so much more politics to building cars than to just building a car.

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As I moved from my first car over to my first real self-bought car, the only thing that changed was my vision to create something right the first time. Parts are one thing, but money is another – the last thing I want to do is waste it on stuff I’ll hate in a few months. I always sat on an idea for weeks before I pulled the trigger just to make sure that was absolutely what I wanted.

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Even today, I still look to top builds for inspiration. They are there for a reason – because they’ve built their car the way that they wanted to without cutting corners. There is just an absolutely insane amount of detail that they see that most overlook and when you have that same type of passion and commitment to go that far and to spend the insane amounts of money we all know go hand in hand with building cars, it’s hard not to notice. Those builds existed back when I was reading magazines, and they still exist today in many forms which I love to follow.

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In many ways – inspiration is a form of motivation for all things and even a friendly competition at times.

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I kind of digressed a bit but like I mentioned – I’ve come to a point in my life where my priorities have changed. I have different responsibilities and I can no longer devote all my resources to my car. I can’t get what I want when I want and for the most part, I have to be happy driving something that isn’t going to be a money pit day in and day out. IMG_2879 copy

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I don’t regret spending a single penny on any of my cars nor do I wish I could do something differently. Each shitty part I bought helped me realize it’s better to “invest” (if you can call it that) in something better. Each ricer phase I went through made me realize that hate is very subjective and you shouldn’t lose any sleep over it. I’ve learned plenty of new things in the last 8 years and one of them being my photography – without that, there would be no lifewithjson or photoshoots…

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Finally – we get to the point of all this… After 8 years in the automotive scene and building cars based on people’s opinions to wasting money on shitty parts to learning to make good choices (because afterall, parts aren’t cheap), and learning new skills like how to point and shoot an SLR off of AUTO mode – the best part of it all is actually just getting together with friends and doing what we love the most.

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From starting to put parts on our cars while there’s still snow on the ground…

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To installing things as simple as window visors…

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I think throughout all the years, the best parts weren’t buying expensive wheels, or finally getting your shipment after waiting for a special 4 month order from Japan…

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It was really just spending garage time with the bros on cold spring days because we were anxious to start slapping parts on and because it was warm enough to just work with our hoodies on and a heat dish going…

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… Or getting together to shoot the shit and just stand and admire all the work we’ve put into our cars.

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At the end of the day, your car and the fruits of your labor are best enjoyed with good company, and they really become family over the years because they’re the ones helping you replace that stock exhaust, and they’re the ones passing you the bolt when you’re awkwardly holding your suspension up with both hands and a knee, or when you can’t figure out how to get something off, they’re pulling their hair out with you trying to figure it out. The stress and sweat and happiness when it’s done is shared with those people and frankly – without them, my car(s) wouldn’t be where they were without them.

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The one thing the magazines I read did teach me (aside from the plethora of sick Altezzas I could buy)  is how important your car family really is – they’re the ones that help you out when you need them and also get you to where you are today. You never see a feature without a shout out. You never see an article without props to friends and family for their support. My personal priorities have changed, but I know without a doubt that the second I call the peeps up, they’ll be over before I can get in the garage…

Those are the people you should really build your car for if you’re building for an audience. Those people are family and once you’re in, you’re in… And everybody else can’t sit with us.

Wheel Color Choices #FirstWorldProblems

I seem to go through this dilemma every few years where I want a new color for my wheels and I can’t decide on one. Ever since I got the Red TE37’s I’ve been questioning the color (as nice as they are) on the FRS. While I agree that it’ll look decent, I’m not sure if it’s the look I’m going for. I really want to stay clean this time and stay away from loud colors and try to keep it minimalistic until I get some aero. It would be an easier decision if it wasn’t such a pain to change wheel colors all the time…

Anyway, I’ve kind of whittled it down to these few colors…

Nothing crazy exciting and really nothing out of the ordinary except for the dark purple, which I think looks fantastic if it’s in the right shade. I’m personally really starting to lean towards gloss black with the original Volk stickers or the complete opposite of the spectrum and back to good ol’ white… What do you guys think?

TE37 Gloss Black

TE37 Bronze

Ping 240sx on Te37

Mike McConnell’s Subaru-Powered 1968 Karmann Ghia

This was a long overdue photoshoot – Mike and I have been talking about getting together to shoot his Karmann Ghia for probably a year now since he started building it, and ever since then there has always been something that comes up – he needed to tune it, I had an appointment, something needed a slight fixing, I got caught up in other things… The list goes on. I can’t even count how many times we’ve gone back and forth about postponing our shoots. Anyway – we finally met up and with the daylight fading fast, we had to move quick.

Mike’s car is definitely something to see in person – it breaks necks left, right, and center. This is the first Karmann Ghia I’ve ever seen and before I met Mike, I never would’ve known what it was… It is older than me by almost 2 decades! The work that has been put into this thing and seeing the progress over Instagram is amazing and I’m glad I got a chance to capture this through my lens. As my Instagram caption stated – it is probably the craziest car to ever come through my lens to date. It’s hard not to respect and admire this car after watching it evolve through pictures from day 1.

I’ll add in some details as we go – as I’m sure you’re all wondering about it. Admittedly, though – I did not get all the shots I wanted to… It was a chilly night, we were losing sun extremely fast and we had no strobes to back us up if we needed it. All of these were shivering, handheld shots…

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JC and I met up, Mike came shortly after and had just washed his car, he hopped out and quickly dried the windows with his sleeve and off we went.

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On our way there, we had awesome light – not harsh and very calm – made for perfect color in the clouds and it definitely helped in bringing out the “classic” feel in the photos.

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Immediately you’ll notice how damn slammed Mike’s car is – and it isn’t bagged either like you would expect. This is all static and Mike drives with no fucks given – that’s what I loved about this whole shoot – it was very care free and “do what you need to get the shot”.

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One thing you also might not know just by looking at the pictures is that this car has been painted by Jesse – Mike’s partner-in-crime, if you will in building this car. This was actually Jesse’s car originally but Mike ended up taking it over and with the help of Jesse and his family, they built it into what it is today. I suppose you could say that Jesse is still building the dream, but with Mike at the wheel.

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Another interesting thing to note is that Mike is rocking a set of Porsche “phone dial” wheels – 15×6 in the front and 16×8 in the back. Behind those sit some nice disc brakes as well…

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Under that hatch (which I am regretting not getting a chance to show you guys) is a stock 2.2 turbo Subaru Legacy engine… This paired with a Haltech sprint 500 stand alone ECU from VEX gives it the power it needs to get going. There is currently no intercooler so he runs the risk of running hot but that is probably in the works for next year.

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There are some distinct points that stand out on the car but to me, they are more like beauty marks rather than imperfections. And it works well on a car like this – it gives it character. Funny how as things age, imperfections turn into “character”. I’m sure you won’t disagree…

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Another unique part of Mike’s car is the roof – again, painted by Jesse. There are lot of unique touches on the car that really make Mike’s car stand out and that’s huge these days. You really have to take risks in order to stand out, but you have to be willing to take the potential criticism that comes with it – good or bad. I think this is actually one of the highlights and I enjoy it a lot…

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Kind of a rare shot of the master and the project… Especially when you’re a photographer yourself; it’s rare to have a shot of your own work.

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JC’s car over to the side like usual under that nice sky.

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This shot reminded me of a scene from a gangster movie – don’t ask me which one, it just does.

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A shot to see the lines of the car. Truly one of a kind.

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One other thing to note about Mike’s car is that all the paint work that was done was done with a rattle can. Mike then polished the car to blend the new and old paint together. I would say after looking at it that it would be a tough task to point out exactly where that is… By no means is it a paint booth/professional job but I don’t think that was the intention – Mike’s intention was really just to take a car that is unique and do something crazy and different with it with what they had, and finally get it to the point where it was driveable and they could just enjoy their fruits of labor.

Shooting a car with brand new parts and paint is one thing, but shooting a car where sweat and tears are a must in order to get to a stage of being able to say “finally” is different. There’s more appreciation and more of those moments where you’re standing there admiring the work more than the car at times. You get that feeling with Mike’s Karmann Ghia and it’s a rare feeling.

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A shot to see just how low Mike rolls… There were a few times that we saw sparks fly out from the back and the car is just so low that rocks don’t even get a chance to go under it, it’ll just shoot out the side of the car. Just a little note of caution if you’re driving beside Mike :)

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Another shot that better shows how low it is. This road was relatively flat and to someone like me, it’s a great road with little issues. But for Mike, he scraped… And he loved it.

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Mad tuck. Even most bagged guys can’t get that much tuck.

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A nice shot of the rear and his exhaust set up. Under that trunk is a beautiful Subaru 2.2L turbo engine – once again, a thing I regret not being able to capture. But not to worry… I’ll get it the next time we go out for sure.

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The roller I posted up on Instagram that same night.

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Low shots compliment Mike’s Ghia well just because it hugs the road so tight and we all know how good cars look when they’re slammed AND rolling.

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One last shot of the many rollers we took that night that I decided to save for the long winter months. I loved a lot of these shots because we could see the moon so clearly and what better way to capture a beautiful car on a beautiful night.

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We ended up stopping back at our rendezvous point and I had to get a few more shots. Even as we sat in the lot, it was breaking necks – and rightfully so…

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That exhaust!!

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One last shot to leave you all with for a nice and happy Halloween.

This shoot was honestly one of my more stressful shoots because as I mentioned – Mike is a photographer too, and while I was not really losing sleep over what he thought of shooting the car, I wanted to make sure that he loved the photos OF his car. I say this because in many ways, Mike is more than capable of shooting and capturing his own car so that’s where he asked me to step in and take it from a different perspective. I think for the most part, I captured it well even though I didn’t get all the shots I wanted, but at the same time it wasn’t a failed shoot (I do consider some of my shoots failed sometimes).

Thanks for coming out Mike! And I know Jesse is reading this – sorry we missed you! Next time, we’ll make sure we all come out together and do some epic shooting – DUB Dynasty style. Thanks (again and again) to JC for making the trek all the way out to the boonies to get this shoot in the bag with me.

Have a happy Halloween!

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