Office Addition: Recaro RS-GS

After months of searching for the seat and countless hours of scouring Yahoo Japan auctions, classifieds, distributors, and everything else in-between, I was finally able to score the seat I’ve been looking for.

I’ve been following Genius Street Race Shop on Instagram for a while and they were selling some awesome products but to be honest, I just wasn’t sure if it was legit. Especially when they’re selling exclusively on Instagram. There’s no review sites, there’s no way of telling if they’re real but they did post when a customer received their products. Finally, I decided to message him to just ask if he had a black RS-GS in stock. With the way things were going, I was fully expecting him to tell me “nope, sorry”. But within minutes, he replied back and said he had it in, sent me a bunch of pics whenever I asked for them and even offered alternatives if I wanted them. The one thing that’s hard to tell in pictures is the condition. He assured me that it was 9.5/10 but how often is a seat like this in 9.5/10 condition?

I ended up biting the bullet after asking Alex about his experiences with them and about 3 weeks later, here it is. I’ll tell you all right now that the seat is literally 9.8/10. The 0.2 is just so minimal that this seat could probably pass as new. The fact that they’re selling at such an incredible price with free shipping (no duties, brokerage, taxes either), it’s hard to say no.

Anyway, as soon as I placed the order, I also spoke with Jimmy over at VEX for a Bride rail to get the seat in as soon as it landed. Within a day, Jimmy had the rail in and it was ready and waiting.

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Sorry for the shitty pics. I was too excited to get this seat in as soon as I got home from work. I don’t think I’ve ever checked a tracking number that many times in a day before.

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Some of you will think that it looks worn by looking at the pics. It truly isn’t. It’s the way that the Kamui fabric looks when you rub it a certain way. You know how when you rub suede one way it looks darker and when you swipe it the other way, it gets light again? Same thing.

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After a small hiccup with the dumb bolt that holds the stock rail in place and the help of Jackie at Balance Auto Garage, I was able to get the bolt out and get the new seat in. The Kamui fabric is pretty much a hardier version of Alcantara. It feels nice and not like cheap cloth like I had in my Bride Zeta in my STI. The foam is nice and firm and is comfy enough to sit in for extended periods of time.

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This will keep me happy for a little while longer with the interior. I would still like to eventually get a cage in and some harness and maybe a different seat for the passenger side. But for now, this is perfect. The RS-GS sits perfectly in the car and super low thanks to the Bride rail. Honestly, of all the seats I’ve sat in, this one probably feels the best. It’s solid and there’s a great amount of lumbar support as well as good cushioning under the leg and around your shoulders/lats.

I mean, I think a big part of why it fits me so well is because I’m not a huge guy and the seat was made specifically for the Japanese market according to Recaro – in other words – for small Asian people. LOL

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Anyway… Another awesome addition to make me want to get up in the morning and get to work for another few weeks… It’s almost parking time! I need to get out one more time and cruise or do photos!

Drum Roll Please!! Welcome Aria Hoang

It’s been quite a few days and I’ve been more detached from social media than I am used to, but for good reason. The last 9 months have been of me posting about when this baby is coming or why I’m too busy to do anything because baby has been on my mind. I honestly thought this day was never going to come – 9 months is a hell of a long wait but at the end of that 9 months, you realize very quickly that it’s worth all the time and money and preparation and everything else you do to bring a life into this world.

Skip the jargon if you just care about pictures. I’m getting into story-telling mode.

Her story begins on Friday, September 2nd at 8PM. Diana’s contractions had been starting almost a week ago, but she never felt they were strong enough to warrant going to the hospital. There were a few times we almost packed up and went but held off a little longer. This time, they were stronger than they’ve been all week and as they say – if you can’t talk or walk through them, it’s time – and it was that time. Fast forward to 9PM and we’re in triage waiting monitoring her contractions and baby’s heart beat. 9:45 comes and the contractions get slightly weaker, and the time between them starts to get longer. “We’re going to get sent home”, we thought to ourselves. It’s kind of disappointing because you want this kid to come so bad and we came all the way here only to get sent back and monitor at home.

10:15PM comes and *pop*. The next half hour goes by quick – her water breaks and we’re quickly put into the labour room where it’s only a matter of time before baby makes her grand entrance…

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Within a matter of minutes, Diana is laid in bed, tubes poking in her and monitors strapped to the belly to make sure everything is OK. A nurse stays with us the whole time only ever leaving to get something. It was a nice experience knowing that someone is there to make sure Diana and the baby are OK until the time comes.

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You can’t tell here, but Diana’s contractions are hitting 12 out of 12 on the graph. What I witnessed that day is something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I don’t know, but labour pain is probably the most torture you willingly put your body through. It’s hard not to respect every Mom that has gone through this because it is truly something amazing.

Of course, in order for baby to make her grand entrance, she’s going to make us wait and she made damn sure that Diana was going to work for it too. Well, 6.5 hours of labour brought us to the last stretch. 2.5 hours after that, Aria decided to finally come and say hi.

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And just like that – all the pain, all the waiting, all the tiredness we have felt in the last 12 hours suddenly goes away. You get a second wind, and every emotion decides to surface. If there’s one thing I’ve never felt before, it’s tears of joy and happiness. Until she came, I thought the love Diana and I had for each other was unconditional love – the best and purest I have ever known for the last 14 years. Nothing got between Diana and I and this baby was going to be a +1.

Boy, was I wrong. The second I saw her come out, a new kind of love just overwhelmed me. You get this flash of the past, present and future – how we got here, how great this moment is, and how every second of this baby’s future will be as perfect as I can possibly make it. I’ve got a selfish personality – everyone that knows me well knows this. Suddenly, I’m willing to give every ounce of my world and energy to this little person that doesn’t even know me.

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Hopefully not too NSFW, but those words are expressed here when Diana got to hold Aria for the first time.

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They quickly took her back just to make sure everything was good to go.

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She came in at 6lbs 8.5oz. A lot bigger than we were originally expecting since she was measuring small even at 37 weeks in the womb.

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And those 9 hours that Diana grudgingly fought through just melted away. Nothing matters at this moment.

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The cutest alien-being I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

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A few hours later, we got admitted to post-partum and we relaxed for the next 24 hours. I use the term “relaxed” very loosely – it was one of the most painful 24 hours we’ve ever endured. A hospital room can make you go crazy – the air, the environment, the smell… We needed air to feel like we weren’t in an insane asylum. Added on top of that, we were going on about 50 hours of no sleep. Adrenaline ran out, energy levels were at the lowest I’ve ever experienced but you look at your baby and you know you’ll go till you die.

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She started to get colour back in her skin and she was chubbing it up.

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Finally at home and we’re loving every second of it.

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I would like to introduce everyone to her ‘milk coma’ face. Without fail, she gets so tired that she can barely hold bottom lip closed. It’s the best lol.

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And so it ends there… Whether I’m having the worst day or I’m just feeling blue – this face keeps me going. It’s what makes me get up at every squeak and cry, it gets me moving, and you know how people have things that make them want to be a better person? This is my thing.

iLUUstrations

Just a shameless plug post – some good visual/art porn for you though.

As you know, I tried my hand at vector art for weeks only to fail pretty badly. I personally think I did decent through YouTube tutorials and DeviantART write ups. I never got as far as the outline and one shade of colour before I got frustrated and gave up. I think I spent more time cursing at the screen than doing actual work.

Those of you that may have tried self-teaching may or may not know my pains. If you do, then you’ll surely appreciate the below. If not, I envy you. I’m personally not one to give up on stuff like this, but I just couldn’t devote the time and resources to it to be successful at it. ALL I wanted was to make a vector of my own car and then that’s it LOL.

Anyway, Ricky has gone the extra mile and did what I couldn’t do and it’s amazing how fast he’s progressed over the last few weeks. He went from spending a few days to complete a project to now churning them out in less than a day. With only a few pieces under his belt, it’ll only be a matter of time before he’s creating masterpieces. Don’t get me wrong, these are amazing already but just seeing the progression with these pieces alone means there’s lots more to come.

He’s currently accepting commissions to do more work. I encourage you to hit him up and get him to do a render for you. When you support artists, it helps them become better artists. A year from now, you’re gonna want him to do another and another and another! I heard from a little birdy that there’s plans for more than just a file with your car art… *cough*merchandise*cough*. Behold!

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My FRS. Attention to detail and really his first completed piece. I’m honoured to have had my car be one of the first and to be the stepping stone to other great pieces…

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Shortly after, he did a very cool progression render of Don’s ex Golf R in its’ various stages.

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Next, he started playing around with more popular cars that we’ve surely seen over the interweb. LibertyWalk Ferrari. You can already see the progression of detail.  Print

Not too long after, an RWB Porsche. Again, more detail in the wheels and reflection. Absolutely beautiful colour.

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And his latest piece – a LB Audi R8. This time with some background to give it some more pop.

Hit him up and get some work done!

ricky.luu@gmail.com

Rocket Bunny V2 x Arise Sport

Finally a photoshoot! Man, it’s been a crazy summer – 1.5 weeks to go before baby comes, so I mean – it could happen 30 minutes from now or it could be another 2 weeks before we’re +1 in the family. Personally, I’m hoping it’s 30 minutes from now but you can’t rush a good thing, I suppose…

Anyway, I recently just spoke with Steve at Sunday School and we got talking about his build. We’ve chatted on and off over the last year or so and he’s been saying his RB FRS is coming together but slowly… At Sunday School, he was stoked to tell me that it was done! Fast forward a few days and he suggests that we should do a photoshoot together. I’m down as long as Diana isn’t in labour or baby isn’t already here.

Some background information – Steve is also a photographer, but he doesn’t shoot cars. He shoots people and weddings – the complete opposite of what I like to shoot. The fun begins when my good friend Steve suggests that we should do a photoshoot during the golden hours of the morning to get some good light. In my defense, “golden hours” means 8 or 9 AM. To a “people” photographer, I guess that means 5 or 6 AM, on a Sunday, the day after a late wedding we were just at.

Whatever – I’m game – I’ve stayed out for late photoshoots, I’ve done harsh-lighting mid-day photoshoots, I’ve done my definition of “golden hour” photoshoots at 9 AM but I’ve never done true golden hour photoshoots… And I’m always up for something new. So this post begins at 5AM…

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We agreed to meet at a gas station near Cross Iron at 6AM. The roads were dead, my eyes were burning, and the clerk was looking at me like I was crazy. The sky was beautiful though.

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So I couldn’t resist taking some snaps while the car was still super clean.

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We double-teamed the shoot with no usual help and that was fine. The roads were dead on the way out to the location so I attempted rolling shots on my own. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to capture the sunrise behind us.

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I’ll admit, if I could get up this early all the time for photoshoots – I would. This is the type of light you can’t get no matter what and it’s just so calming. The roads are so empty that it becomes more of a relaxing drive at this time. Although my eyes were dry as hell, it’s hard to deny it was a good time.

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We got to the first spot but didn’t stay there long. I think I took this one shot and that was it. Mainly because we got up this early but we weren’t taking advantage of the sunrise. Everything around us was blocking it… So we moved on quick.

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We found a road with some nice S curves and the sunrise right behind it so we parked right in the middle and did our thing. The nice thing about shooting at 6 AM is that no one is even going to be on that road to bother you.

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Two of the same cars, two different styles. It’s nice to shoot them together because you see how different they can actually be built.

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Steve’s car on Rotiforms and mine on Volks. Differences in approach are evident all the way around the car.

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I will say this – Rocket Bunny has some wicked looking body kits that genuinely compliment the shape of the car and its’ lines. I enjoy every car they have a kit for. Steve’s FRS just has an aggressive stance and it just looks good. It’s one thing to see RB in pictures and another to see it in person.

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Nose to nose.

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Only at a few points in my life of owning the FRS have I wanted to put a widebody on my car. I like the stock lines too much and I honestly dread the day that I decide I don’t want them anymore – what I would do with cut up rear quarters LOL. This shot in particular makes me want it real bad.

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Out back, Steve got custom blast pipes made.

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Wide load.

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By this time, the sun was coming up but the sky was still pale and the sun wasn’t harsh. Absolutely awesome light.

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Shot of Steve doing this thing… Which by the way, I hope to share when he’s done editing.

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On the other hand, like I mentioned – I enjoy the stock curves a little more. One of the reasons I absolutely love the Arise kit is that it accentuates the lines nicely. Not that no other kit does, but the Arise bumper does a good job of taking all the stock body lines and pulling them down and towards the middle.

That’s one of my pet peeves about all the kits that are available – it looks like companies just put something together and basically disrespected the body lines altogether. FRS kits are not the only ones – there are plenty out there…

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Ass shot. I love the wide look.

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One of my favourite shots… Bunny in the wild

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On the way back – the sun was getting a bit harsh and was against me but still nice shots nonetheless.

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Look at that rear quarter. DAMN!

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Well, we parted ways here. I decided to take one last shot of before taking my exit. *Cue Wiz Khalifa – See you again*

Would I ever wake up at 5 AM again? Yes. Under these conditions: I slept early the night before, and it isn’t on a Sunday or weekday. I’m still catching up on rest as I write this.

illmotion Sunday School Show & Shine: Part 5

The final part to my Sunday School coverage – it’s been a long 5 days of editing but we’re finally here. This last post is more just extras – I took my 50mm out and took some shots at a different perspective. As nice as wide photos are to get the whole car, sometimes it can get a tad old. I spent the last hour or so just walking around and taking what I could until I just couldn’t stand the heat anymore.

There may also be a few photos of cars in this last batch that I was able to capture that I didn’t last time if I remembered… Once again, thank you to the guys at illmotion for putting on another great show, congratulations to all the winners, and thank you to the weather for holding out on us for another awesome year. Enjoy the last batch!

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The tent was bumpin’ for most of the day…

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Eric’s S15 – looking great on the Work TR7’s in bronze from afar

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Jackie’s ITR with an aggressive C-West bumper, custom made splitter, and Top1 Motors cnaards.

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Front shot of the aggressive set up. This car has come a long way…

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Arif’s new ProjectMu BBK set up he revealed at the show.

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Alex’s new contender for this year – K-swapped EM1, retrofitted headlights, First Molding carbon lip… This has also come a long way in a very short amount of time. Alex wastes no time…

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A shot of the EM1 engine bay

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And beside that, is Alex’s Integra – an engine bay that’s no stranger to those that have been around for the last few years.

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Alex’s EM1 wheel/brake combo – Endless/Volk – beautiful combo.

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And some new ProjectMu stoppers for his Integra.

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My god, this car still amazes me at how much it has changed since the last time I took a photo of it. I was tagged in an Instagram post yesterday and I didn’t even clue in. It used to be white with carbon fenders and TE37SL’s – fairly basic. Now it is just beastly.

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A shot of the aggressive bronze ZE40’s in face 4. Drooooool

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Attention to detail with Varis parts as expected. Everything on this car is just perfect. I may be biased though…

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Concave goodness.

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Aldo’s S2000 with an ASM bumper that debuted at Driven this year.

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Good shot of the lineup for Balance Auto Garage.

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I think the best of show had to be Josh’s EG6. If there’s one thing that’s rare to see around here – it’s a build that is literally from the ground up. I – as well as most of you I’m sure – have had the pleasure of seeing this come together through social media. It’s gone through being just an empty shell, to slowly getting paint, and we watched it go from rolling metal to what you see here.

The whole car is painted in Nighthawk Black – a very nice OEM Honda colour that has some blue flake in it. It’s 3M’d all the way around, and everything stays true to every Honda fanboys visioins. A nice set of bronze TE37’s, Spoon brakes, Spoon carbon mirrors… The list just goes on.

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On the inside, a set of Bride Gias, cage, Limited Suede Vertex wheel. Just perfection.

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Also under the hood – a very clean K-swap.

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The Nighthawk Black was absolutely stunning under that direct sun. If anything looked good under that sun that day, it was this.

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Not too far away was Levi’s freshly finished RB V2 BRZ. Another stunning example of great body work, great parts, and good pairing of parts. An aggressive set of bronze/bronze Work Meister 3PC match the dark grey metallic very well.

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From afar. As abundant as RB’s are, it’s rare to see one well put together. It’s either trashed, fake, or half-assed. Thank you Levi for doing this right.

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David’s bagged IS on Weds Vishunu’s. Another great looking set of wheels paired nicely.

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I’m glad I got this shot. I’m pretty sure he was wondering how the hell this all worked. He was pretty intrigued lol.

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Back end of the RB V2 BRZ.

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Another shot of David’s IS tucking hard in the rear.

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Front end shot of Nick’s GT3.

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And a better shot of his Voltex wing. Looks great

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Jack’s LS-swapped Silvia.

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This dude – I think it was John, who owns the 4-door GTR with Funky garage – was running around for a bit lol. Never  thought I’d get to see this costume in person haha

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TE37’s on this 4Runner. It is the season of TE37 it seems. Better than the season of Rota… I can’t complain!

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Damn I loved this so much!!

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Another shot of Ryan’s Ferrari on Work Meisters. The combo of Italian and Japanese – no complaints here.

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Kasem’s Amuse S2000

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Ryan’s other red chariot – the infamous MR2

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Michael’s RX7 looking very good as always

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Caught this photoshoot going on during my walk lol

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A better shot of Errol’s Rize Japan LED tail lights for those that wanted to see a better shot.

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My fave.❤

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Simon’s FRS. I’ve come to the conclusion that all red cars look amazing but I don’t think I could own a red car. I love shooting them though.

Side note – I do see the resemblance to Magikarp with this bumper. I always saw Simon hashtagging it and now I understand haha

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Landon’s beautiful RB 240SX with great paint and body work by Nick Prah.

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And the RX7 of the man himself – Nick Prah. Beautiful colour and awesome execution.

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My piece. Whatever.

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I got hot so I stayed in the tent and shot whatever I could… lol

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The trophies for those that didn’t get a chance to look at them. Very awesome this year.

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Titanium Mugen badge on Alex’s EM1… whaaaaaat

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I’m sure plenty of cars in the parking lot were worthy as well. A few that were nearby while I was cooling off – this GS was pretty clean and I think lady driven.

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Miata’s are always cool – this one was clean on Meister 2PC’s

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I went out with my wide one more time… Jackie’s ITR

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Carlo’s WRX fitted with Varis all around and TE37’s

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One more shot of Landon’s RB 240SX

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And of course the RB 350Z – another great masterpiece that comes from Nick Prah.

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Richard’s Mustang on Work CR Ultimates

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Needs no introduction…

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Kay’s widebodyy GTR laying low

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Another shot of Charlie’s Supra

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Curtis’s Silvia on Work CR2P in the VEX booth

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Datsun 240Z duo

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Another great contender at the show was this widebody RX7. Rare to see this gen so mint.

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The family squad. Jackson’s bagged Sienna, Nick’s FJ, and Andy’s 4Runner

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Another of Nick’s GT3

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Can’t get enough of this.

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My piece. Whatever.

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Awards time! Instead of posting all the winners – I’ll just say congratulations to all of you. Well deserved!

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And in no time, the table and prizes are cleared out – thanks to everyone who came out and made it another great show. Looking forward to next year!