!! New Challenger Approaching !!

Man oh man, what have I been up to?! A whole lot of nothing, really. I can’t believe I forgot to post this here lol. I guess mostly everyone knows already but I’ll post anyway. Diana, Aria and I are expecting another addition to the family in May 2019!

I decided to do something a little different this time – using a Super Smash Bros-related concept paired with cars. For those of you that don’t know about the Super Smash Bros game – it’s a fighter game that has multiple characters that join the battle as you progress through the game. As you unlock each character, you get a “New challenger approaching” message and a silhouette of the character before you battle to try and unlock them. I tried to use that same concept with our cars – showing the “current” roster and then showing a darker, shadowy silhouette of the new car to portray the new baby.

We’re not sure yet on if it’s a boy or a girl – we don’t find out until the end of December – but whatever it is, I think we’re ready to have our hands full(er?) again. We always joke that we’re gonna have ANOTHER one whenever Aria starts being a butthead. We’re super stoked though – the more the merrier :).

Some other things I’ve been working on…

I’ve picked up an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil and have really been spending a lot of my free time to illustrating/sketching/painting and trying to “hone” my skills. I truly haven’t drawn in years and it was something that I enjoyed a lot when I was a kid. I would go through packs of paper learning to draw and then I kind of just fell off the wagon.

I tried again using my computer/mouse and Adobe Illustrator but the mouse and clicking reference points to create lines and such just wasn’t working out for me so I gave up there too. The iPad however, makes it feel like an awesome combination of traditional pencil/paper drawing mixed with the digital benefits of layers and effects of Illustrator and I’ve been able to finally put the ideas in my head onto a canvas of some sort. As you saw in my previous post – I was able to make one shirt out of one of the first designs I finished. I have a few more that I just keep jumping back and forth on but I’ll post as I finish them.

To be honest, almost all of my free time now has been spent drawing – so that’s where you’ll find me. LOL!

Club-A: Go Deeper T-Shirt

Pretty excited with how this turned out. The illustration I draw last week is now on a t-shirt and I think it looks great. Fairly minimalistic on the front and a nice colourful image on the back. A big reason I wanted to start designing my own t-shirts is because I’ve been looking for some unique “automotive” inspired t-shirts that were a little more unique and less meme-ish. There’s plenty of designs out there and while I do enjoy them, sometimes I think a little original and personal flavour fits the bill better.

The one problem with designing is that you have a ton of ideas in your head but it’s hard to put them down on paper or it just doesn’t quite come out the way you imagined it. There’s a lot of “back to the drawing board” with it and when I finish one, I usually sleep on it for a few days to see how I feel about it after. This was one of the designs that I enjoyed after all that deliberation.

No, I’m not looking to be the next best hit or be the new kid on the block. For the most part, this is just for me. If there are people interested, then I’m more than happy to do a group buy or single designs if people are willing to pay for the single print. I’d like to wait until I get a few more designs printed and prototyped on different garments before I start offering them though – just to ensure everything looks and feels right. If the design is A+ but the garment is F- then the overall package is still a failure to me. I’ve got a few more coming, but it’ll take some time to finish up – I’ll share when I’m done though!

Let me know your thoughts! I’d be happy to hear them – positive or negative.

This is the original illustration. Just a simple anime-styled girl with some race-themed accessories (headband and wristbands) over top an aggressive Work Meister S1 3P in all black with gold hardware. I spent a lot of time choosing colours that weren’t so plain jane and ended up with a sky blue and purple mix and I liked it a lot.

The Japanese on the left says: “I love it!!!” to match the “Deeper is Better” theme of the shirt.

Club-A was just a name I came up with on a whim with Aria being the first thing that came to mind – so I went with it and it ended up working well. I brought the colours from the back to the front to match.

And finally the design on the back of the shirt. The colours ended up turning out awesome and the size was perfect. The print was done on an ATC 1000 t-shirt which is mediocre but I don’t think I’m a fan of the cotton. I’ll have to see how it looks after the first wash – but next time will likely be on a Gildan Ultrasoft t-shirt.

Level Up: Arif’s Honda Civic – The Final Form?

Ah yes, another photoshoot in the bag – and a rather special one at that. This one is of Arif’s Civic and it’s been quite a long time since we’ve gotten together to shoot. Lots has changed since the last time we shot it and there always seems to be a period of several years between our shoots and while it feels like it’s only been a year or two – this time it’s been 4, and prior to that, it was 5 years. Here’s the link to the Fall shoot we did some time ago if you’re interested:


This time was special – no, not because we had a candlelit dinner with Jina-spec entrees or anything like that. Don’t get any wrong ideas. It was because this time when Arif asked me for a shoot – he was able to get access to CH Toyota all to himself on a Sunday and one other person. Luckily, that other person was me. You don’t really think about shooting inside a dealership until you’re asked to shoot inside a dealership. I’m not going to say it’s a rare opportunity because I’m sure many others have the same ability to do so, but it doesn’t come around all too often.

It’s an eerie place when it’s empty and there aren’t salesmen walking around, or phones ringing, or machines running and tools banging. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. There’s no pressure to say “no thanks, I’m just looking” or “umm, I’ve got an appointment at 3?”. You could stand and stare at that 4Runner TRD Pro all day if you wanted without the pressure of someone asking you questions. Speaking of 4Runner’s… Before we get on with this pic-heavy post, there was one gem sitting in the showroom that I was able to snap pics of with nobody around to bother me…

This 1,000,000 km 4Runner. Yup, one million…

The interior – despite the mileage – was in fantastic shape. The seats looked better than most used cars you’d find that have 100k on the odometer. Although the steering wheel has taken quite a beating, it hasn’t stopped the car from running.

A shot of the back seats and carpet – still quite immaculate.

And just look at the condition of the body and paint. This could pass as an old, low km car if you judged a book by its cover.

Some of the suspension components have been replaced as expected, but the rest of the car still looks great.

The original wheels – although scathed and starting to age beyond repair still holding strong.

And finally – a shot of that odometer just to prove it. Man… Glad I got to see this.

And so now as we move on and Arif gets the car ready, I took a couple shots of the inside of CH Toyota – when the lights are off and everything is at peace.

The M3 kind of out of place… But adds to the picture as decoration…

So we begin… Arif’s car in the flesh. Very different than 4 years ago when we shot it and very much evolved into something better.

A lot of the shots I took were with the lights off. I felt it gave a very unique feel with a slight blue colorgrade added to it. Almost like it was in the pits getting ready to do some hot laps…

One of the most notable changes are his yellow CE28’s which demand a lot of attention to the car.

Arif said that he had the car all cleaned and ready to go on Friday when he was confirming if we were still good to shoot on Friday. My mistake was believing him. I took this pic and for a split second, I second-guessed what I saw through the viewfinder only to have my doubts confirmed when I reviewed the picture again after taking it.

“Arif – I think you need to clean your wheels again” I said. Arif gave a hesitant “what?” trying to sound like he didn’t know what I was talking about even though he knew damn well. “Your wheels are still dirty here…” I replied again. “You know what, I’m just going to leave it so that you can take a picture and call me out cause I know you will” he says. Deep down – I know that he thought his wheels were as clean as could be. Why else would he have left his car in the dealership overnight and not drive it there on the day of the photoshoot? Because he didn’t want it to get dirty. This is the problem with multi spoke wheels, man. You clean the top half of the spokes because you’re looking down on them but you always miss the underside. As Arif reads this, I know going forward he’s going to start cleaning the underside of the spokes. Mistakes happen.

One of my favourite additions to Arif’s car is the newly retrofitted headlights done by Aldrich. Rich has done many retrofits for our friends cars and they’ve always come out impeccable. It’s a much appreciated update for older cars with halogen reflector headlights and if done nicely, it can look very OEM. No unnecessary LED bars or strobing/changing colours all over the place – just a nicely placed projector and housing.

Another notable change is the BYS bumper. Another welcome addition to bring the package together nicely.

Interior wise – not much has changed. Good ol’ Tigger still hanging from the cage as you can see by his tail…

Lots of big changes as I go through these pictures – another is the Project Mu big brake kit you see behind the yellow CE’s. Surprisingly a very fitting colour combo.

This photo in the washbay had a sort of neckbreaking angle but I liked it. Also, Arif was holding the hose that you see over to the right of the picture there. Just thought I’d give credit where credit is due…

Getting set up to move around

In my opinion, Arif’s car has really “grown up” in the sense that it’s evolved from a “boy-racer” look to a more sophisticated and rounded out look. The much tamer Seeker wing, the BYS bumper, the clean retrofitted headlights and the J’s hood.

Another addition are the Tracklife Composites fenders. A much more aggressive look up front.

The TiBurnt valve stem caps with Project Mu and Volk.

The panda theme that Arif had going on for a long time is more or less gone. Everything is paint matched now – the hood, the roof. The only “black” you see now is the naked carbon accents on the lip and the side mirrors.

Close up of the BYS badge on the front lip…

Another shot of the retrofitted headlights

The bolts holding the hood latch are a gold titanium. A nice touch to match the wheels IMO…

Under the hood now sits a K20 that replaced the F20B which was the heart of Arif’s Civic since I’ve known him.

One of my favourite pieces under the hood was this titanium hood rod.

Mugen bolts…

The rear of Arif’s civic also sports new LED tail lights with a slight smoked finish as well.

Inside, the iconic STACK cluster

Quick intermission – the owner of CH Toyota’s Ferrari sitting in the corner collecting dust… I mean, my house is free to let it “collect dust” too, ‘namsayin…

Getting ready to move to the final area…

I think a lot of my favourite shots were done here in the tire storage area. We’re lucky that he was able to squeeze in nicely. That’s what she said.

I dubbed this “Speedhunter” style… It was unintended but I guess I achieved it nicely lol.

Getting some higher angle shots shows the awesome lines of the J’s Racing hood…

Another shot. Menacing.

OK last one I promise… Once again, good job Rich!

A shot of the cut off – the most important part. Check that blue/purple.

The teaser shot I posted earlier this week… My favourite shot of the bunch still.

And just a few random shots before we ended it for the morning…

Time to hit the track…

Hope you enjoyed this one as much as I enjoyed shooting it! It’s nice not having the pressures of people and other cars around – although not huge pressure – it’s still distraction and things you need to work with. An empty dealership and all the time you need provides ample opportunity to get a multitude of shots. Adios!

VEX Performance: A Peek at Some JDM Icons

As mentioned in my previous post with Jimmy’s wagon – I managed to take a few candid/BTS shots inside VEX while he was wiping down the car and I thought I’d share a few with you to get you a glimpse at the inner guts of their shop. A lot of people kind of just go to a shop to get their work done, but they don’t always get to see what goes on behind those doors that say “EMPLOYEES ONLY”. What’s behind those doors? Is it big? Do they even work on cars? And it becomes this very mystical thing to regular Joe’s that only know that maintenance is an expensive but necessary thing in their lives.

I consider myself lucky because I get the chance to go through those doors most times because of what I do. To me, it’s like being in a toy store all over again – being able to see what happens and what cars are being worked on. It’s not my area of expertise and I don’t spend a lot of my time in a shop – but it’s a cool thing to be able to hang out and just be surrounded by car related things. Either way – one of the shops that has been long-standing for quite some time has been VEX Performance. Ryan and Jimmy are the two main baes of the shop and with a plethora of knowledge between the two of them, you’d be hard pressed to find another shop that can give you very specific and detailed directions on everything car related. I think that’s one of the main reasons VEX continues to be a successful physical storefront – you don’t get that type of service and expertise through online web stores or by chatting with a customer service rep online. It just doesn’t happen.

Anyway, this isn’t meant to be a full blown review on VEX – as I didn’t get shots of everything like their store front – Jimmy insisted I wait until they get the shop tidied up and ready for actual pictures. I just wanted to do a quick walk around their massive shop area and show you guys what goes on back there. Full shop pics to come soon…

In one of the corners of the shop – we have a GTR with it’s front end laying in pieces – getting some engine work done.

A shot of one side of the Alpha Carbon Fiber intake on the GTR

I believe this one also had an Armytrix exhaust as well. I got a shot of the burnt tips but it had a reflection of my shoe in it that I was too lazy to edit out LOL.

VEX also had another side to their already massive shop which they just took part of the wall down so they can now walk through. This S2000 was over in that corner.

Over in another corner – we have a yellow R34 GTR V-Spec awaiting it’s turn to get some work done

A rear end you can’t miss…

Sitting on Advan GT’s and a colour matched BBK

Right behind that was a yellow FD RX7

Man, I really want an FD in my life…

Rear quarters of the FD and the R32 GTR in black beside it.

The lighting here and the DOF almost made it look like a diecast model display lol

A set of BBS SR’s getting ready to be mounted

Another FD RX7 in red wearing Bronze TE37’s

Jimmy’s TE37 Sagas sitting off to the side

A caged and torn apart STI acting as a storage/parts car for now.

One last one of the red RX7 from the rear quarter to end it off…

Hope you enjoyed!