Maybe the weather has a lot to do with it, but California is one of the hottest beds of car culture in the world. Especially Southern California. As someone born, raised and currently living on the East Coast, I’m always jealous of what West Coast car enthusiasts have access to. Thankfully, the second episode of the new season of /DRIVE on NBC Sports is all about Los Angeles, so you can at least get a small taste of it. Not only is Los Angeles close to miles and miles of the most perfect driving roads imaginable (Angeles Crest Highway and the Glendora Mountain Road, just to name two) but it’s also home to countless pockets of different scenes and aftermarket shops. One of them, of course, is Singer. For those of you who have been living under a rock, Singer is the tuner shop that basically rebuilds 964 911s from the ground up. At a quick glance, a Singer car looks like just another clean, vintage 911. But once you get in close and notice the details, you could lose hours … [Read more...] about This Is What Makes California Car Culture Second to None
In late 1983, Poland was just stepping out from under the crushing weight of martial law from an extremely crushing government, which suppressed pro-Democracy activism, ruined the economy and directly led to the deaths of dozens. After martial law was lifted, old Top Gear visited the country to explore its remarkably depressing car culture. In the days before over-the-top, action-packed films, glamorous globe-trotting, international acclaim and Jeremy Clarkson punching people, Top Gear was just an earnest motoring show that was mostly strictly educational and informative. One of the best episodes is there above, when the show covered the Polish car market when the country’s economy was at its most devastated state. The episode explores one of the two main FSO car factories, which pumped out 85,000 cars a year at the time, which were mostly modified versions of the Fiat 125, under the name FSO 1300 and FSO 1500, and had been produced since the late 1960s. In 1978, the Polonez was … [Read more...] about One of the Best Old Top Gear Episodes Featured Polish Car Culture After Years of Martial Law
Am I overreacting? I honestly don’t know what to think after seeing these pictures that some friends sent through to me following their experience at Umihotaru Parking Area this past Saturday. For many years now, 7’s Day celebrations in Tokyo have seen huge gatherings of cars at Daikoku and Umihotaru PAs, and obviously the local police have been quite aware of it. But this year their approach wasn’t so passive. These photos reflect the scene at Umihotaru’s outside ground floor area where trucks usually park up. The police had set up lights to illuminate the area and were running two separate inspection spots. All cars entering the parking area were filtered through a road block, and any that looked like they might have illegal modifications were sent to the check-over area. There, shaken test officers went over each car with a fine-tooth comb, looking for anything that would fail the mandatory bi-annual inspection. These included de-cat … [Read more...] about The Beginning Of The End for Car Culture in Japan?
There are two things you notice when you first encounter car culture in Germany. The first is the surprising number of Opels, and the second is that they have two perfect words to describe a particular kind of car, words that we oddly don’t have in America but desperately need. Those words are youngtimer and oldtimer. In America, we have a lot of classifications for the kinds of cars you can be into. You can say you like muscle cars, and everyone understands that you like big-horsepower American cars of the 1960s and 1970s, extending up through the Buick GNXes and late-model Camaros of the ‘80s, ‘90s and into the present day. You can say you like vintage cars, and it’s easy for anyone to get that you like cars with real fenders and headlights on stalks. Saying you like hot rods is another easy distinction, just like saying drift cars or imports. But what if you like cars that aren’t new but aren’t yet exactly vintage? They’re old, but not old … [Read more...] about There Are Two Important Words Missing From American Car Culture
Our fearless leader Paddy once said that you should always say yes to adventure, and the next batch of stories from me will show you what can happen if you follow this mantra. It all started when a good friend invited me to come to Malaysia and check out this year’s Retro Havoc event. The event is well known in the Malaysian car community and annually draws crowds in from all over the wider Asia region. Given that this would be my first trip to Malaysia, it really wasn’t going to take much arm twisting to get me to make the 5,131km (3,188mi) journey from Tokyo. What Alie Kuoppa, the man behind Retro Havoc, would offer, though, did have me think twice before agreeing. You see, Alie had a few things in mind that I really wasn’t expecting. When we normally travel to an overseas event we’re gone for only a few days before returning back to Earth and the regular grind, and ensuring that the stories captured are published … [Read more...] about Saying Yes To A Malaysian Car Culture Adventure