JDM Chicago Season Opener 2018

It wasn’t an ideal weather weekend for a season opener meet, but May in Chicagoland carries with it a certain unpredictability.  Thunderstorms were a near 100% chance, but attendees showed up nonetheless.  Hey, this is the midwest, we’re a hardy bunch, what did you expect?  I am always enthusiastic about JDM Chicago’s meets, the website and it’s creator Ginash (pictured below doing his thing) are one of many sources of inspiration and motivation for doing what I do.  The man takes some outstanding photos of some of the most incredible JDM flavored rides, and they often end up on Super Street magazine who was also covering this weekend’s meet.  So my enthusiasm is always high for a JDM Chicago meet, and this weekend was no different.  I braved the rain, got a bit soaked for a bit, and managed to get some shots of the cars that made it.  Here, as always, are some of the highlights, enjoy!
I think my personal favorite on the day, and a car that perhaps encompasses most completely the JDM Chicago vibe, this Toyota AE86 Levin.  This Levin checks all the appropriate boxes; it’s an actual JDM import, it’s arguably one of the earliest iconic Japanese sports cars, and it’s modified in a cohesive and tasteful manner.  I am a big proponent of flip up headlights, and generally I find them superior in every way to fixed headlights (yes, my own car biases me).  However, seeing this Levin may have shaken my assertion, and I found myself questioning if this was the better look.  In this instance, the fixed angular headlights seem to accentuate the boxy styling even more than it’s sister car the Trueno that has the flip up lights.  As I circled this Levin, I admired the glossy black facade that seemed to cover it top to bottom.  The darkness only broken by the bright orange spokes of Work Equip 40 wheels, adding a dramatic splash of color nestled deep within the well polished lips.  This was a handsome little AE86, despite some imperfections on the front fenders.  Even that blemish, stitched up with some zip ties, only adds to the personality of this car.  My mind conjures images of the car being flung sideways, the fender damage a result of lots of opposite lock and aggressive wheel fitment.  I’m probably not the only one that sees these things as angry little drift monsters, and this black beauty fits the image well.  This Levin was such a tidy, perfect little package, such a treat to see it!
The “25 year rule” describes the law that allows individuals to import a car that was originally sold in another country, and legally register and drive it in the U.S.  Given Japan’s record of building some great driving cars during the 1980’s and 1990’s, it means a whole slew of great JDM-only machines can now make their way onto our streets.  Without a doubt they have, with a recent flood of cool machines from Kei cars, to JDM only drift missles, we’re seeing more and more right hand drive cars pulling up to meets throughout Chicagoland.  The most notable of these recent imports, has to be the R32 Skyline.  The R32 has almost become a ubiquitous presence, I have seen at least one for every show/meet this year.  I have seen both GT-R’s and GT-ST’s; and have seen them in varying conditions.  This flood of R32’s almost clouded prestige of the car for me personally, they almost seemed regular now.  However, on the occasions that I do come across a GT-R, in truly clean condition and/or modified in a tastefully period correct manner, it quickly shakes off any haze of “regularity”.  This was the case when I happened upon the GT-R pictured below.  While later generations of GT-R went down a path of increasingly aggressive styling, favoring muscular looks over softer graceful ones, the R32 is probably the most graceful of them all.  Silver paint on many cars, can make them bland, almost invisible.  Not the case here; the Spark Silver Metallic paint compliments the GT-R’s lines perfectly, and further augments the inherent grace in it’s design.  A set of gunmetal Nismo LMGT-4 wheels provide the perfect contrast in color on all four corners, and match the era and car perfectly.  Just when my desire for the car wanes with thoughts of “everyone has one now”, I see one this lovely and the want comes back just as strong!
The Subaru Impreza today enjoys a dominant presence in the JDM/Tuner/import scene.  It’s hard to believe it only began in the early 90’s and is on just it’s fifth generation today.  Of those five generations of Impreza, the first still holds as my favorite from a styling stand point.  Perhaps I am just forever stuck in late 80’s, early 90’s nostalgia, but the later cars never matched the looks of the GC8 in my mind.  This incredibly clean GC8 rolled up and aired out at the meet, with it’s owner meticulously cleaning the deep dish Work VS KF wheels, even in the face of almost certain thunderstorms.  Now that’s dedication!  The owner’s dedication showed in the whole car, even later when it was pocked with rain drops it was immaculately clean.  I know I’ll be looking out for this car again in the future, so good!
So despite the looming thunderstorms, and the eventual downpour, the JDM Chicago season opener was a good one.  It certainly didn’t match last year’s when the venue was larger and weather was more summer-like, but the quality was still there.  Thanks for reading as always, and keep scrolling for the rest of the shots from the day.
-photos and writing: Robert Sixto

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