Tuner Galleria seems to have been growing year after year, and for it’s ninth consecutive year, that growth seems to have continued. While not quite as exponential a growth as we seemed to see the last two years, it was a decent expansion of what has become a good size import show. So let’s get right into some of my favorites of the day!
There was a nice little contingent of Volkswagen’s in the far corner of the show that I really appreciated. It was a trio of VW Golf’s, two MKIV’s and one MKII. I have an admitted soft spot for the MKIV Golf and its funky little rounded shoe box style. The MKIV Golf is Elvis Costello, with his suits and thick framed glasses, you expect him to be a total square (like the Golf, see what I did there?) but somehow he is impossibly cool. This year I found two well done examples sandwiching a clean and period correct MKII. The Imola Yellow 20th anniversary edition GTi really impressed me for it’s overall style; I am really into cars that are modified in a way that the uninitiated might think the car actually was sold that way from the factory. From the outside, aside from the enormous OE BMW wheels and aired out ride height, it looks mostly like an immaculately clean stock Golf. The interior is what blew me away, as it is draped in an incredible tan leather that continued over a pair of Recaro seats, the look brought to mind a Ferrari 360. Even the rear cargo cover maintains this scheme, with embroidered 20th Anniversary logo and even build number. The second MKIV doubles down on it’s “shouldn’t be cool but is” factor by dressing in a color I’d describe as metal-folding-chair-beige. That may sound like a slight, but believe me I don’t mean it to be. The beige paint oozes over the Golf’s soft edges and spills into an immaculately shaved and tucked engine bay, and defying all logic it makes the combination of beige and a Golf actually look sexy. The third of the trio, the older brother MKIII looks deliciously period correct, with it’s chunky five spoke BBS’s, low ride height and well polished engine bay. I can picture it pulling up to a UK car park, blaring Sex Pistols and flicking cigarette butts from the window. That is when I realized why modified, show car Volkswagens work; it is a rebel in sheep’s clothing, cool when it shouldn’t be and given a heaping helping of attitude.
Perfectly in line with the tuner theme, and more in sync with my Japanese car fetish, is this pair of imported machines from the little island nation they were born from; a first generation Honda NSX and a third generation Nissan GT-R. Both undisputed titans of their era, the two on hand took slightly different approaches to the modification route. The NSX goes the more understated route, wearing an uber-JDM Backyard Special body kit coated in the factory Sebring Silver, sitting on a set of perfectly fitted bronze Mugen MF10 wheels, it accents the already timeless lines of the NSX beautifully. Yellow valve covers announce the presence of the Honda V6 in the back, lest you forget it was there, and keeping track of the revs is a fully functional S2000 gauge cluster. The digital display feels so at home here, it seems almost odd that Honda wouldn’t have used it until 2000, and never in the NSX. The extra detail of back-lighting it green, makes it fit the interior ever more seamlessly. So glad this car made the trip down from Milwaukee for the show, hopefully I talked the owner into bringing it down more often!
The R32 GT-R at Tuner Galleria, takes a decidedly different and slightly more brash approach befitting the first car to earn the moniker Godzilla. An aggressive wide body treatment swells the fenders on all corners, and especially the rear where it bulges to the limits of being cohesive with the rest of the car. Cohesive it is though, with the kit well molded to the body, it blends the lines of the car without disrupting it’s natural rhythm. A splash of metallic red fills each wheel well, encircled by brightly polished lips gleaming under the wide expanse of rubber. The striking red continues with accents on the front lip spoiler and connects with the interior nicely as the full roll cage and shifter are all adorned in the same bold shade of red. I can just picture this intimidating GT-R cruising the highways and showing would be competitors in it’s wake a set of streaking red tail lights and the bold proclamation “wolf of all streets” emblazoned on it’s rear spoiler.
The EG Civic hatchback is near and dear to my heart, as I owned a couple in my time and loved them. None of them reached the ultimate potential I had in mind for them, and for that reason even until today I think of what could have been whenever I see well built examples. The one on hand at Tuner Galleria has been at this show before, and it seems to get better every outing. Perfect paint, perfect wheel fitment, air ride suspension, it checks all the typical show car prerequisites. However, it goes above and beyond in many ways, but the one that strikes me in particular is how clean it is. Now “clean” is a term that has been used to death describing a car that simply looks good. In this case I mean clean as in, completely free of dirt, debris, staining, or any evidence the car has been driven. Look at the detail shot below of the gorgeous welds on the exhaust manifold, now avert your eyes just above that to the engine’s cylinder head and see it is immaculate! Honestly, it looks like it is fresh from casting and has zero miles on it, how have they done this!? I can only speculate at how many painstaking hours it took to maintain this level of spotlessness and no matter what particular car you are a fan of, this deserves the highest respect in my book.
My last notable for the day, is really a collection of cars brought by a local shop called CTB Garage. Their work has graced this blog in the past, and they are regularly on hand at area car shows with some well put together Honda’s. I spent some time talking with CTB Garage’s owner Carlos, and was impressed by his ability to do the work he does, start to finish, in unbelievable time frames. The hallmark of CTB Garage seems to be the shaved and tucked engine bay, his mastery on full display at Tuner Galleria. So thoroughly tucked away are all the lines and wires, the engines resemble jewels mounted on a pedestal. The paint cascading down the firewall and around the engine, possesses a deep glossy shine that you’d swear was still wet to the touch. I told Carlos, his under hood paint work looks better than the exterior paint on the body of some of the best cars at the show.
I spent hours canvassing the show this year, more than I had in previous years, grabbing as many shots as I could. From a photographic perspective, Tuner Galleria is a challenge; lots of foot traffic, tight spacing of cars, and lighting reminiscent of an office cubicle. Nonetheless I carried on and I came away with a few shots I could be fairly proud of. Thanks to the folks at Tuner Galleria for putting this on every year, giving us a break from the winter blues, and thanks to all who displayed and attended. Plenty more to see below, keep scrolling to see it all. Thanks for reading!
– photos and writing: Robert Sixto