Wednesday, September 30

Troy and Solo Discuss Vinyl wrapping

Troy Sumitomo is a huge icon in the world of special vehicle projects for Honda, Scion, Toyota and Lexus. Troy launched the Five Axis brand with body kits and wheels offered direct through dealerships with warranty.

Recently, Troy stepped up to help with my Project43 Celsior with a set of Five:AD wheels. Throughout the pass months, we have bounced ideas back and forth and at this pass weekends Lexus Event, we were able to finally meet up and chop-it-up a bit.

To Troys surprise, both the matte white cars were vinyl wrapped. In an earlier email with Troy, he was very much against matte paint b/c of the daily wear and tear. In fact he even showed me their SEMA IS-F with brake fluid streaks on the hood from a leak during the transport. Basically, matte colors will not withstand the daily abuse. Then I told him the cars were Vinyl wrapped. He nearly did a double take. I love surprising ppl with what we do.

It was great chatting with, Troy. I'll see you at SEMA in a month!

Photos by Photoshoot My Car

Guillermo's Shop Vehicle

The Pursuit, put on by Longo Lexus, Corporate Lexus and Club Lexus of Socal was this pass weekend. While most of the cars were expected from the big vendors of AutoFashion, VIP AutoSalon, and PG Motoring, I walked the parking lot looking for "grass-root" builds. Funny, one of the few cars I was actually excited about was this gen1 IS300 own by "Guillermo" on Club Lexus. First impression goes a long way and when I caught the car in the distance, I knew it was something unique and special. The plasters of stickers obviously caught my eye. This is a common trend in the Honda and VW culture. I've seen old school Bimmers use decals to hold cracked lips together. To me it is a free-form of artistic expression, almost a rebellious state. I found that to be bold and super-trick.

The bumper is actually JDM AirWalker for the IS300 Sportcross. You will notice the smaller opening for the fog lights. The black and white theme is carried throughout the entire car with black housing headlights, tinted taillights, white Buddy Club wheels rocking +23mm offsets and a Big Blue shift knob to break the contrast.

Funny, with all the high-dollar VIP builds, this car had me coming back for more. Perhaps, owning an Altezza long ago may have been influential or the fact that I have been looking more into the "grass-root' builds of Hondas and VWs lately.. I give Guillermo major style points for building a car without any rules.

Just have fun, build it for yourself.


AirWalker Japan front bumper (for the sportx)

Airwalker japan sides (for the sportx)

L-tune copy rear

Jdm front visors only

Black housing headlights

black grill

chrome door handels

zumies sticker packs for the bumper

jdm antenna

Tinted tailights


big blue shift knob

Do-Luck interior brace


Megan coilovers

front jic strut bar

tanabe rear strut bar

Tom's front underbrace

Tanabe rear underbrace

tom's Lower Performance Rod

Tom's Mid-Center Reinforcement Rod

Tom's Rear Lower Suspension Rod

stopping power

Drilled & Slotted Rotors

AXXIS Brake Pads

Steel Braided Brake Lines


Buddy Club P1 Racing Wheels


painted white

18x8 +38 added a 15mm spacer so that = +23 now

Tuesday, September 22

Project43 Celsior

It's been over 2 years since selling my VIP inspired Lexus IS300 to a local kid. Many have asked what car I would purchase next. When the opportunity came to own a prestige 2001 Lexus LS430, I flew down to Hermosa Beach and drove the pampered Celsior to be, back up to the Bay Area. Initial plans were to do a complete VIP build with nothing but the best brands and products. Then I bought a house.

Today the Celsior project is completely the opposite of what it first intended out to be. Wait for "The Pursuit" this coming weekend at the Toyota Speedway where the car will be debuted along 500+ other Lexus cars.

American powered, German curves

If an American and a German got together and 9 months later came a baby, this is what it will look like. Sexy German curves of a '59 Mercedes with a brute Corvette LS1 heart.

LS1 is the most common motor swapped into everything you can imagine.

Timeless Classic VW Bus

At every Goodguys event, we get a few VW here and there. Usually they are pretty bad examples of time correct restored gems, but this 21-window Bus is cleaner than a showroom new car. All original down to the fine details. I even like the color. What is it about VW bus?.. Why do people go crazy over owning one of these?.. Status and Cool factor.

You just do not see car's like this anymore. Simple, solid, and fun.

If you are in the works of owning a Bus, be prepared to shed out $6,000+ for a rust bucket. These collector cars are rare and very pricey.

Offy: Offenhauser Engine

The Offenhauser engine, familiarly known as the "Offy", was developed by Fred Offenhauser and his employer Harry Arminius Miller.

Impressed by the double overhead cam, four valve per cylinder design, which was a great leap forward at the time, they designed an engine on similar principles. Originally sold as a marine engine, in 1930, a four-cylinder, 151 cubic inch (2.5 L) Miller engine installed in a race car set a new international land speed record of 144.895 mph. Miller developed this engine into a twin overhead cam, four cylinder, four valve per cylinder 220 cubic inch (3.6 L) racing engine.

When Miller went bankrupt in 1933, Offenhauser and another Miller employee, Leo Goossen, bought the shop and the rights to the engine, which they further developed into the Offenhauser engine.

One of the keys to the Offenhauser's success was power. A 251.92 cubic inch (4,128.29 cm³) twin-cam four-cylinder racing Offy with a 15:1 compression ratio and a 4.28125 x 4.375 inch bore and stroke, could produce 420 horsepower (313 kW) at 6,600 rpm; 1.77 horsepower per cubic inch (81 kW/L).

From 1934 through 1960 the Offenhauser engine dominated American open wheel racing, winning the Indianapolis 500 24 times. By then, the company had already been sold, right after World War II, to Meyer-Drake, who continued to build the engines. From 1950 through 1960, Offenhauser-powered cars won the Indy 500 and achieved all three podium positions, winning the pole position in 10 of the 11 years.

When Ford came on to the scene in 1963, the Offy lost its dominion over Indy car racing, although it remained competitive through the mid 1970s even with the advent of turbocharging.

The final 2.65 litre 4 cyl Offy, restricted to 80 in Hg (39.3 psi) turbo pressure, gave 770 bhp at 9,000 rpm. However, the Ford Cosworth DFX soon proved to be unbeatable and the Offy's last victory came at Trenton in 1978, in the hands of Gordon Johncock's Wildcat. The last time an Offy-powered car raced was at Pocono in 1982 for the Domino's Pizza Pocono 500, in an Eagle chassis driven by Jim McElreath, although two Vollstedt chassis with Offenhauser engines failed to qualify for the 1983 Indianapolis 500.

Text: Wikipedia

Friday, September 18

BBS craze continues

It would only be a matter of time before the Honda owners started to try new ideas and some saw this coming and some were still trying to fit 19x7.5 chromes. The BBS craze has hit the Honda scene this year with many ppl going back to the old school look. BBS RS wheres were already a collectors choice of wheels oversea, especially with the VW crowd, but it wasn't until recent that the Honda world would finally take a hold of just a phenomenon. Thanks to pioneer shops like Memoryfab that saw the potential of the movement here in the States, shop owner Dave snatched up numerous sets of BBS RS and RM from Japan and stores a healthy stock of here in the US.

The craze is not just BBS wheels, it is to find wheels with character. Steplip wheels has way more character than boring rolled lip reverse wheels. It is unfortunately a style that the media continues to feed and jaded by the DUB scene, etc. Reverse lip was a step forward for manufacturers, the ability to truly rock a larger center without the aid of steplips were a great breakthrough. But with larger wheels and rolled lips, the essence of the wheels were lost.

I have been preaching this for years now and finally there seems to be ppl listening and agreeing to this theory. Step lip creates a timeless look, personality and charisma. The list of step lip wheels are slim, but if you look hard enough, they are out there. BBS RS are true 3-piece wheels allowing owners to add wider lips to get that perfect fitment.

There are a few companies that offer steplips. I will talk about them in the weeks to come.
Have a great weekend!


Incredible G35 Stance, too bad it's bagged

Found this last week of a killer G35 rocking a set of 20" inch steplip IForged wheels. The lips and barrel painted silver with the centers in a matte dark silver finish. Rocking AP Racing brakes on all four corners and the perfect offset and camber. The stance is perfect if he could actually drive at that height. Yes, he is on air bags, therefore this doesn't not get the Solo seal of approval. Everything else is just super clean. Even the subtle body work and the badgeless grill is on point.. drop the air, slap on some coilovers and pull the fenders 3 mm or shave off 3 mm off the rear hubs of each wheel. Done.

Cream puff TEGGER

The Honda movement has gone back to OEM with an emphasizes on driving stance and the still the hot set of wheels. The TEG caught my attention with its' ultra trick cream color on a set of straight white 15" inchers. Notice the wheel tuck and the driven stance. No BS air suspension, just having fun, enjoy the drive. Cars are built to be driven, not garaged like a trophy.

Perfect Stance BMW L6

BMW offered a very limited production 6-series labeled the L6 in 1987. This trilling example you see before you literally floor me. The condition is immaculate not to mention the stance and of course the perfect set of 17" inch BBS RS wheels. If I were to build a BMW, this would be one of many to consider.

Danica got balls

Danica has certainly made a name for herself in a mans world. Let's face it she has driven some of the fastest race cars on earth next to some of the best drivers on earth. On top of the constant pressure, she is still able to keep them fine curves without given in to a box of chocolate.

Keep up the attitude, the media eats it up.

Thursday, September 17

More BBS RS in 18" inchers!

I just cant get enought of BBS wheels.. it is the hot ticket right now, so get your hands on a set before they become extincted.

Pictured in 18x9 and 18x10.
Notice the same 15 inch face used on 16s, and 17s. Only the lip and barrel dictate the final size. Super cool.

This was how you get larger wheels back in the days when the manufacturer did not offer the larger sizes.

Contact Dave @ Memoryfab

Wednesday, September 16

H2 Wagon Wheels

To continue with the wood wheel theme today, let's take a look at this H3 with true wood wagon wheels from England. Apparently this was a art collaboration between a few artists. Solid wood spokes, spindles truly bolted on to the H3 hub.

Love or hate, I think it's a literal interpretation of "Wagon wheels".

Good Wood Hummer!

3-piece Wood Wheel

What happens when you mix a carpenter with a car guy?.. You get Wood-alloy wheels.

Check out this outrageous wood center wheel. It is truly 3-piece with nuts and bolts, but the center is clearly cut in a series of wood pieces. Notice the elevated flower pedals that lift off the face creating a 3D artistic effect.

Surely, not practical or functional but truly creative as a sculpture or decorative inside the home.

I would use it as a coffee table.

Diamond Racing: Steeles the next HAWT wheel

There seems to be a really large push in the States for Steplip wheels.. Finally, I have been preaching this for years now. The Euro cars first had it overseas, then the Japanese took that style and created their VIP style. Most Hondas still rock the traditional Grip look with Mugen or Spoon wheels and plenty of meat. But in recent months the push has been way lower offsets, staggered wheel setup on FWD and the hunt to find more Steplip wheels.

There are not many Steplip wheels available, BBS being the more popular with CCW on the gain. A few has tried something completely different, going back to Steelies. Check out these two great examples of ppl thinking outside the box. Sure a 15 inch Steele weights a staggering 20 pounds but these are street cars, so who cares what it weights. This in my book is hellafresh and both these cars get the Solo seal of approval.

So you may wonder who makes these wheels: Diamond Racing is the source.

Tuesday, September 15

Nissan Cube, slammed w/ wheels

The Cube has sold for almost 10 years over sea and finally Nissan decided to bring it stateside. Just like the Scion xB, there are lots of room for improvements and clearly you can see that here in this fine example. Slammed with a set of SSR wheels, not to mention stepped lip. I'm always looking for a few good examples of creative builds. If you got a good example, send it to ME.

Monday, September 14

50+ years of Air Suspension

Air Suspensions have been the big deal in the VIP tuning scene for some time now. It recently blew-up here in the States with companies like UAS, BOLD World, Airrunner and Roberuta. Some will remember the mini truck days where hydraulics were the hot choice for suspension. But many will not know Air suspension were first test way back in 1957. Here is a rare image of a OEM air system on a Chevy. I found this at work in a 1957 Motor Trend. Yes, we have hella magazines laying around dating way back in the days.

This proves that there are no new ideas in this world. Just redesigned, repackaged and marketed to appeal to specific generation.


Friday, September 11

VIP AutoSalon Jtuned Session

Congrats to Clark and VIP AutoSalon for their recent photo shoot with Jtuned and the sexy Lisa Flemings.

Mercedes-Old School Love

As we get closer to 2010.. cars of the '80s and '90s are becoming the popular cars to build. Soon they will be classic like '70s muscle cars.

What I like is simplicity of the cars. Slammed stance and a set of deep dish steplip wheels. No 20" inchers here. Just a basic set of 15 or 16 inch rollers. These cars are super clean with minimal work involved.

My dad just picked up probably the cleanest '91 190e left on earth. I'm already sourcing the suspension and a set of BBS RS.

Expect the US Import scene to take a turn into trying these older cars. These chassis are cheap and simple to work on. Parts will be harder to find but that's where the creativity and fun begins.

Stay Tuned.

3UZ-FE Individual Throttle Bodies

Here in the states, ppl with a 1UZ, 2UZ, or 3UZ have little performance options. Yes Rod Millen once offered a supercharger kit for the 3UZ, but that was pretty much it. Everything else has been custom kits with not enough R&D to invest in.

This week I stumbled on a company in Europe that works on nothing else but the Toyota V8 motors. They actually import the engines and do swaps into Supra and other older generation cars. They have developed some killer parts with top notch CAD engineering. Pictured here is their complete ITB setup for the V8 motor. Similar to the GT500 motor used in popular racing series. Check out that intense header design.

Other goodies include complete Termec 5-speed tranny conversion bolt on adaptor kit to the 3UZ motor. Or if you prefer to stay Toyota, they also have a kit for the R154 tranny. This gives GS, SC, and LS owners the chance to really experience their bulletproof Toyota V8 motor.

Sinister Road Runner

What catches my attention at a car show?..

Not the chrome or the half-naked girls. I get excited when builds crosses between different generations, trends, and styles. This then starts a new movement of copy cats and new trends to be born in the grassroots scene.

This RoadRunner is a fine example of what I gets my attention. First off, the stance is spot-on. No bags or BS. Full coilover conversion for the best of old and new. Then there's the ridiculous motor that sounds and runs like a 1200 hp Pro-stock machine. Notice the use of wrinkle red on the twin valve covers. (Honda)

Then the rollers are ZONE wheels finished in gloss black with full painted lips and barrels. Oh, did I mention it has Step Lips and a full Time-Attack pinstripe..

Blending of styles and trends are not easy, but this Road Runner has set the bar very high for others to follow. All show, all go, and all business.

So, how did he do on the autocross?.. wait for the next Gazette and you shall see.

Drive Low or Go Home

Airbags are cool. In the Hotrod scene Airride Technologies have built an empire out of rubber suspension. In the recent year, there has been a new movement back to traditional steel coilovers and springs. When the VIP scene tried to take off here in the states, many jumped on bags right away to achieve that frame drop stance when parked and to save valuable JDM aero kits from unfriendly road hazards. But when air bagged cars have to drive, it literally goes up 20" inches in the air and looks higher than stock, DONK.

The push back to coilovers is in my opinion a good rebirth and reminder to all those that build cars. Cars are built to be driven on a road and not honored as a trophy. Why invest so much cheddar in the first place?.. Is it more important to drive low or park low?.. Everyone will have different opinions, but looking at the scene both Import and Domestic, it's on a change.

Drive Low,
Drive Hard,
Enjoy the Car,
Enjoy the Road.

..Not the parking spot.

Friday, September 4

360 Concave by 360 Forged

360 Forged wheels are launching their new Concave line up and let me be the first to say, this is one great step in the right direction for 3-piece forged wheels. Finally we are walking away from that flat 2D face and into a whole new world of ideas. This is trend setting. You will see others coping very quickly especially in the wheels industry.

Look out HRE, there are finally something new and fresh by 360 Forged.

Dyrdek vs Block: Too funny!

Wednesday, September 2

Silent & Slammed, Toyota Prius

I love cars that catch ppl by surprise. To see a Hybrid Prius powered by a silent electric motor modified is not very common these days. I found this Prius on and almost fell off my chair. This Prius is completely slammed to the ground. Wheels tucking, front lip, black hood, this thing is incredible. Almost looks like a k-car or hatchback wagons.

I dig fresh thinking and creativity. This is both so you are now Solo approved!

Photos by

Tuesday, September 1

- FIXED GEAR - The invaders

- FIXED GEAR - The invaders from Androsky Knauer on Vimeo.

My coworker found this killer video of Fixed Gear bikes in London. What we found interesting was actually the music used in this video. The footage and track bend quite well. Beautiful footages and syk-a$$ bikes.