Stepping Back in Time - Step4Stance 2018

We’re all missing show season by now. There was initial hope that by this time, things would have calmed down and long-awaited shows, already pushed back from their initial dates, would finally be their time to shine. After all, with everyone stuck at home, no better opportunity to work on your build and get it show ready right?  

But as June and July whizzed by, its safe to say the 2020 show season, like this year itself, has been cancelled. Apart from a few exceptions, many tours called off their schedule for 2020, along with first-of-their-kind events that had taken months in planning to launch this year. 

With the rest of this year looking bleak for any shows planned in the Fall or Winter, it’s best to drop any anticipation for major shows happening anytime soon, and instead focus on what shows we can look forward to attending next year.
 That being said, I thought we’d take another look back at yet another show I attended. Scroll through my Instagram and photography page, you'll see I have covered shows I attended in the States. However, I have yet to do the same for shows here in Hong Kong. 

If only we had more opportunities to do custom car shows that is. It’s not only myself being out of town when local shows do happen, but unlike the scene I was used to in Hawaii, there is no annual show schedule that allows everyone to plan ahead to. Hardly any major tours like Spocom or Hot Import Nights do make it to Hong Kong, and as for local shows, their dates vary. Some happen once per year, others only every few years, or are one-off shows that rarely do occur again.

Aside from the Classic Car Club festival every year in Central or a local magazine’s gathering at City Hall, there also aren't many venues available to host such a formal event like a car show  Space is hard to come by in an already packed city like Hong Kong, and typical spots for organised car gatherings (car parks etc.) can be tough to negotiate for; when everyone else needs access to parking in one of the most expensive and populated cities to park. 

And as I brought up previously, some people do not want to risk driving out for a day, fearing a random traffic cop might pull them over and impound their car for ‘unsafe modifications’. So there are a number of factors working against those who want to support car customisation and shows in this city. 

But, in spite of everything against them, that fails to deter the dedicated few who are willing to put in the time, energy, and risk to put on an awesome show when given the opportunity. 

One of Hong Kong’s most recurrent custom car shows here is the ‘Step4Stance’ Autoparty. It typically takes place every two years, and throughout its run, it has managed to gather a decent turnout with cars from all walks of life: from the subtle to the extreme.  
I am not joking, that this event, is one of the rare occasions you’ll get to see yourself how big our car customisation scene is. Euros, JDM, USDM and even the emerging ‘HKDM’ customisation scene were all present. 

The last time the show happened, was also my first, and currently only time attending one of these shows. That year, it was hosted at the Tai Tong Organic Eco Park all the way in Yuen Long (the farthest part of town closest to the border with Shenzhen). It is a fair drive for most, but the benefits were: its an open lot that guarantees every participating car has a spot in the show, and being somewhere away from the more busier parts of town, meant it was less likely to draw unwanted attention throughout the day. 

As the event took place in the middle of June, that meant the show was also happening during one of the hottest periods of the year: maximum humidity and temperatures up to 34 Celsius and higher during the middle of the day. To say it was a scorcher that day, is just part of it. There was hardly any shade available, apart from the umbrella I brought to shield off most of the sunlight. I thought my camera would overheat since I was shooting for the entire time I was at the event. 

But thankfully, it kept cool, and so did I. Chugging a few bottles of ice tea and my water bottle really helped starve off most of the heatstroke that day. And allowed me to admire some of the interesting cars that were there. 

Car shows here in Hong Kong are generally open for anyone to participate in: private owners will show off their personal builds, various car clubs that focus on a particular brand or model , or car dealers will bring out some of their well-preserved inventory, normally hidden away in storage. 
Not many dealerships have a 22B STI in stock as one of their demo models. 

Probably some of the most eye-catching builds were the minivans. Minivans, especially Toyota Alphards/Veillfires and Estimas, are a favorite among local families, VIPs, and private drivers alike. I know plenty of those from the Vankulture community  would be lusting after some of the vans we have here. 

Hong Kong also loves its Mercedes Benzes, especially the older, boxier models from the 80s through 90s. Ever wondered how an old man's W126 would look, riding on bags and lowrider fitment-lipped Work Wheels?

 Air suspension was starting to catch on around this time too. More and more people rare coming to realise its versatility: ride low and cool parked up, and high above the ground when the roads get rough; or to not catch the eye of a traffic inspector for improper ride height. 

As this Ferrari 360 demonstrates. 

The show was a chance for me to support two of my friend’s who had their cars on display for a booth: Justin’s family R34 GTR, and Issac, with what he owned at the time, a JZX100 Chaser. Tastefully modded, with TRD and Nismo parts respectively. Good examples of how you can make a car look the part without doing too much. 

Another person I have met through SMD, Mars, and his unique Toyota WiLL Vi: a model based on the Yaris/Vitz, you probably never have heard of.

Being situated close to Japan and considering most of our cars are exported from there too, it's no surprise plenty of JDM cars  were present at the show. But it isn’t limited to the usual R32s that regular JDM aficionados dream of bringing over; HK’s JDM-exclusive scene knows no bounds. 

Ex-Tokyo Crown Comfort Taxi? Nissan President? Someone even imported a Tommy Kaira ZZ. this city  has a great mix of both mainstream tuners and models that are not as commonly known. 
Eason, another person I met through SMDs, and his NA Miata. Not as shouty as some other modified Miatas you expect to see; I like how he's kept it simple and subtle to preserve the Roadster's design. It's all about the drive with this one

The drift scene has also been a popular part of automotive culture in the city, with one of the most popular platforms for amateur drifters here being Chaser, Cresta, or Mark II sedans. The engine bay of one drew quite a bit of attention: as gold does. 
But that doesn’t mean other RWD Japanese cars don’t receive as much attention, they do. Hong Kong loves its Silvias, Skylines, and Supras. 

Another scene that has been ever popular is ‘Bippu’; VIP modified sedans. Some of my favorites on display were these Toyota Centuries: the flagship of the Toyota range. 
Han lives, in Hong Kong apparently? 

A local diecast store from Mong Kok (a place I frequent at Richmond Shopping Arcade along Argyle Street) had a display and booth here too: featuring some fittingly 'stanced' miniature cars.
Next to it, something I thought we never had in this city: a R30 RS Turbo Skyline Coupe. 

A firm reminder that the nearest place to Hong Kong where you can legally drive your car to its fullest, is across the border in China. Zhuhai International Circuit or Guangzhou International Circuit, many will spend a weekend in Guangdong province  for a track day or time attack session. Don't expect it to be cheap though:  you have to apply for temporary registration to drive over there, along with lodging and other fees. 

Owning your own car isn’t cheap here, so for some who choose to invest in expensive modifications, like Lambo-style doors or widebody kits, it is the point of no return. They won't necessarily add value to the car should you decide to sell it in the future, but it takes a very few to not focus on what their cars might be worth, and create something that is all about them, to help grow HK's car customization craze. 
As evidenced by the cars that were present, it seems more and more are willing to bite the bullet, and make a statement about themselves through their transportation. 
2018's event as I later learned, was the 5th year for Step4Stance. Despite not being as well known as other big-name shows, the number of participants keeps growing, as the scene gains both local and international attention.
Hopefully in the future, more of these events will be possible. Hong Kong has a unique car culture not many are aware of, and it badly needs more outlets to show it to the world. 

If you’d like to read on more about this event, Speedhunters has this great #IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER feature from a fellow attendee of Step4Stance. 

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