Welcoming 2021 - DC2 x JDM Meet
Well, it finally came! New year, a fresh start for us all, even if we are not in the clear just yet. But I bet most of you are relieved to at least start affresh. As vaccinations ramp up and what we considered normal resumes slowly; but surely, I hope events, shows, and travel can pick off where we left in 2019.
While most were aiming to start their Sunday mornings by waking up early for the first ‘SMD’ of 2021, I decided to go the other way; i.e sleeping in until 8 AM, and taking my time to drive over to Ocean Terminal in Tsim Tsa Tsui to treat myself to my first slap-up brunch of the year. Ideally a deli sandwich with fries, paired with an iced coffee and milkshake.
Secretly though, I was hoping to catch some kind of car action that morning; at least to kill some time until restaurants opened up a few hours later. The Ocean Terminal Car Park, especially on the upper level, tends to be a regular meeting spot for car clubs on early weekend mornings. A couple of my Morning Drive acquaintances have hit gold previously, usually from a tip off or simply stopping by the car park Sunday mornings. They’ve been lucky to check out a NSX club meeting, the Hong Kong Supra Club, to name a few. All usually when I decided to sleep in on Sunday and get some rest. But deep down, considering these meets are mainly invite-only; kept to a select few (to keep the traffic police at bay or wannabe street racers from calling it off as soon as it begins), I was banking on something happening that day.
And if it turned out there was nothing that morning, it wouldn’t be a lost cause for me: considering I would have snagged early-bird parking at a shopping center that is always packed Sundays, I could get some photos of the A Class and my Christmas haul (stickers/merch) at one of the best spots in the city, and get a guaranteed table at my stop for brunch.
But it seems luck was on my side that day. As soon as I pulled up to the top floor, some recognizable shapes could be made out as I had a look around. A few Honda coupes, NSXs, and some Supras.
It turned out that the first Sunday of the year was one of the many local ‘JDM’ enthusiast meetups; ones that I had seen acquaintances attend and fellow photographers cover through Instagram, though primairly kept invite-only and small, especially when public gatherings are still limited given current social distancing rules. Despite my connections in the network of car photographers, I usually only learn about these meetups last minute or long after they happen.
So it was a treat that I got to finally see one of these for myself.
The JDM group also collaborated with the local DC2 Integra owners club that day, hence the multiple DC2s you'll see throughout. Hondas still remain a cult favorite in this city: from EG hatchbacks to the current gen FK8 Type R. It’s unfortunate though, that many are tied to a bad reputation or stereotypes surrounding ‘street racers’.
Hence many of the DC2s you will observe, lack the crazy offset or aggressive body kits/exhuasts you tend to find among Integras in more car-friendly parts of the world. A few do go for the ‘Kanjozoku’ (Osaka-style Japanese street racing) look and tuning approach, but the majority limit modifying to aesthetic enhancements: a good set of JDM wheels, mild suspension tuning, and minor performance mods.
Considering the value of Integra Type Rs are on the rise now as DC2s finally become legal to import Stateside, it probably explains why many DC2 Type Rs that call Hong Kong their home keep their clean, OEM look. Complete the original red bucket seats and Champion White exterior paint. But I doubt any of these owners will be willing to sell their cars anytime soon, no matter how high JDM fans abroad hype up prices.
This DC2 Type R stood out for me among the group. Not because of its stance or selection of Mugen/Spoon Sports parts, but the fact that it had a rectangular license plate. The majority of DC2s here, being imports from Japan, usually come with the square plates: similar in length and width to the Kanji plates they were originally registered under. It's a small difference the average passerby couldn't care less about; but it's probably me: I like seeing anomalies like these. Maybe it had a former life in the UK?
Furthermore, most of the DC2s: Type R or not, still run their original B18C motors. Engine-swaps are also an area of modification not exactly street-legal here, so if you were expecting to see some JDM DC2s with K-conversions: look elsewhere. Preferably RedZone's in Hawaii or anywhere Stateside.
Likewise, another performance-oriented Honda that is going to experience skyrocketing values too is the Civic Type R (FD2); widely considered the superior Civic Type R compared to the FN2 Type R based off the Swindon-built hatchback with its unique, futurism-esque styling. The FD2 has been always popular, with many passing through Japanese import specialists in the UK and the Asia Pacific, but starting this year, local import regulations are prohibiting any more FD2 Type Rs from being brought into HK.
If Hawaii readers are complaining about the current rules regarding importing a car into the island, and going through the registration/recon permit process, just wait until you try to work with HK’s import laws. I later learned through a FD2 Type R friend I made through Subtle Asian Cars (fun group btw, check us out on FB) that only cars ten years old or less are allowed to be imported into HK; anything older (between 11-19 years old) is not allowed or able to be registered, unless it’s more than 20 years old (where it can be imported as a ‘vintage’ car).
But that means FD2 Type Rs that have been imported before the cut-off point will be worth even more; expect markups to go through the roof for this K20-powered sedan. Even more for one of the 300 limited-edition Mugen RRs, which strangely, HK has a sizeable number of.
I channeled my inner ‘StickyDillJoe’ getting these shots of the bronze Mugen MF10s on this Integra: a classic combination on many Honda models. If you have been following his blog ‘The Chronicles’, you would have seen Joey also got some photos at a meet that also was hosted at this car park.
It's not just Civics, S2000s, and Integras that are popular within the local scene: the NSX is also a favorite. There's even a few authentic NSX-Rs, both NA1 and NA2 gens, that are living here.
That being said, the strict traffic ordinances don’t deter people from modifying their cars here. Especially when some pay for a cross-border registration to take it legally across the border to the mainland (China); for a weekend at one of the few neighboring tracks to really use their cars to their fullest.
Starting to see modified A90 Supras here: I have previously seen what can be possible on this platform, from show car to track monster (despite division between Toyota purists, BMW M fans, and keyboard car fans worldwide), and its a very capable platform for the aftermarket in mind. Not sure if we’ll see any widebody Pandem kits on Supras here anytime soon, but the latest generation of the Supra goes well with good fitment, spoilers, and carbon bits.
Two ways to bag and modify the RX7 FD3S, as evidenced by these great examples. You can go either try to keep within the original bodylines of the FD chassis, or go all-out Stanceculture style, as ‘JY’ has done with his. Aside from owning the 9th RWB Porsche 993 here in Hong Kong and a equally stanced-out Mercedes S-Class, JY has also been working on the latest addition to his collection: this pristine RX7 FD (that looks like it could be a Spirit R Type A, but its not. Note the lower-profile OEM BBS wheels).
Within one year of ownership, he’s already slammed it on air, fitted even lower-profile concave BBS RS wheels with Rotiform turbo-fan covers, an Alea leather interior, and a titanium GReddy exhaust (with multi-colored tips).
Note the one-off carbon fibre LED daytime running lights that go with the existing pop-up headlights; inspired by custom ones from a fellow FD owner in the States. I have more photos of his RX7 that I’ll devote to another feature later down the line, especially if you want to have a look of his trunk & air tank setup, along with under the hood.
And to think I originally drove here, with the intention to grab some coffee and a morning bite to eat.
It’s always interesting to see the current generation side by side with its predecessors. This is one of the cleanest MK4 Supras in the city too: still with its original wheels, spoiler, and in brochure-spec silver. It is automatic, but don’t let that deter you from admiring its welll-preserved OEM look.
Old school HK cinema fans will like how this Lancer Evolution is in yellow. Yellow Evos, especially the Evo III stick out here thanks to its role in the Jackie Chan movie ‘Thunderbolt’; one of the films that was key to highlighting Hong Kong’s import scene. Little known fact, apart from the very dedicated Mitsubishi fans that know: the action cinema star even commissioned a few Evo IX’s with his name in collaboration with Ralliart’s Asia division. Only 50 were ever produced, and there are a few that live around here…
This is probably one of my favorite five-piece wheels that are made for Hondas: Mugen MR5s. They go along well with this DC2’s eye-popping red and the ‘HK 882’ plate. I like to refer it to as ‘Chinese New Year’ themed (which is only a few weeks away too).
The DC2 aforementioned above is also driven by a female car enthusiast: Keiko Wong, who also happens to be an up and rising amateur competitive go-kart racer. Check out her Instagram at @keikowonggg if you would like to follow her exploits as one of the few helping establish Hong Kong's presence in the motorsports scene.
Also on my list as my personal favorite wheels: Nismo LMGT4s, in Omori Spec. If I ever get another Nissan, I will aspire to get some Nismo wheels for it. LMGT4s will likely not be possible, given they're out of production and their value has gone through the roof: like anything JDM (notice the trend?)
Even the people behind the cameras covering this meet have to maintain social distancing; one space apart between each car. Check out Mickey’s Shell V-Power liveried BMW F10 M5. Motorsports-themed liveries are starting to catch on here, which is good to see: more are not afraid to look different and step out of the normal sea of white and silver cars you see everywhere.
Models and cars will never get old. This was my first time meeting Paul, the man seen operating the Ronin Gimbal here. A former Black Cygnus photographer, he has gone independent with his own media brand: mainly doing cinematography and film projects. You can see all of his latest projects capturing HK's automotive culture on his Instagram at @auto.bio.
Nor will getting to shoot and admire some local examples of JDM cars at one of the best places to view the entirety of Victoria Harbor. If you ever come visit the city, the viewing points at Ocean Terminal are some of the best places to see the skyline.
Once the meet was prepared to call it a day and wrap up, I finally grabbed brunch, Paul and Edwin (another photographer I am acquainted with) tagging along. It was also the day I learned Main St. Deli at Langham Hotel now requires anyone not staying at the hotel to spend a minimum of $280 HKD per person. As much as I like their corned beef sandwiches and shakes, we couldn't justify spending that much for a post-meet meal.
So instead, ShakeShack it was. Least it gave me an opportunity to try their truffle special and TST-exclusive Mango Shake. Not what I originally expected to have, but it was still darn good.
Overall, not a bad way to start the new year! We're still not in the clear yet to make car shows happen or travelling to do car stuff abroad yet, but hopefully I can get to do some; even a little in the coming months.