Autofashion VIP Fest 11

Words & Photos by John Krueger

 

_NLP4003.jpg

Earlier in the month, I made my annual trip to Las Vegas for the SEMA show.  2017 marked my 3rd year attending the event, and I always arrive the weekend before the show kicks off, and I normally fly back home the weekend right after, but this year I decided to extend my trip.  You see, the Sunday immediately following SEMA, Autofashion holds their annual VIP Fest event in San Diego, California, and I've been repeatedly told to go and invited to attend, but trying to figure out the logistics and taking the time off from work made it difficult.  This year though, I made the extra time off work available, and with the help of some friends I was able to go from Vegas to California to attend the VIP event in the US.

_NLP4027.jpg
_NLP4055.jpg

The reason I was able to make it this year is Sam from Central Pine/T-Demand USA.  I've known Sam for a few years now, and he was one of those always asking if I was going to make it to a VIP Fest.  I was in SoCal for StanceNation in September and we were talking about it, and I mentioned needing a way to get from Vegas to Cali and a place to stay, and he just said, "I got you," and the rest is history.  So, major thanks to him for letting me tag along, Matsu and Takashi for the good company, and the rest of the Central Pine USA family for welcoming me.

_NLP4006.jpg
_NLP4000.jpg

The event itself was awesome, but that's to be expected for my first time going.  It was crazy for me to see so many VIP and VIP-Styled cars in one place.  The scene is still growing in the US, so we don't have VIP shows every other weekend like Japan does.  What really made VIP Fest special for me though was getting to finally meet so many people that I've only known online,  and for a lot of people it was nice to have me attending as well which took me by surprise.  I've been apart of the VIP scene here in the US for about 7 years, and while I don't consider myself an OG, I've been around long enough that I'm not green behind the ears, lol.

Honestly though, I seriously had a fantastic time and attending VIP Fest will be a yearly thing for me now.  Seeing all the cars was great, but getting to connect with all the people is what made it special for me.  Instead of just being 'online friends,' all the people I got to connect with are real friends.  I also got to make some new friends and reconnect with old ones too.  With me being stuck in the Mid-West, I have to take any chance I get to make it out west and actually hang out with the community.  It's crazy how the internet made the world so much smaller, and how we can keep in touch with friends from all over the globe, but the face-to-face interactions can still never be replaced.  Anyways, enough of me blabbering about my experiences.  Let's get to some coverage of the cars.

_NLP4002.jpg
It was great to finally see Ojay's K-Break LS430 in person.  I've been such a big fan of his builds since his UCF10 LS400, so it was nice to see one of them in person.

It was great to finally see Ojay's K-Break LS430 in person.  I've been such a big fan of his builds since his UCF10 LS400, so it was nice to see one of them in person.

Another cool car to see was Rene Garcia's Junction Produce 1st-Gen GS.  Talk about a time capsule.

Another cool car to see was Rene Garcia's Junction Produce 1st-Gen GS.  Talk about a time capsule.

Always good to see my good friend Cesar.  Me and Cesar go way back before my VIP days, and it's always a blast to hang out and catch up.  His 460 is one of my favorites.  Much love dude.  Thanks again for the words of encouragement at the meet!

Always good to see my good friend Cesar.  Me and Cesar go way back before my VIP days, and it's always a blast to hang out and catch up.  His 460 is one of my favorites.  Much love dude.  Thanks again for the words of encouragement at the meet!

Cesar also brought out his Toyota Century Limo complete with Air Runner suspension, Fabulous wheels, and of course, a Junction Produce kit.

Cesar also brought out his Toyota Century Limo complete with Air Runner suspension, Fabulous wheels, and of course, a Junction Produce kit.

Jin from Kyoei catching me getting some candid shots, lol

Jin from Kyoei catching me getting some candid shots, lol

Joey from The Chronicles explaining to me how that's not his camera, lol

Joey from The Chronicles explaining to me how that's not his camera, lol

Speaking of Joey, it was nice to see his Q45 cleaned up and not in his shop, haha

Speaking of Joey, it was nice to see his Q45 cleaned up and not in his shop, haha

I love the color combo on his Work Meisters and how well it works with the new color of the car.  I really like his overall build because it's so well put together.  This is classic, VIP Styling.

I love the color combo on his Work Meisters and how well it works with the new color of the car.  I really like his overall build because it's so well put together.  This is classic, VIP Styling.

Best license plate award

Best license plate award

This has been one of my favorite UCF20s in the states, and it was nice to finally meet the owner.  Ray from Lowballers made a point to introduce us because I remember first meeting Ray at their VIP Fest pre-meet a few years back and telling him I wanted to meet the owner of this car.  It just took awhile, lol.  It was great to meet you Andrew, and as always a fun time catching up with Ray and Ben from Lowballers.

This has been one of my favorite UCF20s in the states, and it was nice to finally meet the owner.  Ray from Lowballers made a point to introduce us because I remember first meeting Ray at their VIP Fest pre-meet a few years back and telling him I wanted to meet the owner of this car.  It just took awhile, lol.  It was great to meet you Andrew, and as always a fun time catching up with Ray and Ben from Lowballers.

another super clean UCF20 bagged on some Rotiform wheels from Pure VIP

another super clean UCF20 bagged on some Rotiform wheels from Pure VIP

_NLP4034.jpg
Arguably my favorite pre-MC UCF20 in the states is Austin's (aka ayeeejaaay).

Arguably my favorite pre-MC UCF20 in the states is Austin's (aka ayeeejaaay).

_NLP4015.jpg
some super clean engine bays  from the Wild Cards

some super clean engine bays  from the Wild Cards

Another person I enjoy catching up with is Johnny B from Liberty.  His UCF20 has been around for a long time and keeps getting crazier.  Thanks for all the support over the years buddy!  (p.s. I see that Anomaly Bunka sticker in the corner!!!!)

Another person I enjoy catching up with is Johnny B from Liberty.  His UCF20 has been around for a long time and keeps getting crazier.  Thanks for all the support over the years buddy!  (p.s. I see that Anomaly Bunka sticker in the corner!!!!)

_NLP4018.jpg
Another build I was excited to see, which I saw plenty of at SEMA, was Autofashion's Pandem Rocket Bunny EG Civic.  The work on this car is insane and the clam-shell front definitely stands out.

Another build I was excited to see, which I saw plenty of at SEMA, was Autofashion's Pandem Rocket Bunny EG Civic.  The work on this car is insane and the clam-shell front definitely stands out.

Super clean LS430 on SSR MS3s from Endless Projects

Super clean LS430 on SSR MS3s from Endless Projects

Fresh from its SEMA debut, the T-Demand USA LC500 was continuing to blow people's minds.

Fresh from its SEMA debut, the T-Demand USA LC500 was continuing to blow people's minds.

I'll leave off with a gallery of the images.  I didn't take as many photos as I thought I would because the lighting was terrible the first half of the event, and I was super busy talking with people and helping out at the Central Pine booth.  Thanks again to Sam, Matsu, Takashi, Austin, JP, Alex, Kekoa, Erik, and the rest of the Central Pine family for the opportunity to come with, the Autofashion staff for putting on such a great event, and everyone that I got to share the event with.  This is what makes the car community so great.  A lot of these people I see only a couple times a year, but the fact that we can pick up conversations again like we just hung out the week before is special.  I already can't wait for next year.

Posted on November 21, 2017 .

MNIllest Summer Closer

_NLP3141.jpg

Photos & Text by John Krueger

This past weekend, MNIllest held their annual summer closer event and we were happy to be one of the sponsors.  We brought out our booth, a couple of our cars, and some of our good friends to park with us to have a solid lineup of cars on display.  Despite the cold, the weather cleared form the previous day's rain showers, and we had a crisp, sunny, fall day for the event.  The cool weather didn't stop the MN natives from enjoying one of the last events of the season.

_NLP3163.jpg
_NLP3142.jpg

If you would have told me 5-years ago that I'd have a lineup of cars like this in my booth, I would've probably laughed, but maybe it's a sign that my home state has stepped up their game.  Travelling around the country to do various shows and events has left me rather spoiled, but I'm happy to see the quality in Minnesota getting better, and I'm happy to support and promote events to showcase that quality.

Not long after we got setup and ready to go, the parking lot was quickly filling up.  By 12:30, the two parking lots were filled up (my guess is about 300-350 cars), and plenty of people were milling around to see the various cars on display, vendors and food trucks.

_NLP3162.jpg
_NLP3161.jpg

Prior to the event, a couple of the organizers asked if I would be interested in handing out an award for the best of show.  I was more than happy to do so, as I do enjoy getting to judge shows and events.  I had a cool trophy made, and while my better half and friends manned the booth, I was able to make some laps around the lots to take a look at the cars and do some judging.  At the end of the day, one car ticked all the boxes and took home the hardware.

22549647_10214216131782106_4963667531544373960_n.jpg

Anthony's Supra proved that race cars can also look good.  With a host of go-fast goodies, crazy attention to detail, and great execution, his Toyota Supra wowed the crowds all day and stood a cut above the rest of the cars in attendance.  It was great for me to take a closer look at a chunk of MN's builds as well.  As I travel around the country, I sometimes feel I lose touch with what's happening back home.  It was great to step back into my local community, talk with old friends again, and meet some new ones.

_NLP3172.jpg

As the 2017 car season comes to a close here in MN, I'll admit for the first time in awhile that I'm not quite ready to put the cars away.  Usually by this time, I'm ready for snow and snowboarding, but this year is different.  Events like this one made it fun to get out to a show, hang out with friends and meet new people.  Makes me wish there was another month or two to go, but it'll just keep me excited for next year.  I'm looking forward to supporting more local events next year, and seeing just how far the local scene has come.  Big thanks to the whole MNIllest crew for hosting this event, and their weekly meets, and for letting us be one of the sponsors.  Y'all really threw a great event to end the season.  Now it's time I get ready for another SEMA trip.

As a note, I only had my 80-200 2.8 lens with me as my 24-70 2.8 is off being serviced, so that's why the shots are composed as they are, and there aren't a lot of wide-angle shots.  The 80-200 isn't ideal for shooting shows, but it made for capturing some cool shots that you typically don't see in show coverage.  Most probably don't notice, but for those that do, there's your reason, lol.

Posted on October 17, 2017 .

MN Illest Meet

Text & Photos by John Krueger

_NLP2664.jpg

Tuesday's mean two things; tacos and MN Illest's weekly meet at Battle Creek Park for some car hangs.  I usually try and make an effort to show up to this meet because the location is great, and the people and cars that it attracts are pretty good.  It gives me a chance to see friends, and meet new people and expand the brand.  The Q does a pretty good job of attracting a crowd, and  we always try and park a few of the VIP-Style cars together to help promote that as well.  Kyle and Edwin showed up with their GS400 and LS430 to showcase Minnesota's VIP-Style.

Kyle's GS400

Kyle's GS400

Edwin's LS430

Edwin's LS430

It's been awhile since I've walked around a meet with my camera and shot, but it was fun and a nice change of pace.  It's nice to shoot for fun sometimes instead of always for work.  Plus that whole saying of, "practice makes perfect."  I can never get enough practice behind the camera.  I also really enjoy my new, Nikkor 28-70 f2.8 lens, haha.

Cool VR-T swapped Cabrio

Cool VR-T swapped Cabrio

This 20th Anniversary Edition GTI belongs to Josh Hernandez, one of the admins of MN Illest

This 20th Anniversary Edition GTI belongs to Josh Hernandez, one of the admins of MN Illest

_NLP2669.jpg
Pretty cool to see a JZX80 Chaser.  I'm a sucker for stylish sedans (shocker I know).

Pretty cool to see a JZX80 Chaser.  I'm a sucker for stylish sedans (shocker I know).

Anyways, enjoy a few more pics.  Turnout was alright, but there should be some decent ones since the season is winding down.  Quick plug for an event coming up on October 1st.  MN Illest is having a summer end show at the Aldrich Arena in White Bear Lake and we're a sponsor for the event.  We'll be having a booth there stocked with merchandise and some of the Mid-West's finest cars.  Check it out, along with MN Illest on Facebook.

Posted on September 13, 2017 and filed under Cars, Shows.

Welcome

Welcome to a new section of AB, the blog.  Being that two of us here at AB got our start as automotive journalists, it made sense that we should have a place to document our work, travels and shenanigans on our site.  It'll take a bit to get going, but expect this area to be fairly active with posts, stories, pictures, and maybe even some videos for your viewing pleasure.

_NLP2405.jpg

It'll be fun, and it's how  two of us got our start in this creative industry as photographers.  What we love?  Culture, and how in this day and age, how accessible different cultures are.  It's safe to say that the three of us that currently make up AB live, eat, and breathe cars, and the respective cultures in the US and Japan.  Our goal with this new project is to share our viewpoints of those cultures through media, as well as personal  projects.   So sit back and enjoy the ride. 

_NLP2429.jpg
_NLP2459.jpg
Posted on September 4, 2017 and filed under Cars.