East Coast Elites: Wekfest New Jersey 2016
Header Image via Dave Tormey
Every summer in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area, a few different things happen that hint at the arrival of the hottest season of the year. The bright sandy beaches of New Jersey become infested with outsiders from neighboring states, Rita’s Water Ice stands have outrageously long waiting lines for their frozen treats, and the Wekfest Tour makes its stop in Edison, New Jersey. One thing all of these have in common is their ability to attract massive crowds during the hot summer months.
The Wekfest indoor car show circuit began hosting events in 2009 in Southern California before branching out to various American cities; they’ve even recently added an international stop in Nagoya, Japan. This year’s New Jersey edition inside the Edison Convention Center provided a much-needed sanctuary from the unbearably high ambient temperatures outside. It also showcased some of the nicest examples of the Northeast’s tuning capabilities like this matte white plasti-dipped FD-chassis Mazda RX-7 equipped with a full RE Amemiya AD-GT II widebody kit and Volk Racing TE37SL wheels. The interior housed a blue roll bar, and a Sabelt 5-point harness running through a bright red Bride bucket seat.
A highlight of the event for me was seeing this particular Integra Type R. The owner made the trip all the way from Iowa to have his car present at the show. The Integra was a complete showstopper all day, attracting a crowd of people throughout the event. Not only is every inch of the Mugen-clad exterior covered in new Phoenix Yellow paint, but the custom roll bar also wears the same hue. The stock B-series engine has been replaced with an individual throttle body-equipped K-series engine, which pushes its power through the ultra-rare NSX-spec bronze Mugen MF10 wheels.
The paint on this Honda Civic was truly unique, as its custom color was not only applied perfectly to every piece of the car, but its high-gloss finish made it appear wet sitting under the lights. The Backyard Special front bumper, First Molding mirrors, Js Racing wide fenders and refinished Desmond Regamaster Evo wheels completed the clean exterior – and earned the Civic second place in its class.
The variety of vehicles on display at Wekfest is the main attraction for most of the attendees, with something for almost everyone under its roof. This Infiniti G35S at the Canibeat booth combined elements of different tuning styles together for one subtle package. The air suspension lowered the luxurious body over the aggressive and wide Work Meister S1R two-piece wheels for a perfect ride height and stance. The large Akebono big brake kit and carbon fiber aero pieces added a sporty flair to this streamlined sedan.
Its completely stock body might make any onlooker pass by this rare Competition Yellow Mica RX-7 equipped with Fikse wheels, but hiding beneath the OEM curves were a host of perfect modifications. The wrinkle black treatment applied to each piece in the engine bay really put this engine’s details into a class of their own, as even the alternator cage was disassembled and coated in black. Inside, the car was equipped with rare OEM Recaro RZ bucket seats. The seat rails on these seats fold forward to provide access to the rear area behind the fixed-back bucket seat.
Paint and bodywork is difficult to execute to its full potential, as so much time needs to be spent preparing the surface for pigment application which needs to be performed perfectly to achieve the desired look. On this Lexus GS, the vibrance of the paint was almost unbelievable. The blue hue seemed to illuminate itself under the bright lights of the convention center, and frankly I don’t understand how its paint was that effervescent. It was a special modification which set this Lexus apart from the rest – these photos simply don’t do the bright paint justice.
Many facets of the cars in attendance are modified to unbelievable ends, like this metallic red Infiniti G37 sedan. The exterior hosts a custom one-off Liberty Walk widebody kit, originally sourced as a kit for a coupe model; it was modified to fit the added doors and extended curves of the sedan. The widened fenders are lowered overtop of the wide Work Meister S1 wheels through the use of an air suspension setup, which completes the spotless exterior.
It’s the interior where this car really shines. The material has been completely replaced with Alcantara, the stock front seats have been removed in favor of a pair of Edirb reclining bucket seats, and the headliner now features an astronomer’s dream. This active night sky configuration was achieved by trimming fiber optic cable to desired lengths, for a constantly-changing illuminated ceiling inside the car. As an added surprise, the shop responsible for the clever interior work placed lighting meant to represent the constellations of the owner’s children’s astrological signs into the liner of the trunk.
One of the biggest suppliers of cars every year at Wekfest comes from the crew at RavSpec Raceworks; in fact, my first year showing my own car at this event, I had the pleasure of being in their lineup. They’ve become known for their all-white row, where they line up modified versions of different makes and models all covered in white paint, with various quality aftermarket wheel setups – the company’s main business. This white E90 M3 with a carbon front lip, black trim pieces and lowered ride height housed a Stoptech big brake kit behind its Advan Racing TCIII wheels for a understated racetrack-ready look. Judging by the list of racetrack outline stickers on its rear window, this car is used and abused in all the right ways.
Yes, more Hondas! There were so many iterations from the Japanese automaker at this year’s Wekfest event it was easy to see numerous different takes on what started as the same chassis. This particular Civic coupe was repainted in a high-gloss grey paint, with a faint metallic green flake only noticed when viewed up close. The silver 10-spoke Volk Racing CE28N wheels complemented the grey exterior perfectly, and made the teal valve cover on the worked B-series engine pop that much more.
Not a usual suspect on the car show circuit, the sixth-generation Toyota Celica is rarely modified to this extent. The spotless blue exterior paint and white Volk Racing RE30 wheels of this Celica made it one of the nicest I’ve ever seen. That didn’t even take into account the coveted BEAMS 3S-GE VVT-i engine swap lurking underneath its opened hood, the custom aerodynamic touches, or the center-exit exhaust system.
There were only a select few of the earlier FC variants among the many examples of FD RX-7 cars. The Work wheels and Advan tires fill out the extra width of the body, while a BN Sports aero kit pushes the vehicle’s bumper height closer to the ground. Its right-hand-drive steering adds to the allure; the interior contains a full rollcage and Nardi steering wheel.
One of the most standout cars present was yet another Mazda RX-7. An RE Amemiya AC037 front bumper retrofits Porsche 993 headlights onto the body of the Japanese car, while an RE Amemiya widebody kit increases the body’s width. Bright orange paint contrasted the gunmetal Advan RS-DF wheels and the carbon fiber aero pieces located throughout the exterior.
Maybe I’m biased because I know the owner (who is also the header image photographer), but this Honda S2000 seamlessly combines subtle bodywork and sporty aerodynamic pieces for the ultimate vision of a refined affordable sportscar. The Amuse R1 bumper on the front flows openly into the shaved and pulled front fenders, which stock the NSX-spec Desmond Regamaster Evo wheels and Stoptech Trophy big brake kit. An OEM hardtop, Spoon Sports Aero mirrors and an ASM trunk spoiler finish off the curves of this Honda.
German cars were not abundant at the event, but there were a handful of tastefully completed Volkswagens present like this R32. The exterior has been repainted in the muted-green Verde Chiaro color from the Fiat 500, and is prepared with CCW K57 wheels finished with brushed anodized titanium faces. The Euro stubby side mirrors and RSSR taillights give the color-changed hatchback an OEM+ feel.
There were few Mitsubishi Evolution cars in the show, but this blue Evo X was notably visible with its combination of Varis and Original Runduce aero pieces. The AME TM-02 wheels filled out the added fender width, while a Key!s Racing steering wheel, Works Bell steering hub, and carbon fiber accents dressed up the interior.
While the home of Wekfest will always be Southern California, the East Coast has perennially established itself as a contender with some of the nicest modified cars coming from the nation’s oldest region.