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Car meet at CycleGear SLO

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The lineup – three Mazda Miatas and a Lexus. Most try to park near the associated vehicle brands or car crew and make relationships in the car community. Photo by Nick Stavros

San Luis Obispo County hosts a variety of automobile events annually, attracting ages young and old with classic and modern vehicles. 

The car community comes together to show off their rides, find a sense of inclusion  and socialize. Car trends have changed a lot among 16-30 year-old enthusiasts; from spinners, to scissors doors to TVs in trunks. Reality-TV shows like “MTV’s Pimp My Ride” kicked off the scene for a decent amount of custom modifications seen on cars today.

Japanese tuner cars have become extremely popular due to their affordability, reliability and a large aftermarket for the parts that make modifications. Japan’s geography comes into play, with their vehicle pricing being much lower than European vehicles.

Mazdas, Toyotas and Lexus’ are common brands for various styles such as Tuck, Flush, Poke and Stance Fitments. A flush stance doubles as a functional stance, whether for daily driving or track use. There are so many variables on how to customize a vehicle. 

With classes available at local colleges, a car enthusiast at any level can learn the skills to advance their build. 

It is possible to build a full-blown race-car in a garage or storage unit. Many people in the racing industry started with small builds (projects), and used prize money to keep advancing.

The organizer of the meet was Gino Battistoni. He owns a 1998 Lexus GS300 slammed to the ground with Amazon-brand coil-overs that are less stiff, but can drop lower than large name brands like BC Racing. The price difference of the coil-over kit: $450 vs $1200. He saved $750 to get a look many spend lots more to achieve. 

Gino’s Lexus slammed to the ground. Photo by Nick Stavros
The group socializes at Gino’s Lexus. Photo by Nick Stavros

Gino has plans to replace the budget coil-overs with some higher quality parts (or gear). This GS300 is in the works to become a drift car

Drifting is the act or activity of steering an automobile so that it makes a controlled skid sideways through a turn with the front wheels pointed in a direction opposite to that of the turn.

Zyla’s RX-7 displays a clean interior and a quick release steering wheel. Photo by Nick Stavros

A somewhat rare car on the Central Coast is a 1988 13B-DEI rotary Mazda RX-7 that produces 146-hp. Owned by Zyla Parsons, she originally bought the car unmodified with a 4-speed automatic. Now, it’s equipped with Meghan Racing coil-overs, Federal 595‘s tires wrapped on MST wheels and a rear bash bar. 

Parsons said she recently swapped a 5-speed manual transmission for an automatic 4-speed, doing advanced procedures such as making custom mounts and a pedal swap after locating a transmission that’s over 30 years old.

“The brackets are coming tomorrow so I’ll put those [seats] in there,” Zyla said, referencing the Bride Lomax seat in the passenger side of her car.

The car is a late 80s RX-7 in superb condition, with most having bad rust problems at crucial areas like the engine bay and wheel arches.

Trevor’s 1990 NA6 Miata featuring all the goods. Photo by Nick Stavros
Street Aero forged carbon fiber steering wheel. Photo by Nick Stavros

Trevor Marks, a local Cuesta College student, brought his 1990 Mazda Miata NA6. It had a Pearl White paint job, Street Aero forged carbon fiber steering wheel with a ChasingJS titanium horn delete, Hard Dog Roll Bar and a blown motor. 

Marks has a spare engine waiting, despite the current engine still functioning. Bronze MST wheels on Hankook Ventus V2‘s, two quarts of grayish-blue paint and MST Time Attack wheels on +20 offset are en-route as well. Marks said he’s excited about that.

Jack’s 1985 MR2 powered by a 1.6l 4A-GE. Photo by Nick Stavros

Mid-engines are sometimes hard to find in vehicles other than high-end sports cars, but the Toyota MR2 offers one of the most affordable MR layouts. A mid-engine layout describes the placement of an automobile engine in front of the rear-wheel axles, but behind the front axle. 

Jack Bath, an attendee of the event, displayed his 1985 MR2 on BC Coil-overs, StopTech Rotors and Konig Dekagrams paired with some Toyo Extensa HPII’s. Bath’s car is low, with a flush stance, tucked fitment and Gold Metallic paint. A black suede Sabelt quick release steering wheel enhances his cream and navy interior with a pop of yellow on the horn button, along with a silver shift knob.

A super clean interior for 35 years old. Photo by Nick Stavros

Many people treat their friends in these groups like family; after countless times meeting at these events, they often bond, and the relationship expands. The automotive tuning community is worldwide, and often combines with motorsport and other car related events. These can start close relationships with racing teams, which can translate to racing on teams and traveling to other events.