Not Worth the Kompromise | Japanese Performance Show 2021 @ TIC

Shows are always enjoyable, more so after the drought we’ve been through these past couple of years. Not counting Mimms North in September 2020, the last indoor car show I’d visited was Osaka Auto Messe, so yeah it’s been a while.

Never having witnessed Japanese Performance Show (JPS) live and direct, I’d made the decision to check it out. So, after the Mimms Croft blog had been posted, I’d messaged Dav Plaha who also happens to organize JPS, asking him whether it was alright for me to advertise my photo printing services on the Facebook group, seen as though some of the shots taken at Croft Circuit turned out well. What I didn’t expect Dav to say was, “Why don’t you attend as a vendor and sell your prints at the show”. As we know, with life, the spontaneity and unexpectedness of it tends to end up one of two ways. Better than we ever could imagined, or disastrous. Then again, life is full of nuance…

I accepted Dav’s offered suggestion and began planning everything out in my head. I’m not very practical when it comes to planning. What I mean by that is, I visualize all the details in my head, or atleast try to, before actually producing anything tangible. To be honest, I just did things my way, and kept it as simple as possible. I didn’t have enough money for a gazebo or a load of easels to display my sample prints. Instead, I got three fold-out tables and a vinyl banner.

I haven’t got any photos of my stall at the show, but it was very basic. I had my 32″ LCD TV set up, allowing everyone passing by to see either me editing photos, or a preset slideshow of sample images of the cars rolling into the show. My Canon printer was sat beside that, whilst I faffed about on my laptop behind them both. Oh, and the Demio was my display easel for this shot of FEED’s “Touge Maou” I have framed up in my bedroom:

It was an early start on the last Sunday of September, as I had to be at Telford International Centre (TIC) – the debuting venue for JPS – at 6am, meaning I’d set off mine at around 4am. Hamza fell sick a few days before, so I’d be going solo and had to set up at double-time.

Matty Ferguson’s Emerald Blue AP2 S2000

As soon as the shutters around the back of TIC opened up for vendors and display-cars, I made an effort to get the stall situated ASAP. My primary objective was to photograph as many cars as possible before the public were allowed in at 10am. After that time, I made sure I was positioned at the stand so that I’d be able to display and print whatever photos I managed to get.

Whilst it was quiet with no visitors in yet, I run-n-gunned as many of the cars parked up inside.

Adam’s JDM is an IG handle I’ve seen about for a while, and had their fleet posted up not far from where I’d set up.

What looks to be Midnight Purple III on this R33 GT-R the team had brought out, matched up with the classic LMGT3 wheel by Nismo coated in bronze. Whilst not everyone is keen on the awkward shape of the R33, this Skyline manages to pull it off.

I’d definitely like to get to know this R34 GT-R more. At first glance, it looked like an old 2000s-era demo car, due to the alien-styling seen in the painted-over tailights and stretched tyre fitment.

This car had an aura none of the other’s had. I can imagine this plastered onto pages of an Option magazine back in the days when factory-bodylines were of no interest to any JDM-nutcase. All I know is that it wear an M’s Factory widebody and sports OZ Racing Pegasus wheels wider than HGV duallies!

An old photo of it I found floating around on a GT-R forum

An FD RX-7 I recognised immediately from when I first saw it in the hands of Rotary Revs, an RX-8 specialist who spent a fair few man-hours getting this car to run right. The owner obviously cherishes it and rightly so.

Jack Ellis’ FD3S RX-7 was excavated out the batcave for JPS

One of the most aggressive-looking pieces of powder-coated aluminium you could put under the arches of a car: the Enkei RS05RR.

John’s TCP Magic-kitted FD3S

This RX-7 on the other hand, was anything but stealthy. The car looked great before its makeover, with a unique front-end I’ve never seen on an FD, but the owner must have gotten bored of its original Silverstone Metallic. I doubt he’s looked back ever since this came out the paint booth.

Tom Lingard’s K24 Sunny Pickup

If trucks aren’t your thing, this old Datsun will make you revalue your beliefs.

Valve cover branding that shouts stratospheric engine speeds.

As if one JDM EP3 Civic Type-R wasn’t uncommonplace enough…

Andy Boyle’s EK9 Civic Type-R with the bonnet propped to let us know the B16B is long gone

Immaculate would be an understatement.

Jamie Padfield’s BB6 Prelude

Equipped with a Rotrex blower, for all that power!

Form hasn’t taken a backseat with this 400bhp+ K-Swap build.

Got a bit carried away kapturing all the details in this RPS13.

The ultimate drift-style, show-spec S13 isn’t complete unless Equip 05 wheels are bolted to its hubs.

Aaron Britton’s S30 240Z in all it’s timeless glory

Awkward as fuck angle, but gonna leave it here regardless, because double-barrel tailpipes.

Garage Mak’s Revolution Type 5 aero-kit was donned by this S15 Silvia.

Kelvin Thomson’s S15 Silvia stays true to Nissan’s original design, apart from the aftermarket tailights and Work Wheels CR sized up from the standard 17″s

On the other end of the Silvia spectrum, this straight-laced S15 Spec-R in pastel grey colour also got my attention.

Miles’ R32 Skyline GT-R, nailing the simple “drop and wheels” method

Don’t understand why I only got one photo of this R32, because it deserved much more attention.

This guy (sorry if you read this, but I forgot your name) had his Jazz rammed full of die-cast models. Speaking to him after the show, and it sounded like business went pretty well, but he still had boxes full of stock remaining.

Gurpal’s R34 Skyline GT-R V-Spec in what most would consider the default paint option

As a photographer, FOMO (fear of missing out) is an ailment that a lot of us are plagued by, incessantly.

So, whilst a lot of the shiny bits attached to an RB26DETT can easily put you in a trance, in the back of my mind I was worried about not grabbing enough photos for me to print and sell. As someone who is trying to make business using my skill-set, I find it hard to become fully committed focusing on that side of photography. Maybe some part of me is trying not to let the hobby become work, in case my appetite for the art runs out.

But kompromise is something we all have to do, so I got one last shot of these two R33s inside, and ran outside to the carpark’s entrance gate.

I’m not going to lie, but for me to shoot any and every car was impossible. Initially, I’d planned for me and Hamza to be able to simultaneously photograph outside and also print/edit the photos inside. Unfortunately, that strategy was a flop since I was flyin’ solo, but I reckon I managed to hold it down for the most part.

Nik Lukas’ Subaru BRAT got this policeman chattin’

Must have been a day out for a few of these rare, obscure coupe utility vehicles sold by Subaru, whom actually never sold them in Japan funnily enough, because I could imagine them going crazy for something like this. Imagine one decked out with a sound system in the cargo bed on a Friday night at Daikoku PA.

OEM R35 GT-R wheels on an Elgrand – why the hell not!

Whilst mums in the UK are doing the school-run in Vauxhall Zafiras and Ford Galaxys…

No generation gap here, the DNA of the Inte-R is unlike anything we have seen since the DC5 bowed out in 2006.

I really do hope the next-generation of Integra doesn’t lose touch with its roots, then again, I think I’m dreaming. If Honda of America is taking charge of the project, I’ve a feeling it’ll be a similar outcome as what we saw with the NC1 NSX.

Up until the point of closing-time, I didn’t touch my cameras due to manning the printing stall throughout the entire day. A lot of people who had their motors parked up inside were requesting photos, but because I missed the majority of them roll-in the evening before, it meant that I had to try and get a shots of them rolling out.

If those of you who asked for prints on the day are reading this, please get in touch via Instagram/Email and I might have some shots you can purchase for delivery!

A celebratory limiter-bash from this camo-wrapped FD. Infused with fuel-oil premix, the byproduct of rotary combustion engulfed half of the exhibition hall.

The Champ White quartet about to make a move. Jamie’s Prelude is either too low to be seen here, or he already wheeled it outside, I’m unsure.

Didn’t see this EF Civic all day (as was the case with a lot of the cars in attendance that day) until it was time to leave. Parked up on its ones, I grabbed a couple shots of it.

Buddyclub P1 SF in white matched up with sensible tyre sizing, sitting good under those vented front wings.

EF J-swap?

Nathan Pickett pictured with his DC5 Integra Type R in the distance

A very low, and pretty wide, R33 Skyline exiting the show through the back shutter, followed by Andy Boyle in his EK9…

… which could be the most well-executed Civic Type-R build in the UK, by far.

Then again, he was with good company. The fitment of this supercharged EP3’s CE28s is bang-on.

John’s RX-7 looking like something out of the Gundam series. Never noticed its centre-exit exhaust when I caught sight of the car indoors. Natural lighting does wonders for cars in front of the lens, hence why I was reluctant shooting cars inside the hall whenever people asked for me to do so.

Zanda leaving the event in her Milano Red DC5.

John Watson’s Corolla GL would pass under the radar in its subtle shade of grey, but a very cool four-door nonetheless.

Chameleon reflex paint – known to the JDM lot as “Maziora” paint named after the brand created by Nippon Paint who are also the company that were behind Mazda’s beautiful Soul Red pigment – ensures this 180SX/200SX gets more than one look by anybody in its vicinity. The StreetTrackLife slap beside the tailpipe is a nice touch, too.

The marmite of wheels: TriForce Zelda by Trial Tuning Spirit of Osaka. I think I tasted marmite once and yeah, it tastes like crap, but these rims on the other hand are mighty fine, especially in purple!

With the hall empty of nearly everyone and everything, it gave me chance to snipe some frames with the long telephoto lens and not worry about people/cars coming obstructing the view.

The pumped-up stance of Jack’s RX-7 is clear to see here. Those CarShopGlow LED tailights bring the already timeless Japanese icon up-to-date.

Once again, Jamie’s Prelude Type-S looking highly photogenik.

Roy Milward made a few transformative changes to his GC8 Impreza, notably the new paint and RS Watanabe wheels, of which I’ve never seen under a Scoobie.

The pearl/metallic orange/yellow possesses a great amount of depth that can only be fully appreciated outside in the sun and not under fluorescent artifical lighting.

The TommyKaira aero kit remains underneath the combination of paint and carbon. The addition of integrated intake-ducts in the headlight cluster blends nicely into the carbon bonnet. Also note the shaved rear door handles, giving me flashbacks of the HKS Cyber Evo.

Even with the car aired up, the driver has to carefully avoid scraping that front lip!

All in all, JPS seemed to have delivered on every front. Featuring the best of the best Jap metal here in the UK, I doubt anybody visiting left and felt short-changed. With plenty of variety in terms of manufacturer, style, and era, a balance was certainly achieved to cater for everybody’s interests.

As for me, I wished that I could enjoy the show, rather than being in work-mode the whole time, so to speak. I might consider selling framed prints again at future events, I’ll see where the wind takes me.

Closing out, I’d like to thank anyone who’s supported Soul Fokus. Whether you’ve shared the site or my photos with your friends and fam, or if you purchased a print that now resides on your wall. It’s appreciated 🙂

Katch you in the next one . . .

CiviK | Vol. X

At this point, the car was awaiting the day for the recovery truck to come and take it away for LA Fab to give the car a set of new pipes.

Ready for any speedbump

Bit under-exposed, but the photo just about reveals the Civik’s new rolling stock. This is the third car I’ve mounted the Buddyclub P1 SFs to now, and they clearly look good under any car’s arches. Even if the arches have a gap large enough to live inside.

Another part that took ages to arrive, this one from Works Bell’s sole distributor in the UK. Won’t name and shame, you can figure that out. Communication was shite.

Quality Japanese part, featuring both hole patterns for Nardi and Momo wheels.

Packaging filler was also nice reading material.

Battery in the car was non-OEM when I bought it. The previous owner/mechanic made a tie-down clamp out of a bit of rusty steel plate with two holes drilled through it. With a new Honda battery bought, I thought it was also worth grabbing a new OEM clamp plate.

A couple more hand-me-down parts can be seen in the Civik’s interior. Nardi 330mm Deep-Corn from the MX-5 days, and then the Seeker Heavy Shift Knob from the Civic FN1 days.

Faceless identity

Couldn’t park in my usual spot at work thanks to nature.

What?! HKS make blue ones now?! It’s as if they merged the HKS Power Filter and Greddy Trust AIRINX blue filter into one Super Mushroom. Halfords, by the way, thank me later.

I was persistent with those DIY driveshafts, too persistent. Wasted a load of pennies in the process, as I bought a new CR-V driveshaft, then two B-series CV joints, and like three EP3 complete driveshafts.

Somehow, the IAT sensor plug wire detached itself from the connector. I reckon it was heat that weakened the cabling, but I swear I had cable-tied it away from the engine. Anyway, Nigel (Luke’s dad) came to the rescue and soldered it back on because there was no way for me to get a crimp over the pin end.

Angle-grinder had to come out along with the slitting disc so that the underside of the bonnet could clear the power steering pump. To be honest, I’d rather have not done this, and opted for a FRP/CFRP vented bonnet, but I think most, if not all, aftermarket versions incorporate strengthening ribs too.

6TWO1 kinda let me down with this piece of the puzzle.

I understand that it was out of their control, but the fact that the website stated “ETA Delivery: 7-10 days” was a bit misleading, seen as though 4 weeks passed and I didn’t receive anything from them. Anyhow, very luckily, my eyes were constantly on a Spoon N1 rear muffler for sale on eBay.

It had been used, but only for fitment check. It was the same price as a new one, but also came with a silencer bung (which I’ll probably never use). Main thing was the 2-day delivery guarantee as it was already here in the UK! This meant I could get it over to LA Fab in the nick of time, as they were waiting for me to supply them with the rear section of the exhaust.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and here I am. In the hot seat of the Civik, somewhere in Leeds. Even with the rev-limit set to 5500rpm thanks to the basemap, the feeling of the car’s urgency is remarkable.

Besides the fact that the “Street” spec polyurethane engine mounts give me white finger worse than a roadworker with a jackhammer, experiencing the rawness of it all is exactly what Type-R means. Of course, I am talking solely about the engine, as the chassis needs to play catch-up.

That does NOT mean this is going to go the way of “EK9 replica”. This car won’t ever be that, in both function and form. But if I can reach my goal of attaining the perfect road-going FF sports machine, then that’s close enough.

Just to let you know, I’m not anti-B-series. I actually considered a B18-swap, due to the cost and simplicity. But I think it was driving a DC5R that swayed me over to the K-side?

Moving on, work was still to be done! Remember that Recaro recliner?

Yeah, it’s still not where it should be (in the car if you’re wondering).

I’m not gonna talk shit, but lemme just put this out there: if you’re going to use a popular, reputable, Japanese used-car-parts shop’s name to posture as a business selling JDM goods (seats particularly) on IG, then atleast know WTF you are selling to your customers.

I was one eager beaver trying to find rails to fit my DC2R seat into the Civik. Waiting months for this one person on IG to stop leading me on and come through with a pair of EK9 Recaro rails that his “mate” took out of his possession, without permission. He finally got them – sent me a photo – I said “woah, they don’t look like EK9 ones” – he assured me that they were – I trusted him because he seems legit – bought – received – turns out they were in fact DC2R rails. Big giveaway was the ‘ST7’ stamped on the side of them which I looked over as I was cleaning them up in preparation for bolting them down to the floorpan. All but one hole does not line up. Dunno about you, but I’d rather have the seat bolted down fully, not 75%.

After all that, I returned the seat to him, didn’t get my PayPal fees back, nor the shipping cost I covered. You very well might have a positive experience doing business with this particular vendor. I didn’t.

You can never do enough research, so I’d like for whoever still reading this to prepare to the nth degree in your endeavours. Or, get mugged off.

Big brake upgrade found on eBay! Made up of EK B-series upright & hub, EP3R front calipers, and Mini Cooper S R53 298mm discs.

A gift [perhaps] in disguise was me not being able to take the car to the dyno, thanks to another week of being sick: I had the tuning day booked in advance as EFI Parts tends to be quite busy, but a couple days before, I came down with a nasty cold/cough/flu.

That put the brakes on the project, again. Losing my deposit, I tried to re-schedule with EFI Parts but communication wasn’t great, so I ended up following a recommendation made by the guy who sold me the K-Tuned shifter plate, and contacted JCal aka Jesse Halford.

Date and time slot booked, me and Hamza make the trek down to East London, home to Torque Developments International.

We’ve all heard the name associated with impressively serious builds in mags and online, so you know that they’d only let trusted individuals take charge of their in-house hub dyno.

This is the day I’d been waiting for since getting the car back from LA FAB. About time the car cleared it’s throat.

I didn’t care much about the power and torque figures, because it’s not like I had done anything to the engine internally, so I just expected/hoped for a smooth running K20A…

And that its exactly what I got, thanks to Jesse. Top guy, any question I had he’d answer, but also, anything he was unsure of (not much to be honest) he was open and honest about. If you want more power out of your Honda, this man is the one you go to. If you’re not sure, check his batshit-crazy K25 EK9!

Also, if you were wondering: 213WHP, 150WTQ.

Well needed scrub-up.

A word that will haunt me for life.

I’ll continue the saga at a later date, perhaps when I’ve done anything noteworthy and substantial to the car. High on the priorities are ergonomiks. Feel is everything in a car like this, so I’ll make sure to address these as soon as.

I hope you enjoyed reading, share the blog if you found it useful in any way. Katch you on the next one.

Special Thanks: Hamza for the support, Dav Plaha of EHM Parts for supplying most of the parts for the absolute best prices, Nick for selling me a solid K20, Rus Taylor of Hond-R, Andy of Integrastella, Luke and Nigel B., Jesse Halford of JCal, “The Captain“, Luke of LA Fab, Honda Addicts, Jason Katman of FFSquad, and the rest of the real ones who I might have missed.

CiviK | Vol. IX

Now that milestone has been achieved, hearing the engine run for the first time was not only music to my eardrums, but also a bit of weight off my shoulders. Now it was just a waiting game, as I had booked the car in with LA Fab a few months in advance to put the icing on the cake.

Honda’s final K20A-powered FF machine

In the meantime, I paid a visit to a geezer in East London who was selling one single black Recaro SR3 originally fitted to a DC2R.

Dad came along for whatever reason. Think he got bored shitless with no-travelling during lockdown, so he tagged along for the 7-hour round trip.

Initially I wanted a pair of Recaro SR4 seats found in the DC5R, because K20A obvs. But, something about the shape of the harness slots don’t jive with me.

Paid only £250 for this used recliner. I know, bargain! I was happy, so was my wallet. Only one hitch, I had no seat rails in order to install it in place of the base-spec cloth seat.

Coolant temp sensor came included with the wiring harness I bought, and it was already chopped. Crimped it to the conversion harness wiring, easy enough, insulation tape is temporary!

I just wanted to get the car in a state that meant all it needed was the exhaust and radiator-piping fabricating & fitting. Hence, the shoddy wiring jobs. I plan on making the wiring look not-so-cowboy during next winter.

Another thing I learnt is the “easy route” can sound all fine and dandy – especially when it’s something nearly everyone who plays around with Honda recommends – but in reality it’s never that simple.

Driveshafts. You’ll hear a bunch of people across forums, YouTube, Facebook groups, tell you that B-series outer CV-joints work when coupled with OEM EP3/DC5 shafts. This, I found to be false facts.

Just do yourself a favour, and buy K-swap driveshafts off the shelf from somewhere like Hasport or Insane Shafts.

Popped over to LA Fab to put my deposit down for all the required fabrication.

He was working on a K24 turbo set-up for the red NC MX-5 you see in the back which was pretty nifty, but this Exocet was stealing my attention somehow.

Woohoo, it’s on all four wheels. Except, the damn DIY driveshafts I put together after following the advice of the majority kept popping out, driving at like 20mph max.! I don’t know whether it was down to the fact I had the D-series hubs and not B-series hubs. All I know is, the driver’s side was too short and didn’t like staying inside the outer CV.

Iced out with the JDM bling.

If anyone wants this J’s Racing pressure cap, I’ll sell it to you. Pissed off that it didn’t fit both the Koyorad nor the OEM radiator, so if you happen to have a J’s Racing radiator (which is highly unlikely since they are expensive as fuck, it’s retarded), buy this cap 😀

Mocking the radiator up – as you can see it sat far too high due to the AC condenser bottom brackets. These were destined to get lopped off to make room for the original radiator lower brackets which match up to the Koyorad bottom bosses.

If you did like me and tried to use as many OEM Honda bits as possible, then you might want to know that the OEM EP3R brake booster hose has its check-valve integrated into the rubber (see the bulge?). That white plastic piece is only a joiner.

This bracket/pipe assembly is also off an EP3R, and doubles up as the hardline for the brake booster vacuum, as well as the throttle cable holder

I can’t remember what I used where for the heater hoses, but a combination of OEM EK D-series hoses, control valve and EP3R hoses were what I fitted, and they route perfectly fine. I resisted the silicone, just because of the stupid price of them, and then after seeing that K-Tuned‘s don’t fit right on the diameter of the port on the engine block!

Both heater hoses fitted with loadsa room for the EX-Mani!

The next one will be the last stretch, where Civik is finally out the garage and on the open touge [read: Yorkshire Moors]…

CiviK | Vol. VIII

So where were we? Oh, yeah, engine now where it should be, I wasted no time in tying up all the loose ends before turning that key for the first time.

Engine oil was drained prior to purchase, so I replaced the sump plug for that fresh new Spoon Sports magnetic plug. I checked the gearbox for any residual oil by removing the lower square-drive drain plug, only to find that too required fluid, so I proceeded to fill it up until MTF began to dribble out the upper fill hole.

Of course I was eager, as anyone like me would be. This car hasn’t been with me for long, but this vision entered my consciousness way before I even realistically considered the idea. It’s always been one of those objectives I’ve had in my mind. A recipe that you know you’ll eventually try out, but only once the ingredients are ripe and ready.

Three cars: the EK Civic with a K20, an RPS13 Sileighty with an RB, and my non plus ultra being an FD RX-7 with a 20B (nat-asp). These are and will probably be forever my bucket list cars. In today’s market, the chances of the latter two – especially the RX-7 – may not come to fruition for a few reasons, the main one of course being financial cost.

The Civik is, without a doubt, my idea of the perfect roadcar. Paired with one of the greatest four-cylinder engines known to man, I had tunnel-vision once the next step involved cranking it to life!

Alas, the universe had other plans. Or should I say, my dumbass-self overlooked something, but we’ll get into that later.

I went ahead and used leftover grounding cables to connect the engine and gearbox to the chassis. The last couple of photos of the gearbox ground cable is from Halfords, and would not recommend using such a long wire. Nothing’s gone wrong so far, and I seem to be getting adequate voltage supply to all the electrics, but I am yet to sort this out.

Haha. I’ll mention this later…

So, fuel lines plumbed up, OEM engine wiring harness plugged in, and a fresh Honda battery hooked up, we were ready to crank it over and hear it… do f*ck all but prime the fuel pump. I’ll spare you the agony, but for a good 2 weeks, I was going around the bend asking anyone and everyone why my engine wouldn’t fire up. I thought it was a bad starter motor/alternator/electrical ground issue, then I thought it was charge wiring harness related, then I thought maybe a blown fuse.

Moral of the story guys, plug in the car’s immobiliser, located on the backside of the plastic trim panel that sits below the steering column. All that was causing the classic “no-crank-no-start” symptom, was my daftidity. My excuse was, “why would I need to connect the immobiliser up if the ECU is the JDM immobiliser-less type?”. Turns out the chassis wiring must see a signal from the immobiliser, in order to then forward that signal on to the ignition via the ECU. Or some shit like that…

See ya next time!