Toward the end of an incredibly busy SEMA week, I'm more than ready to go home and sleep in my own bed. Being surrounded by incredible cars and running into friends I haven't seen since the year prior is always great, but after four days of non-stop walking and talking, I need a break. Home by Friday night, there's only 24 hours of respite as the annual VIP Fest event, presented by Falken Tire and put together by our friends at AutoFashion, always falls on the Sunday immediately following the Vegas mega-event. Whether it's because so many people are close by because of SEMA, or AutoFashion likes to watch us drag-ass to the Festival with tired eyes, we never miss the event.
It's quite a bit to take on, but at the same time I realize the AutoFashion crew not only builds multiple cars to debut at SEMA, but also splits time with organizing the yearly gathering in San Diego. Oh, and then there's the pre-meet that they throw in Las Vegas in between these two events. Somehow they always seem to pull it off and by mid-morning Sunday, the parking lot at GreenFlash Brewing Co. is filled with a variety of cars that have already been pre-registered.
Deeply rooted in the VIP community long before it became mainstream, VIP Fest sees a pretty heavy concentration of cars that rely on that style and, in the very early years of the event, you wouldn't find much that veered away from that. These days, AutoFashion's Freddie Fernandez makes it a point to incorporate other styles, "It's mostly our friends and longtime customers that come out, but we try to mix it up so there's some other types of cars too. Some Hondas, our Supra build, some old-school cars and trucks...everything." The collection keeps things interesting, but as the photos reveal, the VIP movement remains the most prominent in attendance.
Our industry has gone through so many different phases and embraced such a large number of styles over the years it's hard to keep pace. One style that barged in and seemingly took over for years is the ultra-wide wheel and cambered look. Some forced the look, even at the cost of their fender's integrity.
Others, like many on hand at the AF event, treat it as an art form, putting maximum effort into avoiding contact between wheel and fender, often times with less than a few millimeters between the two surfaces. The look is extreme and not everyone's preference, proven so by the countless internet wars that have fired up over the years as a result of these creations being posted online.
That's not to say every VIP-style build sits on oversized wheels and stretched tires. Some opt for a wheel set up that doesn't require excessive camber and its wheels are sized in such a way that they tuck neatly into the wheel well when the adjustable suspension is fully triggered. Whichever style you prefer, you'll find different examples packed into the GreenFlash parking lot. With such an overwhelming number of entries, AutoFashion has packed each row as tight as possible, making my job tougher, but in turn giving visitors even more to look at.
Morning roll-in, split into sections, was a smooth process, as usual.
Registered attendees parked in a holding lot right across the street; then they were ushered through the GreenFlash gates where staff would guide them into their respective spots.
On the extreme side, @miss.stanced brought her LS430 for a return visit to VIP Fest. Her attention to the details is key to this build standing out amongst a sea of other black sedans.
Just a few spots away sat this FD-chassis RX-7. The big body Lexus and iconic '90s sports car couldn't be any further apart on the custom car spectrum.
Beyond name brands and bolting parts to a car, creativity should play a part in personalizing a project. In this instance, the owner's hood has been painstakingly engraved before being painted, and you can't help but step in for a closer look, especially with the morning sun hanging overhead.
Under the hood, with so much plastic now playing such a big part of modern-day vehicles, some have used the surface as a canvas to further customize rather than ignoring the mass of black panels.
What you might expect to find at the Eibach Meet or other Honda-heavy shows, this third-gen. Integra duo broke up some of the rows of VIP cars and weren't alone, as a handful of other Hondas were in attendance as well.
This Q50, owned by @pure_q50, was the Super Street pick of the show. What official category it falls into is your call, but its main attraction is the way it pulls influence from different styles and combines them into a logical look that's as aggressive as it is subtle, and not over the top.
Ulterior Motives added a 2-inch flare to the rear quarter panels, while up front they whipped up some custom fenders. SCL Global Concept of Russia supplied a sleek, vented hood and Driven By Style created the honeycomb carbon fiber splitter.
Due to the parking lot being so packed with display cars, we weren't able to fully pick the car apart in photos, but here's a quick clip of a few angles in video form.
Reinvention can add to any build's staying power, as seen with this RC-F that was once wrapped in Avery Dennison's Color Flow Lighting Ridge that shifted colors in different lighting, which now carries a wild, multi-color livery designed by Jon Sibal. Perched on gunmetal-faced Work VS, the new look is hard to miss.