With the end of the 2010 UK show season upon us, it got us thinking about the year we have just had, and in car show and UK scene terms; what’s changed, what’s survived, what has developed and the big question we posed ourselves; what has it been like this year compared to say 5 years ago?
So, that’s where we’re going, cast your minds back to 2005, what were you doing back then? I’m aware some of you were still at school, a good few years away from even thinking about driving, and on the other hand some of you will recall 30th and 40th birthdays, but neither matter, there will be something here for everyone and hopefully we can pose some interesting points, make some of you remember some amazing cars and for a lot of you, see some creations that you have never seen before!
Obviously we’re going to need pictorial evidence of 2005, and as you may have realised by now, we don’t pinch or borrow bits and bobs from other web sources here, everything you see on Garage Awesome is 100% Garage Awesome; if it’s on here then we write about it, from scratch and we take the pictures, that’s how we like it!
So would going back to 2005 be a big problem for us…? Err turns out ‘no’, because unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, even back then I was the world’s biggest modified car geek and a quick raid of my harddrive turned up folders full of hundreds of photos I’ve taken, all filed by year and event, enabling us to bring you pictures from the actual shows in 2005 from my very own (point and shoot) camera.
I think the shows themselves are a good place to start, back in 2005 there wasn’t a show almost every weekend like there is now, Modified Live hadn’t even been thought about! Donny Show was the traditional season opener, the Easter weekend usually saw the modified masses head to Doncaster Racecourse where the best of the best of the winter projects would make their debut appearance in the modified circles, camping was limited, show stands had a cap of 5, 6 or maybe 10 cars maximum and Auto Glym had introduced the Best in Britain competition.
Donny Show also ran another show later in the year; the aptly named ‘Donny South’ took place on North Weald Airfield in Essex and gave the same opportunities to those in the South that the original Donny gave to those in the North. In between ran Modified Nationals, who in 2005 had moved the show from Billing Aquadrome to Newark Showground, prior to Billing it ran at Shakespeare County Raceway, and following Newark saw it go to Rockingham Raceway before settling in for the last 4 years at Peterborough Showground.
The event here in 2010 that I wish had kept going was the infamous Max Power Live and most importantly the Max Power Live - Top 100, a full-on 4 days of pre-screened awesome cars and the live action arena, but unfortunately 2006 saw the last Max Power Live at The NEC, and with the announcement of Max Power’s end in 2011, the show looks like it will be just a treasured memory.
USC, which is still in its original guise, was notoriously the big one of the year with huge fields full of campers, massive parties, lots of track action and seemingly always mega-hot weather to go with it! Add in Trax at Silverstone, which itself developed from a Ford only affair and that pretty much summed up the main shows that made up the 2005 season. It just goes to show how many events have been created since based on the popularity of the scene back then, and the diverse nature of what people were doing!
So, what were people doing? Well to summarise, I would say putting the biggest wheels and bodykits on any small hatchback going, but in truth there was a lot more going on than that. Let’s admit it, 19″s on a Saxo, Corsa, Punto, Fiesta is no easy task even now, especially with an approved ride height, but people were doing it. Wheel size wasn’t about ET and how much stretch you can have and how flush it fits, it was about an 18/19″ wheel with whatever tyre size was the cheapest and most common fitting on whichever particular hatchback you had decided to modify!
As people upped their game and 20″s popped up on a handful of Corsas, the bodykits were also in for a big change; to start, people made wild kits for these core group of cars, huge intakes, loosely based on Jap style were king. Massive spoilers delicately poised on the edge of the hatchback, vents cut wherever they could, teamed up with thick, speed hump scraping skirts, neons and door poppers would be the only thing that would cut it.
This pushed people further, realising that the kit they had bought for their car had been done, so bought parts designed for other cars and began chopping them up, and I know all about this as my very own car had a 106 front bumper, Saxo rear, 106 GTI arches, Escort RST vents and a 206 brakelight assembly! This lead to all the major bodyshops at the time such as Autovision, xXx, Myhneer, Xquisite and Kingdom constanly breaking the mould and pushing the boundaries of what can be done to a small hatch! seems unfortunate that all bar Xquisite have closed their doors.
Headlight conversions were 2005′s ‘big thing’, even from the pics you can see a variety of cars all wearing faces from other models, often not even from the same manufacturer, The Nissan Primera fronted Fiesta and 306 fronted Clio stand out for me from within the galleries.
Rear lights were dominated by one style, I’m pretty sure most of you will have had a run-in with Lexus lights, and in 2005 unless you had swapped the back lights for a set from a car that didn’t have Lexus lights available or you had purchased a set of LED bus rear lights, then your car wore Lexus style lights!
Paint was another key ingredient in these show cars, again the bodyshops wouldn’t rest, using expensive paint and techniques such as Chromaflair, glitter, flip, pearlescent, heat changing, 2 tone, you name it, expertly applied at a cost of ££££’s to the owners, which often changed as they tried to keep up with the latest colours and looks.
You will notice I’ve failed to mention drifting, that’s because in 2005 hardly anyone knew about it, the hardcore were out messing about, but the ‘drifting phenomenon’ just didn’t exist, bar a man named Terry Grant who got a little sideways at shows, Brett Castle’s S14 was on display inside at Donny as he was sponsored by Auto Glym and a trio of guys in 300ZXs calling themselves ‘Steer from the Rear’ were the only mainstream links to the then underground drift world.
So with a good insight into the 2005 season, what conclusions can Garage Awesome draw in regards to the 2010 season? Firstly, it has to be the amount of shows flooding onto the market, surely this is watering down the numbers and quality as people spread themselves thinner and concentrate on shows closer to home, whereas before, if you didn’t travel, you didn’t get recognised! So maybe a 2011 cull of the weaker, less busy shows, maybe hit a few less yourself, head abroad or try a make/model/country specific event?
Are bodykits back? Have they ever gone away? In all honesty, and we have seen this tried to be answered elsewhere, who knows?! On one side of it, the cost and innovation got so high that to make a show stopper, people gave up and went for the simple mods that have grabbed headlines in 2010 such as sticker bombing, stance, neon colours, vinyl wraps etc. The other side is that they haven’t gone anywhere, it’s just left the good ones. A prime example of this is easy to find, if you look through the pics you will see Nick Brown’s white Honda Civic EK Coupe which, minus the Lambo doors, is on the cover of this month’s Performance Jap Car Magazine, and picked up a couple of awards this year too – clearly a car that has matured rather than aged!
Could we see cars like this back en mass? I think not, but it goes to show how far the UK scene can push itself, and that the only thing holding people back are the other people and the media, we all need to stop worrying about what’s ‘in’ or ‘what so and so are doing’ and dig out our inventive brains to make the UK scene thrive again, it makes me wonder if in another 5 years time I’ll be wheeling out this year’s pictures and explaining what a fad sticker-bombing, stance and drifting were…?
Pic Credits – Ollie Novell (Circa 2005!)