Neil Tjin is the president of Tjin Edition and the automotive marketing director at Vortech Engineering in Channel Islands, California.
How did you get into the industry?
I started tinkering with cars in 1996. It started out as a hobby and I was able to turn it into a profession in the early 2000's. I started out as the marketing director at Toucan Industries, and then I became the executive editor at Hot Compact and Imports magazine and B/Scene Magazine in 2003. In 2010, I became the automotive marketing director at Vortech Engineering. And, we started the Tjin Edition Road Show in 2004.
When did you start Tjin Edition and what is it all about?
Tjin Edition started out as a car club/business in 2003, when we did our first OEM build for Scion. In 2004, we expanded the Tjin Edition brand into the Tjin Edition Road Show, and this is year will be our 11th year on the road.
How do I get a vehicle for my build?
If you are part of the automotive industry or a manufacturer, you can apply for a “dollar car” program. Some OEM programs also require that you are a SEMA member. You have to send a $1 check to the OEM, but that is only part of the process. Everyone thinks that it's a dollar car, but it’s so much more. Depending on the partnership, you have to pay tax on MSRP of the vehicle, shipping chargers, auto insurance, liability insurance (ranging from $3–5 million) and other charges before you even get into building, touring and storing the car for 12 to 18 months.
What is the purpose of the dollar car?
That depends who you are asking. Some companies use the car to R&D products and other companies use the car as a marketing tool. We have multiple purposes for a dollar car. For starters, we work with dozens of the top manufacturers to produce new sku numbers for the vehicle. Secondly, we use the vehicle as a marketing tool for Tjin Edition, our partners. And lastly, we use the vehicle as display vehicle on one of our two Tjin Edition Road Shows.
What is your favorite car you have built thus far?
I would say either my 2013 Ford F-150 or my 2008 Pontiac G8.
How many OEM builds have you done for SEMA?
We have been fortunate enough to build over 30 OEM builds for SEMA since 2004, including builds for Scion, Honda, Chevy, Pontiac, Ford and Hyundai.