|A row of Scion xBs display the love affair with Japanese tuning by identifying with popular performance brands and tuning magazines.|
|Big turbochargers and accompanying hardware illustrate the high-power appetite of some Toyota owners.|
|Flush wheels are popular with vintage Japanese vehicle owners. Tire-to-fender clearance is a way to prove your tuning pedigree and, for them, the smaller the better.|
|This Scion tC, like many in the compact- performance segment, is a blend between performance and drivability.|
Toyota owners gathered at the Queen Mary in Long Beach for the 14th annual Toyotafest; a make-specific event hosted by the Toyota Owner’s and Restorer's Club (T.O.R.C.) that features vintage and modern vehicles from fans of the brand. Most of the vehicles were either pre-'90 Toyotas or '00 and newer Toyota/Lexus/Scion vehicles.
SEMA regularly visits consumer car shows in order to keep abreast of the latest trends in vehicle customization and attended this recent event to pique the brains of consumers.
More than 250 attendees were surveyed throughout the day and common trends were found within the group. Roughly 83% drove or displayed a compact vehicle and 78% said that their Toyota was passed down to them from a family member or acquaintance. Practically every survey participant had modified their vehicle with upgrades across the spectrum from mild to wild.
From simple stereo systems or shift knobs to engine conversions or a custom suspension, the fleet of show cars represented the graduation from plain economy cars to nostalgic classics. Of those who owned a pre-'90 vehicle, the responses coincided with modifications similar to other vintage-car segments.
In other words, consumables and maintenance-related modifications, such as gaskets, seals and hoses, are not glamorous and show-stopping, but do keep the vehicles running and contribute to the enjoyment of the hobby.
The majority of the attendees surveyed had performance or in-car entertainment (I.C.E.) modifications made to their vehicle. Early Japanese vehicles are beginning to amass value in the same vein as classic American musclecars. While the value is not nearly comparable, the same fanfare is being applied to the restoration and, in many cases, resto-mod styles of vehicle building.
For example, a clean 2000GT, Toyota’s first serious sports car, sat beside a hot-rodded classic Toyota truck and modern Scions.
Of the group surveyed, 13% of respondents had performed little to no modifications and still considered their vehicles stock. The remaining group who had purchased custom parts and accessories indicated the amount they spent on modifications: 73.2% had spent $100–$5,000; 8% had spent more from $5,000–$10,000; and 7.6% of people had spent more than $10,000.
Predictably, almost all of the owners surveyed said that their spending either stopped or slowed down since the economy turned sour.
Typical of most enthusiast automotive shows, almost every display vehicle at Toyotafest had aftermarket wheels installed with wheel styles ranging from smaller-diameter performance throw-backs of the late-'70s racing scene to luxurious VIP wheels with stretched tires. Furthermore, roughly 60% of those in attendance said that their current Toyota had aftermarket wheels.
Some of the other popular options consisted of bolt-on performance parts. Many of those surveyed stated that they had installed or bought items, such as cold air intakes, catback exhaust systems, lowering springs, or short shifters—all easy-to-do installs as well as being inexpensive.
The most notable conclusion from all of this, though, is that most Toyota owners are not looking for extreme performance but simply want to improve the styling and performance of their vehicle, all while retaining comfort and the ability to use the vehicles for daily driving.