Dark, Smoky and Noisy: Import Night Thrills

As I walked inside the Los Angeles Convention Center on Saturday, March 5, I was thankful to be relieved of Downtown L.A.’s dark and smoggy atmosphere. The inside of the South Hall, however, was little different from the outside: dark and smoky. I had come to see Hot Import Nights, a well-known event series held primarily in North America which focuses on modified sport compact and import cars.
Noise was an integral part of this event. With DJ Miss Lisa on the Mazda stage, an MC contest on the Pepsi stage, entertaining break dancing and numerous DJs spinning records in the center of the South Hall, the act of walking into Hot Import Nights was like immersing oneself in a cacophonous and badly mixed record tuned at maximum volume. But somehow, the darkness, noise and artificial smoke captured the mood of the event and the aftermarket tuning and personalization culture, which largely began in Los Angeles.
Numerous awards were given at the event, with the purse ranging from just $100 for the best of each car manufacturer to upwards of $600 for the Best ‘Wild’ Car award.
My personal vote went to licensed vocational nurse Kameron Kearse and his Beem-acur-cedes Legend. The term ‘modified’ does not do justice to this stunningly transformed and most definitely one-of-a-kind car.
Kearse’s car was originally a 1993 Acura Legend. ‘I transformed the front end into a 2003 745i BMW with Z3 BMW nose grills and the taillights are converted into a CL600 Mercedes Benz,’ he said.
In addition, a profile view of the car will reveal BMW M3 air vents before the door. The only way a discerning observer might recognize a trace of what once was an Acura Legend is in the C-pillars of the car, which remain true to the day the car rolled off the assembly line over a decade ago.
More highlights of the seemingly endless and costly ($30,000 to $50,000) list of alterations include Lamborghini doors and no less than 11 TVs, four of which are 17 inches. Why anyone needs 11 TVs is beyond me. How many different channels can you possibly watch at the same time and still keep from veering into a ditch?
I found it fascinating to behold such beauties as described above and contrast them with machines which would be much better off in a ditch than at this popular event. The best example of this was the presentation of a 1996 Honda Accord. Although I agree with Kearse’s choice of modifications, I disagree with his notion that you can never modify your car too much, even if new aftermarket products continually dictate fresh trends.
The Accord was the epitome of tastelessness, a paragon of fugliness. The car was slammed with a body kit which appeared as though children were allowed free reign in sculpting the contours. Around the back, one could not possibly miss the comically conspicuous wing, which raised the standards in achieving the height of tastelessness. Not only was the wing stupidly large and ridiculously tacky, it also did not match the paint or the design language of the Honda.
For better or for worse, nothing was safe from modification at the show. From manufacturer-backed Kia Spectras to BMW X5s to the classic Honda Civics to a pink monster Hummer H2 SUT, most marques were represented. One fine and tasteful car was surprising for this industry: a Jaguar S-type 4.0. The car had gullwing-style doors pegged at $700 each and incredible authentic marble paint to the tune of $6,000.
There seemed to be a car on hand to destroy every stereotype. A handful of Porsches, Audis, a double-sided Mini limo and the Jag showed that the show is not solely about Japanese imported cars. The fact that one of the main winners of the awards was a female with aToyota Supra showed that the industry is not always dominated by males.
However, it is impossible to deny the prominence of males in this culture, and many exhibitors were keen to play off this fact. Although I tragically missed the Bad-Ass Bitches, I was fortunate to see other well- endowed/well-enhanced female models, many of whom were vying for the title of Miss Hot Import Nights 2005. I was also fortunate to be 6 feet 4 inches in height, as there was a consistently thick crowd anywhere a model stood and posed.
Dark, smoky, noisy and occasionally tasteless. Sounds like a great time to me.