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East Coast Tuner Car Culture Brought Some Heat To NYC This Month

The R2Xpo show is an event you need to keep your eye on if you're into car customizations and live in the northeast.
Andrew P. Collins

The 2023 New York Auto Show hosted a spectacular collection of modified (and mostly privately owned) cars and trucks on the lower level of the Javits Center. While the stages and displays from OEMs upstairs were certainly more dramatic, the vehicles at the R2Xpo showcased creativity and coolness that’s unique to the modding scene. And a miniature JDM Concours d’Elegance had a few historic gems on display, too.

This perspective from the back corner of the R2Xpo area gives you a general sense of scale—this was probably about half of the display area. Andrew P. Collins

R2, shorthand for Rides + Rigs (or “cars and trucks”) brought a great sample platter of different genres of contemporary car modding for display. I caught up with a couple of guys, Vin and Calvin, from a tuning shop in Flushing, New York called Crown SpeedLab—they had done a lot of organizing and logistics for this show-within-a-show at the New York Auto Show, and they talked about how they were kind of trying to stoke a miniature SEMA on the East Coast.

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At this point, the R2Xpo gathering is not so much a showcase of new parts from the companies that make them (like SEMA is in Vegas), but it did capture a really diverse range of modding styles and provided a great opportunity to see interesting accessories fitted on vehicles.

Besides tuner cars, there were some dedicated race cars, at least one serious drag racing car, some time-attack machines, some classics, a lowrider, off-roaders, and a big group of overlanders. All of them were really nicely done examples.

Rigs + Rides: The R2Xpo

Here’s a gallery of what caught my eye at the R2Xpo. Enjoy!

JDM Concours

JDM Supreme and an outfit called Redline Restorations were posted up in a small section of this room with some incredible machines. I’m actually not sure what the story is with that Porsche, I just really liked the intake duct running through the rear window. That Civic hatchback, however, was a pretty famous tuner car gracing the cover of Super Street mag right around the time the first Fast and Furious flick came out. It was in a BF Goodrich ad or two as well.

The gold Supra, however, stopped me in my tracks—that is the GT300 you may have heard associated with tuning legend Kazuhiko “Smokey” Nagata. Smokey has an accolade list longer than a CVS receipt, with some real innovations credited to him. But he is probably still best known for 200-mph highway hijnks in cars like the gold Supra in these images. To make a long story short, Smokey raised some notoriety (visibility for his tuning shop Top Secret) by hitting bonkers speeds on public roads. Not something we endorse, but, it was certainly a moment in time. This interview with him in Top Gear gets into more detail.

Crown Speed Lab’s Honda S2000

The gold Top Secret Supra is sweet, but many of you have probably already seen plenty of pictures of it so I wanted to do a little more showcasing of something newer: Crown SpeedLab’s S2000.

I’m planning to catch up with Vin and Calvin again at their NY shop in the not-too-distant future where we’ll get some more details on this incredible car. For now, check out that creative livery, wild aero, and football-sized turbocharger under the hood!