Bay Area Style: The Car Meet Evolved
Bay Area style

The San Francisco Bay Area is known for a lot of things – hippies, tech start ups, thizzin’, fog and clam chowder in bread bowls. Cars – with the exception of ultra-green or EVs or Google’s latest self-driving prototypes – aren’t considered one of the area’s claims to fame.

But perhaps they should be…

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I just got home after a few days of Speedhunting around the Bay Area – a visit that left me very impressed with what I found. This trip included everything from pro touring monster machines to lowriders, and I finished off my stay on Saturday by checking out one of the region’s most anticipated auto events of the year.

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It’s called BLOX Evolution, and if that name doesn’t sound familiar you aren’t alone. It begins with BLOX Racing, a company that makes performance parts for a variety of import vehicles, headquartered in the East Bay city of Fremont.

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For the past several years BLOX has held an open house meet at their HQ – the turnout growing bigger with each year’s event. By last year it was clear that the meet was outgrowing the venue, so for 2014 the organizers decided to change things up.

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Actually, they didn’t just change things up, they took the event to the next level, aiming to create one of the area’s new lifestyle automotive events. You know – import models, DJs, food trucks and that sort of thing. Thus BLOX Evolution was born.

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Of course with the larger ambitions of the event a new venue would need to be found. A run-of-the-mill business park just wouldn’t cut it any more.

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The venue for BLOX Evolution was one of the more interesting car show locations I’ve seen – an old warehouse at Pier 70 in the Port of San Francisco. Of course, locals know that summer weather in San Francisco can be far from summer-like – but fortunately Saturday’s conditions were beautiful. It felt more Los Angeles than San Francisco.

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If I’m honest I’ve never been a big fan of music-blasting, import ‘lifestyle’ events as I prefer to let the automobiles speak for themselves. But knowing what the Bay Area’s auto scene can bring to the table, I was excited to check this out.

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I have to say the old port venue really made for a cool atmosphere and there was definitely a lot more character than you’d find at your typical convention center or fairgrounds car show. Rolling up to the big brick building on the Bay, I felt like I was going to some kind of secret underground meeting. I was just waiting for some guy named Hector to come out and ask who the Snowman was.

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As for the event itself, BLOX Evolution would be divided into two main areas. Outside would be the ‘meet’ area, set up in the spirit of the original open house events. Inside the warehouse would be the ‘show’ area – where vehicles were judged in a number of categories.

Show ‘N Go
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As I headed inside the massive warehouse to get my first at look at the show, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Would there be rows and rows of stanced cars? VIP luxury machines? Traditional tuner vehicles? Vintage cars? As it turns out, there was a little bit of everything…

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It’s been about 15 years since the explosion of import tuning originally took over places like the San Francisco Bay Area. A lot of the youngsters the could be found modifying Honda Civics and Acura Integras back in the day have since moved onto other cars and other scenes.

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But while they might have grown up, developed careers and started families, they certainly haven’t outgrown their love for cars.

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Some have moved on to the world of VIP cars, and there were numerous examples of modified Japanese luxury sedans hanging around Pier 70 on Saturday.

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Others kept their need for speed, picking up modern high performance turbo machines like the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Nissan GT-R.

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Another group went back in time to rediscover the roots of the scene, building some of the nicest 510s, Zs, and Celicas that you’ll find anywhere.

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Some have made the switch to European cars – Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and even MINI – the latter represented by this Cooper S loaded up with parts from Japan’s Duell AG.

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Even guys that needed family haulers didn’t give up on modifying cars. The Bay Area happens to be home to one of the largest custom minivan scenes in the United States.

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Finally, there are those who stuck with the cars of their youth, but now build them better than they ever could when they were scrappy teenagers. The Bay Area is right up there with LA when it comes to clean Honda builds.

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While there were plenty of cars with slammed ride heights and aggressive wheels at BLOX Evolution, I definitely wouldn’t call this a stance-oriented event. The wide mix of styles was definitely one of the most enjoyable parts of the show.

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Not that there’s anything at all wrong with a low and slow cruiser – especially a rare machine like Ken Stevens’ airbagged ’72 Audi 100.

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I also thought this slammed Mazda Protege 5 was cool – not just because it was cleanly done – but because this isn’t a common platform for modification.

Is Performance Back?
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If anything though, it seems likes performance builds might be making a comeback in the birthplace of Hellaflush.

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The building was full of turbo conversions, engine swaps and other cars with spec sheets that included a lot more than just wheel offsets or tire sizes.

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Could there be a better combination than the FD3s RX-7 and a GM LS V8? Rotary purists might cringe, but these powerful, aluminum V8s are just so well-matched to the FD’s light chassis and timeless looks. As an added bonus, this FD street car from the Inspire Crew as also packing some boost to go along with its eight cylinders of American muscle.

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Speaking of motor swaps, a shop by the name of Tech3 brought out its 240Z track car project. The Datsun sports all manner of functional mechanical upgrades.

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Under the hood, the L-series six has been removed in favor of a potent SR20DET setup – not unlike the S30 driven by our own Larry Chen.

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If there’s one thing I noticed about the Bay Area scene it’s that people here seem to really enjoy their AWD turbo machines. Shops like San Jose’s Speed Element are turning out numerous Evos and Imprezas loaded with high-end tuning parts from Japan.

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In fact, I think Tsukuba Circuit is the only place I’ve seen more Varis aero kits, Voltex wings and RAYS Volk Racing wheels. They certainly know how to do ‘em well in the Bay!

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Speaking of Volk Racing, here’s an STI modeling the brand’s new ZE40 wheels under a set of widened fenders. I dig it.

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Is there any stopping Rocket Bunny mania? It appears not after seeing the crowd reaction to the David Uy’s TRA Kyoto kit-equipped R35 GT-R. What a radical looking machine.

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Some like to look back to the 1990s to find their Japanese hero cars, and those people would be pleased to see vehicles like this ultra-clean JZA80 Supra. While the Supra has always brought big money on the used car market, I’ve got no doubt these things will only go up in value as the years go on.

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The same can be said for the Acura NSX, which was represented by this airbagged example from the Endless Projects crew.

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You just gotta lave a Datsun 510, especially when it’s clean and original example like this root beer-colored wagon. Nothing outrageous when it comes to mods here, just a classic machine that’s received a lot of love from its owner.

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In contrast to the meticulously presented 510, here’s another Datsun that calls the Bay Area home. Rather than a tidy show car, this 240Z is an absolute beast, coming straight out of Oakland’s late-night street racing scene.

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It’s powered by a turbocharged LS motor, and with its exhaust dumped out right next to the front wheel it sounded absolutely gnarly.

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This DC2 Integra with a bunch of JDM Type R parts and a set of Sprint Hart wheels was another one of the many high quality Hondas and Acuras that came out. Simple and to the point, don’t you think?

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Along with the hundreds of cars that were on hand, BLOX Evolution also included other activities like an RC drifting display put on by a local club.

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There was also a strong showing of customized scooters – this is another scene which has roots on the tight streets of San Francisco.

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As you can see, the Bay Area is about a lot more than public transportation and the Prius. I’ll be back soon with more stories from my NorCal expedition, including a closer look at six of my favorite cars from BLOX Evolution.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: speedhunters_mike

Cutting Room Floor
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Thanks for the coverage... cool scene out there :)  Lots of clean lookin cars and I dig the large presence of 90's imports that are done up with period correct parts.


What did the owner do to that z in the 7th pic?


This article makes me feel warm inside. I'm happy to see clean builds are still sought after


Thanks for the coverage! I own the SR22 Powered 240z!


3nigm4 I asked myself the same thing


Seems like a really cool meet. The choice of that warehouse for the setting is rather awesome too, very different.

Also nice to see some more performance-oriented builds. That STI on ZE40s is super clean.

And that 240Z looks like it'll chew your face off, haha.

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

Do we see more on that Audi 100? Thats cool!!




Thanks for the love..


"Is performance back?"

I would hope so, kind of frustrated with the air ride, stretched tires and silly camber deal at most of the shows I attend or see online. 
Awesome post overall.


The Audi, NSX and ALL GTR were really cool.
I love the Supra, I love the engine and suspension ( I own a Soarer) stock form it started to look really awkward to me. I'm sorry, but you cant make a Supra to work well with an audience in stock form after 20 years.


yay.  a muddy FJ :)


Just add more motorcycle post on speedhunters, that will be cool!


JT Money 3nigm4 money doesn't always buy taste


I lived in San Francisco for almost three years, and there's good
reason the Bay Area isn't known for its car culture. There are
definitely cool cars to be found, but even this article highlights one
of the main concerns I always had with the local scene. A lot of the
neat cars are very understated, and on the highway it'd be hard to
appreciate that one's looking at anything very out of the ordinary. For
example, I just drove down to Beverly Hills on Sunday, and I'm pretty
sure I got excited about more cars that I saw there in half a day than I
would in the Bay Area over the course of half a year.
best I can say the Bay Are had going for it was all of the quirky
stuff. I loved seeing an old, un-restored supercharged MG TA rolling the
streets near Golden Gate Park one morning, when I was able to catch the
owner later in the day outside a coffee shop to talk about the rare
vehicle. I'd see a classic Jag or Mercedes, and of course the hippie
scene keeps the VWs rolling like mad. Plenty of Japanese metal that
could be done up nicely, but still mostly close to stock configuration
drivers. Lots of great motorcycles around because of the tight urban
quarters.  Oakland has a different vibe, but lots of half-assed rides
that I never really admired kill that scene for me. Never saw much in Berkeley except more quirky stuff that echoed the SF feel.
The tri-valley area (Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermoore) has a good
selection of hot rods and motorcycles, and folks just jamming around in
nice, stock vehicles... Cool stuff is definitely around, but I'd
disagree with the "maybe the Bay should be known for its cars"
sentiment. Despite the time I spent there, I was never struck by the
thought that the place was a refuge for anything particularly awesome
when it came to car culture. Lots of little rain drops worth of it, but
no puddles to splash around in.


Nice one, loving the scooters too!!


LOFL!!!!! at my old type 3......see they havnt done anything since they got it.that thing was towed away from outside my house(street paving)and sold while i was out of the country on bussiness..thought it was fuckin funny its still in the bay......whoever owns that beast shud hit me up.have so many NOS and spares......even a cuppl of old pieces of luggage for the rack.....


I can't believe I missed this, I'm like 3 hours away :'[


Weres the evos??????


MattTomczek Hotcakes No problems at all, happy to give props to such a clean, well executed car.

Wow, those are some impressive specs! Yet they don't look too outlandish or stance-y either. Definitely a solid choice with the ZE40s though.

Can you share any more info on the car?


The CRZ and E30 M3 were the two cars that caught my eyes. It's good to see the Japanese and European cars in the same lot.


"Is performance back?"

Not if Speedhunters has anything to say about it!!


@Jake Laird What?


That integra on the Sprint Hart wheels was perfect!



Built motor, sleeved, forged, etc. Rotated GTX3576 making 561whp 587wtq at 28.5psi on E85. Tons of carbon goodies and titanium bits. 

Autocrossed, tracked (when I have time), and shown around the Bay.


Not just any rare Audi 100, but a rarer than rare two door Audi 100... Yum!


Mike Garrett Don't feed the troll MIke.


MattTomczek Hotcakes Well hot damn. Nurse can we get a feature here, stat?


Hotcakes MattTomczek Mike Garrett

I'd love to do a feature. Mike/SpeedHunters just need to make it happen. You convince them Hotcakes! ;)


What on earth happened to the FJ cruiser next to the Datsun? Did he cross a swamp to get to San Francisco?


higway demon's supra... i love that car so much... <3


SF is one of the worst cities for car owners; these guys deserve special kudos for keeping it alive. Nice job!


Love the article Mike! Great info and coverage.  Appreciate the ruckus photos! cant wait to read the next article.


Needed more supra shots....supras are becoming scarcer by the day.


such a good write up and good pics of car that caught a lot attention way better post than stacenation


The Nissan nice  

Check out this website where you can style and buy a bunch of parts for his car


The Nissan nice  

Check out this website where you can style and buy a bunch of parts for his car


The R35 looks beautiful


That's an old school Kaminari aero kit. On the up side it was a wide body box-flare kit. On the down side, the dream of the 80s covers your entire Datsun. :(