The sun tucks behind the mountains that surround Las Vegas and suddenly the valley is lit with the warm glow of its neon signage that line the streets. But the things that I find most exciting won’t be found on The Strip or under the lights on Fremont Street.
Under the cover of darkness and arranged in secret gather a small group of friends who all share a passion for cars. To this group I was an outsider, and the only person I knew happened to not show up, but they welcomed me all the same.
I found myself surrounded by Japanese dream cars of bygone eras. In this company I thought ill of my own car; surely my lowly CR-X didn’t deserve to share the parking lot with the mighty GT-R, the iconic AE86s, or the RX-7 that demanded the attention of everyone there. But the people I met assured me otherwise.
Let’s talk about some of the cars for a second.
Everyone has seen an R34 Skyline GT-R on the internet, but seeing one in person is always a treat. Sporting factory pearl white paint and a more modern set of RAYS Gram Lights 57CRs, the GT-R drew me in immediately.
Next, I moved on to the R34’s much older brother, the DR30 Skyline. While YouTube introduced me to this particular DR30, no video can beat getting to see something with your own eyes. I could gush over the details forever, my personal favorite being the fitted set of RS Watanabes, but I’ll let the pictures take over from here.
The Toyota I spotted first was not the Nissan-powered AE86s, but an AE92 Corolla. Adorned in its original paint, some JDM trim goodies and gold Enkei RPF1s, it stood out from the rest with its relatively sedate looks. But when your other car is a blue and white Hakosuka, one that’s been immortalized as a Hot Wheels diecast, it only makes sense that your daily is something a little bit more understated. And given that this car has been daily driven since new, the immaculate condition it’s in is a testament to the owner’s care and dedication.
To briefly touch on the AE86, underneath the nostalgic Coke livery hides a simple Nissan KA24DE. Some might bemoan the thought of hearing a KA bang limiter mid-drift, but with a GReddy header the engine’s sound is right at home in the 86.
While the caliber of cars that were at this secret meet were a bit more special than what I’ve normally experienced here in Vegas, the people that I met still presented a welcoming spirit and showed true enthusiasm for all cars.
There’s a lot more to car culture in Las Vegas than just SEMA and what you see on the internet. Often times the best cars and people are tucked away in the shadows of The Strip, meeting in a small parking lot and sharing dinner at a place close by.