On a misty spring morning I found myself on the edge of a small peninsula in a fog-illuminated warehouse. Dust danced in the cool air, anticipating the arrival of the cars it would later settle on. I was witnessing a first, the genesis of the Golden Week Kyusha Festival put on by TDGarage’s Kiavash Shariloo.
Before the event even started my toes were curling with excitement as kyusha — which literally means ‘old car’ in Japanese — cruised in humming like sleepy bumble bees.
There’s something so special about first events. A certain uncertainty lingers and leaves a bit of adrenaline in the air, the impending success or failure of a show moves the day forward and blankets the participants with an overarching sense of ‘we are all in this together.’
Seeing the need for a good-sized, local Japanese vintage car show, Kia has been dreaming up this particular Bay Area, California event for over two years. Kyusha enthusiasts have to travel to SoCal for shows or just try and tack themselves on to more modern or stance-related events, but there isn’t really any avenue for uninterrupted vintage Japanese cars in the Bay.
That is, until now. By 9:00am last Saturday, Kia’s long-time vision had become a reality.
I’ve probably been to hundreds of shows and meets at this point, and I can honestly say the Golden Week Kyusha Festival was right there at the top. Yes, some of the cars were less than mint, and yes, a few of them were ultra-expensive builds, but all of these cars have souls — they effortlessly ooze style.
To me, these builds are the actual cool kids of car culture; the ones who are unique and multi-dimensional, although perhaps a bit rough. While there are those who don’t see the appeal, plenty understand. There is a rawness to kyusha you cannot find elsewhere.
The venue shared this same raw sort of rough-around-the-edges elegance. The Craneway Pavilion is flooded with light seeping in from wall-to-wall windows looking out to the San Francisco skyline. Cobwebs wave in the corners of the windowpanes and archaic drapes suspend from the absurdly tall ceilings.
It’s the Marilyn Monroe of venues, timeless and beautiful at every angle — a perfect building to encapsulate the droves of car connoisseurs.Diversity
People travelled hundreds — in some cases thousands — of miles to see these rugged yet graceful rides at the inaugural Golden Week Kyusha Festival. The show brought out some big names like Techno Toy Tuning, RS Watanabe, Scraping Tokyo, Hayashi Racing, and Secret Factory.
In fact, some of these companies came all the way from Tokyo to attend the show as their first official American event.
And I think it’s worth noting that the venue was populated with people flaunting as much style as the cars they were there to enjoy. I wish this was something we saw more often at car shows.
The show boasted nearly one hundred vehicles which was a modest, yet well-cultivated collection for the event’s entrance into the car show world. Additionally, the layout of the cars made sense, which was really nice when it came to shooting the event.
Sometimes shows just let attendees park willy-nilly, but there was a clearly categorized layout going on here and I loved it.
For example, a nice line of boxy Cressida booties greeted the eye of eager attendees immediately as they walked through the door.
No car gets me going quite like an old school Cressida; to me they are the quintessential kyusha car – ultra cool and packed with tech for the ‘80s, yet still ultra-cool today. Essentially they’re the Japanese equivalent of a Caddy lowrider.
Across the way from the Cressida crew was a sweet collection of scooters accompanied by a kei pickup truck, which looks like it was used around Sony in Japan before it retired.
On the other side of the hall sat several prime examples of Nissan Zs and Skylines looking a little like a bag of limited edition Skittles. Every inch of the show made sense and was visually appealing.
Japanese trucks collected compliments towards the middle of the room, some of which had some very individualized layouts and oddball engine swaps.
Backdropped by the San Francisco skyline on the other side of the pavillion was a rainbow of 510s and their cousins looking ready to zip to the beach in their summer-esque shades of paint.
One in particular deserves a closer look — keep your eyes out for the full feature on the Tantō 510 coming soon.
Facing the Datsuns were dozens of eye-catching Toyotas, including a pair of rally cars, still dirty from the last time they went to work. This hand-painted hood definitely caught some eyes throughout the day. I’m a bit ashamed to say I’ve never seen a rallycross event in person, but my interest is definitely sparked now. Maybe I’ll do something about this soon…
At the very end of the old auditorium were some prime examples of near-stock Japanese classics, lit softly by rays of light sneaking in from the bay outside. It was difficult not to gravitate to these guys because their row had an exceptionally confident essence; almost like sort of royal dignity. Or maybe it was just the good light – I’ll leave it up to you.
In particular this Toyota Crown warranted a double take; it sat in the corner of the room, the handsome fly on the wall of the show. I love the similarities this car shares with early Lincoln Continentals from across the Pacific.
However, the fun wasn’t over when we exited the pavilion. Outside, Team Beautiful Boy car club from SoCal was zipping around in kaido-style cars and modified scooters.
They made it even harder to leave as the brap of their engines circling the parking lot sent us running for shots, but eventually we left to drop off Trevor’s film at Bay Photo Lab, eager to see what shots were hiding inside.
So, if you’re kicking yourself for not making it out this year (which you should be if you weren’t there), you can make plans to go to next year’s event which is already in the works. With a first go-around this good I’m jazzed to see what the second Golden Week Kyusha Festival will look like.
Although Trevor and I had to drive an aching 20-hour round-trip to attend this time, I’d be surprised if we don’t do the same next year. It really was that good.