I remember the first time I laid eyes on a CAtuned car like it was yesterday.
I was out with my cousin and a few friends during our obsessive BMW heydays, at what was then called the Berkeley Marina Meet – a gathering of European cars (mostly BMWs) at a fairly scenic venue off the docks in Berkeley, California.
Upon arrival, we immediately found ourselves lured towards a stunning blue E30 amongst the wide range of BMWs in the parking lot. Mind you, this was very early on in the ‘quality stance’ scene – if that’s even a thing – so seeing a full build on a car that was typically a high schooler’s first was abnormal to say the least.
Nonetheless, it captured the eyes of everyone at that meet, as the caliber of the build was second to none. There was so much attention to detail that I recall spending the majority of my time there inspecting every nook and cranny that I could. I still miss Miss Blau…
It was this exact instance that drew me towards CAtuned and their capabilities, which in turn has resulted in a flourishing friendship with owner and founder, Igor Polishchuck.
You may even recall an article my colleague Keiron did on Igor’s previous shop last year. Since then though, things have shifted towards even more prosperity, with a new, larger shop under his supervision, meaning more space for activities.
A few months ago, Igor and I met up in the midst of CAtuned’s move to its current location, to shoot the Grape E30. Igor mentioned that he was finally going to host another Open Haus event for the public, and since it had been a couple of years since the last one, I knew I couldn’t miss it.
It’s genuinely one of my favorite somewhat local events to attend, and gives me a solid fix of my BMW cravings. So, let’s get to it…Scene Report
When we arrived at the venue, the lot was literally packed to the brim with a fairly wide variety of different cars taking up all of the spots. The chill spring vibes could be felt as the music calmly played in the background, coupled with delicious scents of Filipino BBQ filling the air.
I set my hunger aside for a bit though, with hopes of making my rounds before the sunlight became too harsh to shoot in.
With all the doors opened up, we started out casually strolling through the new shop. Stashed inside were a few rare (to the US) E30s, including Tourings and Hartge cars.
Not too far away were a few of CAtuned’s current projects. It’s probably clear by now that vintage BMWs are the bread and butter here, so seeing a wide array of different platforms was expected by everyone, and they did not disappoint.
Before moving on to everything else outside, I peeped in a small corner of the warehouse to find the famous Inka Red E3 Bavaria that Igor built a while back for SEMA, named Orange Crush.
I remember when this car was making its rounds on the internet – boy did it give purists some serious heart palpitations.
Parked directly outside the shop gates were a few 2002s which couldn’t be further apart from each other. The blue one with white BBS RS wheels was actually part of the the DWA Rally I covered not too long ago, while the other blue one on steelies looked to be a long-living survivor with an M42 swapped in it.
My favorite of the Neue Klasse cars though was the RatRod02, built by Igor again for SEMA a while back. It just oozes character. Igor tells me the car was a fun approach they took towards reviving a 2002 that otherwise would’ve been scrapped after an accident that it was involved in.
The end result, however, became one of the most unique cars you’ll ever see. The M20 engine is fully built with a massive Garrett turbo accompanying it, while other notable features include custom turbo fans and metal front seats.
A few parking spaces over, I noticed a famous person’s car in our presence. “Goldilocks!” I yelled to my girlfriend with cheer. It was a subtle surprise, but one that I was super-excited to finally see in person.
Garrett Dotson and I have been following each other on social media for quite some time, and have made it a point to exchange love for one another’s builds over the last couple of years. His car has made quite the impression amongst E30 aficionados, most notably for its recent revival after an accident last year.
We’ve been in the works of getting a full feature done on his car, but as Garrett lives 300 miles away, it’s been a bit challenging working out the logistics. Hopefully not too much longer though, so stay tuned for that.
My admiration of Goldilocks was interrupted by the sound of breaking glass. I looked over my shoulder to find a makeshift Monster Jam session taking place, and the crowd was absolutely loving it.
As Keiron mentioned in his article last year, in 2016 Igor and his brother Max realized they could expand their love for low-riding vehicles with another love of high-riding vehicles. So they sub-segmented CAtuned Off Road, which is self explanatory, and thus the rig building began.
They’re actually one of the very few shops I know of in NorCal that specialize in both spectrums within the automotive realms - tastefully, that is. Most of the rigs have an ‘over-lander’ theme going on, which seems to be a big trend as of late, and I’m not mad about it. I’ve got some works on a few rigs coming up in the future, so keep an eye open for those as well.
Two crushed E34s later, I resumed my ventures around the lot to snap photos of other interesting cars that caught my eye. But one in particular still has me reminiscing since I can’t seem to find the owner for a full story.
Hopefully he reads this and reaches out, because this car deserves its own piece. All I can say is that the Z32 is under-appreciated for reasons unbeknownst to me, so it was a genuine pleasure seeing one modified perfectly.
It was weird for a minute to see a JDM car at a primarily European vintage tuning shop, but Igor did mention he was trying to venture more into the modern-classic and vintage JDM scene. So maybe the Z’s attendance was appropriate after all. But it wasn’t the only JDM car to show up.
Alongside Andrew in his 510 (now rocking new shoes), and myself with my girlfriend in her NSX, was another longtime friend of mine that I was pleasantly surprised to see.
Cody’s car-building mindset totally epitomizes the phrase ‘no f*cks given’, and I say that with honest sincerity. The man goes through building VIP-inspired cars as fast as some of us change socks, and he has the artistic flare that you would find within any creative tattoo artist.
Cody also has a great eye that I find truly inspiring amongst the sea of typical try-hard stance builds, just as portrayed with his ‘grandpa gold’ UCF10 Lexus shown here. It makes a bold statement with simplicity, which just goes to show how critical execution can be.Till Next Time
With temperatures steadily climbing in the valley and sweat pouring down my head, I wrapped up the day with a final stroll to capture some of the cars I may have missed my first time around.
I surprisingly came across one that I actually used to own (the blue Touring), and I was totally stoked to see the new owner thoroughly making use of it. It’s always nice to see ‘what could’ve been’ when coming across an old car.
A few other interesting cars later we said our goodbyes to our friends and headed home.
It was refreshing to see the BMW community still alive and doing big things. The amount of quality cars that came and went throughout the day was actually quite staggering, but maybe that’s because I’ve been constantly surrounded by 911s of late, which in itself isn’t a bad problem to have either.
Overall though, CAtuned’s 2019 Open Haus was reassurance that the community is thriving.
Igor has some big plans for new builds in the future, so I’ll be sure to touch base with him to bring you those, as I’m sure most of us can appreciate the passion that goes into the cars coming out of CAtuned.