So, where was I…
If there’s anything that events like the Juicebox BBQ teach us, it’s that so many of us enjoy real cars. You know the type – cars that make up for limited budgets with little bits of ingenuity, and that are used in the proper way. What is the proper way? That will vary from owner to owner, but you love to see a car being used as intended, and for the owner to extract maximum joy from it, regardless of how that’s achieved.
Here’s the real kicker, though: You can enjoy and love these cars and also still love the big budget, no expense spared, absolute perfection-chasing SEMA-style builds. You don’t have to choose.
They both bring different things to the table, and there’s no right or wrong way for the most part. I just think it’s the intention behind the build, which results in a car that knows what it is being the most important factor.
In saying that, there weren’t many, if any, cars in attendance at the Juicebox BBQ that were just cheque book builds. For the vast majority, they’re all constantly evolving projects which reflect either the owner’s changing tastes or their pursuit of ultra rare parts, which often take some time (and luck) to acquire.
I do love seeing something interesting with a few stone chips and obvious signs of use. Maybe a small crack in a front splitter, or wheels blackened with brake dust. It’s one half of the equation for a car to look the part, but to know that it dances as well? Consider me signed up. No disrespect to the pristine examples, but if I see a DC5 Type R, for example, I need to know that it regularly spends time over 7,000rpm.
Those signs of use basically excuse themselves, as it’s impossible to drive a car hard and not leave some telltale marks.
For most of the cars at the BBQ last weekend, they fell into this category of used, but loved and appreciated.
In Part I, we briefly touched on how the BBQ primarily represents cars from a certain era in Japan. I talked to one friend, (hi, Eamonn) who realised that he doesn’t really like cars in general, just Japanese performance cars built between 1980 and 2002. He was joking (sort of), but he pretty much nailed the majority of Irish/Japanese car culture.
It’s all about the icons and classics from this era: AE86s, Skylines, Supras, Silvias, Evos, Imprezas, Type Rs, BZ-Rs, GT Turbos and the rest.
Why Japanese cars are by far part of the most prominent aftermarket culture in Irish automotive circles is pretty simple. Both countries drive on the left side of the road in right-hand drive cars, and both encourage their citizens to own vehicles with relatively small cubic capacity engines. Anything pre-2008 is taxed annually based on its engine size in Ireland, with a 2.0-litre around €710 per annum. Anything smaller than this is cheaper, and anything larger than this is more expensive, up to a maximum of €1809 for a pre-2008 car.
Basically, anything registered before 2008 and is 3,001cc or larger is €1809 per year, every year, until the car reaches 30 years old where it qualifies for vintage tax at €56 per year. This annual motor tax has completely shaped the used car market here, and it’s why the Irish imported so many cars from Japan, as there’s great value for the performance to cubic capacity ratio.
While the majority of the cars here have been imported since they were almost new, there has been a recent influx over the last five years of the big inline-six sedans (read: Chasers, Crestas, Laurels, Mark IIs etc.) as people continue try to identify the performance bargains that others might have overlooked.
At this point in time, there aren’t many Japanese performance cars which haven’t been imported to Ireland.
I enjoy this aspect of our car culture, of making do with the hand we’ve been dealt. I think the tight regulations here around cars have actually forced so many to think outside of the box, and we’ve ended up with this rich car culture which might not have happened otherwise.
You only have to look across the water at our friends in the United Kingdom to see that despite their cheaper taxes and more relaxed vehicle roadworthy legislation, they just don’t do Japanese cars as good as the Irish. That’s not to say that there’s not any good Japanese cars in the UK, far from it, but I’m sure even these owners would concede that we do edge it on a per capita basis.
That’s what the Juicebox BBQ reminds you of. It reminds us in Ireland that for all our complaining about the government, taxes, weather etc., we actually have it pretty good when it comes to cars. For a small country with such a small population, we can punch above our weight on an international scale. Hell, the burgers are pretty damned good, too.
I don’t know if this will last forever and I don’t know if this is as good as it will get, but I think I’m going to spend some time shortly soaking it all up and enjoying it while the times are good.
I’m aware that these two posts so far have been light on detail, as it’s a huge challenge to try and get around an event of this size which only lasts a few hours, but the next story on the BBQ will go into at least some detail on six cars which I think you’ll enjoy.
In the meantime, remember to get out and drive your cars.