Hawaii is not a place I associate with old school JDM cars, or really anything other than lifted 4x4s and dorky dads in convertible rentals that obviously come with any tourist territory. However, after being in Oahu just a few days, it became clear that these islands have everything you need, car culture included.
Trevor and I got a taste of this last year, so we knew that there are a number of really nice modified cars on the island of Oahu. But we didn’t know what to expect when we headed out to a meet in Pearl City last Saturday night, as organized by Tommy Dolormente.
Tommy kindly invited us out to see what the Oahu has to offer, and helped round up an extra strong group of cars for the evening. Trevor and I were pleasantly surprised when we rolled up to the outer edge of a Walmart parking lot in the center of the island and straightway spotted some of our favorite cars.
‘Old School Imports Hawaii’ was inadvertently started by Tommy and his friends when a handful of guys donated gifts to a toy drive and were required to report their ‘club’ name. In reality, Tommy says the group is not a club or a crew, so to speak, but rather a community and family of people who love old, quirky cars.
The OSIxHI crowd definitely has a long-term relationship feel to it; it was almost like we were witnessing an extended family barbeque rather than a car meet. And although there was no slow cooking of meat here, the meet was ultra-mellow and inviting in stereotypical Hawaiian fashion.
There were also no burnouts or cops getting involved, instead just a group of friends doing what they love to do most. There might not have been a row of numerous NSXs or modded RX-7s, but I felt like at least one of everything you needed showed up.
Some of my all-time favorite models made an appearance too, so allow me to take you on a quick tour of my personal picks…A Few Favorites
When we first arrived I noticed something very JDM, but couldn’t quite place it from afar. As I got closer I realized it was an A31 Nissan Cefiro, a rare find at any meet in the US, and especially in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Still, it makes sense there would be loads of right-hand drive eye-candy on the islands given their proximity to Japan, and Japan’s massive influence here over the decades.
A few rows over, a group of super-clean VWs began to line up, a staple in any place with proper beach culture. I was particularly partial to this vibrant orange Karmann Ghia, which fit in so nicely among the palms and the setting sun. The whole thing was picture-perfect — literally.
A little later, this cute VW Type 3 Notchback parked as the last bit of the sun peeked over the ridged Hawaiian cliffs. I don’t know what it is about small cars, but they never cease to make me giddy.
A few minutes later a rather intense itasha-style FC3S pulled in with a Shiba Inu seemingly perched on the knees of the character on the door.
The owner told me that she had designed a number of the stickers on the car, plus the entire wrap, herself. It is definitely not for everyone — and we can’t actually show the car in its entirety here — but I always admire artists who go all the way with what they are doing. The owner of this itasha — or ‘painful car’ (痛車) — didn’t sacrifice her vision in order to protect soccer moms on the highway.
A little while later my favorite car of all time – an X32 Cressida – pulled into the meet. I, of course, abandoned all social norms and chased the car around the lot until it parked, then just sort of gawked awkwardly.
Every time I see one of these things I spend the next couple weeks searching for one. Ironically, the owner of this car actually poached it out of my backyard in the Pacific Northwest, but I suppose I can forgive him.
There were all sorts of other impressive and interesting cars at the meet which Trevor will give you a closer look at soon, so keep your eye out for a few spotlights and a bit more coverage. I think it’s safe to say we both left feeling refreshed and inspired.
I don’t think I could ask for much more, because after all, that’s what this is really all about.
Additional Photos by Trevor Yale Ryan