EVENT: MNCEC Winter Ramp Meet
Typically in the state of Minnesota February car meets consist of pneumonia, being inside a restaurant with cars in a frigid salt-caked parking lot or if we're lucky we can get a underground ramp that'll give us an okay. This year we had a beautiful February day with record breaking tempurtures in the low 60s, so we couldn't ask for a better day for our first official meet of the year!
Although the official start time was 1 PM, when I arrived at 12:15 or so the top floor was already almost full, it looks like a lot of people were planning ahead so they could get the best spots. By the time I arrived on the scene, Dan and the other admins had already set up the tent and were getting ready for selling some MNCEC swag! Heather and Chris Carey were out with cupcakes from Heather's Rivertown Cakes bakery in Cottage Grove. If you haven't had a chance to get their cupcakes drop by Heather's shop in Cottage Grove, you won't regret it.
As everyone rolled in there were mobs of fantastic cars and great people, we tried to keep the highest point of the ramp open for photos but eventually we did have to open it up for parking. Our total was 1189 cars, that beats our previous highest attendance by over 100 cars! That's not bad for a February meet when most people still have their cars in storage.
The selection of cars ran the gambit from some fresh Japanese Nostalgic Car projects we haven't seen so far to the supercars of MNE&S. There's no shame in not having your car finished, all that matters is that you have the passion, I would rather see a half finished car than a rushed together half assed car. That's what keeps our community alive.
It looks like even Doc Brown joined the festivities with a DMC DeLorean. It's always cool to see a DeLorean, but to see one with a manual transmission is even more radical. Given that this is an earlier 1981 model rather than the '83 and has that third pedal, I imagine there are have to be less than a thousand of these in the world.
Keeping with the 80s theme for a moment, it seems like old school big body Mercedes Benz platforms are gaining traction in Minnesota. There is nothing wrong with looking like an '80s drug dealer, in fact I highly encourage the look! Just don't sell drugs to achieve the look. The cars Mercedes made prior to the 90s are great platforms to build on with since they are comically over engineered and can go through just about anything without dying. The CIS fuel injection systems are a handful if they go wrong, but a mechanical injection system didn't stop the VW community from embracing the Mk 1 and Mk 2 Golf platforms.
Completely different than the plush Mercedes platforms above was this crazy K series swapped Celica we saw at the show. Despite what you think of Honda, this is an awesome swap and capable of serious numbers. The best part about this car is that the owner didn't just swap a stock K series and call it a day but, he went and stuck a turbo on the end of it for good measure. On the outside, the only give away that there is more going on under the hood is the intake in headlight. I might have to think twice before I try to overtake an ST204 Celica on the freeway now.
That brings us to MNE&S, they rolled by the meet with squad of jaw dropping super cars. Given that the average entry price of cars in this club is more than my house, it was pretty awesome to just see them. This just goes to show the scope of the Minnesota car community, everything from your average project car to super cars. Despite some bad press in the past, MNE&S has gone to great lengths to help better the community with no shortage of charity work.
MNE&S brought along Justin and his RWB Porsche. If you didn't make it to the unveiling of this car last Summer at Cars and Coffee with Akira Nakai, Justin makes his presence felt. It seems like I can't go on Tumblr or Instagram without seeing this car on my feed, even random people from as far as South Africa are gawking over this car. It definitely has one of the most eye catching liveries of all the RWB cars and it's pretty cool to know that it lives in Minnesota.
I imagine that Justin solely listens to Bonita Applebum by A Tribe Called Quest when he's in the garage.
Another great widebody car in Minnesota is this Veilside RX7. As much as I love Han's RX7 from Tokyo Drift, it's a good change to see that kit with a different color scheme. Maybe someone in Minnesota can get on the RE-Amemiya train and get one of their kits too. The RX7s of all generations are great chassis to build on and there is no shortage of aftermarket support for them either, I'm surprised I don't see even more them.
Speaking of aftermarket support, 'murican stuff was aplenty. Even though I'm not much of a modern Mopar guy, this Viper ACR caught my eye. These are completely ridiculous with a hood that goes on for half a city block and an 8 Liter V10. I get why there is an appeal to that.
More than a few muscle cars were around as well. It seemed like between Ross Hulleman's El Camino, the black Vega and the red Nova you couldn't make it half an hour without hearing the rowdy V8 rumble across the parking lot.
Offsetting the carbon footprint of, frankly everyone else at the show, was without a doubt the coolest looking hybrid in Minnesota. Not that that's a high bar to achieve, this might have also been the cleanest Honda at the show for that matter. The CRZ was a strange bird for Honda. It was a hybrid sports car that unfortunately was lost in the market. It wasn't sporty enough to wow the car enthusiasts and wasn't economical to hype up the hyper-milers. Pity, because it looks really cool, maybe a few years from now they will gain popularity when they come down in price.
Although the CRZ wasn't a hit in the market, the original CRX knocked it out of the park for Honda back in the day. With a curb weight around 2000 lbs, 50+ MPG and the ability to hold it's own on the track, it was the complete package. This was Honda just reaching their prime and started a series of great compact cars that would go on to change the performance landscape forever in the 1990s. The CRX seen here was in great shape and is being restored rather than modified.
The modified Hondas were in full effect as well. Their numbers have gone down a lot in recent years, mostly because of theft, but the MNAH club is very healthy and even has chassis specific affiliates as well. While the EG Civic was once the most popular chassis around, they're getting hard to find outside of the southern states so that leaves the earlier EF chassis and later EK chassis as the most common 1990s Hondas in show. I believe I can say with confidence that every Wagovan in the show was once owned by Andrew Chase. I've been seeing more eighth generation FD Civics lately as well.
From RA42 Celicas to S30 Datsuns, early aircooled VWs and even a Mitsubishi Mirage (Dodge Colt), there were some really awesome platforms for anyone who is a fan of old school. They can be found in any form from unrestored to period correct mods to just plain wacky. Some of the older cars I'm seeing being built here in Minnesota have a lot of potential and I think were going to be seeing Minnesota get on the map more than ever in coming years.
Jordan Lao's Datsun 510 2-door is was cleanest Japanese Nostalgic Car at the show. It's sitting low on a set of old school Hayashis complemented by a FRP lip up front. There is a huge Japanese Nostalgic Car community on the west coast but they're rare here.
Of course not everyone is into old school, you could go into any Subaru dealership today and pick up a WRX with these mean looking Square-C headlights. Between our extremely healthy Subaru community here and MNNI you could find late model cars worthy of mentioning left and right.
Speaking of MNNI, no shortage of Nissan and Infiniti platforms were around. It's pretty cool to see a club that is so prolific and consistent, they also do a great job helping each other with their builds. Andy Rushing in particular makes some really dope custom headlights as seen on this G37.
With Minnesota being an out of place extension of Scandinavia, we have a large number of Volvo and Saab enthusiasts. I don't think I've ever been to a state with as many Scandinavian car enthusiasts.
Usually it's just the Germans making huge showings from any of the European brands. As such we had quite a few VAG people in attendance.
The VWs were supremely outnumbered by Subarus though. I think these could be the most common platform in the state, if not they are definitely in the top three for highest attendance numbers.
Total numbers aren't everything, sometimes you need just 1 or 2 to make it's presence felt. The R32 Skyline is an extremely popular chassis these days especially given the extreme lengths it takes to get one. If you think it's as easy as just paying $3000 over the auction price to get it shipped, I suggest you look into trying to finance one and the legal paperwork required if you don't buy it from an importer.
Other Japanese muscle cars made their presence felt. 4G63 powered platforms such as the DSM and Evo were in show. There are many more in the state but given that it's still February most are in storage.
2JZ no Sh**?! Toyota's non-interference straight six mill powered some of the best cars from the 1990s. These are my personal favorite engine for reliability, power building, swaps, or anything you can think of. They're pretty hard to beat.
We can't forget to mention the truck community either, given the abundance of diesel trucks around these days they're extremely popular. Combine an engine capable of four figure torque numbers with the utility aspect and you have a formula for a popular platform.
As we said in the introduction to this blog, Minnesotans are some of the most creative car enthusiasts in the world. We don't have a "scene" we have to subscribe to, we have a community. That is the beauty of this state and what gives this community the power that we have. We couldn't of asked for a better meet for our Winter Ramp Meet. This was a great kick off to the season, let's make 2017 one for the books.