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BRING ON THE NIGHT

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, Aug 24, 2006

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

BRING ON THE NIGHT

By JOHN GRAFMAN

So, word is the sport compact market is slowing down. Says who? The August 2006 Hot Import Night event at the LA Convention Center is proof that the import market is still rolling strong.

The Southern California area is a hot bed of activity for the import market. This isn't limited to your average modified Honda. Flooding the center is the best from premium imports like the Mercedes CLS, Ferrari 430s and the no-longer-in-production Porsche Carrera GT. The backdrop of earth-shaking audio systems in every inch of massive hall leaves one indelible impression, this isn't your fathers' auto show.

It almost feels like several of my senses are fighting for dominance. Cruising around, I hear and feel sound coming from every direction. Sound blends from one audio system into the other. Up on the huge stage, a DJ spins and girls are shaking and gyrating to the rhythms pounding all day and all night. Is it the music or the girls that have the crowd growing larger by the moment? Or maybe it's the swag being tossed generously into the throngs? Whatever the reason, no one is appearing to be leaving the area anytime soon.

The OEMs are taking the HIN events more seriously. GM has a number of tricked cars on hand to show what can be done, including a Solstice with a hard top in place of the convertible. Toyota's California studio displays its Fuse concept car.

While the car's exterior design is polarizing, some of the individual features are noteworthy. The wheels with integrated illumination is trick, and the lounge-like interior with large display panels that encompass the driver controls are definitely cool and will be a feature that can show up in other cars, or at least be inspiration to other modified cars.

Has HIN gone mainstream? Well, the Rockstar-sponsored car does fit the show's theme. Can a Tide sponsored car be far behind?

The huge stage has an overhead round screen with sponsors' images being intermittently projected to further remind us who is helping to make this event happen. The usual sponsors are displayed, like Valvoline, Dunlop Tires, and the U.S. Army.

Yes, that's right, the U.S. Army. Think about it for a moment, this is the Army's target demographics for new recruits. Encountering several members of the Army, I do find the irony: At the convention center one might say the car is the bomb; in the Army, this takes on a whole different meaning.

Don't get the wrong impression. HIN is still everything it always has been, just more of it. Under glowing lights is an Acura NSX with a Veilside treatment. I can breathe just a bit easier; I know I'm in the right place.

Throughout the massive building are numerous tire companies. The rubber available from these companies offer performance and hot tread patterns. Nearly every company that produces tires from Fuzion to Toyo Tires are here. The Nitto display with a number of outstanding cars does catch my attention. BF Goodrich, as are many of their competitors, is looking to catch the eyes of all who pass by. Beyond the cars, the female models make certain you pay attention.

In a short period of time, Scion has become a favorite car for many looking at getting into the sport compact scene - in part because of their low purchase price. One look at the 5 Axis Models Scion and it's obvious that this car costs big bucks to build. 5 Axis also worked it's magic on a yellow and black Honda that is standing boldly on the show floor. It does look like they have their fingers on the pulse of the aftermarket.

Has this event changed since our last look? It does seem so. But the big change is just an extra layer of polish.

More on the models of HIN at www.lacar.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=680

For more show info please go to www.hotimportnights.com

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