780 Tuners 2017 Opener – Part 1

For as long as I have been entering Driven Calgary, I have also been attending the annual 780 Tuners Season Opener. Traditionally it had been held prior to Driven but starting last year when there was a date conflict it was moved to the weekend after instead. This year was the same story so a week after Driven, we all found ourselves up in Edmonton for what is one of the largest gatherings of the year.

Technically I suppose the Opener could be called a meet given that there are no awards and everyone just comes and goes as they please, but that almost plays down the scale of what it truly is. Cars come in from hours away and the total turnout is basically unparalleled by anything else we attend all year. If anything, the only event that rivals its sheer size would be its fall counterpart, the 780 Closer. I’ll put it this way – I spent the first half hour of my time at the Opener in my car, just trying to get into the lot and parked…that’s how long the line was.

Given that Driven was the weekend prior, as mentioned, I didn’t go too crazy with photos for the Opener because I still had a virtual mountain from the show but I made sure to get enough to hopefully give you all an idea of what the event was like. If you haven’t attended before I’d definitely recommend it, and the bonus is of course the chance to see and catch up with friends from Edmonton in person, instead of online for a change.

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Anyway – for those unfamiliar with Alberta or who haven’t seen the Opener coverage from years prior – for us the first step of attending is to spend some time on the highway as Edmonton is about three hours North of Calgary. It was nice to get the Focus out for a proper trip and stretch its legs as this was the first time it had truly left the city – ignoring short trips to Cochrane and the like – since the Closer last fall.

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The drive is pretty straight-forward – almost literally. Leave Calgary, point the car North, and maybe turn the steering wheel a few times over the next few hours and you’re in Edmonton.

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No, I didn’t flip this photo. The flags were positioned to be read properly from the road’s side. Haha

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But now to the point of this post, the Opener. It would almost have been worth investing in a drone to get just one photo of the whole venue, but searching on YouTube will reveal some aerial shots to properly illustrate the size of this and how packed it was. Cars spilled over into the other section of the parking lot while others were double parked and more still were just stuffed wherever there happened to be a car-sized opening. If I had to guess I’d say this at least equaled the turnouts of Driven and Sunday School – combined. 

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The first order of business once parked was to find Mark at the 780 Tuners booth to grab some souvenir shirts and decals, as you do, as well as to start getting some photos on the way.

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The route to the tent happened to go by the “Ruined ST3” so I stopped to check out the new additions it received over the winter. For us Focus/Fiesta owners not only do we get to see each other (usually) but the Opener also allows us to finally see each others’ progress in person and not via social media for once.

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Regarding this ST, there was one item in particular that I couldn’t wait to see. Given it’s a track car one of the main updates for 2017 was a full, custom-fabricated, welded-in roll cage.

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The dash was just a shell of its former self (ha, see what I did there? Moving on…) and apart from it, the seats, and the necessary controls, there wasn’t much else left of the interior.

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The exterior was a bit more reserved, save for some canards and the subtle switch from fog lights to (presumably) brake cooling ducts.

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Ruined ST3 examined, I then could no longer stop ignoring the AE86 next to it and found that it was hiding a Toyota/Lexus UZ V8 in its engine bay! It actually seemed to fit pretty well too, considering. Stuffing a V8 into one of these things must make for quite a fun toy.

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One neat aspect of the Opener is that there’s naturally some overlap, in terms of cars, between this and Driven so we get another chance to see some of Edmonton’s crazier builds, and see them out in the “real world” too – not just parked at the Oval.

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FYI – All of the cars on the right were not parked; they were part of the massive line of vehicles (still) circling the lot looking for spots.

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There were way too many people and cars around to get a clear shot of this Bluebird’s exterior but I made sure to at least get one of the bay as it always presents so nicely.

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Some of the cars that were overflowing into the other lot…what you don’t see out of the frame here are the rows upon rows of other modified vehicles that were parked over here as well. Anyone who went to the mall just to shop must’ve wondered what on earth was going on.

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Somewhere in Japan….or maybe not.

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At one time someone’s brand new pride and joy in Japan, and now living a life as a purpose-built drift car in Canada. Imagine the stories it could tell.

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Parked behind the yellow FD was a second RHD example, this time a little more street-oriented. White car, white wheels, red seats; this will always be one of my favourite combinations.

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One for you NSX fans out there – a nice silver NA1, which happened to be parked next to both an R32 GT-R and a caged Mk1 Focus. As you walked the aisles of the Opener, you never knew what you’d see next; there wasn’t too much in the way of sorting or themes, mainly just a mix of all of the attendees’ projects.

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It’s always hard to miss Matt’s S-MX in a crowd. Haha

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This was a rather nice M3. The subtle modifications suited the car well given its equally under-the-radar shade of Nardo Grey. It’s such a great colour that doesn’t scream for attention but if you know what it is it sure turns your head. Bonus points awarded for sitting on HREs.

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Another pair of RHD FDs – they’re like MKiV Supras over here in that it’s more common to see imported cars than original LHD versions. It’s not a complaint, mind you…

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I don’t believe I had ever seen it before – unless of course the kit and wheels were new – as I was quite surprised by this G35. It stood out (in a good way) and it was cool to see it on the big Volk GT5s.

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Another car I recognized from Driven was this white on white Fit. The JDM front end conversion is normally subtle but when beside the NA noses it becomes more apparent – note the different profile of the headlight and therefore, fender too.

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We might as well wrap up Part 1 today with this shot; some of the 780-based Focus and Fiesta owners had managed to get a few parking stalls together (how early did you guy have to get there to pull that off!?) and tried to get me in the lineup too, but after spending the time that I did getting into the lot and parked, I wasn’t going to risk moving my car. Haha

And so that’s all for today! To follow this will be the second half of the Opener photos, as well as more on our cars and the latest on Jackie’s ITR too. Check back soon!

-Bill

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