A Look Back at 2017 – Part 1

2017. Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin with this year’s recap, unless we count the perhaps clichéd “not knowing where to begin” as a place to begin. (What?)

As some may know, in regards to this whole ‘automotive life’ that we live, each year I typically like to set a goal for myself either as something specific to achieve or as a more general guide to follow over the next 12 months. As examples, 2015’s goal was to attend as many meets and events as possible – to see more than I’d seen before. After a successful season of that I tried to keep up a similar pace of attending events in 2016, while also working on another goal, which was to refine the Focus and make a solid effort to chase some trophies; and I/we did. As I sit here typing this, the little collection is displayed on my desk as proof of our accomplishments. This year, I continued to both attend as many events as possible and chase trophies, but I didn’t neglect setting a new goal either.

For 2017 it was a much less-defined goal mind you, but one that I feel I made a solid effort at and that was to get more exposure for everything I do – my writing, my photography, and of course officialTHREETWENTY.

In addition to this site, my writing and photography can of course also be seen on fifteen52’s Project ST/RS website but it’s not stopping there. This year I began writing and shooting for an actual print publication, Alberta Rides, and have been very proud to see my work on paper. This is something that friends all came to know during the year but was never officially announced here on the site so a proper piece on that may be a good article for 2018; consider that idea bookmarked! As for why I was brought on, traditionally the magazine dealt only in antique and classic vehicles, and so our demographic (dare I say it, the ‘tuners’) was left out. My mother had actually also begun writing for them – a little earlier than I did – and so it was through her that I found out about the opportunity to further diversify the publication and happily jumped at the chance. Alberta Rides is only a quarterly publication, but as examples so far I have already had articles printed featuring Driven Calgary, Show Your Ride for Brandon, and Alex Markovic’s Integra Type R. Of course more are in the works and throughout 2018 I will be looking for content to not only share here on officialTHREETWENTY, but Alberta Rides as well to shed more light on our community and what we’re up to with our builds.

For everything that is seen on the site and YouTube channel (and now the magazine) there’s of course even more going behind the scenes, and stories are in the works for other outlets as well. As we move in to 2018 I am looking forward to hopefully seeing them and others going out and whenever something does, it’ll be shared here too.

With all of that said though let’s shift our focus to the past 12 months now, as is tradition on officialTHREETWENTY, with a recap of everything that happened and went live on the site.

JANUARY

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2017’s content started off with the photo sets from both the preparation for and filming of 403 Media’s Christmas video. The amount of work that this required was at least equaled by the amount of fun it proved to be, if you could quantify the latter. I am very glad that I had the opportunity to help out with this project and would love to do something like it again.

2017-raptor-3

Shifting gears slightly, next up was a look at the new, second-generation Ford Raptor. When a new customer vehicle arrived at Advantage I made my way over with my camera for a few quick photos. As expected the Raptor has continued to be a massive hit here in Calgary and it seems like every other day I see one of the second-gens on the road so now you don’t have to look far to find one; but it’s always fun to get to see one of the first examples of a new model when it arrives.

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Mustard saw a decent number of new parts during 2017 and it wasn’t long before the first one arrived in the mail box – an SS Tuning shift knob! This was actually a prize that I’d won in a contest SS held over the holidays, so I was even more excited to see the package show up. One of these had been on my wishlist for a while and while I had to choose from a selection of pre-made pieces, I was able to get one rather close to how I’d have ordered it anyway. As shown in that post a shift boot was also included, but that still sits in the original box as it didn’t match my pre-existing boots in the car.

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It’s no secret that winter puts a halt to a lot of plans, but sometimes it also means going too long without seeing friends. In January Brandon stopped by to pick up some decals that I’d cut for him so we had the chance to hang out and I was able to shoot some of the changes made to his car that hadn’t yet been properly shown on the site. Being winter Le Yeti was absolutely filthy (which actually made for some neat shots if you ask me) but the dirt didn’t pose a problem, nor could we have done much about it anyway with the condition of the roads!

jan-18-2017-meet-1

The very next post saw Brandon’s ST again, but the highlight of it was another white ST – Yolanda’s! It’s hard to believe that it was nearly a year ago that Yolanda switched from her Mazda 3 to the ST world but indeed it has been! A little gathering at the usual A&W offered the opportunity to check out her new car, and helped our car meet cravings just a bit…

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January then closed out with another photo set from Advantage, this time of a Shelby F-150. Being limited to 200 units this was definitely a fairly rare vehicle to get the chance to check out, and one that was just so bizarre that it was cool. A pickup with 700 horsepower is not exactly something that makes sense but it was definitely a neat vehicle to look through and learn more about – though I still maintain it has far too many Shelby badges on it. Haha

FEBRUARY

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February began with a great photo set courtesy of Reggie from Nightrunner. His FR-S was just beginning what was set to be quite a makeover, and I had gotten in touch to see if he’d be interesting in having the rebuild featured on officialTHREETWENTY. He was, and so the first entry went live covering the fabrication of a full roll cage in the little Scion. I had always been a fan of his FR-S (actually, basically all of his builds) so this was a series that I was very much looking forward to, but sadly it stopped at Part 1.

While the car was waiting for the exterior makeover (with a Varis widebody being the focal point) it was actually written off due to a break-in. The damage and stolen components resulted in the FR-S being totaled and so very sadly, what was left was sold off and Reggie moved on to new projects instead. The shell was actually sold with the intention of being turned into a race car if I recall correctly so it will live on, but won’t be able to ever be a street car again.

mackenco-automotive-webpage

Moving on to a happier note, next up was the announcement of MacKenCo Automotive as a way to celebrate the fourth anniversary of officialTHREETWENTY. Following that contest held by SS Tuning I’d been in talks with them and became their representative for Canada, which spurred on the launch of the new brand as a way to more directly help Mk3 Focus and Mk7 Fiesta owners in acquiring parts.

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Speaking of parts, I then put together a full FAQ for the site regarding Mustard’s LED tail lights. As pieces that are fairly uncommon in the Mk3 world a lot of questions would come in about them and so I felt a full post dedicated to them was a welcome addition! As a side note, José actually just picked up a set for Tabasco so now 3 of the 10 ST4s run these tail lights.

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After the tail light FAQ it was then another Mk3-related post, with the install of Yolanda’s new Mountune Lower Sport Spoiler (we call it the Mountune Spoiler to save time). As I couldn’t be there for the install, Yolanda kindly photographed it and sent the files my way to share on the site along with some notes. This piece was actually ordered to fix her bumper following an incident with a truck driver who hadn’t properly cleared his vehicle of snow and ice, but was also a way to begin making the ST her own and set it apart from the others on the roads.

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Looking back, February was definitely heavier on both the Focus content and guest contributors! A fellow enthusiast by the name of Jon (from Texas) sent along photos and notes from his then very recent Mk3.5 front-end conversion. With the conversion being a hot topic in the Focus world, when I found his original post in one of our Facebook groups I immediately got in touch and asked if it’d be possible to have it featured on the blog. He graciously agreed to help out and didn’t just send along the photos but also answered all of my questions so that I could share all of the correct information here for other owners looking into the swap. Thank you once again Jon!

robin-10

With the facelift conversion looked at, it was then time to look at an actual facelift ST; my friend Robin had just picked up a brand new Kona Blue Mk3.5 and so I stopped by to take a quick look at it and grab some photos. It was awesome to see how happy he was with his new toy, and that we had another new member in the Focus family.

MARCH

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February closed out and March began with the coverage from World of Wheels. My trip with Alex in 2016 was the first time in a long time that I’d attended the event, but upon doing so I made it a point to get back to attending each season – so when 2017’s show rolled around I grabbed my camera and wandered down. It was awesome to get back to a proper car show not just to have something to share for the site, but to get motivated and excited for the coming summer season. Given that 2018’s edition isn’t too far away now, going back through this year’s photos has gotten me even more excited for it!

Balance March 10 10

With World of Wheels coverage concluded, it was time for a look at Alex L’s new car! He had the opportunity to get into an authentic Integra Type R and so naturally, he took it. Originally from Vancouver, the ITR had recently arrived in Calgary and was sitting at Balance Auto getting a tiny bit of work done to it. I stopped by the shop and not only got to see it in person for the first time, but also went for my first-ever ride in an ITR. As it happened, later on in the year Alex also let me drive it after he read on the site my mention that I’d never had the chance to pilot one before. Thanks again Alex!

While I was at the shop I grabbed both photo and video, so the YouTube channel was updated as well. As it happened, during our visit Jackie was also getting to work on his own ITR by cutting out the spare tire well in preparation for the massive diffuser that would shortly find its way on to the car.

YYC Auto Show 2017 9

March means the Auto Show, and so coverage from that began next. I had decided to do it a bit differently this time around however, and along with the general coverage also shot a few cars for standalone posts. The first of these posts to go up took a look at the McLaren 675LT, a car I absolutely adore. I was so pleased to finally have one in front of my lens and happily spent a lot of time shooting it, as well as just taking it in for myself.

YYC Auto Show 2017 40

The final post for March was the second highlight from the Auto Show, and that was of the new Lincoln Continental. Admittedly quite a shift from an LT, it was a car that was also high on my priorities list for the Auto Show and so I spent quite a bit of time looking over it too. For those unaware my winter beater/daily driver is actually an older Continental (a ’98, the first year of the generation previous to this) which has been in our family since new, so when I first saw that Lincoln was reviving the name my attention had been caught. I like very much what Lincoln have done with the new car and still wish to get behind the wheel to properly try it out.

APRIL

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Of course there was still more to share from the Auto Show, so April began with the first half of the general coverage as well as a spotlight on the Civic Type R concept. As there was no production version at the event the concept – up on a rotating display – was all we had but it was still a great chance to get a better look at what was coming.

YYC Auto Show 2017 25

The final spotlight was reserved for the new Ford GT, or at least what was surely a pre-production model. As more and more content goes live I grow ever-more excited to see a proper, production-spec GT in the flesh but being able to get the somewhat up-close look at this one was still amazing.

Menace April 5 2017 8

With the GT’s spotlight up the Auto Show series was then concluded with the second half of the general coverage, and we moved on to the first Menace meets of the season. At last, the weekly gatherings had returned and everyone was happy to have their toys out and enjoy some nicer weather. Standing around a bunch of parked cars; those who don’t ‘get it’ never will, but especially after a long winter it’s something that we greatly enjoy.

March 25 13

Nice weather also sees the return of random car-related hangouts, and I found myself over at Mario’s shop one day to tinker on cars and catch up with Alan as well. Mario had tossed his Tarmacs and Turbomacs back on since the weather allowed for it, and I happily wandered around with the camera as we relaxed.

MAY

Driven Calgary 2017 10

Always one of the biggest days of the year for us, Driven Calgary is something we spend an enormous amount of time preparing for. Each year the bar is set higher and once again neither the organizers nor the exhibitors disappointed. officialTHREETWENTY returned of course, with a group of eight cars this time, and we managed to get an awesome location within the Oval. I captured both photos and video from the event so there was plenty to share, and as such Driven made up the bulk of May’s coverage.

Amongst our group were Yolanda’s ST and Alex’s ITR – which were both very new cars to them still – Stephen’s Fiesta ST – which had not shown at Driven before – and my mother’s S13 which was making its show debut. At the end of the day we even managed to take home two awards (Best in Class Focus for Mustard and Best in Class Survivor for the S13) as icing on the cake for what had been another outstanding event.

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Mixed in between some of the Driven posts was also a quick announcement of the return of Wild Wednesday meets. With the Grey Eagle Casino’s parking lot out of commission due to construction, a new venue was found and so these started up again at The Military Museums.

Menace April 19 2017 14

Also mixed within the Driven coverage was another set of photos from some of the weekly Menace meets, to share some more of what I’d been capturing from those warm Wednesday nights.

JUNE

780 Opener 2017 11

Along with Driven, another annual event that takes place in May is the 780Tuners season opener up in Edmonton (but with Driven content taking up most of May, these photos went live in June). Being a few hours away from Calgary, heading up to Edmonton for this mother-of-all meets makes for a great trip and having the chance to catch up with friends who live there is always welcome. If there’s one negative it’s that usually the opener is held prior to Driven Calgary, so there can be a bit of stress from the worry in the back of your head that you’re road-tripping with a car that has to be in a major show in a few days’ time, but this year the opener was the weekend after, meaning that wasn’t a concern. Murphy’s law, and all that….

In any case, the opener saw yet another unbelievable turnout and it was nice to get out of town for a little bit.

Balance ITR Testing 14

As it was seen in the Driven coverage, Jackie’s ITR was nearly through its winter makeover but there was still the matter of getting the tune dialed in so a few of us met up at Blackbird one evening to watch it on the dyno and witness its test run. With a measured 370 wheel horsepower on low boost, the ITR was taken around the block and we got to hear it scream with its new turbo K setup. I made sure to film a few clips but nothing compares to hearing this thing in person.

Balance June 13 2

As the final post from the first half of 2017, it was back to Balance for another Integra – this one being very different to the shop’s time attack build. A client had a white Integra in for a supercharger install and it proved to be an amazing throwback to years gone by. This was a car that immediately caught – and held – my attention and I just had to share it on the site, even though I didn’t know much about it beyond what could be seen with it on the hoist. Prelude tail lights, shaved doors, a molded Sparco fuel door, and oh-so-perfect Racing Hart Type CRs; it was full of mods that you just don’t see on builds any more, but while they dated the car I thought they did so in a good way. It was old-school without being gaudy; this is a car I definitely want to see more of.

And to see more of 2017’s review, you’ll have to check back tomorrow! Part 2 will be going live as the last post for this year, before we kick off 2018 with a countdown of the most popular articles from the last 12 months. Stay tuned!

-Bill

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