Tuner Spirit 2022 – Part 1

This set, I have been very excited to start sharing with you all.

Tuner Spirit was a hugely-anticipated and talked-about event this season. Shawn, Ryan, and the rest of the team had set their sights fairly high for this one and certainly jumped in to the deep end, but the general consensus post-show was that it went incredibly well. They had experience with their Season Closers and other meets but securing the BMO Center as the venue was a clear sign that they weren’t playing around with this one. That key ingredient – the venue – gave Tuner Spirit a very unique feel as compared to any others we attend in a season and also provided unbelievably good lighting for the countless photos taken that day.

Tuner Spirit was also set to be a unique experience for me as mentioned previously, given I had been asked to be one of the judges. As mentioned in the prior post, I didn’t hesitate to accept as I was keen to be able to provide some form of assistance for what was looking to be quite a big event for our little community. With many years spent as purely a participant, having the odd opportunity come up these days to be on the other side of things and contribute something more is one I always appreciate, and so far have always said yes to. I will include as a clarification however – for lack of a better word – in case anyone should be curious (not that it should matter anyway): my involvement with the show began and ended with my judging. The photos you’ll see, I took for my own purposes. My words similarly, are purely my own to reflect my own experience and feedback on the event. The entirety of the Tuner Spirit team will be seeing everything that goes live today for the first time along with the rest of you, with the only exceptions being one or two teaser photos which were shared with numerous other friends anyway. If you like the photos and agree with my comments, great; equally if you don’t: well, that’s just, like, your opinion man.

Leading up to the big day, if there was one common gripe I heard in regards to how the show was proceeding it was to do with the screening. Some people were taking issue with the stricter-than-usual (I think “stricter than we have been accustomed to but perfectly normal everywhere else” is a better term) screening and cars being passed over for reason X or reason Y, with fake parts in some cases being the cause. Even I was on the receiving end of complaints that this was excluding people, or making the show too hard to get into, or discriminating based on money, and so forth, but I would just shake my head. The last time I checked, car shows should be bringing out the best of the best. That’s the point; that’s what people want to see, and what those who are paying to attend these events should see in return for spending their own hard-earned money. Car meets serve as the perfectly carefree, come as you are, open-to-all events whereas shows display the best there is to offer. These are a competition and among the criteria considered when judging, quality parts, builds being complete, and high standards of work are all important. They always have been and always will be.

That said, at the end of the day this is still a relatively small community and certainly doesn’t hold a candle to the likes of what we’d see in SoCal for instance, so our shows can’t (yet?) compete with something like Wekfest. There were still some fake parts to be seen and the odd car that could have been cleaned better or which was lacking in some refinement here and there, but taken as a whole I have to say that the average level of build at Tuner Spirit was much higher than at most other events here. John and I really had our work cut out for us not just with the number of vehicles we had to judge in the available time, but with many ending up quite close in points come the end of the day.

Going nicely hand-in-hand with the level of builds then, was the layout. The team had intentionally capped the number of cars entered, to make the quantity much smaller than we are perhaps used to. This enabled all of the vehicles in attendance to be nicely spaced out, providing ample room to walk around, look, and capture photos. The builds were truly able to shine and be appreciated in greater detail with so much room to work. The lighting also needs to be praised again (good job, overhead lights) as it was just the cherry on top.

All of this noted, there are still a couple of things I need to point out that could have been a bit better. The biggest negative point of the day had to be the fuel level checks and initial entrance into the venue. As is standard practice for indoor car shows (we’ll get back to this in a second), all vehicles had to have no more than 1/4 of a tank of fuel. This meant that everyone had to stop before entering, allow one of the BMO Center staff to look at their fuel gauge and sign off that it was indeed reading no more than 1/4, and only then could the vehicle in question come inside and get set up. The issue came about from the staff taking a confusingly long amount of time with each car which – given the amount that had to be screened – really dragged out the setup that morning. A fuel gauge isn’t exactly hard to read so one quick, 2-second look should have been all that was needed for each car, but they really took their time. Even an extra minute of time per car, with 100+ to get through, meant that it was quite a while before all were inside.

On that, it seems quite a number of entrants were unaware of that 1/4 tank rule. As long as (longer than, in fact) I have been attending shows it has always been in place, and burning/siphoning fuel has always been part of show prep. Normally I would take the drive-the-car approach but scheduling this year had Mustard come out of storage just a day and a half before Tuner Spirit, and even with its not-quite-original economy these days there was no way I could use up 3/4 of a tank in time, so the night before I was siphoning it out along with detailing the car. I actually had Arabis run down to 1/4 of a tank (convenient, right?) so guess where it all went! Haha

I had been asked to bring the siphon the day of for a couple of friends who needed it to get that last little bit of excess fuel out (sometimes you’re trying to get that needle down just another couple of millimeters on the gauge) so I did, and I ended up not seeing that thing the rest of the morning as it got passed around from car to car to car. I think it was certainly the MVP of the show given how much use it saw!

Fuel concerns aside though, I really can’t find anything to fault with how the event went. The only other point I wish to make is for the competitors this time, and is something I’ve mentioned in show coverage in the past: providing information. I’m not saying go out and make a full-colour poster of the build to display alongside it; even just a Word document run off on an 8 1/2 x 11″ piece of paper with the mod list does wonders. I try to be as well-versed as I can in the various sub-genres of the automotive world but a) I’m not fully and no one ever will be, and b) no one will ever see every piece that has gone into a car. A simple mod list or a bit of information on the build itself (theme, inspiration, purpose, etc.) allows a better understanding and therefore appreciation of what is being presented, for judges and spectators alike. We were fortunate to have the chance to chat with some of the owners and builders and gain some additional knowledge in those cases, but for many cars we were forced to only judge based on what we could see, with many having hoods shut as well.

With all of that said and out of the way now, yes we can get into the show coverage. Pretty much everything you’ll see here today as well in Part 2 was from before the doors opened to the public, as once the show was officially underway John and I would be off judging so I made sure to quickly park and finish Mustard so I could then grab the camera and run off to shoot the other cars as they too rolled in and were set up. You’ll see a much higher-than-normal count of photos taken outside and of cars not yet fully ready because of this, but I actually greatly enjoyed this forced change as it was something different -refreshing in a way – and I could try some new approaches to photos as compared to other events.

So with that, let’s begin the Tuner Spirit 2022 coverage!

I’ll get this out of the way at the start, since it was one of the first shots of the day anyway: the two Foci together, all cleaned up and ready to go. As noted in the last post Dijon was sporting its new graphics, mirror visors, and freshly-powdercoated Integrales while Mustard’s only update was a new Acrylic Series SE emblem in reflective red. The sedan will probably see a few new parts this year, but more on the maintenance/upkeep side of things as opposed to shiny new mods side.

We weren’t quite the first cars in the building, but close. A few other vehicles – either representing sponsors or other early arrivals – were already getting set up and undergoing final detailing.

Leigh’s Challenger only continues to get wilder. The fauxtina wrap is certainly in-your-face but I like that the details were looked after as well, such as the Toyo banner being similarly “weathered” to match.

The next few cars, lining up for their fuel level checks before heading inside. A bit of wind aside, we were treated to wonderful weather that morning which made photographing outside a treat.

Calvin’s impossible-to-ignore S15, sitting outside in that wonderful sun as the Funky Garage group got organized. This lunatic thinks up ideas for liveries and then will sometimes create, print, and install them overnight just for something fun on the cars, which I adore. The Fake Hero NSX as shown at Driven was one such example, and his own S15 also features a rather…eye-catching…graphics scheme which is actually set to come off soon as he wants to change it up again.

Jason wasn’t able to attend, but he would have been quite pleased at the state of barrels at Tuner Spirit. Even before being parked and undergoing final detailing, many were still quite clean. Without trailering a car in of course, nothing was going to be perfectly spotless at this stage.

Organized chaos, with cars strewn about everywhere.

Car trailer – gotta get me one of those.

As various cars were waiting for other team members to arrive (or idling to use up the last excess fuel) the little groupings scattered about continually changed.

It almost doesn’t matter what generation we’re talking about – M3 sedans look better than M3 coupes/M4s. Of course, being Calgary, this one was on TEs.

Ryan’s S5 was debuting its new look at the show this year with a rewrap, new wheels, and a widebody as well. It spent some time that morning soaking up the rays, with the sun showing off some of the crazy sparkle in that material.

At this point I decided to pop back inside for a few, and see what was going on in there. Vendors’ booths were coming along as were final preparations from many of the competitors. B-Pro is a name everyone here should be familiar with; I still feel a bit bad that after so much time hunting for an S15 at the auctions the right base ended up being local, but maybe I can finally use Brian’s services some day in the future.

I think I still prefer the OEM FK8 wing in nearly any situation, but Gerard’s Voltex piece fits perfectly with everything else he’s done.

The Do-Luck (Do-Luck style in this case? I’m not sure) R32 bumper is seriously underappreciated in my opinion. I’ll take it over the OEM+ look any day. Haha

Another debut for Tuner Spirit was the new look of Shawn’s WRX. Now dubbed “Coinslut”, it was impossible to miss with the new wrap in Piggybank (yes, that’s the name) vinyl and bright white wheels.

Taking the place of the back seats was a new seat delete (with Piggybank graphics) and a half cage – the latter even using titanium hardware as a perfect final detail.

Incidentally, if you’re wondering the new personalized plate absolutely means “Coin Slot“. Because piggy banks and all that. Nothing to see here, AMA.

Popping back outside, Daniel’s intense M3 was queued up for its fuel level inspection.

A little further down the line, Yolanda and Becca were waiting as well with the Focus ST and Veloster N respectively. We still have the install of Yolanda’s carbon fenders to share in detail, for our fellow Mk3 owners who I know have been waiting patiently for that one. Haha

R8, casually mixed in.

I don’t often shoot portrait but I rather liked how First Gear’s vibrant STI looked against the center’s wall. This car strikes that perfect balance of visual aggression without going overboard and the few decals were just enough to add a bit of an accent colour.

Funky Garage was then in line to enter the center. The Chasers were actually each sporting a brand new paint job in time for the show, so naturally I took a very cropped photo of them to best show the incredible quality of said paint and how fresh each looked. You’ll just have to take my word for now.

Another portrait, for this GR86 with The Bow (skyscraper) in the background. I’m enjoying seeing some local builders using this new platform now, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before more and more of them get cut up and widened – stock body does look very good on these though, perhaps even better than the first gens.

This gorgeous S13.5 ended the day with one of the Top Ten awards. I feel we don’t see as many S-Chassis front end swaps these days (S13.4, S14.5, etc) so it really stood out and the quality of work spoke for itself.

The Mugen RR Tribute was parked off in the distance with a pair of its siblings, the one in the foreground being a brand new build; with legit Seeker aero, this converted CSX made quite a splash and ended up taking home the “Tuner Spirit Award”, essentially the “debut of the show”. I personally found myself constantly wandering back towards it once we were all inside the building, as I made my rounds pre-judging.

Ryan’s S5 still waiting outside, with the R8 rolling along behind it.

Jonathan’s G also spent some time waiting outside, before ultimately ending up next to Dijon. These cars are obviously at that age now where finding clean examples is starting to become rarer, so a nice tidy wrap with some subtle aero and quality wheels were nice to see.

Some details, for fun.

One of Ryan’s fender as well – it’s crazy how subtle the wrap goes when the sun isn’t directly on it.

I had a wonderful chat with the owner of the crazy STI I’d seen at Driven – Steven – and was able to learn some more about the build which only served to reinforce just how well thought-out and considered it is from front to back. This was another Top Ten winner and really should be seen in person to be fully appreciated.

Xavier’s W220 always presents well and is filled with many great details, especially its trunk setup.

Not far behind was Reegan, rolling in with his Mk7 GTI. In Part 2 I can get more into the decision-making process that led to it, but we awarded him “Best Stance” which was arguably the most open-to-interpretation award.

It played no part in the decision but worth noting is that even aired up – at driving height – the fitment and stance were great. That’s not always the case.

And last but not least for today, the Pandem A90 as it was just about to head inside. We will be doing the same for Part 2, with the final photos I took prior to putting the camera away and getting to work with John. I hope you all enjoyed today’s group of photos, and are excited to see the rest, next!


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