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Teaming Up With Meguiar’s to Award the Best Show & Performance Cars of SEMA
BY Sam Du //
January 14, 2022
Photography: Brandon Cody
  • Pit+Paddock and Meguiar’s join forces to award two elite builders at the 2021 SEMA Show for Best Show Car and Best Performance Car.
  • The award recipients accepted celebratory wreaths, Porsche Design jackets, and coffee table trophies fabricated from BBS Motorsport wheels.
  • The recipient of Best Show Car for the SEMA Show Ultimate Build is Brandon Miller with his 1986 Nissan 300ZX.
  • The recipient of Best Performance Car for the SEMA Show Ultimate Build is Mauricio Reece with his 1998 Lexus GS300.


Six years ago, RJ de Vera of Meguiar’s and I had a conversation about how enthusiast car builders and grassroots shops are often overlooked when it comes to being recognized at the SEMA Show. Sure, there are the competitions like Battle of the Builders that award hot rod owners and builders with unlimited budgets, but the project cars that are most relatable to us in the Sport Compact, Japanese, and European realm of the aftermarket world go unnoticed. Because of this, RJ and I came up with the “Ultimate Award” where we’d nominate the three best home/garage-built vehicles of the show, gift these builders with dope prizes, then publish their story for the world to see. With last year’s launch of Pit+Paddock, it was only fitting that RJ and I kept this tradition alive, so the inaugural “Pit+Paddock x Meguiar’s SEMA Show Ultimate Build” was born.


I mentioned earlier about prizes, and I’m very stoked with what we came up with for our first year. Inspired by ceremonies in the highest level of motorsports, we created wreaths for our winners with Pit+Paddock and Meguiar’s branding on the ribbons. In addition, our winners would be gifted Porsche Design jackets with our logos embroidered on the sleeves. The cherries on top were bespoke glass coffee table trophies built by Eric Plebani. The glass was etched to depict the details of the award, while the 18×14.5-inch forged magnesium wheels for the coffee table bases were sourced from BBS of America’s secret storage facility. According to BBS, the wheel model is called “RE738”, and they were actually used in competition by a Panoz LMP team in 2005. They’ve been collecting dust for the last 16 years, so we were happy to take them off their hands and put them to good use!


With more than 20 years of being entrenched in the car show scene, I’ve been on both sides of the scorecard as a judge and competitor. I’m a firm believer that a car should win not based on a point system, how many parts it has, or how much money has been dumped into it, but how it all comes together in the end. “Has a build like this been done before, or is it unique enough? Is the build concept well thought out and executed properly? Do all the components mesh together well? Does it ‘wow’ you and leave a lasting impression?” We ask these types of questions when evaluating a build, and sure enough, we’ll know a winner by not what a scorecard tells us but what feels right in our hearts.


For the first Pit+Paddock x Meguiar’s SEMA Show Ultimate Build, we focused on finding the best of the best in two categories – show and performance.

Best Show Car would have to be a car executed to perfection; however, not required to have a lot of power or compete on the track. It should be a work of art that someone could admire for hours with all its custom work and attention to detail.

On the other end, the Best Performance Car award would go to a vehicle that’s all about breaking necks, not at car shows but, on the track, whether road course, quarter-mile, half-mile, drift, top speed, you name it. It can be a little rougher around the edges, but its overall purpose is high performance with a focus on the powertrain, aero, and chassis upgrades.


There are hundreds and hundreds of quality cars to check out at SEMA, but the following six cars were top candidates that we had to evaluate in detail. While they didn’t win, it’s important to note they are incredible builds that deserve recognition.

Faruk Kugay | BMW E30 318i
These days to be different, you sometimes have to shock people with an odd engine swap, which is exactly what former Formula DRIFT pro driver and ENEOS ambassador Faruk Kugay did with his BMW E30 build. Under the hood is the F20 engine out of the Honda S2000. Other cool highlights include the S2000 instrument cluster, Pandem V1.5 widebody kit, and Momo seats/steering wheel combo.

Chris Johnston | Mazda RX-7
This FD RX-7 looks like it was plucked from the Tsukuba Circuit. The owner, Chris Johnston, has added all sorts of JDM goodies to the build, including RE Amemiya front bumper, hood, and canards, R Magic widebody, CE28N wheels, and more. The half bridge-ported 13B rotary was built by Eccentric Motorsports and is estimated to make 550whp. We look forward to seeing Chris and his RX-7 on the Global Time Attack and Gridlife circuits this year.

Takashi Ohira | Toyota AE86 Corolla
One of the most insane AE86s to ever set foot on U.S. soil, this 1984 Trueno, which belongs to Mastermind NA owner Takashi Ohira, was shipped to Japan where specialists TEC-ARTS built the car, replacing or upgrading every nut, bolt, and panel possible. Impulse dry carbon aero, full Bride interior, KW coilovers, Work Meister CR01 wheels, and a 7AG engine are a small preview of what this incredible build has.

Jimmy Taylor | Datsun 510
The Toyo Tires Treadpass is home to some of the more stunning builds of the SEMA Show, which included Florida native Jimmy Taylor’s Datsun 510. Lots of shaving took place to achieve a silky smooth body and engine bay. The SR20DET engine swap, while nothing new for Datsun builds, was executed to a tee.

Paul Garcia | Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec
Sweet dreams are made of Paul Garcia’s 1999 R34 Skyline GT-R V-Spec. Only 282 of these cars were sold in Midnight Purple. Paul takes it a step further with a 658whp HKS-tuned RB26 engine, plus tons of other JDM goodies from Top Secret, Mine’s, GReddy, Garage Kagotani, and ARC. The front and rear Midori Seibi big brakes with Endless rotors are also the first in the U.S. and cost more than $10K!

Martin Cabrera | Lexus IS300 Sportcross
It’s pretty rare to find an IS300 Sportcross, but Martin Cabrera’s gone above and beyond to make it one of the most insane Lexus wagons in the world with a complete HKS-themed makeover and tucked 2JZ in the engine bay.


It wasn’t easy narrowing down our two favorites, but it gives us great pleasure to congratulate Brandon Miller (Nissan 300ZX) and Mauricio Reece (Lexus GS300) for becoming the first recipients of the Pit+Paddock x Meguiar’s SEMA Show Ultimate Build. We’ll have complete features and interviews on both builders soon, as well as poster giveaways, so stay tuned.





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