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Cars+Coffee: Builders Edition Showcases SEMA Standouts And Welcomes 2,000 SoCal Enthusiasts
BY Sam Du //
January 18, 2023
@duspeed
Photography: Renz Dimaandal
@renz.jpg
Videography: Gabriel Flores
@gfloresz32
  • Pit+Paddock kicks off 2023 with a pop-up Cars+Coffee meet at Ancillary Studios in Costa Mesa, California.
  • Presented by Vibrant Performance, the theme was “Builders Edition” to reflect the 11 elite fabrication-heavy builds that were hand-picked for an indoor exhibit.
  • Award-winning builder and Colorado native Cam Cocalis debuted his LS3-swapped tube-chassis Toyota 86; the vehicle’s first public showing outside the 2022 SEMA Show.
  • Still fresh from SEMA, SoCal car enthusiasts were able to check out Dai Yoshihara’s Nissan Skyline R33 GT-R and Big Mike’s Honda Prelude for the first time.
  • The Ancillary Studios lots were flooded with modified vehicles, and over 2,000 people who came to celebrate California car culture.
  • The first 300 guests received complimentary espresso drinks from Morning Service Coffee.

2023 WITH A BANG

At the start of every new year, it’s common for people to come up with resolutions, set goals, and push themselves to improve something in their lives. The same goes for Pit+Paddock. As a media brand, we want to publish more cool car content and produce better events for the community to enjoy. What better way to do just that than host a pop-up Cars+Coffee event in Southern California with some of the dopest builds of 2022?!

BUILDERS EDITION THEME

With the support of Vibrant Performance, we put a new spin on our typical Cars+Coffee meet by curating a showcase of 11 builds that featured an elite level of fabrication and engine work. We nicknamed the event “Builders Edition” because the highlighted vehicles wouldn’t be your typical bolt-on affairs or flashy show queens. Instead, these project cars have taken hundreds (if not thousands) of man-hours to complete due to their complexity (and necessity) for custom fabrication.

ALL ROADS LEAD TO THE OC

With much of the country blanketed with snow, rain, and chilling temperatures, it only made sense to return to SoCal, where the sun shines practically every week (hence why I live here)! We were thankful to lock in Ancillary Studios as our host location — a former Sears Auto Center converted into a photo studio/event space/supercar storage facility. Conveniently located inside the popular South Coast Plaza shopping mall in Costa Mesa, the venue was a home run as car enthusiasts from LA, Orange County, Inland Empire, and San Diego were able to make the drive there on a sunshiny Saturday morning.

CAM THE MAN

A big reason behind our successful gathering was one man: Cam Cocalis brought his tube-chassis, LS3-swapped Toyota 86 down for its first public viewing. Cam is a 21-year-old self-taught fabricator and car builder from Denver, Colorado, and he’s been meticulously building his drift 86 for the last five years. After revealing the car at the 2022 SEMA Show in the Toyo Tires Treadpass (where it received top honors in SEMA Battle of the Builders), we invited Cam to our Cars+Coffee so the enthusiast community could appreciate all his hard work. Sitting underneath Ancillary Studios’ massive light bank made it that much sweeter, with hundreds of cameras capturing photos of the 86 all morning. After the event, Cam told us, “It was an honor to be invited as the feature vehicle of the Vibrant Performance and Pit+Paddock Cars+Coffee meet. This event gave me the opportunity to showcase the car to the public, since it had only been at trade shows up until this point, and to share my story with a whole different group of faces. I had the chance to meet so many amazing people and have so many meaningful conversations. Overall, it was an awesome event, and I was happy that I had the opportunity to attend.”

STARS OF SEMA

In addition to Cam’s 86, we sprinkled in a handful of other must-see SEMA builds. First was Dai Yoshihara’s “DAI33” Skyline GT-R, built with Turn 14 Distribution, GReddy Performance Products, and Toprank Importers. RB fans were in awe of GReddy’s new 2.8-liter crate engine as well as the sequential trans setup with paddle shifters. Big Mike’s Honda Prelude received no shortage of praise with its stunning titanium H22 turbo manifold by M-FAB. Paolo Tabora’s impressive Datsun 240Z — a build dedicated to his late father — also came through. This Porsche-colored Z is every old-school fan’s dream; its immaculate L28 engine bay, Alcantara interior, Work wheels, and SpeedForme carbon flares make quite a statement.

EPIC DAY 

According to South Coast Plaza, an estimated 2,000 people were in attendance, with the first 300 guests receiving complimentary espresso drinks from Morning Service Coffee. With only three days of promoting on Instagram, we can’t help but feel extremely grateful for the positive response and massive turnout for our two-hour event. As the last couple of feature cars rolled out of the venue, we caught up with Big Mike to recap the day, “Today was perfect. People overuse the word ‘epic’ quite often, but today was legitimately an epic way to kick off this new year as a car community and culture.” Thank you for the kind words, Mike. Thanks to everyone that came out and, importantly, to our event sponsor, Vibrant Performance. You all made this event a truly unforgettable one.



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