Here to capture the local car scene from a different perspective, meet NZ Performance Car’s Southern-Californian import Steven Plascencia — based out of quake city (Christchurch), he’ll be bringing you his thoughts on all the rad business we do down under over the coming months

I arrived here as a complete stranger in a foreign land, with nothing but my camera, a few connections through social media, and a goal to absorb as much of the car culture as I could during my trip that would see me far from the sunny beaches of SoCal.

Soaking in what Christchurch has to offer, I’ve managed to link up with a few of the locals and one of which was Blake Harpur of Cany Customs fame. He invited me to visit his shop down in Rangiora, so I chucked my camera gear on the backseat of my recently acquired Legacy GT and headed down the highway to see what the happs was. The anticipation was getting the best of me due to the fact that when I had asked what was going down at the shop, Blake had simply responded: “[We’ve] got a few wee goodies man, you’ll just have to come and see.” 

Pulling up at the shop left me immediately impressed, off the bat there were multiple bad ass cars showcasing some of what Cany Customs is all about — if you haven't heard of the shop name already, it’s recognized for producing some of the sweetest paint work, and from what I quickly saw for myself, they do it with amazing attention to detail. There were two Mazda RX-7s parked side-to-side our in the lot, and with the early-morning sun out I could see the colour shift paintwork on one, and the shimmer that both wore. I had later found out that the baby blue example — owned by Elysse Milne — had recently been in the shop getting work done under the hood and now rocks a nice shimmer in the engine bay, too.

To the side was Blake’s own personal Chevy Impala wagon, which he had only recently purchased, but had already prepped and painted. Hailing from Cali myself, I was blown away at how he had managed to execute that Cali low-rider look through the use of wire wheels, air suspension and a lace roof, which Blake later explained was a first for him. 

As I made my way further inside the shop, I found out what we were all gathering to check out — a pair of Nissans there to receive fresh Itasha-styled liveries courtesy of the wrap god himself, Jesse Lopez. It turned out this was day two of said wrap up and Jesse had been working hard the previous day and night on both his personal 180SX (which was previously owned by good mate, Jared ‘camber king’ Croft) and Tramayne’s infamous ‘swager’ C33 Laurel. It was a surprise for me to see the C33 in the flesh down these ways as for the last few months I had followed the cars progression on Instagram and planned to link up with the man himself to grab some photos when I ventured further north — as the car is Auckland based.

While the wrap was going down I took the chance to float around and admire the fresh licks of paint that Blake had laid over the body which wears a Final Konnexion kit. The overall effect looks super mean, an aggressive drift look that I was accustomed to seeing back home, which is perfect since he does in-fact slid this thing around a few corners from time-to-time. To handle said sessions and to get to this kind of drive height, it sits over BC Gold coilovers and uses Parts Shop MAX knuckles both front and rear. And to help fit that set of 18x9-inch (+10) and 18x10-inch (+10) Work Meister S1 3P under the guards, all the suspension links are fully adjustable.

Come afternoon the Laurel was done and set out to bask in the sun. Meanwhile, it was time  for Jesse to throw his 180SX back in the shop for a few final touches. One of the things about his car that instantly caught my eye was how it was murdered out with little accents of gold in the mix. For example, the set of Work Meister M1 were black faced and lipoed with the hardware being gold just to add a little flare. And if sizing was anything to go by, the 180 is set up to party with the Meisters measuring in at 18x10-inch (-25) and 18x10.5-inch (-34), fitting so damn tight under that Koguchi wide body and the D-Max Type 3 kit. The god of wraps opted to go with Tein coilovers for his set up as well as an assortment of adjustable suspension components to get it looking tough but still maintain a straight line on the road — but only when required, as you already know this thing can get loose. 

Within the hour, Jesse was done and it was time to park both cars together, sit back and admire everyone's hard work paying off. Daps, pounds and hugs were exchanged all round and you could tell that everyone was more than pleased to see the result. I'll leave the final opinion up to the readers, but it's pretty safe to assume that, although I wasn’t in either of the cars for the cruise that preceded, each were drawing in the attention and continue to hold it down for the scene.