Classics:Mooneyes Yokohama Hot Rod Car Show

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Not only is it among the largest hot rod shows held outside the United States, the Mooneyes Hot Rod and Custom Show in Yokohama, Japan, is easily one of the most anticipated. Thousands of Japanese line up before the doors open for the one-day event, and then pour in to see a couple hundred vehicles, 600 or so motorcycles, and dozens of vendors who have crafted their wares just for this show.

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In years past, many of the cars on display at the show had been bought stateside, shipped over by their new owners, and displayed to a crowd that had only seen these cars in movies or magazines. That's not the case anymore, as the Japanese have fully embraced several facets of the hot rodding lifestyle and have become experts in both fabrication and paint techniques, putting their own twist on what was once just an American hobby.

Each year the Mooneyes show features cars and trucks similar in build style to what you'd find at most any American show mixed in with Japanese vehicles that never made it to Asian showrooms in the United States. But this year it seemed that an even larger percentage of trucks were out on the show floor, partially due to the fact the Chevy C10 was one of the featured vehicles this year, and a special area of the convention center was set aside for a number of them to be displayed.

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The morning begins with a "celebrity" parade of vehicles and their owners and/or builders who are the invited guests of the show. They slowly drive their rides down the main aisle that is packed on either side with onlookers some 10 people deep, all with their camera phones out and trained on the cars.

Among these invited guests (Mooneyes selectively picks vehicles and motorcycles from US-based events to attend the show and places them in prominent spots in the hall) were Bill Ganahl and his crew from South City Hot Rods in Hayward, California, with their newest effort: a flag blue '70 Chevy C10 built for Sean Provost. Parked nearby was Victor Sevilla's '59 Ford F100 from Merced, California, which was painted a Pagan Gold by legendary customizer Gene Winfield.

If the car and trucks weren't enough, then maybe 600 motorcycles might get your interest. Nearly all the bikes were choppers of some sort, and the majority were Knuckleheads, Panheads, and Shovelhead Harleys, with a smattering of BMW and Honda-based bikes, too. As for the Harleys, dozens of each example were displayed, with some of the finest paint and graphics you'll ever see (and some amazing engraving as well).

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Through the middle of the hall was a large section of the floorplan that was devoted to the International Alley, where pinstripers, lifestyle clothing manufacturers, and graphic artists from all over the world had set up tables and were busy all day selling their wares. Some demonstrated pinstriping while you waited, others sold pre-made items. Promoters from areas of Asia were handing out flyers for their car shows, and even a handful of American low-brow artists (Keith Weesner, Max Grundy, etc.) were busy hawking posters and stickers.

It's about a 13-hour flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo, but the cost of attending (between the cab rides, airfare, food, and hotel) are in line with what you'd see at a better hotel and venue in the States, but the main difference would be that we could guarantee that you'll definitely have something to talk about when you get home!

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