Thu, Nov 23, 2006 - Page 13 News List

Red hot cars and sexy babes

Taiwan Automesse tuned-car show aims to burn up auto enthusiasts with its winning combination of high-tech cars and scantily-clad models

By Jules Quartly  /  STAFF REPORTER

Racy models with curvy lines and slender figures, Automesse has it all.

PHOTO COURTESY OF AUTOMESSE

Cars and babes go together like red and hot so you can expect the Taiwan Automesse tuned-car show opening today at Taipei World Trade Center Hall 2 to be popular with young guys.

Just in case they don't get the message, promoters are turning to Japanese AV models. This is not AV as in "adult video" (though close), but AV as in audiovisual.

The rising popularity of car navigation systems is creating a boom in car AV systems, according to the organizers of Automesse, who said the latest 5.1 channel DVD systems, LCD displays and MP3 players would be generating most of the interest at the Japanese tuned-car convention.

Though some visitors will go for the "Racing Queen" beauty pageant, the majority of MOD (modified car) enthusiasts will be keeping a keen eye on the latest gadgets. Getting under the hood, they will be turned on by the chrome and muscle of souped-up engines, such as the Mitsubishi Ralli Art, Lancer Evolution and Nissan Nismo GT-R R34. .

Warning: Acronyms are everywhere at tuned-car shows.

NOB stands for Nobuteru Taniguchi ("No One Better"). He is one of Japan's top drift racers and will be attending Automesse as a guest speaker. NOB rose to fame on the streets of Hiroshima and took some of the first amateur drift-racing championships. He won the 2001 D1 GP and is currently leading the Super GT 300 class series.

"Drifting," for the uninitiated, is the process of skidding around corners without losing much speed and is done by over steering, use of the hand brake or double-declutching, among other techniques. Japan's street-racing enthusiasts powered down mountain roads in the 1970s for illegal drift races and it is now a competitive sport around the world that involves sliding around bends with as much, speed, smoke and dash as possible.

Pop star Jay Chou (周杰倫) helped celebrate the culture of drift racing last year with his beautifully moody action flick Initial D. It was based on the manga comic of the same name and is also a popular video game. This year, Taiwan-born Justin Lin combined the Fast and Furious franchise of Hollywood films that embody US street racing with Japan's drift racing culture for his movie Tokyo Drift.

As a result there are now drift-racing wannabes from Yangmingshan in Taipei to Pingtung County (屏東縣) in the south. For an occasionally funny look at the "real" drift-racing scene in Taiwan a few years back check out Taiwan Racing Movie on youtube.com/watch?v=fhhQYNyifQE.

Taiwan's Automesse is a well-timed exhibition organized by the people behind the top auto-parts show in Osaka, Japan, that has been running for 10 years. There are similar tuned-car conventions in the US and Britain, but this was the biggest so far in Taiwan, said one of the organizers Chang Ye-fen (張業芳). There will be up to 800 booths showing off the latest in vehicle products, chemicals and add-ons.

And when engine parts aren't exciting you any more, among the rims, body kits and exhaust systems there will also be "red, hot" babes, according to the Automesse Web site, which guarantees their adult rating. For instance, 22-year-old Ari Uchimaya (內宮有里) is looking for a guy with an SUV who has diversified interests. Her statistics are 160/88/58/89, she loves Taiwan and knows how to say, "welcome (大家好)" and "tasty" (好吃) in Chinese.

Cars and women are indeed a winning formula. See you there at the AV booths.

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