Hong Kong Car Culture
As all JDM fanboys and generally most car enthusiasts know, when it comes to cars, Asia does it better. How much better is what I wanted to find out.
I tried to keep an open mind to what I would see in Hong Kong; as I remember from my last visit nearly 1 in every 5 cars were modified in some sort of way but finding the true gems and the underground scene was going to be difficult. There were no car shows happening during my vacation and I’d have to rely on mall local meets which were only organised by word of mouth. My hunt to find Hong Kong’s underground car scene was going to be tough, but well worth the time and effort it took to discover what this beautiful city had to offer.
~ Exploring the streets of Kowloon and Hong Kong island ~
My girlfriend and I land in Hong Kong at 8 am and after 24 hours of travelling. We feel exhausted and decide to head straight for the taxi stand to go to the hotel and get some rest. As soon as we got out of the airport doors we were hit in the face with a wall of 40°C heat and 90% humidity, nevertheless, we soldiered on and made it to the taxi stand. The taxis here have the looks of classic JDM runners yet are still manufactured in this design in 2019. Think of the London cabs and how they despite looking old are new. These cars are designed to be beaters with very simple engineering where most repairs can be done by yourself and cheaply without having to worry about a hundred different sensors. All you need is a good spanner set and the know-how to change whatever went wrong.
Heading to the hotel another taxi catches my eye; I couldn’t believe my eyes as the taxi next to us had the luggage in the boot but the lid wide open and a small strap holding the lock of the boot to the towing eye under the car. Mind you we were travelling at 70mph and I’m very glad that wasn’t my luggage as I would not be happy with that cowboy shit. As that taxi heads off down another slip road we start to see the city… and boy was it impressive. A bright yellow Lamborghini Gallardo gives us a welcome by racing past. I think to myself that this is going to be a good one!
At the hotel, we are told our room won’t be ready for another 5 hours, so we leave our luggage there and go wandering off fuelled on coffee. Walking only 5 minutes down the road we see a fully kitted out Starlet Galanza and I nearly dropped to my knees on how amazing it was. But we had to keep moving, and I’m glad I did because I kept walking past car after car either modified to shit or JDM heroes. I see a group of R35 GTRs across the road and run over to get some pictures, by the looks of it they were a group of mates all with individually modified GTRs. I guess this is how they do it in HK. Heading through what appears to be the construction supply district we come across a brand-new Lotus Evora with the number plate “DR LADDER” and a Ferrari California with aluminium scaffolding vinyl. I realised to become a millionaire in such a populated city you had to do one thing well; ladders or scaffolding. I realised how big these guys were because every bit of scaffolding or ladder we walk past had their company name written on it. Walking through Tai Po market I notice a car park and had a glance through the entrance. I stop in my tracks and see not one but two glorious Porsches in mint condition. I dart straight in without a word and got some pictures. I turn around to head to out and notice a few more legends and my girlfriend looking back at me with her arms crossed.
~ Mong Kok and arcade gaming ~
After a few hours roaming and a short nap at the hotel, we head into Mong Kok: home of the night markets for a bit of shopping and car spotting. I couldn’t believe it but there it was… A modified Prius with carbon fibre accents. I laughed at first but realised why the f**k not. It doesn’t matter what you drive it’s what you love, and it doesn’t matter what car you own.
We wandered through temple street buying a few bits and bobs and spot a few more cars as we pass through. This was driving me crazy as I knew with the number of modified cars I’ve seen there had to be a meet of some sorts somewhere. After a few difficult and broken English conversations later I found out on Saturday nights there is usually a local group that meets up at Harbour City car park after 10 pm, the same location of the famous Copaze Tokyo drift style meet. There is also a breakfast meet on Sundays at 8 am at Shek O beach. Success! I finally managed to find some luck and pencilled it in. Now that I had a plan I could get on enjoying the city its self.
I couldn’t leave Hong Kong without visiting an arcade! The gaming culture here is next level. I went over to check out what’s what and it blew me away how busy it was. Lines of Wangan Midnight machines along the wall filled with young gamers/petrol heads with maxed level cars racing with their mates battling it out on a Friday night, with their modified cars parked up outside ready for another run on Hong Kong’s Kanjo. What I witnessed here was something special, something the UK car culture is missing. This was what a car family meant. I couldn’t go without having a try myself and it amazed me on the car selection they had to choose from. Just imagine every JDM car plus the forgotten heroes. RX7s to P1s, Nissan Laurels to Gallant VR4. The list is endless. I end up telling my girlfriend to head back to the hotel as I’d be a while. 2 hours later and 60HKD poorer I spent most of the time on Wangan Midnight and a couple of runs on Initial D. I have to say it was an experience and I will not be forgetting it easily.
~The Locals at Harbour City ~
I got a tip from a local that there is usually a group that heads over to Harbour City after 10 pm. I had my eyes set on that date and time, there were a few days between the tip and then. So, I did a bit of shopping and headed into Macau as well as some more touristy stuff. But you guys don’t want to hear about that do you?
Saturday came around and I was excited like a child, walking through the maze of the shopping mall we get to the car park and find nothing. My heart sank, we walked through a few levels but nothing, just shoppers with their BMWs and Audis. I suddenly hear the roar of exhaust enter the car park and quickly sprint to look over the edge to see what was coming; it was an FD2 Type R. I see it heading up a level above me and follow in pursuit. He drives to the end of the car park and there it is. The local car meet, I can say for sure the FD2 is very popular here as 90% of the cars were in championship white, along with 2 GTRs. I still had a blast and stayed for about an hour. Unfortunately, the guys didn’t speak much English and the best sentence they could get out was “I get to school on a bus” which they all laughed at, but regardless of the language barrier, I was happy to be there. What impressed me was how even though most of the cars were the same make and model, they all had something unique about each one; from full-time attack to carbon fibre wings and bonnet, they mixed and match, but none were the same. This is the spirit we should have here in the UK: to do what you want and not to follow a trend like the Fiesta ST boys. The best thing I saw was on a Civic EG6 where it had Flexi ventilation tubing cable tied to the bottom of the front bumper. It took a second to realise this was a budget DIY cold air intake, brilliant! I left after 11 pm as it looked like there wouldn’t be any more cars turning up and I had an early morning the next day.
~ Shek O beach and Hong Kong’s touge ~
Today was the day, I was up a 7 am and got ready to leave. Shek O beach was a 25-minute ride on the train and a 20-minute taxi, plus a 15-minute walk from the hotel to the train station. So, this morning was going to be long. I heard from the guy that gave me the tip that these guys are all mates and head down to the beach café to have breakfast together, so they won’t be leaving in a hurry.
I get to Chan Wai station about 7:45 am and start looking for a taxi, luckily enough for me he spoke English and ensured that there are always racers at Shek O Sunday morning so I wouldn’t be disappointed, so I sat back and enjoyed the ride. The road to Shek O beach was something I was not expecting at all though, it reminded me of Initial D and the touge mountain roads of Japan. But in Hong Kong, of course. The roads were tight and winding on the side of the mountain through hairpins and long banked corners with the most amazing view of the coast. I wish I could take a picture of it, but I was too distracted by the Porsche Cayman and Subaru forester STI battling it out in front of the taxi. Sounds of 2 boxer engines egging each other on. The excitement was an understatement if I had to describe how I was feeling at that time.
We arrived at the car park and I was greeted with a lovely selection Kei car, BMWs and JDM classics including a very rare Civic VI-RS. I finally made it, a proper car meet and I can’t describe how happy I was to find such an amazing selection of cars.
I can safely say if you look hard enough you’ll find the car scene in Hong Kong, and it will be worth all the time and effort because what you find is some of the best selection of modified cars with a community behind it. I sit at the café with 30 odd other car enthusiasts eating breakfast and not knowing a clue about what they are talking about. but I know that this car community isn’t just a group of mates: it’s a family.