"York?" you might be asking yourself. "Where TF even is York?!" Well, it's in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania, but the middle of everywhere in the Northeast. About a half-hour south of the state capital, Harrisburg, York's a short drive from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C., and a short road trip from NYC, Richmond, and Pittsburgh. It's also a great place to do car stuff without too much traffic or police harassment, which have all helped to make it one of the most pivotal and influential points in the Northeast during the rise of the import and sport-compact movement.
York is also the birthplace of Tuner Evolution, which has grown over the years to become one of the most influential show series in the tuning scene, bar none. And while bigger stops on its calendar (Philadelphia, Chicago, even Puerto Rico) might today garner a wider participation from top-flight vehicles and teams, it's always fun to see what's making waves in an area that gave rise to so much. Here's what we found:
1. 2016 VA SUBARU WRX STI
Chris Shertzer's insane deep-candy-red STI was spotlighted front and center outside the entrance to the Tuner Evo main hall, and for good reason. It was without a doubt the craziest and most extensively modified vehicle present.
It's carbon-fiber-barreled AG wheels, slammed stance and molded widened fenders might hint at a trailer queen, but Chris's IG (@sinistersubie) is filled with shots of this beaut roaming the streets.
Underhood shows all the proper EJ treatment, with a Process West intake manifold, upgraded BorgWarner twin-scroll turbo, and lots of attention to detail looking great inside its fully filled and tucked bay.
The diamond-stitched leather upholstery and marble hydrographic interior trim definitely screamed "East Coast!" but we can never argue with Braum seats and a color-matched roll cage.
2. MARBY ENRIQUEZ'S SUPERCHARGED ACURA NSX
Despite being the only mid-engine, RWD model of the bunch — and the only one that was styled after the cockpit of an F-16 fighter jet — the Acura NSX always seems to get shafted for its comparatively low power output in "favorite '90s JDM cars" discussions. But add a Whipple supercharger and lots of power tuning, and that argument stops pretty quickly.
Marby's nasty NSX takes things a whole lot farther, with its Bride Red interior, bronze Volk Racing TE37 wheels and performance-tuned suspension, to name some of the car's attributes we fell in love with at first glance.
The fact that Marby also tracks and street drives the car makes it all the more rad. Follow him, @lmarbz
3. LUIS FIGUEROA'S TURBO B-SERIES EG CIVIC HATCH
Yes, it's orange-on-orange-on-orange, and yes, it was a little rough around the edges, and no, it didn't have a Pandem widebody (gasp!). But Luis' EG quickly became another one of our favorites from the show for its OEM+ body lines and interior modification, clean engine bay, and the fact that it was turbocharged.
Upon inspection of Luis' IG (@eg_transformer), we also learned that this is a true budget build, and Luis doesn't shy away from driving it on the street -- two things we also like.
4. THIS TURBO S2000
We're not sure who owns this thing, but it's another (we're betting) street-driven build that we'd love to call our daily, with its clean Voltex styling, Rays Engineering Gram Lights wheels and a nice, big Precision turbo underhood.
If its Evasive Motorsports decal is a hint at that shop having a hand in its build, we're betting this thing is pretty quick around a racetrack, as well.
5. WHITE SA22 (FB) MAZDA RX-7
The SA22 "FB" RX-7 is probably out third-favorite generation of the three, but when one comes along that's modified as extensively as Jesus Lopez's, it's impossible not to at least appreciate it.
Clean OEM+ body lines and a shaved/tucked rotary engine bay would've been enough, but this one goes that much farther with a big BorgWarner single turbo, pie-cut titanium piping, AN water lines, Vibrant Performance hardware, and Techno Toy Tuning suspension components sneaking through.
Inside things are definitely not period-correct (which is great), with a Haltech Racepak IQ3 taking place of the factory instrument cluster, and a Tesla-esque iPad commandeering the entire center console.
6. SLAMMED/ITB'D BMW E46 M3
It's becoming increasingly difficult to find a clean E46 M3 that's modified, but not cheesily so. But this one fits that bill. American V8 swap, no "Super Dorifto" damage, and no wrinkled fenders—Just the right love and all the right places.
BMW's S54 Engine is a thing of beauty, and nothing enhances its natural abilities quite like a set of ITBs. with a slammed, static stance on a set of authentic BBS wheels, And just the performance essentials inside, and you've got a stylish, timeless ride that's right in just about any situation.
7. ITB'D B-SERIES DC2 ACURA INTEGRA
ITBs are a game that Hondas play well, too, of course. And if you're not so sure about that, right next to where the E46 was parked, was this gem.
Another track-prepped (and we're guessing, track driven) build, this won us over immediately with its individually throttled, coil-on-plugged, built and tuned B20/VTEC powerplant, CNC'd MPC Motorsports hardware, meaty track-ready stance, and functional aero.
Inside, things were just right: Sparco racing seats, belts, and not much else.
8. TURBO, DOHC ZC-POWERED EF HONDA CIVIC HATCH
EF Civics are like SA22 RX-7—you either love them, or you don't. Since we're guessing at least some of you do love them, we figured it best to show you one of the cleaner ones we can remember seeing anywhere this side of "GReddy Kenji's."
Yes, that is a DOHC ZC engine under its hood, and connected to it is an old-school, period-correct, GReddy turbo kit, with some Ten By Ten custom carbon-fiber components strewn about.
Genuine Enkei RPF1s fill its wheel wells, and with its molded body kit and OEM+ interior upgrades, this thing is clean, clean, CLEAN inside and out. Best of all, Honda-Tech user CWBETB has been driving it just like this since those import-tuning golden years (at least since 2002) — boost and all!
9. 2JZ-SWAPPED INFINITI G35 STREET KILLER
This thing is insane. If not for its raked suspension and monster Mickey Thompson ET Street rubber at its rear wheels, one might even mistake it for stock. And that would be really funny, should one try to race it and feel the full force of its monster single-turbo 2JZ-GTE engine.
We overheard rumblings about 1,000 hp from this thing, and we don't doubt it. We also could find no one who fessed up to owning it, or knew who did, and the blacked-out windows were too dark to show anything else other than what's apparent at a glance. Something tells us that's how the owner wanted it.
10. DIESEL VW GOLF Mk2 5-DOOR
Here's where things get weird. This thing sounded like a dump truck when it pulled into the York Fairgrounds, and it smelled like old farm equipment. It looked a little like a vintage rally or hill-climb car, but its tires, plate, and current registration hint at good 'ol street duty.
Its hood-exit exhaust and wide-open nitrous bottle are things you could get away with only in places like rural PA, and despite how weird or sacrilegious (as some Euro purists may say) it was, it — and owner Justin Mellinger — sure knew how to pull a crowd.
This year's Tuner Evo Panda Junction might not have pulled the huge number of top-flight cars we remember from import tuning's golden age, but it definitely attracted its fair share of respectable enthusiast builds.
Click through our gallery to see what we liked best, and remember to follow pbskids across social for everything else this year.