Workshop Manuel explains - what the deuce is "Sex-Spec"?
As with fashion, the car scene runs in fads and trends. You may have heard reference to "Sex Spec" in the past and not known about it, so with Marty diving headlong into the old Sex Spec world IN THE LATEST VIDEO let me explain how we endeded up with cars covered wild airbrushing or luridly painted colours, with chrome everywhere, full leather interiors, sound systems that can rattle a tooth loose, and bodykits with more plastic in them than a Hollywood actress. as you can see...
In 1990s Australia the bulk of our car scene was pretty much either represented by V8-style "street machines" (which included muscle cars, hot rods and the like), or "small cars" like Mazda rotaries, or a mix of Japanese and European cars like Suzuki Swift GTis, Holden Geminis, Subaru WRXs and the like.
By the late 1990s the Japanese were turning out legendary performance cars like Evos, Skylines, WRXs, Type R Hondas, and the like, and people were looking for ways to make them stand out. Many of the "small fours" started off being modified in the same style as the V8s, but this soon moved into mega-slammed suspension, huge chrome wheels and super-low-profile tyres, and flash paint jobs, but they also started getting into booming sound systems.
Following the influence of the American Hot Import Nights shows and the UK's Max Power-style of tuning, bodykits started turning into huge race-inspired fibreglass monsters, with towering wings and scraping chin spoilers. To stand out among a sea of other, similarly modified machinery, cars were copping lurid paint jobs and detailed air brushing as the hot rodders had done to their dry lake racers 50 years beforehand.
One Sydney car club, the Cabin Boys, started organising shows, which led to the formation of the Cabin Group to run Australia's Auto Salon show series, but what really kicked it all into high-gear was a little movie which came along in 2001 called The Fast & The Furious. It brought millions of people who didn't care about old cars or V8s into the car world and the movies still influence car modifying to this day.
Auto Salon ended up being the rallying point for these wild-looking late-model modified cars, with shows in every state adding up to a national championship decided at the Final Battle each year. In 2010, Marty and Moog joined the AutoSalon Tour, heading to all the major cities to perform a series of stage shows and giveaways. For the finale in Sydney, they built a Daihatsu Cuore show car which was unveiled in front of a live audience. The winner of each Auto Salon (named the King of Auto Salon) would battle it out at the Final Battle to be named God of Auto Salon for that year. And boy was it serious business.
At Auto Salon shows the cars would get points for modifications, and this led to builders creating mind-blowingly intricate displays for utterly insane vehicles - how about a single-seat centre-drive WRX convertible with nearly 500kW? You could see that at Auto Salon.
It was pure entertainment focused on wowing people who were on the fringe of the car scene. And boy was it entertaining. From the late 1990s until around 2007-08, when the subtler JDM style really took over, the crazy Auto Salon style cars were everywhere and at every show, no doubt helped by the impact of the Fast & Furious movies.
The scene got so big Auto Salon even launched its own magazine and I worked on Auto Salon Magazine as Deputy Editor for several years at the peak of the Sex Spec scene.
While the cars aren't to my personal taste they're certainly some of the most entertaining show cars for the public to look at, and it is just another chapter in the history of modified cars - I see Sex Spec as a modern version of the Panel Van craze of the 1970s, or the original "Custom Cars" of the 1950s.
So why is it called Sex Spec? Well, it is better than copping "ricer" from the old school car fans!