Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Birth of Medusa: Inception

April 4, 2015
Anaheim, California

Less than a year ago I visited California and met up with JM, a friend from high school. At that time, he still had the '72 Celica GT that we featured in our Hello Yellow blog post. We were talking about car stuff - which cars we have owned and which cars we would want to have in the future. JM mentioned that his dream car was an RWB Porsche. Little did I know that he was actually thinking of buying a Porsche way earlier than I thought.

A few weeks after we saw each other, JM found a 993 Porsche for sale, drove over to the dealership in Monterey and bought the car. In just a few months after the acquisition, he already had an RWB body kit shipped to his house, and before 2014 ended he already had a tentative build date. A lot surely can happen in a year.

Having flew in very late on the 3rd, it was quite a struggle to get some sleep when the start of the build would just be hours away. Nevertheless, I managed to get up earlier than my alarm clock, with some help from my wife who was in an earlier time zone. 7 AM was the call time to be at the build location. 

JM's choice for the build location is an interesting one. He chose Verstrasse, a wheel factory that his friends own. His car is probably the first RWB in the US to be built inside the facility of an actual wheel factory. Looking back at the whole build journey, it would be safe to say that his decision was perfect - the place is clean, secluded, familiar and personal.

When we arrived at the shop, we wasted no time and began tidying up the work space. With its freshly sprayed paint and deleted body parts, JM's 993 was ready for its big transformation.

Upon closer inspection of the car and the RWB body kit, I would have assumed that the paint was original, had I not known that it came from the body shop just a few day ago. The paint job is that flawless.

We all had a few minutes to kill after sprucing up the work area. So we chatted a bit and relaxed before getting on with more tasks in preparation for Nakai-san's arrival and the commencement of the build.

With the small bit of downtime, I managed to explore the shop and get myself acquainted with the place and people. I also received a short tour of the facility, and a brief background of the wheel manufacturing process. I was told that with JM's RWB build, their wheel manufacturing process for his custom fifteen52 Formula LTW's was insane, with a 24-hour turnaround and some close misses on the polishing and finishing side of things. Fortunately, the guys at Verstrasse are badasses and they produced a magnificent art in the form of a set of 18x10.5 and 18x13 wheels in "Medusa" gold centers, high polished lips, matte black inners, and all held together by M7 titanium hardware.

I got to go on a short excursion with the two shop owners, Wrigley and Darwin, to get the tires mounted. It was really nice of them to take me, and they were even cooler for tagging me along with their supplies shopping at the Home Depot. 

Once we got back to the shop, people started to show up... in their cars... their badass cars. 

Mark's E90 on BBS LM's.

Matt's SC on classic Fuchs and JM's daily driver Prius wearing a modified AIMGAIN Hybrid GT kit. 

Bisi's 996 Turbo on fifteen52 Turbomac MB's.

Bisimoto and fifteen52.

Porsche brothers and innovators.

Wrigley taking first watch.

Another downtime was at hand so I decided to walk around the area for a bit. Just across the fence from the compound was a big storage facility with a lot of cars parked outside. Whatever was under that car cover must be interesting. 

I got back just in time for the arrival of the wheels and tires. Darwin jumped right in and started cleaning the rims, and adding the center caps to personally complete the wheel build.

Matt Crooke summed in a photo.

A few minutes before 2PM, Nakai-san arrived. He was somewhat late because he came from the party thrown by @creaminz and LTMW for their RWB car that got finished the day before. Nakai-san settled himself down for a bit while having some pizza and coffee. After a few minutes, without even finishing his food, he started setting up his tools and got down with the build.

Christian eagerly waiting for Nakai-san to start and finish RWB Medusa so his numbers 4 and 5 would be one car closer to inception.

Pizza sponsored by Costco... we wish!

A few minutes later, even more people arrived and began hanging out while also enjoying the masterful work of Nakai-san.

Signature Autobody's bagged LS460L shop car with Mode Parfume all around and AIMGAIN JUN VIP GT overfenders, while sitting on 21" BBS LM-R's.

The best shop car... ever.

Fabspeed Maxflo RSR

Nakai-san brought his assistant, Miho, on this trip. She's like a student to the world-renowned RWB master. She did a lot of the small yet important tasks that made Nakai-san's work more efficient. 

There was a lot going on at the same time. Aside from the meticulous and methodical work, a lot of socializing and connecting was also happening. Leaders in the auto industry were busy catching up with each other.

Japanese ingenuity at its best.

Nakai-san takes frequent short breaks in between, mostly to finish a stick of cigarette and to drink coffee. He was offered beer but politely declined because he stopped drinking alcoholic beverages for a year now. Maybe his next goal would be cigarettes.

Later that afternoon, Joey of RWB Los Angeles dropped by in his newly built 993. This car also comes in Guards Red, the same as JM's car. The main differences would be the street bumper, larger canards, and the triple decker spoiler.

Street bumper.

Track bumper.

As I went back inside, I caught Nakai-san inspecting the newly installed front track bumper. It is amazing how he eyeballs all fitments and measurements, and actually gets everything perfect. He doesn't use any computer software to create the bodykit designs, either. All of the brainstorming happens in his brilliant mind, and the products of which are simply amazing. His process is definitely unique and something that couldn't be taught.

While the work space inside was busy with Nakai-san's sawing, sanding, and drilling, the street outside was filling up with people chattering and cars rumbling... and a pup spreading its cuteness! Of note was the presence of RWB Chaihona 1, which was named after Nakai-san's favorite Russian bar. Since it's creation, it has undergone a color change, yet it still and always will command a strong impact and reaction from onlookers.

Zeek the wonder pit!

It amazes me how simple and humble Nakai-san is. He is both mysterious and interesting at the same time. A package of coolness that just exudes too much coolness, and without even saying a word. It might be the language barrier, or his intense focus on the job. But from what I heard from people close to him, he is a man of a few words. He might just be the most interesting man in the world.

JM was very hands-on with his build. Since the location was not an actual auto shop, but rather a building and shipping work area for the wheel factory, there was no head mechanic or any mechanic to assist Nakai-san. That is where JM and a couple of his friends stepped in. The car community that came out to support JM and his RWB build was just too awesome. 

Fabspeed Maxflo RSR.

As we were about to head into the last few hours of sunlight, more people were still arriving. I could only imagine how much bigger and chaotic a public build would be. I commend JM for not making his build a means to publicize or to promote, other than his sponsors through his t-shirts. On a side note, the California sun is simply amazing... soft and warm.

Dat Ho's CUL HWIP is not any hoe's cool whip.

Back inside, Nakai-san and the crew were readying the car for a test fit with the wheels and tires on to dial in the correct suspension setting. It was decided that the lower spring has to go, but that has to wait until the next day.

Nakai-san showing JM some track tricks on wheel mounting.

Pink phone, Winstons, and that Vietnamese hotel's hairdryer bag.

Nakai-san was supposed to stop working at around 7PM. But we were all surprised that he started working again and did not stop until 9PM. 

As day 1 was coming to a close, JM and Nakai-san got a few moments to talk about and appreciate the progress of the build. The RWB community came out strong to JM's build. Also, those G35/G37 guys who are friends with JM were also in attendance. JM made this build more of a family and friends get-together rather than a public circus, and it worked. 

Now on to day 2.


  1. Great writeup! So grateful to be a sponsor (RENOWN USA) - can't wait to get a ride in it JM!

  2. Thank you, Renown USA! I appreciate the kind words. I saw the steering wheel during the build and I must say you guys have a quality product.