For more than 15 years now, Speedhunting has allowed me to travel and discover car culture in so many corners of the world.

Being based out of Japan, I have journeyed extensively around the Asian region, but up until this year, I had never set foot in the Philippines, let alone explored its car culture. Knowing what I know now, I really have been missing out.


The team behind NeoClassic, a new-for-2024 custom and modified car show, invited me to Manila to check it out. The event promised a hand-picked selection of some of the finest builds in the Philippines and, on the back of that, an insight into the local car scene.


During the weekend, I quickly realized that the passion for cars in Manila runs deep. The Philippines is another Southeast Asian country where automotive laws, regulations and eye-watering import duties are giant barriers for enthusiasts. Yet, car culture still thrives here.


From the wild and wonderful custom Jeep hot rods in the opening picture to the JDM-inspired builds and Porsches new and old – I was blown away by what I saw.


Today, I’ll share what NeoClassic 2024 taught me about the Filipino approach to building, owning and enjoying cars. Let’s start with this very special Karrera Showroom 964 TT Outlaw.

Imagine a dream air-cooled build that nobody has ever attempted, and you are getting close to what this car is all about. It is so exceptional that it even has its own book!


I see this as the ultimate restoration – a total strip down, bespoke carbon fiber body, custom center-lock wheels, carbon-ceramic brakes, and every other detail meticulously seen to.


The air-cooled engine features billet internals, a bump in capacity, twin turbochargers with variable vane technology, and dual charge coolers. A 6-speed manual transmission backs it up.


The interior stays true to the essence of an outlaw car with classic architecture but is brought into the 21st century with lashings of carbon fiber and modern features.

Stunning craftsmanship and outside-the-box thinking make this build an absolute triumph.


That brings me to this Porsche 944 Turbo, the car I selected for a special NeoClassic 2024 award.


Originality won me over – the 944’s Nissan RB25DET swap providing a JDM heart for something not so Japanese.


Not too far away, the Autoholic Nissan GT-R and GR Yaris caught my attention for their complete takes on performance tuning and aesthetic enhancement.


The Yaris features a tuned G16E engine, TOM’S additions, Advan GT wheels and potent AP Racing brakes.

And the GT-R is a complete high-power, street-racer type build.

I had a chance to shoot both cars out on the streets of Manila at night, so stay tuned for more.


This AE86 Trueno instantly stood out for its exterior color scheme – an obvious nod to the Tec-Art’s-built Hachiroku that belongs to Keiichi Tsuchiya.


The most impressive part sits under the hood, where you’ll find a shaved and wire-tucked engine bay. There’s no better way to show off your hard-tuned 4A-G motor.


I was pleasantly surprised when the Trueno’s owner pulled out our first-ever Speedhunters photography book from 10 years ago for me to sign. It was so cool to see!

To register a car for the road in the Philippines, it needs to be left-hand drive. This is obviously a big issue for JDM car fans, who have the added complications of right-to-left-hand drive conversions.


This is perhaps why Manila has one of the highest concentrations of RWB Porsches, which are of course rooted in Japanese car culture. You can easily start with a local left-hand drive car.

Two RWB builds were present at NeoClassic, but I saw probably 10 more during my time in the Philippines. Nakai-san has recently been in Manila to build a couple of new cars, so the RWB count is only increasing here.


I drooled over this orange 993 with those extra-wide rear hips!

If water-cooled Porsches are more your thing, there were some of those, too. Plus some narrow-body action to keep things balanced.


From what I saw, there are definitely no shortage of Honda fans in the Philippines.


This EF8 CR-X SiR with a K-swap and Mugen wheels was one of my favorites at the show. I love these things, but they are massively outnumbered in Japan by the various Civic generations.


I could not keep my eyes off this EG6 SiR either.


Like the CR-X, the Civic has been K-swapped, but this time with added boost. And topping it off, Mugen wheels and Endless brakes.


The one thing that struck me most about NeoClassic was the variety – there was so much to look at during the two days.


The AutoPlus booth had some very cool builds, including this boosted Suzuki Jimny.


And check out this modified first-gen Ford GT, which runs a supercharger upgrade and one of a few sets of KW dampers custom-made for a bunch of Ford GT owners in Manila.


I always like to see how RX-7s are built in other countries, and this green FD3S hit the spot for me. It’s a big-power build with every possible detail taken care of.


This NA Mazda Roadster/MX-5 deserves a mention, because on top of the 13B rotary engine conversion, it features a complete rear suspension redesign with inboard push-rod dampers. Wow!

Back to the Hondas, from something Spoon Sports-inspired…


…to a CR-X with a wheel choice problem.


The right-hand drive to left-hand drive conversion in this S15 Nissan Varietta was clean.


New or old?


I had a nice long look at these two modified R34 Skyline GT-Rs, particularly their left-hand drive swaps. Things have come so far with these conversions that the interiors look factory.


There was still a lot left to see inside the venue, including the award ceremony, which celebrated numerous categories.


The outdoor aspect of NeoClassic 2024 was just as fascinating, with many cars assembled around the venue and in the surrounding car parks. This is where I first saw these wild Jeep-inspired hot rods with Nissan SR20 and Toyota 4A-G powerplants.

I even came across a stunning lineup of kanjo-style Civics.


And even some kyusha awesomeness in the form of this 240ZG. I love the classic approach taken with its engine build, not to mention the looks.


While NeoClassic had impressed me indoors, outside was like a whole other show, including the odd surprise spot.

RAYS Volk Racing TE37s look good on everything! That includes LC200 and LC300 Toyota Land Cruisers, which are extremely popular in Manila.


Before attending NeoClassic 2024, I knew little about the Filipino custom and modified car scene, so this trip opened my eyes in such a good way. I really only scratched the surface during my short trip, but one thing is for sure – the passion these guys and girls have for cars and the culture surrounding them is right up there with the biggest.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: dino_dalle_carbonare

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