The Evolution of Modified Car Culture & Car Shows (IMPORTFEST)

Midnight Runs to Car Shows

The evolution of modified car culture & car shows started back in the late ’90s and early 2000s, when the import scene was a different world. Unlike today’s’ organized car meets and shows, back in the day we had a few dedicated hang out “spots.” Local coffee shops and open lots were the go-to spots, pulling in large crowds of cars on Friday and Saturday nights. Crews would pull up one after another, hangout for a few and wait for the next spot to drop. You had to be quick and ready to go at a moment’s notice; otherwise your getting left behind.

As the night wore on, the crowds would thin, leaving behind the die-hard street racers on deserted side roads or industrial blocks. Headlights off, engines humming, the anticipation of the next impromptu street racing filled the air. It was a scene where Japanese tuners, European Imports, and American muscle shared the same pavement, with rare sightings of exotics adding to the excitement.

As time passed, the late-night runs began to fade and a new motivation to gather and celebrate automotive craftsmanship was emerging. Car shows provided a platform for car enthusiasts to proudly display their meticulously crafted builds. It marked a turning point where the focus shifted from the thrill of late-night races to the artistry and dedication poured into custom cars!

Fast forward to today, and car shows have grown beyond recognition. What started as late-night hangouts in obscure locations has now blossomed into events held in world renowned venues, like the Metro Toronto Convention Center, drawing in massive crowds and an incredible display of modified car culture. This once niche hobby has become a vibrant subculture, uniting lovers of JDM classics, European luxury, and American muscle under one roof.


The evolution from secretive spots to bustling, sanctioned events is a testament to the passion and dedication of the automotive community. ImportFest has been part of this journey since day one and remains a cornerstone of the import car culture, fueled by a shared love for cars and a commitment to celebrating the artistry and engineering that goes into each build.

So, next time you’re looking for a weekend activity that combines your love for cars with a vibrant social atmosphere, consider attending ImportFest. As you stroll through the show, you’ll find yourself engrossed in conversations with fellow enthusiasts, swapping stories, tips, and mutual admiration for the vehicles that fill the venue.


This year’s ImportFest will celebrate its 24th Year Anniversary in Toronto making it the longest and largest running After-Market Car Show in Canada. Join us on Saturday, July 13, 2024 for another epic event to remember!

To purchase Discounted Advance Tickets, click here

Check out the snackengine.ca booth at ImportFest 2024!
Check out the snackengine.ca booth at ImportFest 2024!