Do you yearn for the days of Britney vs. Christina, blasting your burned copy of Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water at max volume, and hearing your buddy talk about how he’s definitely gonna turn his Chevy Cavalier into a 10-second car this summer? What’s that? No, you do not? Me either, generally speaking. But! If you’re desperate to return to the Fast and Furious-infused days of tuner culture—you know, back when those movies were actually about street racing—this Canadian speed shop’s closeout auction will prove essential for you. I haven’t seen this many Altezza lights in one place since Hot Import Nights was still a going concern.
At the auction platform HiBid, you will find the closeout sale for Ontario speed shop Performance Improvements, which is unfortunately going out of business and liquidating its supply. To the folks at Performance Improvements, you have my sincere condolences; the tuner scene ain’t what it used to be. But it can be again for some lucky auction shoppers, and the stuff listed on HiBid is truly a blast from the past. If I had to guess, probably a lot of this stuff had been sitting in back rooms or warehouses for a while, but maybe now they can find good homes.
Take, for example, a pretty decent collection of Altezza lights, the clear, silver-and-red aftermarket tails named after the Toyota Altezza, aka the first-generation Lexus IS. These were also called “Euro tails,” presumably to avoid Toyota’s lawyers and for their lack of amber lights, although very few “Euro” cars ever came from the factory looking this way. Any readers who aren’t Back-Pain Millennials like me should know these were super popular for a couple of years in the early aughts, but were pretty played-out by the time the troop surge happened. The sale has these lights for all the cool cars from that era: the Honda Civic, the weird hatchback Honda Civic Si everyone forgets about, the Nissan Sentra, the Ford Focus and more. What a time to have been alive!
What else? You name it, frankly. Tons of wheels (or “rims” as they were once called) of varying sizes and quality; lots of K&N filters; aftermarket headlamp sets; a bunch of CDs and computer games; Eibach springs and other suspension parts; and much more. In addition to all the goofy shit, there’s a bunch of reasonably practical items for grabs too, like tools, tables, cleaning supplies, wiper blades and some decent supplies for your own auto shop or home garage. I’d love to go through this box of old catalogs and magazines, too. I’m still pissed I sold all my copies of Sport Compact Car to some kid in a GLI a couple of years ago for like $50 at my folks’ garage sale.
[Editor’s note: Ah, Performance Improvements. I’m going to miss this place. For anyone who didn’t live in Ontario when this speed shop was still active, it was a whole chain of performance parts stores selling everything from camshafts to questionable bulbs. The perfect place to pick up whatever obscure go-fast parts Canadian Tire didn’t stock before hitting the track, dropping by the local car show, or doing whatever dubious activity happened to be your late-night preference. The thick, glossy catalogs were always wonderful to pore over, but it seems like the internet overtook Performance Improvements and the chain never really recovered. Maybe it would still be around today if it had a stronger web build.
Anyway, pretty much every part left is stuff the company couldn’t shift in its final days, which largely means bidders will be slurping up the dregs of the tuner era. Primax wheels from before the main-line rebrand to XXR, APC tail lights, that sort of stuff. I’m not even sure if there are any B15 Nissan Sentras left in Ontario to slap those lights on, so maybe they’ll end up stashed away in a storage locker until 20-year trend cycles render the Hot Import Nights era cool again. -TH]
The shop is also selling some exquisite fine art from the era.
Anyway, if you’re looking to add some style and panache to your life—and to your 2003 Toyota Corolla—look no further than this auction. See anything you like? Let us know in the comments.
(Hat tip to Gareth!)
Altezza lights look like an acne riddled negative photograph.
When I saw the main story picture, I wondered if it was going to be referring to this exact auction. I shop on Hibid regularly, and I buy from that auction house as well. I remember visiting Performance Improvements when these products were brand new, back between 2001-2004. I think I bought a MOMO shift knob there once. I looked through everything, but nothing special enough to warrant buying anything, looks like the good stuff ended up somewhere else.
In a few years giant spoilers will be cool again and F&F 1 thru 3 will be considered masterful cinema verite. Pull out your giant HONDA window transfers kids!
Back in the day a common saying I heard about these kinds of tuner products was “You can’t spell “crap” without APC!”
Sport Compact Car!
I was featured in Burnout of the Month (can’t remember the month) with my boosted 200SX SE-R. I blew out one tire, mostly ruined the other, and turned my VLSD into warm snot.
I swapped blown out tire with a spare and put it on the rear, put the rears on the fronts, and racer-taped the ruined tire’s tread together. The taped together wheel went on the back.
It was a slippery drive home….
For any Americans looking through the auction: fine print says you have to pay with a credit card tied to an Ontario address
“blasting your burned copy of Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water at max volume”. That was me in high school. I actually had a burned copy of that very CD. That did not age well…HAHAHAHA!
LOL those “Eurotails” for the Focus. Couldn;t they jsut give us the amber turn signal;s that the rest of the world got? I’d love to see the actual Euro tail lights of the EDM Mk1 here
For those who don’t know:
That’s a photoshop.
Performance Improvements is closing due to the patriarch of the company passing away. His sons kept the company alive for a little while after their father passed, but it’s hard to compete when they didn’t have much (if any) online presence. They will be missed
I went to a Hot Import Nights car show in Orlando, Florida probably 2003 or so. I have to say it was a great time. What a time to be alive.
I bought a set of wheels from a guy who had a show car at HIN in Chicago. Paid for the entrance fee, met up with him, we left for a bit to go out to his car trailer, bought the wheels/tires from him. Wanted to mount them on the car right away, so we jacked up my car and started putting the wheels on it (at night btw).
A few minutes later, Security drives over, lights flashing, yelling, because they see a car jacked up with the wheels off of one side. Took a lot of convincing that we weren’t stealing wheels; kept having to point out the NICER ONES ARE GOING ON THE CAR. Lol.
After we left we cruised around Chicago at like midnight blasting Tiesto. Good times.
My memories of tail light trends from 25-30 years ago:
It started with blackouts- tail lights that were dark charcoal tinted so that you could barely discern what color lenses lay beneath. This was late-80s into the early 90s.
Then came “clear corners.” Your tail lights were all frosty white so they almost matched your headlights. This was mid-late 90s and very early 00s.
Finally, “euro-clears” aka Altezzas. I was surprised at how popular this trend became, but then it died when a bunch of car manufacturers jumped on board. This kicked off in 00s and went about ten years.
As soon as I saw this article, the Offspring song “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” immediately popped into my head.
When I worked for a bankruptcy company we had an auto parts supplier and were trying to value the stock, this was in 2017 and they had a tonne of led underlight kits, spinner rims and crap like that. I valued the stock at zero and the court didn’t agree- the auction lost money due to the costs of inventorying shipping and advertising. It would have been better to just give the stuff away
This has the same vibe as the Linus Tech Tips video where he bought the remaining inventory of a computer store that closed 15 years ago
Yeah, kinda liked some of the euro spec lights…yes, I seriously do yearn for the days of the lovely Britney especially at her concerts (amazing music) Love Britney Forever!
The pick-up point is 30 minutes from me, so I had a good, long look at the listings. Nothing for my FR-S, but a few olds and ends that look interesting. If I had any money, I’d be seriously interested in that BMW 6 series. It’s a stick! The leather seats need some TLC, but I think that’s about it.
Seeing some of that stuff gave me flashbacks to when I worked at Canadian Tire from 2001 to 2005. I was split between Auto Parts and Lawn & Garden, and at the parts counter we kept the special order parts catalogue (with the wheels, wings, and aftermarket taillights) behind the counter until late June 2001; customers just didn’t ask for it all that often.
Then The Fast And The Furious came out, and that catalogue stayed on the counter ALL THE TIME.Wings for Civics. Body kits for Cavaliers. So many fart cans that could be bolted on crudely. And the stickers, my GOD the windshield stickers! And the Pioneer head units with the animated display were pretty damned cool at the time.
Probably the most memorable “clueless guy buys a dumb thing” moment I had was when I saw someone returning an exhaust whistle (meant to use exhaust pressure to make it sound like you had a turbo when you didn’t) because it didn’t work. Trying to find out whether it was broken or not, I asked for a bit of info:
“So, what kind of car is this on?”
“OK, and how big is the muffler outlet?”
No wonder the whistle didn’t work; there was NO pressure to speak of coming out of that pipe!
So many people made questionable choices that were in objectively bad taste, but looking back on that time compared to now I can say that at the very least people were passionate enough about their cars to put in time and money into making them how they wanted. There’s still a bit of a scene here now, but nowhere near as big as it was back in that era!
“No wonder the whistle didn’t work; there was NO pressure to speak of coming out of that pipe!”
Well there would have been pressure if you up-sold him on a big turbo kit!
Thanks for the “heads up” I fell down the rabbit hole and it caused me to look up a couple of part numbers, but nothing for my use at this time. I can’t get the past back and I hate to speculate on the future use.
“…named after the Toyota Altezza, aka the first-generation Lexus IS…”
Huh! I never knew where that word came from!
In fact, I could never remember the word to begin with and usually wound up calling those lights “Al Jazeera taillights”.
Ha, in Europe we called these taillights “lexus look”, because, well, you know. Always found it peculiar that they were called “altezzas” in the US for a Japanese version of the IS, but probably JDM kicked in hard. yo.
Any xplod speakers?
Oh man? I had those in my grey Protege, and as much red trim, stickers as I could easily add to match em.
I miss you “Mighty Mouse?
I’m sad. As an American there’s no way in Hades I’m going to Ontario to get anything (no shipping) and they have a set of wheels (American Racing hopsters) that I had on my beloved 1984 Camaro before she was totaled. I have nothing to put them on but I’d hang them on the wall as tribute.
I’m in Ontario. I’ll get you the rims, we meet in boats in the middle of Lake Erie at midnight, and we’ll make the exchange. Then, probably jail.
Overnight parts from… Canada?
CDM, yo! Swapping an Acura 1.6EL front end on your EJ Civic hatch is mad tyte!
As an American, I feel it is my duty to point out that any prices you see in the auction are in Canadian “dollars” which are more commonly called “Loonies” for some very good reason…
Anyhow as of the time I type this a Loonie is worth 75¢ in U.S. currency. So if $4.00 seems like an insane bargain, remember the price in USD is $3.00 which is not just insane, it’s downright Loonie!
Not sure if sarcasm or genuine confusion as to why a Canadian dollar is called a Loonie. Either way, the coin has a Loon pictured on it. And the $2 coin is a two-nie because that rhymes with Loonie
Also, just to be Captain Pedantic, Canadians and Mexicans are also Americans, specifically North Americans.
When I worked for Home Depot people used to always get upset when they saw “made in Mexico” on the ‘American Standard’ brand packaging.
Some older men would get downright mad, like they had just caught me lying to them when I recommended their products.
Always gave me a chuckle.
“I’m sorry they didn’t specify ‘North American’ Standard sir.”
To be Captain Pedantic 2, Mexico would also be North American.
That was the point.
Not only loonies, but toonies (or it is twonies?) are used also. I don’t understand why one needs $1 and $2 coins. And iirc they’re called loonies because the coin has a loon on one side.