A major event of international interest is coming to LeMay-America’s Car Museum (ACM), Aug. 11-12: the RWB Porsche Build. Over these two days, world-renowned Japanese designer Akira Nakai will build a customized 1996 Porsche Targa, and the public is invited to come and witness this making of a work of art.
In addition, Super Street will be hosting a one-of-a-kind outdoor car show on the Haub Family Field on Aug. 11. See sidebar for details.
One of the leading automotive icons in the world, Nakai is founder of Rauh Welt Begriff (RWB). He is considered a master of his craft, a true artist who creates one-off originals for his many customers around the world. Originating in Japan from the popular custom drift scene, Nakai is known as a man of vision and insight who not only develops individual works of art based on the legendary Porsche 911, but who has transformed the culture of car customizers. He enjoys a global family of devoted fans, followers, and curators of his distinctive creations.
At ACM, Nakai’s skills will be on full display, as will the skills of others from a host of trades: welders, mechanics, upholsterers, body technicians, and talented painters, all working harmoniously. As day turns to night and day again, the build will continue and the recognizable silhouette of his creation will gradually morphs into something that awakens wonder and excitement in car enthusiasts and interested onlookers alike.
While some Porsche owners frown upon what Nakai is doing, “The art divides the audience,” the man himself observes. In other words, it is a personal preference. Custom cars are about freedom and expression, an extension of ourselves using the automobile as a canvas to express passion, culture, personality, and individual identity. Nakai’s work also prevents older or wrecked Porsches from being stored away somewhere and forgotten.
For the ACM staff, Nakai’s upcoming visit is a huge deal and they are joyful over securing this event at the museum. It was eight months in the making, after all.
It was ACM’s Annual Giving and Membership Development Manager Kristen Wells who planted the seed for Nakai to bring his RWB Porsche Build to the museum. Last October, she was invited to Lake Washington Cars and Coffee, and there she overheard a conversation about the Porsche build. “The question was raised about doing it at LeMay, and that’s how it all began,” she explained. “At first I was like, ‘No way!’ – we’re a museum with valuable collector cars – but they sold me. Then I talked to our upper leadership and after a few months going back and forth, we said, ‘Okay, we’re in.’”
Ever since then, anticipation has been growing. In addition to hosting Nakai, there is also excitement over bringing a younger demographic into the museum. “We don’t want younger folks to think that we’re just a car museum – we’re a destination, a place where cool things happen,” Wells said. “We speak to all makes and models of cars and all are welcome. It’s a car culture thing, so we believe that there are many different car cultures out there and we need to show that we love them all.”
To see Nakai work is a once in a lifetime opportunity being offered to all guests of the museum, so the more the merrier, especially the youth. “He is, in their eyes, a true legend. These builds are usually done privately, so when it becomes open it’s an opportunity for us to welcome everyone. We all get to see him in action,” Wells observed.
Another highlight is that there are just 81 Nakai originals in the U.S., and the one built at ACM will be the fifth such Porshe in the Seattle area. Nakai’s Porsches are very popular in Malaysia and Indonesia, to name just two examples. “The only other live build that we know of was in Australia,” Wells said, making Tacoma’s one for the history books.
Owners of the Porches invest a good amount of money to receive a Nakai creation – $30,000 for the body kit alone, and investing at least $100,000 when all is said and done. The 1996 Porsche Targa that Nakai will be working on at ACM belongs to Brian Martin, owner of Phantasy Kolors custom auto painting in Snohomish. He will also be the designated painter for his Nakai Porsche, but the color is being kept under wraps until the day the paint is applied.
Once finished, the car will remain at the ACM for about six months in a special exhibit space. Accompanying it will be a time-lapse video showing the car being built from start to finish.
The timing for the RWB Porsche Build is spot-on to highlight the ending of the “Tuners @ ACM” exhibit launched last November. Tuner cars, just like the hot rods that preceded them in the ’40s and ’50s, have a history steeped in customization of engines, chassis modification, suspension and structure, interiors, paint and body. Changes range from mild to wild depending on their owners, who use their vehicles to express their own creativity and uniqueness. Be sure and check this exhibit out while you’re at ACM.
As Nakai works at ACM, the museum will be open during regular business hours so that the public can come in and witness the creation. One-day ticket passes for Sunday, Aug. 11 or Monday, Aug. 12 are available. Ticket passes for both days include a free T-shirt, commemorative poster and Jones soda bottle with the Porsche image on it. All tickets holders are free to come and go as they please throughout the day(s) for which the tickets were purchased. Learn more at www.americascarmuseum.org/event/rwb-seattle-no-5-super-street-show/2019-08-11. And learn more about Nakai at https://rauhwelt-usa.com.