Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hey Everyone!

To those of you I've never met before, I thought I'd make a quick video to introduce myself. I'm not really a big fan of this 'being on camera' thing, but whatever... I thought I'd give it a go!

I actually made this last weekend so I hope it still makes sense. Anyway, thanks for watching! - T x

My MX-5 story on Speedhunters:
iheartstance Low Miata video:
The Project Z build thread on Speedhunters:
All stories on Speedhunters:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Meeting Your Heroes: The Quest for Kyusha

In my last update I wrote a little bit about my recent trip to Japan, which included some cool adventures to some local tuners and tracks, late night meets and lots of other awesome stuff which I am still SO hyped on! Make sure to check out my Secrets of the Japanese Car Scene story I wrote for Speedhunters too, as this features some of my favourite photos. Anyway, Pedey and I had already been in Japan for around a month but we still knew that our trip was lacking in something... we'd had our RWB fix at Nakai-san's workshop and the Idlers Games day at Tsukuba, but we really wanted to see some cool old Japanese cars. Like, really wanted to see them. I'm talking old Fairlady Zs, Hakosuka and Kenmeri Skylines with crazy boxy fenders and Team Yayoi wheels... I wanted to see it all! But where to find these cars; now that was the question.

I'd kind of already accepted that these Kyusha dreams weren't going to come true, and that I was just going to have to wait until another Japan trip in future - but to be honest I had no idea when that might be. I was super bummed out - that was, until my friend Park Baker, who runs the blog HighTopFade, tipped us off about an upcoming meet taking place somewhere below Nagoya, and he said it was going to be BIG. Big? Was that like 20... 30 cars? 50 maybe? Even if it was just a few nostalgic Japanese beauties on rare wheels, I had to be there. 
   photo photo81.jpg

This wasn't going to be as easy as catching a train to the other end of town. If you're familiar with Japan you'll know that Nagoya is at least a five hour journey from Tokyo by car, so this was going to be a full blown quest - and I knew that we had to just take a leap of faith and make it happen! So we sucked up our Jewishness and coughed up some cash for a little rental Kei car and paid the ruthless expressway tolls, and set off into the Japanese countryside. All we had was an address (all written in Kanji, I might add) and an iPhone with Google Maps, so it seemed kind of weird that we were just going to arrive at this spot on the map, (which looked like it was absolutely in the middle of nowhere and turned out to be closer to Kyoto than Nagoya!) and some radical cars were just going to pop up in the middle of some random farming area. Yeah, right...

 photo photo87.jpg

Because we were so sceptical about it and didn't really know what to expect, when we pulled into the parking area and saw that there were literally hundreds of cars like this incredible Hakosuka, we were completely blown away. It was no longer a question of where we were going to find all these cars, it was where the heck do we even start with looking at them all! My heart was beating way too fast and I was beyond excited. I was in my ultimate Speedhunting element.

 photo photo58_1.jpg

I'm going to keep this post really casual, as these are all pictures from my iPhone after all. These were some of the cars that left the biggest impressions on me, starting with my absolute favourite car. This was a real surprise to me - it wasn't an S30Z or a Skyline, but rather a bright purple Nissan Bluebird 610 coupe on gorgeous Techno Racing TRV 25 wheels. This thing seriously stole my heart.

 photo photo91.jpg

But then this stunning Hakosuka pair were also sending me into fits of joy. Oh, come on... a lavender pink two-door Hakosuka on Speed Star Mark IIs? I must be dreaming!

 photo photo95.jpg

The eye candy went on, and on... until I realised that this was only the CAR PARK of the actual event! By this stage, the temperature was climbing well above 30 degrees celsius and the humidity was getting out of control. I was feeling dizzy and was starting to get a heat rash, and I had to walk up a giant hill to get to the actual car park where the proper event was taking place. But the thought of what magical treasures might be hiding up there kept me motivated - must... see... more... cars!

 photo photo89.jpg

I somehow managed to make it there without passing out, and it was so worth it! Here we have an extremely low four-door Hakosuka on Hayashi Streets, an immaculate 240ZG on Work Equips, and another purple 610 Bluebird - this time a four-door example on Star Sharks. Wow!

 photo photo85.jpg

How beautiful are Watanabe RS wheels in gold? The fender treatment on this S30 looked tame in comparison to most of the other cars...

 photo photo59.jpg

... see what I mean? The Z in the centre of this image is actually the Hello Special L28 S30 which Dino featured on Speedhunters not so long ago. Those stacked tailpipes - mmm!

 photo photo86.jpg

Another G-nose Z with the traditional wheel choice of Watanabes one again, but with a less traditional Pantera hatch conversion and giant rear boot spoiler. Cool.

 photo photo96.jpg

In every direction I looked, all I could see were all my favourite cars with all my favourite wheels, in every combination imaginable. It was like my own personal heaven! Although ideally heaven would be a slightly cooler temperature, and I'd have my own Z with me there too. Yeah... now we're talking.

 photo photo93.jpg

There were many rare vintage Japanese wheels there that I couldn't even identify. But here we have a set of Riverside Riverge wheels (which my friend has just informed me are actually replicas - heart broken!) and Devil Shadow Spokes...

 photo photo92.jpg

... and my favourite of all, Team Yayoi Sakura wheels. It pains me that people buy the Rota copies or other cheap 'inspired' versions of these wheels, and it hurts even more to think that some of those people might not even know how rare and special the original Yayoi design is. On the right, here's a close-up of the Techno Racing TRV 25s from the purple 610 earlier.

 photo photo88.jpg

Next up, here's a really clean Nissan 'pig butt' Laurel...

 photo photo83.jpg

... and a nicely-styled 280ZX. I seriously love this!

 photo photo82.jpg

The fenders on this purple C110 Skyline were insane! Rough, but cool nonetheless. Spot the rear tail lights.

 photo photo90.jpg

Okay, here's one more of my favourite 610. Damn!

 photo photo81.jpg

This was just a small taste of what we saw that day, but I can tell you that it was one of the best meets I've ever been to. Mainly because this style appeals to my personal tastes the most, and the sheer amount of rare, well sought-after Japanese cars there was totally mind-blowing! As we watched the cars roll out of the show and disappear off into the countryside with their loud straight-pipes screaming, I felt so sad that I had to leave, and even sadder that we had to drive for so long to get back to Tokyo. We ended up on a horrific detour as the Tomei Expressway was so badly blocked from an accident, and the tolls cost us over $200, but it was so completely and utterly worth it to see my car heroes in person, and to experience such an immense sense of admiration and inspiration for these cars and their owners. These guys are old-school bad-ass; they don't care what you think, and they were running wide wheels and overfenders before the term 'stance' even became popular in today's generation of enthusiasts.

Although I love Japan so much, thanks to this experience I think I've got most of my Japan wanderlust out of my system for now! But who knows how long that'll last for...

- Taryn x

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Living the Japanese Dream

Back in 2010 when I started this blog, I didn't know very much about cars. To be honest, it does make me cringe a little bit when I go back and look at some of my earliest posts on iheartstance, but I've never hidden them on here as that time of my life was a really important one, and they remind me of how far I've come. I've never been one of those people that gets embarrassed when they don't know something, I just get on with it and focus on learning it instead. We have Google now so there's no excuse, right? When I was 17 and chose to drop out of high school, my dad told me that he was cool with it, as long as I kept learning. "As long as you keep learning, I know you'll find your way in life", he said. That has always stuck with me, and I think it has really helped me get to where I am now, with cars now playing such a big role in my life.
   photo IHS3.jpg

One of the biggest turning points for me was when I spontaneously booked flights to Japan on Grabaseat (an NZ website that occasionally has ridiculously cheap flights) back in 2011, and got my first small taste of Japanese car culture. I was hooked, and I know I always say this but it really did become an obsession. That obsession accelerated my journey of learning about cars considerably, and after my first Japan adventure in 2011, I returned again in 2013 for another not-long-enough trip, which was actually my honeymoon!

 photo JAPAN2013.jpg

What could be more romantic than cherry blossoms, Mount Fuji and Japanese car culture? :P

 photo IHS1.jpg

Anyway, if you've been following my journey and this blog from the beginning, you probably already know all that stuff and I'm probably sounding repetitive. But I guess my point is, I feel like I really owe Japanese car culture for inspiring me and pushing me to learn more about cars in general over the past few years. If it wasn't for Japan, my interest in wheels and fitment might have never evolved into something bigger, and perhaps I never would've moved on past that phase. But I did, and now the full blown automotive hobby I have today is also my full-time job, which is my absolute dream come true!

 photo IHcollage2.jpg

Earlier this year when my role at Speedhunters changed to Community Manager, this meant that I would be working full-time from home, but the only problem was that I was in a bit of a lull. Although so many of my friends are based in Auckland, the city just does nothing to inspire me - especially with the warm weather fading and winter just around the corner. I'd been living in Auckland for five years, and the photos and posters of cars on the walls in my dark, cold and newly-designated home office were doing nothing to help stimulate productivity; if anything they were doing the opposite.

 photo IHScollage3.jpg

My husband Pedey and I don't have any possessions of real value apart from our cars and camera equipment, we don't own a house or any pets or have any children, and we saw an opportunity for adventure. We were both in desperate need of inspiration; we wanted to see new things and I guess you could say we wanted to tick things off our bucket lists before it was 'too late'. So we took some boxes of stuff up to my parents house, sold his beloved Impala and put our Datsun into storage, and headed off on a world tour, starting with a six week stint in Tokyo. We booked a cool little Airbnb apartment, and I set up my new office with amazing views of the city from up on the 10th floor! We both worked throughout the day, and during the weeknights and weekends we went on some cool adventures.

 photo 2P7A0072_small.jpg

I've already partially documented some of our trip in this recent story on Speedhunters, but as you can imagine over the course of six weeks I took thousands of photos that remain unused on my phone and my computer, so I'll write a few more posts on here with those over the next month or so.

 photo photo46.jpg

Ever since I bought my Canon 5D MkIII last year, I've started taking my camera out and about with me less and less. Even though it's insured, I'm a super paranoid person and I always have so much stuff on me, (I'm one of those girls that has a handbag that feels like it has at least five bricks in it), so I just find it really difficult to carry around. I retired early from my professional photography career five years ago - that sounds stupid but it's kind of true, I worked full-time as a wedding/portrait photographer starting when I was 17, and since I left that job I've never actually worked solely as a photographer. So I guess photography is more of a hobby now, and I enjoy taking photos on my iPhone just as much as I do with my SLR, so it's just so much easier to use my phone. These collage pics are all from my iPhone 4S.

 photo photo49_1.jpg

Throughout those six weeks some of my craziest dreams came true, and I got to experience many sides of Japan that I had previously not seen before. I've been living in Scandinavia for a month now, (that's another whole new story!) and some of the things I saw in Japan now feel like they actually just happened in my head or in my dreams. It was a truly surreal experience, and the whole trip seemed to pass so quickly. I don't think I could ever spend longer than six weeks there, because the lack of 'a personal bubble' and wide open spaces kinda freaks me out a bit, but it really is a magical place; it's like a weird alternate universe that doesn't even feel like planet Earth sometimes.

 photo IHS2.jpg

I'll leave you guys with this photo I took from the Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku. The viewing floor there is free, so you can go up there anytime and take in some incredible 360° views of the city, which is pretty cool.

Until next time!
- T x

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rad Sweden Adventures

Oh geez, where to even start? It's been a while since my last post on here, and a lot of stuff has changed in my life recently. Did I tell you that I've packed up literally all of my belongings, put the Datsun into storage and am currently living out of a suitcase in Japan right now? I'll have to tell you more details on that soon. Anyway, I'd been waiting until I had time to give a bit of a makeover before I posted on here again as it looked so old and outdated! But as you can see, it now has more of a modern, simplistic feel to it, so I can get back to posting and attempt to bring you guys back up to speed with what I've been getting up to lately.

 photo 2P7A9614_ihs.jpg
View of Gamla Stan from a lookout point next to the Hilton in Södermalm, Stockholm.

For this post I thought I'd tell you a little bit about my recent trip to Sweden and what I did there, as it was seriously one of the coolest experiences I've had in a while! Firstly though, I better explain that back in April I left my job at Aston Martin and Lamborghini Auckland to work for Speedhunters full time. It was strange moving from a job that I really liked to a job that I liked even more, and although I miss having access to some of my favourite supercars, I'm absolutely loving my new role and haven't looked back since I left. That's probably partially due to the fact that I was flown over to Stockholm within 24 hours of leaving my old job, and everything has been a bit of a blur since then.

 photo SwedenViews.jpg
Photos clockwise from top left, exploring Stockholm at night, beautiful weather and an amazing view of Gamla Stan, pretty garden area outside my hotel in Mariatorget,  incredible view of the Stockholm archipelago (cluster of tens of thousands of little islands), Kungsträdgården with full cherry blossoms in bloom, picturesque buildings in Stortorget square in Gamla Stan (this area dates back to medieval times).

I had some incredible adventures exploring the city and I totally fell in love with it, but of course the purpose of my visit wasn't sightseeing...

 photo BilsportElmia2014Speedhunters11of11.jpg
It was really cool getting to sign one of the recent Speedhunters books that I contributed to - I don't think I've ever signed anything before like that!

The first part of my mission involved travelling down south to the small city of Jönköping (pronounced 'yon-shopping' - I know, weird right?) for a car show of epic proportions. I was about to get my mind blown by the insanity of the Bilsport Performance and Custom Motor Show in all of its glory!

 photo 2P7A8482_ihs.jpg
Beautiful Jönköping - the weather was perfect throughout our stay.

After 3 flights and over 24 hours of travel (arghhh!) I finally got to check into my first hotel and catch up on some much needed rest, and then it was an early 5am start to catch a 3-hour train down to the show the following day. When Annika (Speedhunters' Production Manager) and I arrived, thankfully our booth area was all set up and ready to go, so we could get straight to work. Part of my new role as Community Manager means that I take care of all social media, but I'd also been asked to put together an event coverage story too, so there was plenty to do.

 photo photo20.jpg
Photos clockwise from top left, an incredible SR20-powered FD3S RX-7 time attack build,  cool NA8 MX-5 on old-school Enkeis, the 'LaSupra' in its new #JoyOfMachine livery, an epic all-carbon Porsche Cayman with a 996 Turbo motor swap, me with Swedish MX-5 owner Daniel Frankenberg, and John D'Agostino's jaw-droopingly beautiful roof-chopped Caddy build that was brought in from America for the show.

Four crazy days of Speedhunting madness ensued, with little sleep in between, and during that time I discovered that Swedish car enthusiasts are NEXT LEVEL dedicated. I'm not sure if everyone out there knows this, but Sweden only really has two seasons, a beautiful three month-long summer, and then just COLD. Lots and lots of cold. During mid-winter they only have something like five hours of daylight, (and even then, the sun is low in the sky and mostly hides behind cloud), and they have to put up with freezing temperatures and snow and all kinds of nonsense! You'd think a climate like that would make Swedish people have a 'why-the-hell-would-I-build-an-incredible-performance-car-in-my-garage-when-I-could-be-by-the-fireplace-with-a-hot-cocoa' sort of attitude, right? Completely wrong. So wrong.

 photo tumblr_n4skvm5gzz1si7gymo1_1280.jpg
One of my personal favourite cars at the show. The owner of this track-ready looking MX-5 knows what's up.

If you're wondering what I mean, you should probably read Bryn's 'Engine Swaps of Elmia' story on Speedhunters as this will give you a bit of an insight. The funny thing is, the Swedes might build absolutely mad cars, but they're genuinely some of the nicest people I've ever met. I felt so welcome there and I especially appreciated that the people I was with at the show kept talking in English around me so that I didn't feel left out!

 photo 2P7A7966.jpg
Mesmerising smoke clouds from a Toyota Supra competing in the Saturday night drifting competition known as 'Påsksladden'.

Travelling around the world to cover a radical car event for a job might sound like it's not really work, but when you're a weak/nerdy girl like myself sometimes it does get a bit intense. I mean, it's not called Sleephunters, you know? The cold and extremely dry climate in Sweden was wreaking havoc with my asthma, and on my third day there I was still struggling to shake off my jet lag. By the time I got back to my hotel room in the wee hours of Sunday morning after running around at the show all day, shooting four hours of night drifting in 3°C temperatures with only a light jacket on...

 photo 2P7A8474.jpg
I don't really know what words to use to describe this one. I'll just let the photo do the talking. After I took this photo I looked behind me and a standard-looking
Volvo sedan started ripping a mad stand-still in the middle of the parking lot!

... and then heading to a crazy post-apocolyptic-themed night meet with thousands of cars and drunk Swedish people with hay bales on the roofs of their Volvos cars, I couldn't feel my feet and my contact lenses felt like they were fused to my eyeballs. Speedhunting can be physically challenging like that sometimes, but these kind of trips bring around the coolest, I-never-thought-I'd-ever-be-doing-this opportunities and the whole time my mind was just buzzing like crazy. The Bilsport show was freakin' epic and I urge you to go there and see it for yourself. Also feel free to check out my article on Speedhunters about my experience here if you haven't read it!

 photo IHS_Collage.jpg
Clockwise from top left, Fredric Aasbø signing posters at the Speedhunters stand and a very happy looking Rodbot in the background, an incredible church steeple in Gamla Stan, an absolutely beautiful  40s Buick Roadmaster Coupe from the show which I fell in love with, the cute view outside my hotel window in Södertalje, me preparing to brave the cold weather outside in my new winter coat, and a sweet little cloud puff from my plane window as I was falling asleep on my flight from Stockholm to Dubai.

Upon my return to Stockholm, I checked into my final hotel in Södermalm where I spent four days working from Speedhunters head office. A lot of people (including Swedish readers) don't actually realise that Speedhunters is based out of Sweden, which was why it was especially cool to be able to meet some of our readers at Elmia! In between work training and meetings I also got to walk around the city a little bit and do some exploring, which was weird because to be honest I don't usually spend a whole lot of time by myself, so I was able to really clear my head and visualise the path I want my life to take and the things that I need to do in order to achieve my current goals.

I might be getting a little bit too personal here perhaps, but I'm the sort of person that constantly craves a sense of achievement. That feeling is probably different for everyone I guess. The weird thing is, I've only ever felt what I believe to be that feeling a total of three times before in my life. While I was in Stockholm, I had a strange and surreal moment of clarity where I felt that feeling again for the third time. If I could put that feeling into words, perhaps they would be 'you did it!' or 'you're truly good at this' or something cheesy like that. It felt so good, and I never wanted to let that feeling go.

 photo 2P7A95262_ihs.jpg
I was SO happy that I was able to snap this postcard perfect image of Kungsträdgården with the cherry blossoms in full bloom. You guys know how I feel about cherry blossom trees! 

But when I got back to New Zealand, I quickly realised that it's actually a good thing that I don't get that feeling very often. It's the voice inside my head that tells me that I'm not good enough; that voice that makes me be so hard on myself, that has got me to where I am today - a place that I've always dreamed of being. I think it's okay to stop sometimes and celebrate your little successes along the way, but if you ever stop pushing and start thinking that you've got to the top and already succeeded, then you're going backwards. You have to never stop pushing to be the ultimate version of yourself. That is the definition of success, and what I plan to continue to do throughout my journey, my life and my career with cars.

Thank-you so much for reading this post and supporting me. I'm a regular Instagram user so please feel free to follow my account @taryncroucher!

- Taryn x

PS. If you want any of these photos in high res, I upload most of them in bigger sizes to my photography blog at

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Welcome back x

 photo 2P7A9877_ihs.jpg

Welcome to my new-look site. I'll be posting more updates and making some more changes very soon.

Stay tuned! - Taryn x