NICO Invades Nashville’s Import Alliance meet for a Nissan Get-together
With the Midwestern U.S. having such a strong following, it made perfect sense to hold NICOfest in the Nashville area.Holding it in mid-July made a little less sense, but we’ll get to that….
Import Alliance has been hosting automotive meets and shows for several years, and when they asked to team up with NICO to put on an event in downtown Nashville, it seemed a perfect fit.More than 10 of NICO’s 45 Moderators live within a 2-hour radius of Nashville, and the TN / KY / IN area has always boasted a strong contingent of hardcore Nissan enthusiasts.
As always, the staff rolled in throughout the day Friday… Since this event was going to be a little different (main event Sunday, not Saturday), we had to make arrangements for activities and social time, and coordinating something that will please everyone is like herding cats. But Torry and the rest of the crew came through with a perfect itinerary.
Friday evening started off with dinner at Dave & Busters (Friday’s botched our reservations), which gave lots of old friends a chance to meet up again after a few years.Following dinner, an impromptu cruise, followed by a relaxing evening of adult beverages, good cigars, great friends and good conversation set the tone for the rest of the weekend.
Typically, Saturday morning comes brutally early for the NICO Staff, but this time, planning was on our side. The NICO crew met up at Lane Motor Museum to tour the exhibits at 10 a.m., and turned out to be a fantastic choice of destinations. Unlike the members of many marque-specific forums, NICO members have a broad range of automotive appreciation and expertise, and the Lane Museum was the perfect location to indulge our enthusiasm for vintage, unusual and unique automobiles.
The Lane Museum boasts an impressive collection of vintage Datsun’s, on loan from Nissan since their relocation from southern California to Nashville.Our tour guide was extra-knowledgeable about many of the early Datsuns, and many of the staff and members were able to provide some insight into some other “factoids”…
Of special interest was the presence of one of the last remaining examples of Datsun’s 1937 Konut Roadster. a copy of a British design from earlier in the ’30′s. This was a complete example in surprisingly great non-restored condition and was a lot smaller than everyone expected from pictures which is why the British called this vehicle the “Chummy” due to the close proximity of the driver and passenger.
Other impressive exhibits included a gorgeous restored Patrol, a gleaming SPL311 Roadster, a rare pickup, an L-210 from 1958, a 1960 L-211, the Infiniti Indy racing car from the 2001 season and an early B-210 with 200 miles on it.
The Museum rotates its exhibits, and during our tour, they were featuring cars manufactured by Citroen. It was pretty cool to see some of the younger members learning about the French company’s contributions to automotive styling and technology. Also prominently featured were countless microcars from the likes of Saab, Messerschmitt, Subaru,Austin, BMW, Honda, Morris, and numerous other, lesser-known manufacturers.
During the tour, our guide let it slip that the museum’s basement housed numerous other Datsun / Nissan / Infiniti models, including unsold / undriven examples of the earliest Q45, an M30, a J30 and Reagan-era Maxima’s and trucks. Despite our pleadings, we were unable to gain access to the basement storage. Not to be denied, a few of us “wandered off” to the back of the building and were able to sneak a peek through the basement windows… However, the lack of lighting and the ancient building’s foggy glass prevented any real good views of the treasures within. We managed a few ambient light photos, but we’ll have to come back another time to see the rest of the collection.
After the museum tour, we descended on Opry Hills Mall for lunch, and then we were off to our next destination: Cooter’s Garage, a museum dedicated to the popular 80′s television show “The Dukes of Hazzard”. No REAL automotive enthusiast can resist the coolness of the General Lee, the hotness of Daisy Duke, or the pure comedic of genius of Roscoe, Boss Hogg, Cletus and Cooter. The museum houses a couple genuine examples of the countless Generals used in the show’s filming, as well as countless toys, displays, promotional materials and other memorabilia.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing by the pool and catching up on everyone’s ongoing car projects.One thing’s for sure, there’s no shortage of topics for discussion – many of the group have more than one Nissan in the works.
Chris Nichols offered rides in his freshly-completed LS1-powered Kouki (that thing should come with a warning label), and he’s a patient “host” – Not a moment went by that several people weren’t grilling him for information and stories about the project, and he graciously accommodated each and every one of them. Props to Chris for building one of the world’s baddest 240′s, and even more props for remaining humble and generous with his newfound knowledge and “fame”.
That night, the group invaded downtown Nashville for sightseeing and dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, followed by a pre-meet cruise to an area the locals refer to to as “Under the Bridge”. Friday and Saturday nights, the bridge is home to hundreds of car enthusiasts who drive down by the river to meet with friends and show off their latest progress.We made some new friends and invited a lot of folks to the next day’s event before returning to the hotel for another round of swimming, cigars, adult beverages and good conversation. Most of the group remained poolside until 3 am, just enjoying the cool evening and each others’ company.
Morning came much too soon, and it was time to go “do our thing” at LP Field, formerly Adelphia Field and Titans Stadium. The crowd started oling in at 8 am, and there was a near-steady stream of cars all day long. Nissan’s were well-represented, with approximately 100 cars in our area and another 50 or so scattered throughout the show. For fans of the Maxima and Kouki 240′s, this show was a wonderland, with numerous awesome examples of each.
By noon, the temperature was 95, with a good amount of humidity and little reprieve from the sun, so the only thing hotter than the weather and the modded Nissans was NICO’s new spokes model Amanda. She was an instant hit with the crowd and happily obliged photo requests from eager show attendees throughout the day.
Nissan sent Nate Mason over from the corporate offices with a freshly-arrived NISMO-edition 350Z, and Mr. Mason graciously provided all of us gear heads with a thorough “tour” of the car. He pointed out all of the improvements and advancements to the 2008 model, and fielded questions about several upcoming changes on the horizon. We’ll be bringing you a full interview with Nissan’s Senior Project Planner for Specialty Vehicles in the near future, but suffice it to say that we were ecstatic to spend some time with Mr. Mason and have a glimpse into NNA’s “inner sanctum” of product planning and development. There’s some exciting changes coming down the pike, and it’s a great time to be a Nissan enthusiast.
Our day wrapped up with a gradual dissipation of the crowd, as everyone had varying schedules and departure times. A post-meet debriefing with NICO staff and Don from NextGear / Import Alliance resulted in plans for NICOclub and Import Alliance to join forces again next year for this event, and to bring a motorsports component to the event. Drifting, autocross and road course action were all discussed, and we’ll keep you posted on the plans as the time draws nearer. With photos to be edited, article to be written, galleries to be coded and pictures to be uploaded, there is simply no rest for the NICO staff after the event.Next time you see one of the Moderators, thank them for their work “behind the scenes”.
Here’s a TON more pictures and discussion of the event, some fun stuff to see!!!CLICK HERE!
Next stop? Atlanta. For the past 3 years, NICO has held the title for most participants at the annual NOPI / NICOfest National Meet – this year will be no exception.We’ve ougrown our normal area and will be relocating to a prime location on the infield, and this year’s National meet is already shaping up to be a monster.
For now, enjoy the photos of the Nashville NICOfest event, and make plans to attend next year.Thanks to all who attended, and we hope to see you in Atlanta or Virginia later this year!