Tom Cotter’s “comfort zone” is pretty broad. From legendary classics to rarely seen rides, the Barn Find Hunter has a wealth of automotive knowledge. Japanese hot rods? That’s a different story, but he’s intrigued and willing to learn.

In this episode, Tom meets a North Carolina family that’s “all in” when it comes to Japanese domestic market (JDM) vehicles. And none of their cars have remained stock.

“This a special morning for us because we’ve never spent any time on any episode of Barn Find Hunter around cars of this era,” Tom says. “… Before muscle cars were around, you had to build your own. You could take a low-performance car and make it high performance with cam shafts and headers and carburetors. Now, people are building hot rods by [altering their computer and] modifying them in ways I’ve never seen before. They don’t have to go inside the motor, they just have to plug something in. It’s pretty cool.”

First we meet 19-year-old Sergio, who is in the Honda PACT (Professional Automotive Career Training) Program at his college and plans to be “working for Honda very soon.” Sergio admits: “The car stuff is my life. When I wake up, the first thing I think about is my car, then breakfast.”

He owns a 2001 Honda Prelude Type SH. “There are only 241 left in the United States,” he says. “The rest have been crashed, bashed, and left to rust.” He plans to increase output of the Prelude’s DOHC VTEC engine from its 205–220 stock hp to 300 someday, but “I’ll stick to 250 until I’m out of college.”

Sergio’s love of cars starts at the top with his parents, Julio and Jennifer. Julio’s baby is his gorgeous Lexus IS 300, which he painted himself. Jennifer liked the car so much that she had to have one too. Hers is an automatic, however; she tried to learn how to drive a stick and grew tired of stalling.

Then there’s Julio Jr., who also owns an IS 300; Jonathon, who owns a 2010 Scion TC; and Jasmine, who owns a 1996 Honda Civic DX coupe, although she can’t legally drive it until she gets her license in October.

“I feel very fortunate to have been kind of brought into this family,” Tom says. “It’s such a great thing to have your family involved in the same interest that you have.”

You’ll have to watch to get the scope of their love of JDM. Perhaps you’ll learn something, like Tom did.

Happy hunting.

Jeff Peek

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