Art + Design

Over the last few years, I have had the great opportunity to witness Lance Pan’s builds, travels and growth as both an artist and a car enthusiast. I first met Lance about five years ago when he was about halfway through building his long-term Civic project and had been inspired by his outlook, craftsmanship and dedication ever since. This article is a bit of a fever dream as I have combined some writing that I did about Lance in the past, with a bunch of new ideas, to try and cover as much of his story as I possibly can in one simple article. 

As a Honda owner and enthusiast from years long past, I witnessed a commonality of cheap parts, missed potential, and impatient attitudes (with a lot of those sins also being committed by a younger version of myself). The owner’s excuses for their disappointing work and replica/low-quality parts typically revolved around them declaring all too often that they had a “low budget”. Lance and his car, as well as the cars that belong to his group of friends, entirely dismantle the ground these ‘enthusiasts’ stand upon, as not only was this Civic built on a very humble budget but also served as the testbed for Lance as he explored what it meant to truly dig out a style and build a car. 

When I first met Lance I was astonished to learn he was only 18 when he began his journey with his CIvic and that his car was built on a humble budget that he had laid out for himself and stuck to relentlessly. 

What impressed me the most was where he drew his inspiration from Lance studied the likes of NaritaDogFight, Mooneyes (both USA and Japan), Rough World (the early, somewhat pre-Porsche, build-focused days of Nakai’s RWB), and many of the established Honda builders renowned worldwide. 

As a dedicated design student at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, these inspirations lead to an unwavering and clear goal for Lance’s Civic. But even beyond the build, these inspirations helped to provide a clear ethos for all of the things that Lance does. 

The first thing I noticed when I saw Lance’s car was that despite the simple outward appearance, it had a very impressive parts list. From the increasingly more and more rare C-West aero, the Key’s Racing steering wheel, the BWR, Billion, and Spoon parts hiding under the hood, to the fact that the car has a tuned B18C1 from a USDM Integra GSR mated to a JDM Integra Type R trans that utilizes a limited-slip differential to fling the car around corners. The small details, clean elements, and completeness of the build draw onlookers in regardless of if they are Honda enthusiasts or not.

To the same degree that Lance has built his car to exude his desired style, the car has also been built to perform and deliver a high level of driver enjoyment. Every part has a purpose and improves the overall experience for him as the driver. The motor has been tuned to optimize its performance given the aftermarket parts implemented in the build and the parameters have been changed to make the powerband as linear and as responsive as can be. The tune implements 4700RPM launch control, a 5000RPM VTEC crossover, and a screaming 8500RPM redline.

Lance says some of the best advice he has ever received was from an old friend who explained to him that “the key really to building a cool car is to be multidisciplinary, you’re more than just a car. But when it’s about cars, put all your time and effort into properly executing everything you do.” Lance says that this advice greatly impacted not only how he looked at how he was building his car, but increased the perspective he could apply to all cars that he witnessed being built.

As Lance’s automotive journey continued and the Civic build had approached a level that he was happy to call ‘nearly complete’ (Lance believes that all builds are never truly finished) he had the opportunity to live in Japan for some time to carry on with his studies in art and design. While in Japan Lance used every day to his full advantage and journeyed around the country visiting long-distance friends, performance shops, and race tracks alike. While there he documented most of his journey on 35mm film and ended up turning his work into an excellent photojournalistic magazine that he named Hata Gallery.  

Upon Lance’s arrival home he was encouraged and inspired by what he had seen in Japan to step out of his Honda comfort zone and engage in the process of building a new car that was completely different from the cars he started with. Lance reflected that when he was in Hiroshima what he found most inspiring was the abundance of older chassis Toyota sedans and wagons that were built as Kyusha (small wheels/low ride height) cars. Lance wasted no time and acquired a Toyota Cressida wagon that would provide the perfect platform for his new build.

The Cressida achieved everything that Lance wanted very quickly, as Lance realized that the secret to a Kyusha inspired build is simplicity and small details. The small wheels and low ride height (courtesy of a suspension delete) as well as all of the small details found living in the interior make Lance’s wagon a perfect and humble nod to the cultures that inspired him greatly.

Lance’s story is the encouragement I feel that our car community is in desperate need of: encouragement to be patient, work hard and above all else, enjoy the quality of well-made parts.

I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Lance, and I know that whatever he chooses to build next will continue to be excellent.

Lance is now in England studying automotive design, and the fact that somebody like Lance may very well end up being a designer for a major car brand one day fills me with excitement and hope that the future of cars may not actually be as bleak as we may think.

Thank you for good, low car, style.


Published by Alexander Turnbull

Automotive photojournalist, traveller, blogger, and meme enthusiast. Enjoy car life.