Interest in these cars swept in from the West 50 years after hot rodding became popular in California.
"They got little nicknames and stuff like Rice Rockets and stuff like that. They talk about these little four cylinder cars, only 1.6 (liter) making about 400 horsepower," says Phantasm Motorsports owner Hung Phan.
They strut on the streets, low, proud and sometimes loud, but street racing is
"We try to promote a good business. The type of racing I do is pretty much underground type racing, grassroots, autocrossing, and also road racing at (Virginia International Raceway) and South Carolina Motorsports Park," says car owner Brian Winn.
Phantasm Motorsports is headquarters for this bunch of car lovers.
"We modify cars, sell accessories, rims, tires, oil changes, alignments, (and we) fix motors," says Phan.
They fix motors with complete rebuilds, adding turbo and superchargers, even nitrous for a shot of big horsepower.
"Modifying these imports is a lot more than just a car thing. It results in a lot of camaraderie," says car owner Robert Meeker. "Everybody, club members, gives them something to do, talk about their cars, modify the cars."
Are they worried about their image with the movie now out?
"Well not from the movie yet, but we get hassled just because our cars stand out more," says Phan.
Several of the cars, which are really called "sports compacts," can be found competing Thursday nights at the Benson dragstrip.
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