iAcro is a premiere tuner car meet-up and automotive lifestyle organization based in China. It was launched by a group of local car enthusiasts passionate about the culture of car modifications and the aesthetic qualities of altered vehicles. Their name is short for acrophobia, or the fear of heights, and it refers to the lowrider style in which a car’s center of gravity is modified to sit low to the ground. iAcro began organizing car meet-ups in 2010, and has since then became a household name among tuner car lovers in China. Read more below in our interview with a few of these car lovers.
Neocha: How did you get into car tuning? What does this lifestyle mean to you?
Ku Dang Lao Ye: I’ve loved cars ever since I was a little kid. Even then, I could tell you the name and model of every single car on the street. Around 2005 or 2006, I started getting into car tuning. It was a way to bring out the beauty of my car, and to customize it to be exactly the way I wanted. The things that I’ll do everyday are eat, sleep, drive, and modify my car. Car tuning is huge part of my life. Compared to my first meet-up, It’s become a lot clearer what I’m doing now. In the beginning, I just thought that it was cool for everybody to come together and talk about our mutual hobby. But now it’s becoming more about developing and advancing the tuner car culture in China.
Lao Jia: It doesn’t matter if it’s a paint job or a small detail. Every aspect of the car needs to be perfect in order for it to be considered a true tuner car. Growing up, I loved cars. My father used to sell clothes, so he would always be traveling around the country on business. He would bring me some Matchbox toy cars whenever he returned home, and loved to sit there, lining them up in different formations and playing with them.
Xiao Feng: When I was a kid, I was too scared to ride a motorbike, even riding a bicycle was hard for me. One day, I had the opportunity to learn how to drive from an older brother, and I found it to be a lot of fun. After I joined up with iAcro, my car hobby became my profession, which was really cool. Before I used to make money by making music, now I make money by making cars.
Big L: I first got into the tuner car culture around 2008. I was attracted to the cool designs of these modified cars, and I thought that I could really get into this. The last ten minutes before they implemented a new policy to limit the number of cars in Beijing, I bought what was my dream car at the time, a VW Golf. Even before I took that car for routine maintenance, I was already at the modification shop.
Neocha: What kinds of difficulties have you come across while organizing iAcro?
Ku Dang Lao Ye: The biggest difficulties we’ve had have come from government bureaucracy. It’s not like we’re doing a bad thing. Our cars are modified to sit low to the ground as an aesthetic choice, they’re inherently against the idea of illegal drag racing, and they also embody a kind of environmental consciousness. I hope that we’ll at least attract the attention of the government, if not their support. Of course, we want to avoid any kind of negative attention. It’s my wish that the government will eventually pass some kind of positive legislation regarding tuner cars, just like they have in place in other countries.
Neocha: What would you say to people who might have a negative understanding of tuner car culture?
Lao Jia: I like sleek and powerful designs. So I hope that more and more people will be attracted to these cool designs and take an interest in our culture, then we can educate them about it in the right way. Modifying cars isn’t a dangerous thing, in fact you could say that modifying cars makes them even safer!
Videographers: Gerhan, Leon Yan
Photographers: Banny Wang, Gerhan