It's flashy and it's hot...oh so hot.
``Hot Import Nights,'' the traveling car show, dance party and bikini contest, roared into Cleveland Oct. 9 for the first time, attracting thousands of young street tuner car buffs looking to check out dozens of uniquely modified vehicles, get some ideas for their own rides and have some fun.
Besides the aisles of stylized cars showcased by their owners, the event at Cleveland's I-X Center drew several tire exhibitors including Goodyear's Dunlop brand, Toyo Tire (U.S.A.) Corp. and Yokohama Tire Corp.
``These people (in this building) are the market leaders,'' said Mike Pulte, Dunlop marketing manager of extreme performance, referring to the 18- to -24-year-olds displaying their vehicles. ``The people coming in are looking for inspiration that they can do on their vehicles. They look at these guys as heroes for what's cool and what's not.''
One of the first things people decide to change on their cars are tires and wheels, he said. ``They're right up there with the exhaust systems and stereos-tires and wheels. All three are tied for first place,'' but tires and wheels ``probably make the most dramatic change. You can do it in an afternoon vs. a week for a paint job.''
Several vehicle owners exhibiting at the show said they had spent between $15,000 and $85,000 in aftermarket upgrades to their cars.
The event, sponsored by Vision Entertainment, will stop in 15 cities this year.