The technological advancements in performance interiors and interfaces in new cars is a blessing and a curse. From an enthusiast mindset, the usability and increase in technology is a good thing, but there are certain parts of the driving experience that new cars have completely removed. This phenomenon leaves the warm-blooded enthusiast yearning for a growl from the engine, the mechanical slide of a manual shifter, and even the imperfections and oddities that make every car unique. If you’re anything like myself, your dreams are crowded with visceral driver’s cars like the Chevy Camaro ZL1 and BMW M2 CS. But, if you’re young and don’t have ZL1 money, what are you supposed to do? Luckily, Colton McKenna has figured that out for us. Colton has owned several different cars over the years that have covered just about every driving experience possible. From NA Miatas and second-generation 4Runners to a brand-new Acura RDX A-Spec that was lowered and tuned, he has done it all. Recently, Colton has returned to a brand he has been loyal to since the beginning, Honda. Simple, lightweight construction, a crisp gear shift, and end-of-the-world reliability are synonymous with the bordered H logo. For daily duties, McKenna drives his 2022 Acura ILX, which is akin to the new Civic dressed in some shiny jewelry and a designer t-shirt. Lowered on coilovers to a hair’s width above the pavement, the ILX hovers in its lane like an extraterrestrial spacecraft. When the sun is shining and the day calls for a visit to the track or a rush up one of Colorado’s great canyon roads, McKenna takes out his 1998 EK Civic Coupe.

 Soon to receive a slew of aftermarket upgrade goodies and go-fast parts, the EK is a budget alternative to expensive, track-focused cars like the ZL1 and the M2. Plans are in order to turn the ‘98 Civic into a surgical weapon for track days and autocross. Colton has some experience on track with different Hondas, and is looking forward to pushing the limits once again. Tyler Steiner, a close friend and business partner of McKenna, is passionate about driving, working on, and being surrounded by interesting cars and like-minded people. Steiner’s 2015 Mercedes GLA 45 AMG is a masterclass in tasteful modification. With clean paint, a full debadge, and race wheels, the bean car, as Tyler lovingly calls it, could fit right in back home in Germany. The most heinous thing about the build is how low the car rides. So low that he cracked an oil pan a few months back. You may spot the two driving through the South Denver area on their way to a car show or to a job for their mobile detailing business.

Pearls Auto Concepts is a high-end mobile detailing boutique. McKenna and Steiner have worked on hundreds of cars and have a deeply embedded passion for making special vehicles shine the way they should. Dodge Vipers, special edition Audi R8s, and modified Cadillac CTS-Vs are among Pearls’ proudest work. But their schedule wasn’t always full of rare exotics. Pearls has a humble beginning rooted in the enthusiast community.

The interior of the ILX is refined but usable. Aside from red anodized aluminum paddle shifters, it’s completely factory. The SpeedFactory racing exhaust brings out a bit of character from the ILX’s K24 engine without any obnoxious drone. McKenna and Steiner attend several local shows and used the connections they had made with other car people to get a start on their business. In the early days Pearls detailed everything including Subaru Foresters, Toyota 4Runners, and Honda CR-Vs. A driving force common among all of us is the passion for an imperfect machine. Whether it stems from nostalgia of a different time or is a trophy reminiscent of hard work, we all know that feeling of driving your dream car or seeing all the hours of wrenching come together in a glorious way. That feeling is something Colton and Tyler not only know from firsthand experience, but that they pursue every single day. As the car community in and around Denver continues to grow and change, it’s important to have people who are truly passionate about what they do and the people they meet.

Our community is full of different niches, and it is refreshing to associate with someone who can recognize the deepest cuts of car culture and history. McKenna and Steiner are still just kids with a long, winding road ahead of them. Their authentic love of the game will undoubtedly carry them through anything, and, much like a far-stretching mountain drive, oftentimes the journey is the destination. McKenna’s plans for the ’98 Civic are evident on the interior. He added a racing steering wheel, LRB aluminum door panels, and even a piece of fabric instead of a typical door handle.

All in the pursuit of lightness. c. Although it looks unassuming from the outside, every piece the coupe is brand new. The car has been gone through completely, having everything from subframe braces to coilovers replaced or upgraded.