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Ben Therrien's Red Lion Motorsports is a Time Tested Automotive Parts Powerhouse

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The R33 was Shane Therrien second complete restoration.
The R33 was Shane Therrien second complete restoration.
When you have toothache you go to a dentist. When automotive pain strikes because substandard parts continue to DNF your ride, you contact Red Lion Motorsports. Ben Therrien and his son Shane own RLM, which is currently a dealer for over 300 of the leading automotive companies. They can get you anything, from a radiator cap for a 1920's Ford Model T, or a K&N cold air intake for a 2012 Silverado 1500.

"We started using K&N air filters in 1973 when I was racing drag bikes," said Ben. "And it continued on through motocross, desert, speedway, and then flat track. I really noticed how the K&N air filter really kept the dirt out of the carb and that was the deciding factor for me.
Ben recently stopped by K&N headquarters to show us his rare 1995 Nissan Skyline R33 with right hand drive. He was passing through on his way to the Qualcomm Extreme Autofest Show in San Diego on July 29, 2012.
Ben recently stopped by K&N headquarters to show us his rare 1995 Nissan Skyline R33 with right hand drive. He was passing through on his way to the Qualcomm Extreme Autofest Show in San Diego on July 29, 2012.
From that point on K&N has been all I use on anything we have that requires an air filter. As a retailer we do sell other air filters too, but we will only recommend K&N because they are tested and proven by RLM."

In May of this year RLM launched a membership program similar to what Costco does. Membership entitles you to a discount on over 200,000 performance parts and accessories. In the first 45 days after debuting the RLM Team membership concept it spread to seven states. "We were blown away by the success," adds Ben.

Things haven't always been peaches and roses for the Therrien's, as with any success, it requires perseverance, hard work, vision, and perhaps a little luck. Ben relocated from California to Flagstaff, Arizona to "raise our kids," as he puts it. The memories of his dad restoring classic cars drove him to open his own shop in 1991. "I built my shop and started to restore classic muscle cars and street rods. We named ourselves Red Lion Hot Rod." And for a while things went well for Ben.
Although being a retailer for many products, K&N is the only brand Ben has been recommending of over 30 years.
Although being a retailer for many products, K&N is the only brand Ben has been recommending of over 30 years.


"By 2008 the economy took a crap and we had to close the shop," reflects Ben. "We kept all our retail outlets and just did retail. My son asked me if we could do something for all his import friends. So we started being a dealer for more companies. That's when we decided to change our name to Red Lion Motorsports. By 2010 the Cobalt SS my son had been restoring was completed and we were asked to put it in the SEMA show by one of our sponsors. While at the SEMA show we were one of only 53 cars picked for the Optima Streetcar Invitational and the Cobalt got displayed on the a Speed Chanel show that ran for almost a year. We placed 28th overall, with the only front-wheel drive, 4-cylinder car competing against V8s. My son was driving and that event put RLM on the map."
The Cobalt SS was Shane's first complete restore and the car they say got the ball rolling for RLM.
The Cobalt SS was Shane's first complete restore and the car they say got the ball rolling for RLM.


For Shane's next restoration project he found a 1995 Nissan Skyline R33 that had just crashed into a wall at a drift car event and the owner was tired of fixing it. "We got the car home and started learning all about Skylines," explains Ben. "Come to find out there are no body parts made for this car, whatever you can find is all used. The body kit came from Japan, the taillights from Madagascar, the taillight bezels from New Zealand."

The deeper they got into it, the more they realized just how rare the R33 truly is. When the R33s were first imported into the U.S. they failed government crash test standards and they were banned. The cars that were already on American soil were "grandfathered" in and given a separate VIN number from the Department of Transportation which made them legal.

"We keep hearing that there is somewhere between five to 37 of these in the U.S." says Ben "It's been hard trying to confirm this, but every show that we do with this car, everyone that knows what this car is asks us how we got it in the U.S. legally."
It all first started in 1991 for Ben with Red Lion Hot Rod and dazzling restoration work such as this sweet ride.
It all first started in 1991 for Ben with Red Lion Hot Rod and dazzling restoration work such as this sweet ride.


In January Optima contacted the Therriens, asking if they'd be interested in putting a car on display in their booth for a presentation in the corporate headquarters of Pep Boys in Los Angeles. "We brought the Cobalt all lettered in Pep Boys logos," said Ben. "While at the event we told the Optima reps about our Skyline R33."

"The L.A. event had a good turnout that they asked us if we wanted to do some NHRA events and again put the Cobalt on display. We said yes, but I think the R33 would bring a bigger crowd to your booth."

Ben's automotive instincts were once again spot on, as the Optima booth at the NHRA event in Phoenix, Arizona was blitzed with people looking to photograph the elusive R33.

"Optima called us that night to see if we were interested in doing 16 more NHRA events," said Ben "We said yes again, but were still waiting on that. We are also hoping to get the Skyline in this year's SEMA show and Optima Challenge."

Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.

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K&N Engineering in Riverside California is the world's leading manufacturer of washable performance air filters and air intake systems. K&N invented the reusable high flow cotton air filter in 1969 and has been perfecting the technology ever since. K&N is a world class filtration company selling air filters, oil filters, and intakes in over 30 countries. K&N sells over 5,000 products designed for cars, trucks, motorcycles, engines, and industrial applications. From their Million Mile Warranty to their Consumer Protection Pledge, K&N stands behind their products and their consumers 100%. The distinctive K&N logo represents performance from one of the original performance companies. For more information, visit knfilters.com.