January means one thing and one thing only; Tokyo Auto Salon! Admittedly, to this day, I’m still not much of a static car show person but Auto Salon is unlike anything else. Not only will you find the most eclectic mix of cars imaginable in the main show, but you will often see many of them getting involved in other meets and gatherings both before and after the main event.
I’ve never been personally but, truth be told, I can’t imagine stumbling across a bright pink Aventador with a plethora of LEDs sitting in the middle of the Geneva Motor Show, let alone finding it sitting outside of the main event hotel afterwards, V12 being smashed off the rev limiter.
The main event begins on Friday, with Wednesday and Thursday being the set up days (if you have a trade or media pass, you can gain access on Thursday evening). For some reason I decided to arrive on Wednesday, which meant aimlessly walking around the Makuhari area for a little while and seeing what I might stumble across. It didn’t take long to see what this street might be used for in the early hours of the morning when there are fewer visitors to the event hall complex.
If you’ve been keeping an eye on Facebook recently, you might have seen some of the outrageous cars that BH Auction would be displaying for auction at Auto Salon. I came across one of their transporters parked outside the hotel, carrying a pair of 4-door R32s (in Millenium Jade Pearl, no less) and a 991 911 R. Quite the combination.
It wasn’t much longer until Morohoshi-san from Fighting Star rocked up outside the aforementioned hotel in his LED-covered, diamond encrusted Aventador.
Up went the drivers’ side door and off he strolled, nonchalantly into the hotel lobby. It felt good to be back!
Shortly after I got to explore the exhibition halls as the vast majority of companies made their final preparations for the following three days of crowds. It was great to watch the 326POWER display coming together but, prior to our arranged meeting time for dinner, there was something else I wanted to check out: the annual RWB New Years party at the Hard Rock Cafe in Roppongi.
With roughly an hour and a half’s worth of trains and subways required to ferry me back and forth from the Messe and with only two hours in which to return back in time for dinner, this was going to be an extremely quick stop. I’d begun to wonder if it was all worth it but, as I turned the corner of a narrow back street and found Nakai-san’s track focused Rotana 993 sitting there, I knew I’d made the right choice.
Sitting alongside was Rough Rhythm 993, with the owner Ichiraku-san being the man responsible for pushing RWB onto the global stage many years ago.
At this stage I must apologise for the poor standard of these photos and the haphazard nature in which they were taken. However, in this nondescript little car park in one of Tokyo’s more famous districts, I was like an excited schoolboy trying to take everything in within the thirty minutes or so that I had.
I believe this is Nakai’s “runabout” car when in Japan.
Dragon Leaves 964. I don’t much about this one.
Natty Dread Jnr 964.
There were quite a few non-Porsche vehicles present too, although for the most part these were relegated to the upper level of the car park.
Battered and bruised S-bodies on Tokyo’s immaculately clean streets always makes for a fascinating juxtaposition.
Narrow-body Porsches were also welcome.
The most peculiar yet fully awesome car of the night to show up? This De Tomaso Pantera with an exhaust setup that was both incredible and ridiculous in equal measure.
As the time to depart came about in a hurried fashion, I came across this static E36 on my way to the exit. Mental.
While RWBs get a lot of love and hate in equal measure around the globe, what frustrates me the most is the builds (mainly in Europe and the US) that are done purely for promotional, display or vanity purposes. The vast majority of Japanese-owned RWBs see frequent circuit use or, if they are built as street cars, they are frequently used as such. Watching the owners drag these wild creations down ridiculously tight back streets under Tokyo’s night time electronic glow towards the gaggle of (mainly) foreigners that were waiting for them, there was a certain aura that you just don’t get when seeing an RWB build in person at a brightly lit and densely populated exhibition hall.
Anyway, at this point I had to dash and catch a couple of subways and a train back to Kaimakuhari Station for dinner.
Being a veggie can be quite difficult in Japan at the best of times but thankfully, after a brief bit of Google Translate and a few hand gestures, Mr 326 had a wide array of deep fried cheese-based goods heading to our table. Happy days!
Next up I’ll be posting photos from the main event itself. Stay tuned.