If you’ve been reading Tokyo Auto Salon coverage on other sites up to this point, you’ve probably read plenty of hyperbole regarding the event and Japan as a country itself. Yes, TAS bombards your senses with more than enough sights and sounds to keep your brain preoccupied for a week or so and yes, Japan will always be an awe-inspiring country for travelling Westerners but I don’t want to focus on either of those topics in this post. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Japan a handful of times in the last few years and, if there’s one trait that stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to understanding and appreciating car culture in this country, it’s the attitude of Japanese car enthusiasts.
When I say “attitude”, I don’t mean it in an Avril Lavigne circa 2002 kind of way. What I am referring to is the way in which different topics and subject matters are approached and, crucially, respected. When someone wants to build their car in a certain way that might be a little off the beaten track, people let them get on with it and keep an eye out for the outcome. When a company intends to release a product that strays from the norm, people in Japan tend to sit up and take note.
New styles are created, fads come and go and niche modifying styles seemingly appear out of nowhere. It is this openness to new ideas that breeds creativity amongst those with an imagination and a desire to use it. It is this outlook that has resulted in Japan being at the forefront of modified car culture in recent years and especially so since the explosion of social media.
Here in the UK, it often feels like a company or individual is unable to create anything remotely radical or nonconformist without making a declaration of “doing it for the haters” or words to a similar effect. The phrase is now used so often everywhere from the front covers of major print publications to eighteen year olds proudly showing off their Plasti Dipped interior trim to their 58 Instagram followers that it really has lost all meaning here.
However, I do understand and appreciate the mentality of it. Kato-san of Liberty Walk has been capitalising on the shock and awe approach for years now, a tactic that has made him one of the most world-renowned figures in the modified car scene. He is a prime example of someone using the tactic to achieve genuine results, with a vast business empire that shows no sign of slowing being the result of his efforts.
Other, much smaller Japanese companies also use the same technique (albeit with a lot less fanfare in most cases) but, crucially, it is the response of the Japanese customer base that allows them to become successful business ventures. A walk around Tokyo Auto Salon leads you to believe that you could design, manufacture and sell parts for the most unlikely of cars at the most exorbitant of prices and, so long as your branding and image were on point, customers would gladly hand over their money and buy into your style. The feeling of opportunity is everywhere and this is why you will find more bejewelled Lamborghinis, slammed Rolls Royces and overfendered luxury cars than you can imagine.
Anyway, on to the photos! Apologies for taking all of these on my phone; battling the crowds to take a clear photo was difficult enough (let alone while trying to figure out the right capture settings) so my DSLR remained in my hotel room.
Thursday was setup day and, by the time I’d recovered from my flight, I managed to catch the last few cars waiting to be loaded into the event venue.
Unless you had an Exhibitors pass you weren’t getting into the messe but, thankfully, I was able to meet up with Eri Eri from ENON Wheels/326POWER who handed me a pass and showed me around.
The first port of call was of course the 326POWER stand where the guys were finishing up the cars ready for the show to open to the general public the following morning.
The 3D Star kit on this S13 began life as an S15 kit before being heavily modified to suit. I don’t believe there are currently any plans to put it in production which is a shame considering the interest that this car has created.
Mitsuru Haruguchi, fitment police, reporting for duty.
I have quite a lot of these 326POWER windbreakers arriving in stock later this week; you can pick them up in the shop here.
Following on from a night with the 326 guys, it was time for the show to open to the public. The first car that caught my attention was this Gloria…
…mainly because of the incredible interior.
Subtle styling upgrades for brand new luxury cars is big business in Japan. Artisan Spirits are one such company who specialise in aero parts and other exterior parts for modern Lexuses, amongst other marques.
The most talked about car of the show? The Liberty Walk “Miura” aka a GT40 kit car certainly got the crowd going when it was unveiled. There were also lots of angry people on the internet voicing their opinions when I posted some photos shortly after the release.
Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that it’s memorable.
By comparison, the unveiling of their new Lexus LC was completely overshadowed by said “Miura”.
Over at the R31 House stand there were of course some incredible R31s.
These stunning R32s were parked up next to the aforementioned R31s and the build quality was absolutely sensational. I don’t know much about the history of them but I do remember them both being in the WORK Wheel catalogue a couple of years back.
The D.A.D stand was exactly as you’d expect; lots of black cars with mental interiors slammed over the company’s very gold version of the 326POWER Yabaking Mesh wheels.
Rauh Welt had a car on display at a clothing stand. Unfortunately it wasn’t the original “Stella Artois” (this car is named Stella Artois 2 and I’m not really sure what its purpose is) but it was still cool to see.
There were plenty of nice cars over on the PANDEM stand, including an EG Civic that bossman Miura apparently drove to Tokyo all the way from Kyoto.
I headed back to the 326POWER plot to check out their stand in full swing, along with the surrounding booths.
URAS had this funky S15 on display, combining GT styling with small wheels. I was a bit saddened to learn that it didn’t have any front brake calipers fitted though! Style comes at a price eh.
G-Corporation had this S15 in front of their small booth.
Considering the new LS Lexus had only been released a few weeks prior, it was amazing to see how many were already modified and on display.
Going back to the more old school brands and the Car Modifiy Wonder S14 looked great.
Interestingly, it had bolt-on arches on the drivers side and traditional wider fenders on the passenger side. I’m still struggling to decide which look I liked most.
They also had this JZX100 on display; ultimate 2001 style.
BN-Sports had this GT86 with 19″ Yabaking Mesh and a long nose front bumper.
Next door was Daigo Saito’s mid-engined JZX100.
Over on the Origin Labo stand was this very pink JZX100 from Garage Dual that is driven by a lady drifter.
The custom 326 wheel nuts were a nice touch.
Drifting O.G Chunky Bai had his trusty 180SX on the stand…
…alongside Nakamura’s PS13. More photos on the blog soon.
Stunning 240Zs from Star Road.
I’ve always been a fan of T-Demand’s branding and style, although I was pleasantly surprised to see that they’d built demo cars that weren’t black for once.
I also couldn’t believe that they were running SSR Agle Strusse wheels in modern car sizes. I thought these had been discontinued a very long time ago.
EJ20 powered AE86…yep, you read that right.
1JZ-powered RX8. More photos of this another time…
Awesome Serialnine-equipped Aristo,
Team Moccomans S15.
Three-S Design Mercedes SLs running Haila Diamond wheels with real diamonds in the centre caps. These will soon be available in the STL shop for the more upmarket customers amongst us.
The company also had their new Lexus LC on display with the new Haila Diamond wheel design.
Top Secret’s VR38-powered R32.
Tamon Design’s stunning S2000.
Fast European cars on aggressive one-piece Japanese wheels are the future, as demonstrated here on the Rays stand.
After three and a half days at the show I thought I’d seen everything…and then I discovered another hall with the Team FREE’s Verossa parked inside. Note the through-floor exhaust.
The infamous quad turbo S14 was also to be found here…
…along with the Doriten S15. I couldn’t really figure out what was going on but, from what I could tell, they were doing driveshaft replacements while being timed by a stopwatch.
This GT86 was also very distinctive to say the least.
Well that’s the vast majority of the photos that I took inside the show, with the rest being saved for some more specific features. I also need to post the photos I took outside the venue, where there were many more interesting cars to be found. Stay tuned.