UNIQUENESS IS ALWAYS ON THE AGENDA, BUT THIS YEAR WAS A BIT DIFFERENT
These three magic letters stand for Tokyo Auto Salon – roll the pictures.
If there is one thing you can be sure that the Tokyo Auto Salon delivers, it’s uniqueness. The show is as unique as the market it attempts to promote. Varied, eccentric, at times surprising and confusing, but always with an underlying purpose of fun. Every year it presents a different feel, dependent on the cars and styles that are most prominently exhibited. But 2017 didn’t really have that. There was no one big thing, no one new style that everyone jumped on. But rather an evolution of the whole tuning and aftermarket scene as a general, with a variety of shops and brands doing a variety of different things. And that’s good because it keeps the industry we love so much alive and moving forward.
From a tuning perspective, people out there still crave power and since domestic manufacturers have failed miserably over the last few years, tuners have made sure to deliver. My favourite this year was seeing pretty much every Honda S660 running an HKS turbo upgrades, boosting power to 110 bhp for a big boost in fun and with various shops presenting the car in their own flavour. (Mugen had a curious S660 based concept that made no sense whatsoever, so I didn’t pay too much attention to that.)
Tuning wins & fails
Blitz turned their attention to the newly released hardtop version of the MX-5, the RF. Aside from a baby Ferrari 599-like profile, the more coupe-looking version of the affordable sportscar finally gets the 2L engine the rest of the world has been enjoying. Which of course is still low on power and refinement, but that’s where Blitz gave the car attention. It strapped a tiny little turbo next to the motor and with a magical dose of boost it has raised power to 285 bhp. Now that, my friends, is a proper recipe for fun! STI have completely lost the plot with the BRZ STI Sport Concept, seemingly another base car with a few pink bits out of their catalogue, but no turbo to be seen. Obviously they are unable to understand what real enthusiasts crave! Another big fail is on the ride height of the car and the overly conservative offset. Let’s leave this stuff to the tuners, shall we?
R31 House – doing things right
One shop that did get things so right is R31 House. The R31 Skyline specialist prepared a wagon with a shaved engine bay and a fully tuned, naturally aspirated version of the RB20, running Motec engine management. This is a style that should serve as an example to all tuners in Japan. Show car presentation mated to style and lots of mechanical attention. It’s these sort of complete builds that not only tickle our senses, but also make a shop stand out.
GCG and billet engine blocks
Let’s talk about some good old-fashioned engine tuning, something we are always excited to see! GCG, who imports Garrett and Borg Warner turbos into Japan, is now bringing in billet engine blocks over from Australia. If you want big power and intend to run huge levels of boost there is nothing quite as bulletproof as one of these blocks sculpted out of a chunk of alloy and mated to Darton-coated iron sleeves. Japan’s Time Attack hero, Under Suzuki, has been running one in his S15 Silvia for almost a year and has since miraculously stopped putting con-rods through his block.
Wheels – RAYS & Work Wheels
Domestic wheel manufacturers had a few surprises up their sleeves too, starting with RAYS, who came up with their most advanced wheel to date, the TE037 Dura. Made out of Duralumin, an extra tough and rigid aluminium alloy with traces of copper, they were able to cast empty spokes that are so tough they can be further machined out to reduce weight without impacting structural rigidity. 300g per wheel is what they can save. Impressive. Work wheels went back to the history books to resurrect an old design from the 1970s, refined and re-engineered to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary. Simply called Equip 40 the four-spoke wheel was showcased against a Triumph TR3, which was modified with the help of Kei Miura, with wider and more aggressive fenders.
Liberty Walk Ferrari 488
New Civic Type R gets an aggressive makeover T880 Truck is a futuristic interpretation of a Kei Truck Kuhl Racing’s Vellfire is all paint, no vinyl
STI Concept rocking the off road look
Pass the tissues Restomodded Volvos from Volts were a bit crazy
Suzuki Cappuccino transformed into a series 1 Mazda RX-7 Er… Top Secret’s R32 GT-R running a VR38DETT engine and transaxle twin clutch swap from an R35 GTR… … and it’s got the dash to match Drift-spec Suzuki Jimny running a tubular frame chassis and SR20DET Obayashi Factory Nissan Cube with Works style fenders and a retro Skyline look front end The coolest Daihatsu Copen in the world?
Downforce isn’t a problem
2-door, 13B swapped RX-8 built by legendary rotary shop RE-Amemiya is… … good for over 500bhp!
Triumph TR3 modified with Pandem overfenders and running the new Equip 40 vintage inspired wheels