TUN­ING JA­PANESE — SHOW­DOWN IN HIROSHIMA

HANG­ING WITH THE BAD QUAL­ITY CREW

NZ Performance Car - - Contents -

AARON HANGS OUT WITH THE IN­FA­MOUS BAD QUAL­ITY CREW TO DIS­COVER THE NAME CER­TAINLY DOES NOT MATCH THE MA­CHINES THAT THIS HIROSHIMA-BASED CREW PRO­DUCES

Hiroshima is a tran­quil melt­ing pot of the past and present, as pic­turesque olden-day trams cruise streets that are lined with mod­ern build­ings and bright neon lights. This city is, with­out a doubt, one of my favourite places to visit in Ja­pan, and it’s also the home of Mazda, okonomiyaki, and Bad Qual­ity. Mazda cer­tainly needs no in­tro­duc­tion, okonomiyaki is quite pos­si­bly the best Ja­panese food ever, and ‘Bad Qual­ity’ is just the lo­cal street-drift­ing crew — or so I thought. Iconic cars such as the Bad Qual­ity 180SX of Nak­a­gawa-san are, for me, the prime ex­am­ple of pure badassery, so I was just a wee bit ex­cited to be in­ducted into the Hiroshima car scene by the Bad Qual­ity crew, led by Shuichi Nak­a­gawa and Keigo Igi. It was 10am; I’d been told to meet them in front of Hiroshima train sta­tion. A black Ford Ex­plorer pulled up, and off I went with three close friends who had joined me for an ad­ven­ture.

I was ex­pect­ing to be taken out to a work­shop in the sub­urbs where the iconic cars are kept, but when Igi-san’s first line was “Our first stop is my shop”, I re­al­ized that Bad Qual­ity was a lot big­ger than I had first re­al­ized. We were en route to Show Up Shift, a body and tun­ing shop.

Igi-san is a dab hand when it comes to paint and panel work, his own R33 har­lequin drift car serv­ing as ev­i­dence of this. Even a lit­tle old lady and her toy poo­dle were guilty of hav­ing a good look as the R33 slowly idled up the street and stopped just off the main road. Peek­ing in the doors of the work­shop, we saw that the Bad Qual­ity S2000 was ready to have its kit ap­plied, and the fa­mous 180SX of Nak­a­gawa-san was just off to the side. It wasn’t quite how I re­mem­bered it, though — stripped right back to a shell ready for its im­mi­nent re­birth!

Af­ter a canned coffee and some choco­late, it was off to the next stop. While in the car, I was cu­ri­ous about how the name came about, and what ex­actly it meant. “‘Bad Qual­ity’ doesn’t mean that our cars are dan­ger­ous; it means that we have qual­ity-built cars that aren’t most peo­ple’s idea of per­fect in ap­pear­ance,” Nak­a­gawa ex­plained. Many see stanced cars as some­thing that can’t be drifted, but this group of guys and gals put that old wives’ tale to rest. “My 180SX was so low that I ground off most of my front lip drift­ing it,” he said, laugh­ing.

Soon enough, we ar­rived at the next shop, and, this time, it was Ultrabox, the cre­ator of the wild JDMin­spired BMW 2002 from NZPC Is­sue No. 228. As the car was rolled out the front of the build­ing so that we could all get a good look at it, I qui­etly sat back watch­ing the in­ter­ac­tion. This was a wide, di­verse group of peo­ple, young and old, all in­ter­linked by the ‘Bad Qual­ity’ name. Whether their pre­ferred ride was a slammed 180SX

or an im­mac­u­late 2002, ev­ery­one was bound by one com­mon theme — their love of build­ing and driv­ing cars. While ad­mir­ing the de­tails of the 2002, Nak­a­gawa-san asked, “Do you like old-school cars? I have some other friends with tra­di­tional-style Ja­panese cars; I will in­vite them to meet us later.” The day was just get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter!

All the ex­cite­ment had me work­ing up a big ap­petite, so, in true Hiroshima fash­ion, it was time for some okonomiyaki. You can eat this all across Ja­pan, but, if you are a stick­ler for proper food, Hiroshima is the only place to en­joy it. As the Bad Qual­ity crew kept re­mind­ing us — okonomiyaki out­side Hiroshima isn’t true okonomiyaki. Af­ter stuff­ing our­selves full, the crew di­vided up the guests’ por­tion of the bill among them­selves — the hos­pi­tal­ity of our Ja­panese hosts was just amaz­ing.

Now that it was dark, a few friends had been called on for an im­promptu car meet in a small shop­ping-mall car park. Hum­ble lit­tle Hachi-Roku, Sil­vias, RX-7s, Sky­lines, and even slammed kei cars were there. Drizzly rain had set in, but that wasn’t go­ing to de­ter any­one from hav­ing a good time. Just then, the silent evening air was pierced by the sound of raw, un­muf­fled ex­haust notes. “Ah, they are here!” Nak­a­gawasan ex­claimed, and, out of the dark­ness, a Kenmeri and a C210 came cruis­ing into the car park. ‘Bad Qual­ity’ might be the name th­ese guys and gals run by, but the qual­ity of the cars and the su­per-friendly peo­ple driv­ing them was ex­cel­lent.

As the hours rolled on and sto­ries were shared, it be­came time for a bit of a drive. A med­ley of drift cars, clas­sic boso­zoku and cruis­ers took over the high­way and headed out to what is a clas­sic haunt for many of the mem­bers — a park­ing area off the road that is steeped in tra­di­tion. “All the guys who have gone be­fore us used this park­ing area as a base for high­way rac­ing,” Nak­a­gawa-san ex­plained. In the eerie night, the driz­zle still lin­ger­ing and il­lu­mi­nated by the bright-or­ange street­lights, you could feel the ghosts of the past hang­ing in the air. By the time we had snapped a few more pho­tos, it was al­ready 4am and time to head off.

A mere 18 hours be­fore, all the peo­ple I’d met through­out the day had just been names; now it felt as if we had been friends for years. On the predawn drive home, it quickly hit me that, once again, the au­to­mo­tive scene had shown me the im­por­tance of the peo­ple over the ma­chines. I can’t imag­ine where the tun­ing scene would be to­day with­out that hand­ful of straight-up, gen­uine, down-to-earth peo­ple with a true pas­sion for what they do. Let’s face it, friends like Bad Qual­ity make life a lot more fun.

A huge thank you to ev­ery­one who came out. NZPC will be back soon!

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