TUNING JAPANESE — SHOWDOWN IN HIROSHIMA
HANGING WITH THE BAD QUALITY CREW
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!