The main event, the big kahuna, the king mf'n kong! Tokyo Auto Salon is the one automotive experience that brings together everything awsome about the Japanese car scene that includes your favorite tuners, hard-core time attack cars, drift monsters, JDM classics, VIP...you name it. Tokyo Auto Salon has it all and is the place to be—more than 309,000 attendees this year can attest!
Best Use of Carbon: Impulse AE86
Impulse churns out the world's raddest AE86 Corollas. This N2 demo car is a build like no other. Nearly the entire body has been replaced with carbon-fiber—not the cheap stuff, either! Impulse uses the same technology found on Formula One cars and the Lexus LFA. You'll notice the carbon hood, fenders, doors, roof, rear panels, and over-fenders—we especially dig the interior floor panel and rear windscreen. Under the hood is a 16-valve 4A-GE equipped with a titanium exhaust and 4-2-1 header. The chassis features Endless brakes and Volk Racing TE37V wheels. The interior is stripped with nothing but a Recaro seat, AIM display, carbon dash, steering wheel, shifter, and rollcage. The final curb weight is the kicker—735 kg. That's 1,620 pounds and a recipe for a time attack monster!
Best 86/BRZ/FR-S: Jun Auto
On the surface, Jun Auto has the recipe for a solid and sporty coupe with the company's subtle aero add-ons, INGS+ wing, Advan wheels, Endless brakes, and Zeal coilovers. What lies beneath will leave you speechless though...a Synergy Power V-8 swap! This isn't your normal high-displacement V-8. In essence, the New Zealand company has taken two Kawasaki 1,200cc four-cylinder motorcycle engines and combined them at the crank. It's a top-notch engine that's been made into a turnkey solution for the ZN6 chassis—meaning it bolts right into place using the stock tranny and retains all the electronics from the ABS, traction control, stability control, etc. The final product? A motor that is 66 pounds lighter than factory, with improved weight distribution and 356 hp at 10,300 rpm. How can we forget about the 11,600-rpm redline as well?!
Best Rotary: Mad Mike's RX-7
At first the mean flat-black exterior and the Total Car Produce Magic Aero got us like whoa. Then under the hood...four-rotor twin-turbo insanity! Posted up in the Garrett booth was Mad Mike Whiddett's Humbul project—we can't wait to see and hear this beast in action!
Best Old School: Rocky Auto Skyline
No one does old-school restorations like Rocky Auto. From wild swaps to perfecting every last detail, the company creates masterpieces that would kill it at any concours or classic car show. We didn't get a chance to pop the hood, but we're told this KPGC110 Skyline houses an R32 GT-R conversion that includes the RB26DETT, all-wheel drivetrain and even the full interior! Rolling on 17x9" Volk Racing TE37Vs, this Skyline looks like a clean resto on the outside, but little do people know, it has so much more.
Best JDM Tuner: Top Secret
Since the early '00s, one Japanese tuner that has elevated the game time and time again is Top Secret. Under the direction of living legend Smoky Nagata, we've seen several iconic builds that not many tuners have been able to match. At TAS, its 1,000hp twin-turbo V-12 Supra made a surprise appearance. It's still as awesome as it was back when Top Secret unveiled the project eight years ago. Top Secret also had several R35 GT-Rs for us to ogle at, including its time attack build and its latest street car sporting a widebody conversion and 800hp engine upgrade.
Best Skyline: R31HOUSE
We all go bananas for Skylines, especially Hakosukas, R34s, etc. But low and behold, the R31 is one of the more forgotten generations that was available in the late '80s. It's the 7th-gen Skyline and the first in the family to receive the RB-series motor. So you can imagine when we stumbled upon this drift project by R31HOUSE, we couldn't pick our jaws up from the floor. It's completely built head to toe for abuse with 700 hp, rollcage, Cusco bars, Work wheels, and R31HOUSE aero. What we would do to see one of these sliding around stateside...
Best Stance & Most Hated: Koichiro Hayashi's RX-8
We can feel you cringe at the sight of this RX-8, but truth be told, not many cars stopped people in their tracks more than this Mazda and its monster camber. Contrary to what you might assume about the owner, Hayashi-san has run a longtime drift team for more than a decade and also owns a shop called Machikado R that develops parts for drift cars. We also understand he's one of the most active people in the Japanese scene, hosting his own event in Okayama and also supporting many enthusiast events across the country. Hate it or love it, we respect his RX-8 for what it is and appreciate an enthusiast who's been an advocate of the scene for nearly his entire life.
Best Wagon: Takero's Stagea
The Nissan Stagea is often overlooked by its bigger brother R34 GT-R. We also never received the Stagea stateside, so it doesn't come as a surprise why there's rarely any modified versions that show up in the mag. But this wagon by Takero's is simply too awesome to ignore! The shop is known for Stageas, and this project features an RB26 beefed up with an HKS 2.8L stroker kit, Tomei cams, and 1,000cc injectors, among other upgrades. On the outside is Takero's new Type Zero+ widebody kit along with 18x11" Volk Racing ZE40s all around. If you're not into wagons, this Stagea will surely change your mind.
Best Electric: Studie i3
The BMW i3 is a $40K hatchback that isn't too exciting at first. But Studie Japan is perhaps the first company to actually make one "kind of" cool. The fiery orange paint is the same color used on the M3 GTS. The electric car also features Recaro LX-F wrapped in orange leather and suede, lowered suspension, a one-off 3D Design front lip and roof spoiler, plus a custom front grille with integrated LEDs. Not too shabby!
Best Transformation: Drag-spec Prius
We're not sure how something like this even comes about, but this Prius hybrid has been completely transformed into an American-styled drag racer. The interior has been gutted out with the big, meaty Hoosiers exposed in the rear of the cabin. Under the hood is a small-block Chevy V-8. Come again?
Best VIP: Aimgain
Lexus has been the talk of the town since SEMA with the introduction of the new RC coupe. Aimgain didn't waste anytime making aero parts for its project RC F and RC 300h, plus releasing its new GVS wheel as seen on its RC F and RC 300h. We also couldn't keep our eyes off of the NX and is F widebodies!
Best Paint: Kuhl Racing GT-R
While it might not be the prettiest, we can't argue the craftsmanship that went into this GT-R. It features a Love Lark Aero Monster kit, Work wheels, Blitz bolt-ons, and Bride seats; however, the trippiest part is the paint. Called "3D Ultimate Engraving Metal Print" by Artis, all the designs have been hand-carved onto the body. We hear the R35 is for sale at 39 million yen—a mere $328,000...
Best American Import: Liberty Walk Challenger
It might be weird, but many car guys in Japan dig American cars, which is why they were flipping over this Dodge Challenger. The bolt-on fenders should look familiar to you because they're designed by our friends at Liberty Walk. It's dressed in all black and lowered with AirREX suspension. We admit we're not big into domestics, but this Challenger looks damn good.
Best WRX STI: Blitz
We were slightly disappointed when we didn't see many new STIs at SEMA. Thankfully, TAS was flowing with them. We especially dug this blingin' Subie from Blitz. Don't let the flashiness fool you though...Blitz installed its turbo upgrade and entire catalog of parts as well as its Aero Speed R Concept body kit. Rated at 420 hp, Blitz ran the STI on Tsukuba Circuit with a time of 59.045 seconds. Damn quick for just bolt-ons!
Top 10 Wheels
1. While it might just be a prototype, RAYS got us giddy with a deuce-deuce version of the TE37. Based on a concept wheel four years ago that uses a U-shape and cutout spoke to allow the wheel to be stronger and lighter, this 22x9" wheel only weighs 17 pounds! mackin-ind.com
2. Diamond-cut finish with black tinted clear on this limited-edition Volk Racing G25. mackin-ind.com
3. Not too new, we still can't get enough of the Volk Racing ZE40s—now available in bronze, blue, and this diamond dark gunmetal. mackin-ind.com
4. The lighter and more rigid Volk Racing RE Clubsport 2s. mackin-ind.com
5. Flow form cast Advan Racing RZ II wheels that feature a carved-in and step design. mackin-ind.com
6. Lovin' the Advan GT in its new Titanium blue color. mackin-ind.com
7. Designed by Rocket Bunny, built by Enkei, these mesh wheels would look good on anything! enkei.com
8. An updated version of the GTC01, the new GTC01RR features cut slots in each spoke to reduce weight. The Enkeis also come with a more modern concave shape. enkei.com
9. Concept wheel from Work made specifically for the widebody Do-Luck GT-R. Mmmm mmmm good! workwheelsusa.com
10. BBS brought out an arsenal of new wheels. We dug this new RI-S multi-piece forged wheel in 20". bbs-usa.com
Must Try #1: Ramen Booth
When in Japan, look up Tonkotsu Ichiran Ramen. It's a ramen chain that isn't your typical restaurant. The establishment we tried is underground, and their restaurants don't have family-style tables but mini-stalls for you to eat by yourself. The whole idea of the place is that you aren't occupied by socializing with your friends, but you're by yourself and concentrating only on the flavor of the ramen. Bomb.com; we give this place a 10/10!
Must Try #2: Meat in your Mouth
Another joint to look up is Pepper Lunch. It's a "fast steak" franchise that's popular in Tokyo. They also have restaurants across Asia and even one in NorCal, but it tastes incredibly legit in Japan. A peppered steak comes out on a sizzling plate and cooks in front of you. Our mouths are watering just thinking about it!
Must Try #6: Japanese Walmart
Need to pickup batteries, beer, designer watches, porn, weapons, or a TV? Don Quixote stores are scattered across Tokyo and they carry virtually everything you can think of, and more.
Must Try #3: McDo
When you're in dire need of something familiar to eat, just look for the Golden Arches. But wait a minute, the menu is different, and everything tastes better! McDonald's in Japan is no joke. Every sandwich and order of fries is perfectly made and look just like the commercial. There are also special items like the Ebi Filet-O (shrimp burger) and Mega Muffin (two sausage patties, egg, bacon, and ketchup) that we recommend you try.
Must Try #4: MOS Def!
Fast food that started in Japan? Guess they love their burgers! MOS Burger is the second-largest chain behind Mickey Dee's and pretty damn good we might add. We tried their teriyaki burger and limited-edition "Tobikiri" burger, which is loaded with potato and cheese; both had us wanting more!
You'll find most people in Japan keep to themselves and are very polite and quite conservative. But they're also freaks! Check out the store one block from our hotel in Akihabara! Which way to the fourth floor?
The Good, Bad, and Ugly
10 parts that caught our attention
1. Swans are in! The Voltex swan-neck rear wing for your FR-S and BRZ. evasivemotorsports.com
2. At high speeds, you'll need this flat bottom under panel on your FR-S and BRZ to maintain stability and downforce. Shipping might be a pain though... carbing.co.jp
3. Stepping up the bike rack game.
4. Side mirrors on this Lambo, courtesy of Smaug the dragon.
5. Need cash? In Japan, your Scion emblems go for 5,300 yen, about $44.
6. These would be rad to throw in an old-school street build. bride-jp.com
7. First broke the market at SEMA, now TAS... The G-Drive suspension system is a coilover that allows you to adjust the ride height without taking off your wheels. Genius! gdrivesystems.com
8. Toyota emblems on fleek!
9. Up Garage is no joke. Used and authentic JDM parts at bargain prices. We need these stores in the States! upgarage.com
10. Diggin' these new limey carbon-fiber sport seats from Recaro. We'll take two! recaro-automotive.com
Sam's Top 3
Weld FR-S "A big part of my inspiration for the Scion Tuner Challenge build came from this car. Shaved bay, ITBs, molded widebody, pure sex on wheels!"
Impulse AE86 "This is what Japan is all about. Where else will you find a carbon-clad 30-year-old car that's been reengineered to be incredibly lightweight for track abuse?"
Jun Auto BRZ "Seriously blew my mind when I looked under the hood. High revving, lightweight V-8 in a BRZ—this swap is simply nuts!"
Sean's Top 3
Mad Mike's RX-7 "Four-rotor uniqueness mated to a drift FD RX-7 awesomeness is hard to match. It's got nos, too. Stay humbul."
Impulse AE86 "The little RWD 86 remains a hero car to me. Add endless carbon-fiber and clean accents, and wow. Eighties baby!"
NSX Super GT "This is the ultimate example of what the new NSX could be. The color, big-time aero, and modernization of a legendary platform, seen here in Autobacs Honda NSX Concept GT trim, had me immediately."
Jofel's Top 3
Youichi Imamura's LFA "The LFA is my dream car. Despite being an engineering masterpiece, Imamura still hacked it up and swapped the motor for a NASCAR V-6! Mind blown."
Keiichi Tscuyia's Sprinter "Come on! This is a no-brainer! It's the Drift King's personal 7A-GE-powered AE86!
TRD Griffon Concept "It's basically the ultimate 86. Yo, TRD, can you throw some parts my way? No? OK."
T-Demand's Lexus RC 300h slammed to perfection on SSR Professor TF1s.
This is the second complete Rocket Bunny NSX in the world and is rumored to be owned by Kei Miura himself—definitely shares a resemblance to his FR-S project...
Who would have thought blue-on-blue would look so good?! Say hello to Phoenix's Power '15 STI with Volk Racing TE37RT wheels, prototype INGS+ front bumper, and Trust bolt-ons.
Hard to believe this time attack RX-7 is street-registered and driven by Car Shop Glow. With RE Amemiya and Voltex aero, 500+hp 13B and more, the FD3S has thrown down 56-second laps at Tsukuba Circuit. Dayuuummm!
326 Power brought out this dope RC 350 with wide and cambered Work wheels, Lexon aero, and a wicked brake setup.
There's aggressive, and then there's Varis... The highly anticipated BMW Z4 turned plenty of heads.
A car we'd never think someone would modify is this Jaguar XJ-S in the Universal Air booth. Custom widebody, slammed, and one crazy interior—this was beyond "out of the ordinary" but somewhat cool at the same time. Chalk up another badass Lexus. Here is the Lexon Exclusive is F. A one-off Rocket Bunny widebody, Work Emotion wheels, GReddy exhaust, carbon swan-neck rear wing, and Air Runner suspension—this sedan has the recipe for success! A Bavarian race car built by Team Munchkin. Leading the "WTF category" is this Toyota Will VI decorated in candy and cake. This Toyota 86 has gone back to the future. We spy a 3S-GTE swap!
Chalk up another badass Lexus. Here is the Lexon Exclusive IS F. A one-off Rocket Bunny widebody, Work Emotion wheels. GReddy exhaust, carbon swan-neck rear wing, and Air Runner suspension—this sedan has the recipe for success!
A Bavarian race car built by Team Munchkin.
Leading the "WTF category" is the Toyota WiLL Vi decorated in candy and cake.
This Toyota 86 has gone back to the future. We spy a 3S-GTE swap!
Words by Jofel Tolosa
As if the cars, parts, and girls weren't overwhelming enough, outside the halls was a D1 Grand Prix Kick Off Drift exhibition. The event pitted eight of the top-ranked drifters around a makeshift parking lot course in a friendly competition that took place each day. On the first two days, Masato Kawabata ('14 season's sixth place finish) in the 1,000hp GReddy/Trust GT-R claimed back-to-back victories. On the final day, Tetsuya Hibino ('14 season's fourth place finish) took the win in his Team Up Garage 86. We also saw the debut of two unique cars for the upcoming season. First was OZ Motors and T&E's (aka Vertex) rear-wheel-drive converted Toyota Prius. Driver Takahiro Ueno even did a demo and managed to get a ton of smoke out of the ex-hybrid. Veteran D1 driver Youichi Imamura also unveiled his Lexus LFA. OTG Motor Sports replaced the LFA's V-10 with a TRD NASCAR motor, while also slapping on wider fenders and a swan-neck spoiler. The '15 season of D1GP will consist of six rounds and starts mid-April at a special course in Odaiba just outside. tokyo. d1gp.co.jp