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2001 Tokyo Auto Salon - Events

Trends To Watch...2002 Subaru WRX, RVs and HKS Drag Supra

Evan Griffey
Apr 6, 2007 SHARE
0105_turp_01_z+2001_tokyo_auto_salon+hks_drag_supra Photo 1/1   |   2001 Tokyo Auto Salon - Events

This year's tour went as smoothly as the jet stream; 31 peopletravelled on a direct flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo in a touch more than 12 hours, with a return of just more than eight hours. As in years past, Turbo and guests stayed at the Shinagawa Prince hotel, which is perfectly located across the street from a major railway station and mere stops away from the most interesting districts of Tokyo. Once settled, we exchanged our benjis for yengis and headed out to sample Tokyo. The tour included bus service from the airport and to the show, which meant more free time in the city for us. As in past tours, we checked out the big Super Auto Bacs on the Tokyo side of the Rainbow Bridge and as usual, it impressed many of the tour attendees with super trick parts stacked in bins as if they were in the clearance aisle at Pep Boys. We hope to expand the tour for 2002, offering different lengths of stay and different itineraries, maybe even a shop tour. Whatever the case, expect bigger and better in 2002; stay tuned for Turbo to give away a trip later in the year.

While there were many of the same cars in attendance as last year, the 2001 Tokyo Auto Salon provided enough new blood to invigorate the senses. The standout of the show was the HKS Drag Supra. The car is a Jerry Bickle-built, tube-frame masterpiece that flexes i-Force V8 twin-turbo power. The Toyota should be an absolute terror at the track.

Our brief observation of the car revealed dope-ass, electronically adjusted Koni rear shocks, an air-shifted sequential gearbox, an innovative intercooler set-up, where each turbo pressurizes the air-to-air chiller from each side. The cooler's piping to the throttle body exits the intercooler in the center of the unit. This design provides good cooling, while limiting lag. The car also has shock travel datalogging capabilities as well as engine datalogging. Furthermore, the wheelie bar treatment was unique. The engine's upper intake plenum and eight individual velocity stacks look cool and its 16 injector fuel system seems more than ready to tackle its duties. Short of that, this was a typical Supra.

In other 0-400 news, Blitz had one of its distributor's race-oriented RX-7s in its booth. A stock-sealed 13B motivates the silver 7 to mid-9 e.t.s with bolt-on parts. Video footage of the car running showed the suspension still had some development, so we look forward to seeing quicker e.t.s. As we understand it, Blitz USA is sending the crew some 3mm apex seals and if the car responds with a big number, it could earn a trip stateside. (Look for a feature on this high-spirited Mazda in this issue.) Top Fuel had its mid-engine del Sol from last year in its booth again. A placard on the roof displayed a 10.8-second e.t. accomplished on street tires. We would still like to see this car come to the United States in Quick Class trim and run on slicks.

As far as make and model goes, the 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX owned the floor. There were so many of those restyled oval headlights peering at us, we felt like we were being stalked. The rally tuners, Subaru Technica International (STi) and Rally Art, had packed displays and street tuner Zero Sports unleashed a number of trick WRX components. We're looking toward GReddy and HKS to develop an in-depth line-up of parts for the WRX in the States. The question is, will some of the Japanese Subaru tuners join the fray?

The big trend showed modified RVs, such as Japan-only micro-vans like the Honda SMX and Wagon R, as well as offerings from Suzuki and other manufacturers. Even bigger vans like the Toyota Previa and Honda Odyssey were seen with crazy body kits, slammed suspensions and fat chrome wheels. We really dig the SMX and Suzuki vans and wish they were imported here. As popular as RVs were as a whole, their lack of availablity in America made it hard for us to get jazzed about the trend. We found the driving forces behind their surge in popularity are price and versatility.

On the styling front, two of the biggest body tuners in Japan made impressions on us. In the expansive Veilside booth, the kits for the new Celica and MR2 Spyder looked like primetime players.

In the Bomex booth, video screens were full of the trailer for the American import car oriented movie "The Fast And The Furious," which stars a Bomex-bodied Supra. The screens were crowded 24-7 as the Japanese youth seemed to like what they saw. Perhaps the film should be distributed in the Land of the Rising Sun? For those wanting a starring role on the street, Bomex was showing its aggressive Integra body kit. The kit features intercooler-ready ducting at the nose, stylish side skirts and a nice rear treatment. It should be available in the States as you read this.

On the electronics front, we are seeing more companies pushing the envelope with smaller units that perform more functions than ever. The Blitz SBC i-D for instance (featured in our April issue), now has a sidekick, the Blitz Power Meter, which greatly expands the tuning envelope. The units work together, but are connected via infrared not hard wires. For more on this high-tech goodie, see the tech article in a future issue. There are other electronics from varying manufacturers which we also plan to test in 2001, so stay tuned.

For 2002, we plan to take a more active role in promoting the tour and hope to offer an expanded program for those who want it. If you are interested in joining us (and we did have a blast), contact JTEC at the accompanying phone numbers.

There is a great deal of free time woven into our tour. In fact, the last day (Sunday) was entirely open and since the tour was based in central Tokyo, the whole city was at our fingertips. We spent our free day at Asakusa Kannon Temple, a quick 15- to 20-minute subway ride from our hotel in Shinagawa.

There was a long, crowded corridor of souvenir stands leading to the temple. We ran the gauntlet, darting across the aisle while price-shopping the stands for the return trip, and arrived at the gateway in front of the temple more or less intact. To the left was a five-story pagoda, topped with a spire. The entire structure looked to be springing toward the heavens. Just inside the gateway was a fire pit where the faithful fanned the smoke of the holy fire over their bodies for good luck.

Once inside the temple, it got crowded pretty quickly. The working portion of the temple with the altar is fenced off to the public, but there is what could be called a wishing well with steel bars running across it at the front of the main hall. People throw money in the well. They were lined up six deep to get in range to chuck their yengamins into the black hole. (We'd sure like to be at ground zero with our backpacks open and positioned in the stream of coinage!)

To the right of the money pit was a glass case where candles could be lit for the benefit of lost loved ones. This set-up was similar to churches in the West. Next to the case was a series of drawers that contained fortunes. To determine one's fate, a container with icons inside is shaken and the person selects an icon. The icon leads the curious believer to a section of drawers and the draw that corresponds to his or her year of birth is opened. The fortune inside locks his fate, so to speak.

While looking for food, we noticed some commotion at a shrine next to the main temple. There a ceremony involved vibrantly dressed women who performed a dance to the music of traditional instruments. A priest-like person came out and waved a blessing Pope-style; there was more dancing, then the procession moved away from the shrine. The ceremony was beautifully serene and provided a real slice of Japanese life, past and present.

The Auto Salon sees more than 200,000 enthusiasts go through the turnstiles. Luckily, we had passes for VIP day, which gave us prime access to the show.

Our tour had a number of veterans who had arranged to do other things the day our group shot was snapped. Many stayed beyond the regularly scheduled departure, which inspired us to look into upping the ante in 2002.

The HKS Drag Supra stole the show big-time. The twin-turbo V8 flexed a number of innovative mods. We were impressed with the Toyota's electronically adjusted Koni rear shocks, air-shifted sequential gearbox, and innovative intercooler set-up; the engine's upper intake plenum with eight individual velocity stacks looked cool. Its 16 injector fuel system also impressed. The car is coming to America.

Our tour had a number of veterans who had arranged to do other things the day our group shot was snapped. Many stayed beyond the regularly scheduled departure, which inspired us to look into upping the ante in 2002.

Blitz had an interesting 9-second RX-7 in its booth, along with a healthy dose of turbochargers. Look for more on this stock-apex-sealed rotary in this issue of Turbo.

This Tom's-built MR2 Spyder impressed us with its radical lines and Tom's venerable air scoop treatment.

The marque on the march was the 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX. There we so many they looked like peeping Toms. We know the U.S. based Japanese tuners will churn out the WRX gear but will the Japan-based manufacturers and tuners jump on the bandwagon in America?

Bomex unveiled its Integra body tuning kit and looks to have a winner on its hands.

Building a fuel system? Here's how to do it right.

RVs, micro and mini vans were the big trend at the 2001 Tokyo Auto Salon. The entire second hall was filled with them. We think they're cool, and wish the OEs would send us some.

The bodywork on this Nissan Silvia was trick. The car had the goods under the hood as well.

Godzilla spotted! For the first time since our 1998 tour, that reptilian troublemaker Godzilla was spotted in a clearing just south of the Makuhari Messe. Rumor has it he later trashed an indoor skiing facility adjacent to Tokyo Bay.

TRD was on hand and while the Altezza was still a player at the Salon, the Subaru was the rising star.

The Skyline GT-R is the one constant of the Salon. Since we started doing the tour in 1997, the GT-R has been a dominating force.

Trust, the parent company of GReddy Performance Products, had a big spread at the show. Unfortunately, Stephan Papadakis, who was on our tour, was not on the Trust stage dancing this year. We hope to see his new moves at the 2002 show.

They make great products, but need a translator in the marketing department.

When we said RVs were big in Japan, we were speaking figuratively. Check out this 8-inch body lift.

Now, that's carbon fiber.

The RV was given a Chevy C1500 makeover. Dope.

American Products Company and Turbonetics were American companies hoping to make a splash in Japan. They join Wings West, which has had a Japan HQ for a few years now.

Veilside's 0-400 Supra looked trick. We would love to see the car, which has posted single-digit e.t.s, make some passes on U.S. soil.

The Top Fuel del Sol was back; this year it had some runs under its belt. A sign on the roof showed a best pass of 10.8 on street tires. We'd like to see the car run in America in Quick Class trim.

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By Evan Griffey
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