There were only two things for us to see this year at the Tokyo Auto Salon: the things that we're about to get here in America and the things that we'll never be able to get here in America. Turbo magazine once again hosted its annual Tokyo Auto Salon tour, which consisted of two busloads of Americans gallivanting upon Japanese soil in the name of fast cars and all things JDM.
The tour began with a day and a half at the Salon, where we roamed the aisles and halls in search of shiny aluminum and titanium pieces, stuff formed of carbon fiber, and products from companies like GReddy, Mugen, Spoon and Nismo that we'll likely never see back home. There was no shortage of what the Japanese domestic market had to offer. It was enough to put any honest enthusiast into a sort of frenzy at first, because scrambling to see everything strewn out and crammed alongside aisles became second nature. If you didn't know already that Japan had better access to parts, gear and cars that we can't get then you'd know it within five seconds of entering TAS. A fully reshaped, immaculately carbon-fiber bodied S2000 good for close to 900 hp? Yep. An insane, HKS top-mount, single T04Z turbo kit for the already impressive RB26? Uh huh. A sick, bolt-on Mugen supercharger for Honda's Fit? You bet. A twin-turbo, V-12 Supra from Top Secret? Of course. And that's just a sliver of the kick-ass JDM goodness that was TAS. If a car at the Salon wasn't flexing some sort of turbocharged madness and obese-sized front-mount intercooler, you better believe it had something else to attract attention to it, like trick individual throttle bodies, a fully gusseted and dimple-died rollcage, or a pie-cut exhaust system so meticulously fabricated it'll make some welders hesitate to even call themselves such. We scoped some new JDM parts, including downforce meters from ARC (that let you know whether or not that huge wing is doing anything), Mitsubishi EVO clutchless dog gear trannies you know you want, carbon LSD's, R-compound tires in almost every size, magnesium rims, and coilovers and mufflers for just about any kei car that can possibly roam Japan's highways. If the Tokyo Auto Salon sounds like the place you need to be next year, then keep your eyes peeled for Turbo's 2008 tour announcement. Sign up early. Spaces are limited.
The Tokyo Auto Salon was only the first part of the tour. After two days at the show, tour attendees were directed to legendary Twin Ring Motegi racetrack, a couple of hours outside of Tokyo. Nitto Tires and Razo hosted a sort of drift experience, where everyone got a chance to hop in the passenger side of the drift car of their choice as one of several professional drivers-such as Pacific Drift car driver Daijiro Yoshihara, and JGTC driver Yasukichi Yamamoto-point, shot, slung and slid a couple of Nissan S13's across the track. There's nothing like slipping across the pavement sideways at death speeds no more than 12 inches away from the car next to you and having absolutely no control over things since you're in the wrong seat. More modest cars provided by Nitto and Razo were also handed to us to have our go at the track, but fell slightly short when compared to the previous 400hp SR20DET powered slingshots we couldn't drive. Many thanks to Nitto and Razo-now go buy some tires and a new shift knob.