Ah, the Tokyo Auto Salon-it's the one trip we long for all year 'round, the flavor that we savor. It's where we, as American journalists, subject ourselves to 10-hour flights, the bitter cold and royally screw with our internal body clocks so we can rush the halls of the Makuhari Messe, which is home (for three days at least) to Japan's top tuners and tuning part manufacturers.This is where all the kids congregate for a first look at the parts that'll add power or looks, not to mention the cars that rock 'em. This year we noticed fewer participants overall, but that the quality of the products are improving- always a good thing! Hot on the list of things to see were the new D1 drift cars for '06, wheels from Yokohama and Rays Engineering (check the super limited edition TE-37s), HKS' ever-expanding parts list for the VQ35 and CT25 engines and the K20-powered MR2 Spyders from Halfway. However, noticeably absent was A'PEXi and the usually extravagant Hironao Yokomaku and his company, VeilSide, and its fleet of stylish super cars. Maybe we should be expecting something huge in the months to come? Possibly-but for now, let's take a look at what really got our attention.
In not-so-shocking news, the Tokyo Auto Salon is also a hot spot to catch all the latest Time Attack cars in person. Even the ones that haven't yet challenged the Tsukuba circuit can be found here. Sun Line Auto (shown) just happened to have the fastest S15 Silvia in the world on hand; NOB Taniguchi drove it to an amazing 57.291 lap time at Tsukuba. The ASM Honda S2000, which is powered by a Toda-built F20C, set the fastest lap time in the FR/MR-NA class for the third year in a row with a 58.063 lap time. Top Fuel brought on GT driver Tetsuya Yamano to take their stroked and boosted S2000 to a time of 57.711. And if this doesn't sound crazy, Takero's Super Lap Odyssey-yes, a Honda Odessey mini-van-had a turbocharged K24 swapped into its engine bay and ran off with a respectable and quick 1:08.465.
Nitto, which has huge support from many US segments, announced its recent move to the Japanese market. They also held a private track event for those who went on the Turbo TAS tour at Twin Ring Motegi, where readers were given ride-alongs with Pacific Rim's Dai Yoshihara and Super GT driver Yasukichi Yamamoto (no relation to Yamz) in the Razo Z, as well as a host of other cars, including a DC5 Integra Type R, Mazda FC3S RX-7, and Honda S2000, to name a few. We were also shown around Twin Ring's operational facilities and snooped around the Honda Collection Hall. And while the others weren't looking, Nads, JDM and our official Spanish-to-Japanese translator, Tetsuya Ogushi, went head to head at the go-karting track. Tetsu still thinks Nads' win was a fluke. For more information on how you can join the Turbo TAS tour next year, contact Kintetsu International Travel at 888-245-5874 or log onto www.kintetsu.com/autosalon.