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Osaka Auto Messe '18 Top 20 - Hot Messe

It might be a tad smaller and a month later than Tokyo Auto Salon, but it's far from being second place! Enjoy our Top 20 picks from Osaka Auto Messe!

Apr 26, 2018

Since I started at Super Street in '11, Tokyo Auto Salon (TAS) has been the main event I look forward to attending every year. It's the Super Bowl of car shows where the biggest and the best tuners from all corners of Japan debut their latest parts and demo vehicles. It's been that way for decades, even before I was brought onboard SS. In fact, this year's TAS celebrated its 36th anniversary (that's older than me!). I've been lucky enough to go to four of the last five Auto Salons; however, for this year, I decided to take a break as our Tokyo-based contributor David Ishikawa reported on our behalf. Did I feel a bit of FOMO after seeing what I missed? You bet I did! So, I came up with a game plan to check out my first Osaka Auto Messe (OAM).

Truth be told, TAS often overshadows OAM. It happens around Valentine's Day every year (barf!), and it's an entire month after Auto Salon. Traveling-wise, when people think of Japan, they're also trained to think of its largest city, Tokyo, and its biggest show, Auto Salon—we've been advocates of this for years. But that doesn't mean what Osaka and OAM have to offer is subpar. Far from it.

Osaka is 350 miles south of Tokyo and is Japan's third largest city. Most people compare Tokyo to New York, while Osaka is often compared to Los Angeles. Osaka isn't as hectic, people are more laidback and casual in how they dress and talk, plus the car culture of the Kansai region has a bit more character and originality. Tokyo is obviously Japan's economic powerhouse with more than 30 million people, but Kansai has a huge population as well at around 17 million people, which includes big cities like Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe. Car-wise, the area is home to a number of shops, big 'n' small. RAYS operations and manufacturing, for example, is based in Osaka. There are also several "mom and pop" shops nearby such Five Mart/Osaka JDM, Tactical Art, AP Garage, Speed Forme, and more. You're likely to see more dope cars on the road in the region as well; it's not uncommon to find modified Hondas and Toyotas parked outside restaurants, or to see an R34 Skyline cruising down the Loop 1 freeway.

This year, OAM celebrated its 22nd show, and while I mentioned that it's smaller than TAS, it's by no means insignificant. 217,000-plus people came through the three-day extravaganza. OAM is held at Intex Osaka exhibition center, and it's easy and quick to get to from downtown. Another thing I noticed were the sheer number of car enthusiasts on hand. Walking TAS, I got the feeling there were thousands of people there just killing time on a weekend who weren't real car guys (or there to creep on the models), while at Auto Messe, I could tell right away there were more true fans in the house who could appreciate the variety and quality of cars at the show. It was also fascinating to observe the large number of families and little kids walking around, hopefully meaning a new generation of enthusiasts is in the making.

What's also great about OAM is that not only will you see plenty of underground grassroots builds from the local scene, but all the big dogs from TAS made their way down south to Auto Messe as well. In addition, there was a substantial number of VIP cars present—an entire hall was dedicated to all things big bodied and slammed. In total, Auto Messe had 639 cars on display.

I admit, it's hard to compare anything to TAS, but after going nearly five straight years, switching things up to Osaka Auto Messe was one of the best things to ever happen to me. The people of Osaka are incredibly nice (dare I say nicer than Tokyo), the food is equally amazing, getting around is a walk in the park, and the car culture of Kansai is one you can't miss.

Osaka auto messe 18 nissan technical college sunny Photo 2/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Nissan Technical College Sunny
Osaka auto messe 18 nissan technical college sunny Photo 3/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Nissan Technical College Sunny
Osaka auto messe 18 nissan technical college sunny Photo 4/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Nissan Technical College Sunny
Osaka auto messe 18 nissan technical college sunny Photo 5/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Nissan Technical College Sunny

1. SUNNY SIDE UP
This Nissan Technical College took five of its best students to build this Sunny project, which uses an SR20DET swap, S15 chassis, custom widebody, and much more. You're a 4.0 in my book!

2. NOMUKEN
Think the S15 Silvia is dead in the aftermarket world? Think again. Legendary drifter Ken Nomura and his company, URAS, have developed a new and aggressive aero package for the S15 called the "Type-GT." Under the hood is a built 1JZ, in case you were wondering.

Osaka auto messe 18 garageKM1 subaru forester Photo 9/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Garagekm1 Subaru Forester
Osaka auto messe 18 garageKM1 subaru forester Photo 10/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Garagekm1 Subaru Forester

3. WAGON WARRIOR
This is something you just don't see every day: a Time Attack-ready Subaru Forester (SF58) widebody built by GarageKM1.

4. RAYS OF LIGHT
Lots to see in the RAYS booth, including this BMW M2 on the new TE037 6061 wheels and the Gram Lights 57CR in new, limited-edition Sakura Pink.

5. GOIN' GAZOO
Move over, Mercedes-AMG Project One, McLaren Senna, and Aston-Martin Valkyrie... Toyota's Gazoo Racing has just developed this 986hp Super Sport LMP1 concept road based off its TS050 hybrid race car. F*ck yeah!

6. KUHL IT NOW
One of our favorite body kits for the Toyota C-HR happens to come from Japan's Kuhl Racing. This is its demo car that features one wild paint job, air ride suspension, and 20" concave wheels.

7. R U DOWN?
Mugen's RC20GT Concept is based off of the FK8 Civic Type R. It's been bashed countless times by social media for its questionable exterior and wheel choices, but the fit and finish in person as well as the seats, steering wheel, and digital display are hard to ignore.

Osaka auto messe 18 daihatsu minivan Photo 26/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Daihatsu Minivan
Osaka auto messe 18 daihatsu minivan Photo 27/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Daihatsu Minivan

8. OH, SNAP!
This Daihatsu minivan is just plain badass with full Snap-On tools integrated into its trunk, which includes an air compressor. It's also got a full 'cage, Work wheels, HKS parts, and more.

Osaka auto messe 18 all car create RIAN celica Photo 28/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 All Car Create RIAN Celica
Osaka auto messe 18 all car create RIAN celica Photo 29/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 All Car Create RIAN Celica

9. JUST THE TIP
This Toyota Celica from All Car Create RIAN is super clean, minus the exhaust tip...

10. TOP NOTCH AND TOPLESS
An incredibly well-done Lexus SC in the VIP hall of Auto Messe.

Osaka auto messe 18 t demand lexus LC500 Photo 33/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 T Demand Lexus LC500
Osaka auto messe 18 t demand lexus LC500 Photo 34/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 T Demand Lexus LC500
Osaka auto messe 18 t demand lexus LC500 Photo 35/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 T Demand Lexus LC500
Osaka auto messe 18 t demand lexus LC500 Photo 36/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 T Demand Lexus LC500

11. POPULAR DEMAND
T-Demand is one of the more recognized brands when it comes to air ride and VIP styling in Japan. Its Lexus LC500 was an obvious showstopper, but we couldn't help but give props to their dumped '18 Camry as well!

Osaka auto messe 18 speed forme fairlady z Photo 37/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Speed Forme Fairlady Z

12. GOOD FORME
You'll read more about Speed Forme later in this issue, but here is a customer's S30 Fairlady Z the company built for N's Factory.

Osaka auto messe 18 viziv performance concept subaru STI Photo 38/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Viziv Performance Concept Subaru STI
Osaka auto messe 18 viziv performance concept subaru STI Photo 39/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Viziv Performance Concept Subaru STI
Osaka auto messe 18 viziv performance concept subaru STI Photo 40/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Viziv Performance Concept Subaru STI
Osaka auto messe 18 viziv performance concept subaru STI Photo 41/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Viziv Performance Concept Subaru STI

13. THE NEXT STI?
The Subaru Viziv Performance Concept STI looks part angry, part amazing. We hope the next-generation STI will retain some of the concept's awesome features.

14. 9010DESIGN
Boxster/Cayman duo - Pandem widebodies, air ride, and more

15. A LA MODE
This new widebody conversion from Mode Parfume for the AP2 Honda S2000 is receiving a mix of love and hate. What are your thoughts?

Osaka auto messe 18 RWB porsche 911 Photo 48/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 RWB Porsche 911
Osaka auto messe 18 RWB porsche 911 Photo 49/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 RWB Porsche 911
Osaka auto messe 18 RWB porsche 911 Photo 50/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 RWB Porsche 911

16. ROUGH RHYTHM
This Porsche 911 might look like any other Rauh-Welt Begriff build, but the rear fenders have recently been reworked to be wider than any other RWB 993 out there.

Osaka auto messe 18 wald lexus Photo 51/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Wald Lexus
Osaka auto messe 18 wald lexus LC Photo 52/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Wald Lexus LC

17. ALL WALD
One of the nicest displays of cars belonged to Wald. Nothing but full catalog luxury cars, and we can't complain about their models, either.

Osaka auto messe 18 voomerman euro magic VWs Photo 53/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Voomerman Euro Magic Vws
Osaka auto messe 18 voomerman euro magic VWs Photo 54/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Voomerman Euro Magic Vws
Osaka auto messe 18 voomerman euro magic VWs Photo 55/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Voomerman Euro Magic Vws
Osaka auto messe 18 voomerman euro magic VWs Photo 56/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Voomerman Euro Magic Vws

18. EURO MAGIC
Euros were surprisingly well represented at Auto Messe this year. These Volkswagens from the Voomerman/Euro Magic camp were two of our favorites.

19. AP CLASS
No two cars drew larger crowds compared to the slammed Hakosuka Skyline and BMW 2002 from AP Garage. Their full feature is only a few pages away...

Osaka auto messe 18 five mart osaka JDM hondas Photo 60/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Five Mart Osaka JDM Hondas
Osaka auto messe 18 five mart osaka JDM hondas Photo 61/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Five Mart Osaka JDM Hondas
Osaka auto messe 18 five mart osaka JDM hondas Photo 62/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Five Mart Osaka JDM Hondas
Osaka auto messe 18 five mart CTR Photo 63/63   |   Osaka Auto Messe 18 Five Mart CTR

20. HONDA HEAVEN
Our friends at Five Mart/Osaka JDM were the cover feature of our Japan issue in '12. Known for everything from Kanjo racing, to hard-core track cars, and even hard parkers, Kazuhiro Furukawa has been an icon in the Honda community for close to a decade. At Auto Messe, he showed off a B16-powered E-AH, Mugen CR-X, a first-gen CR-X, and a Civic Type R. Is there a heaven for JDM Honda fans? Quite possibly here...

Sam Du
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