Winter is hard on tuning fanatics and car enthusiasts alike. Most have their cars stored or rarely drive them due to the frigid conditions. However, for three days in January, Japanese enthusiasts and others from around the world are able to forget about the cold climate and bask in JDM tuner car bliss at the now world-renowned Tokyo Auto Salon.
Tokyo Auto Salon (TAS) offers a glance into what can be expected for 2009 in terms of parts, performance and tuning for all the latest car platforms. For us over here on U.S. soil, it’s a mouth-watering experience looking at all the JDM parts we’ll so desperately want but sometimes can’t have, making them that much more sought after.
As expected, the Nissan GT-R dominated the showroom floor with many well-executed and tastefully modded examples. However, one company had a different idea for its GT-R. The AWD ATTESA system that makes the GT-R what it is has been ripped out and replaced with a Hollinger 6-speed sequential transmission and a custom rear differential from an R34, making it a real-deal RWD R35. Blitz, the company behind the madness, will more than likely campaign the car as a D1 drift machine. Furthermore, removing the entire AWD system has lightened the car considerably. Could this RWD conversion become a trend we see more often? Considering the extensive modifications needed, unlikely.
Among the sea of GT-Rs, Nissan’s other latest release, the 370Z, seemed to draw a lot of attention as well. With companies such as Sunline Racing, Mines, Fujitsubo, Impul, Ray Engineering and Zele International, all having great examples of modded Z34s in their booths, it’s no doubt the 370Z looks like it will become one of the most popular vehicles to modify this year.
We mustn’t forget the EVOs and STIs. With the latest generations now being a year old, a plethora of tuning and performance parts have created a healthy aftermarket for these four-door supercars. ZeroSports had a WRX sedan on display that had been converted to full STI spec. Not only was the sedan’s body widened to fit the STI drivetrain but everything else was carried over to build what would essentially be an STI sedan if Subaru would have built one.
Arguably the car of the show was at Mugen’s booth. Termed the Honda Mugen NSX RR, this one-off build by Mugen was aftermarket engineering and design at its finest. The marvelous widebody had oodles of carbon and set this NSX apart from anything we have ever seen. Mugen still reigns as the top Honda tuner of all time and this NSX just fortifies that statement.
Tucked away between all the mainstream and popular platforms are the hidden gems of TAS. Cars like BN Sports Type M JZX100 Mark II sedan boasting massive 19-inch wheels slammed under BN Sports wicked aero and a 2JZGTE pushing 1,000 hp or vintage 240Zs and Corollas, all come together to make TAS a complete experience.
This year’s show shed some light on what’s thought to be a struggling car aftermarket in Japan. There are still plenty of big players building new parts and fast cars. Just one look at the caliber of vehicles at the show and it’s easy to make the assumption that the market for tuning cars is still a strong one.