The Japanese tuning market will most likely never regain the glamour and influence it had in the late 1990s but the brilliance of Japanese tuning, from conception to execution, can still be seen on the floor of the Makuhari Messe. You have to really look for it; it doesn't jump out from the aisle like it did back in the day. We have been conducting the Turbo Magazine Tokyo Auto Salon tour for eight years and for 2005 we had 64 attendees. The Turbo tour has introduced the best of JDM tuning to more than 400 fans and so far no one has walked away unfulfilled.
Overall, 2005 stacked up better than 2004. There were a lot more hardcore tuning and innovative parts on hand than at the 2004 show. There were a lot of turbo conversions and engine power swaps, with of all things V8s enjoying a bigger presence than ever before.
Our standout car of the show was an easy call. It displayed all the attributes that make TAS worth every penny. The Mugen Legend Max is a Honda Legend (Acura RL in the U.S.A.) fitted with a Le Mans-inspired V8 and all-wheel drive. The beefy V8, shod in carbon fiber trim, features a carbon fiber intake plenum that pops through the hood. Removing the top portion of the plenum reveals a set of eight shiny velocity stacks. It doesn't get much better than this no matter which side of the Pacific you're on. We'd have to classify this red beast as a concept car.
In the conventional car category we were enthralled with the twin-turbo Subaru in the Blitz booth. The aggressive piping and the duo of responsive turbos held an intoxicating promise.
Other interesting propositions included Nismo's special-edition 500-whp Skyline. Nismo bought back 20 low-mileage R34s and dropped some heavy Z-Tune mods on them. Look to spend upwards of $160,000-plus if you can even find one.
As far as hard parts, there was plenty of action in this arena as well. HKS displayed a variable-vane version of the company's GT-series of ball-bearing turbo and a redesigned Super Power Flow intake bell. GReddy debuted a most interesting product, an e-Manage tuning computer enhanced with full timing and fuel control to better control the company's extensive line of turbo kits and to do battle against the F-CON V-Pro and AEM EMS. Check the product section of our coverage for more details.
In general there were less drift cars than last year, more JGTC cars, fewer NSXs, more GT-Rs, zero Supras and a bunch of Evos and WRXs. The scissor doors are now a played-out item but the power swap, especially using a V8, seems to be the next big thing. Keep an eye out in the fall isues for ads concerning the 2006 Auto Salon Tour and consider seeing these technological marvels in person while taking in the ambiance that is Tokyo.