This year’s Tokyo Auto Salon event carried quite a bit of weight on its broad shoulders. As the economy worldwide struggles to regain its footing, many look to the TAS event as a measuring stick, much in the same way they look to SEMA, to determine the state of the industry. SEMA 2010, though still on wobbly legs, seemed to show signs of revitalization in the tuner market. Unfortunately, other than the CR-Z presence in Las Vegas, the Honda front seemed to be all but forgotten. Across the waters, the illustrious Tokyo Auto Salon numbers were a bit deceiving on paper. Last year’s event drew just over 400 participants, while this year’s show barely managed to eclipse the 360 mark. However, with over 600 vehicles on the display (up from last year) and an increase in foot traffic, the dark cloud hanging over the industry seems to have lifted, even if just for a few days.
Once populated by what some would refer to as underground tuners in the industry, TAS is now home to some of the largest powerhouses in Japan. Much like SEMA, the majority of display Hondas in attendance wore the CR-Z badge. While hybrid tuning hasn’t caught on in America, Japanese enthusiasts have, for the most part, embraced the idea, and are well on their way to developing an entirely new market. Big timers like J’s Racing and HKS have garnered plenty of attention with their initial offerings overseas, as well as Top Secret, who’ve been rumored to have coaxed over 300 hp from the hybrid mill. So popular was the CR-Z this year, that only one make and model had more display vehicles: the Nissan GT-R flagship. Also a point of interest this year was the 20th anniversary of the NSX. The sports car that made revolutionary moves in the early ’90s continues to proudly carry a legacy that will no doubt go down in automotive history.