Long before the Rocket Bunny name became the international, teen heartthrob sensation that it is today, it lived in relative obscurity, even in its native Japan. Literally a few short years back (and we're barely talking maybe 2008) if you were keen enough to know the name TRA Kyoto and its more proper aero line—6666 Customs—then you'd also know that anything bearing "Rocket Bunny" was actually geared toward Kei cars. The 6666 GT Rodeo body kits were actually fashioned for the S13/S14 Silvias and other kanjozoku delights. Kei Miura, the undisputed king of today's current aero trends is the man and myth behind TRA Kyoto and all its body kit lines, and is an old school street racer who tends to design with his love for overfenders and small, super-wide wheels in mind. Though 6666 is what originally got the attention of most people, it just sounds a lot cooler (and rolls off the tongue way better) when you use Rocket Bunny.
Fast-forward to 2014 and we see plenty of modern day cars taking on retro styling cues for the ultimate—and often times, untouchable—look. The FR-S/BRZ/86, GT-R and the odd European supercar have achieved new levels of cool because of the Rocket Bunny moniker. Other Japanese customization/tuning houses, like Bensopra and Liberty Walk, have also become household names because of Miura's design prowess, and as such, he has reimagined his older kits to blend in with what's currently trending. Bensopra is the perfect case study: two years ago, Miura helped to craft the aero for their 380SX project (VR38DETT swapped, hence the 380 designation); it was all sorts of nasty (good, not bad) and the lack of a rear bumper at first seemed like a mishap, but became a bit of an accepted novelty—whether or not we recommend it for public driving in the U.S. is up for debate (and we'd probably tell you not to). In Japan, where this doesn't seem to be a problem, the no-bumper look seems to have caught on for the older S-chassis crowd. Look to our February cover car for the first example or if you need some convincing.
Which brings us to these three S13s...that all just sort of magically came together through social media contacts. You see, we tried shooting the Bensopra 380SX back in 2012, but it wasn't finished at the time, and then, it just sort of disappeared from the limelight (although it did make a guest cameo at this year's TAS). Then we saw that Work Wheels Japan shot an ad with what looked like the Bensopra car, except it wasn't, was pink and a customer's car. Our good friend there, JC Pepino told us it had a stock motor and wasn't ready, so that went on the wishlist for a long while. Then, randomly in late November/December, by simply surfing Facebook (don't let anyone tell you it's a waste of time), we found Takashi Mine's ultra-clean red S13 that was RB-kitted with a set of TE37Vs (who we discovered is friends with Satomi Nakatawase, owner of the military-inspired S14 that we featured a couple years back) and promptly arranged to have it featured during our visit to Tokyo Auto Salon. Wouldn't you know it: by clicking through his photos, we found out he knew the owner of the pink 180SX and saw photos of another unseen S13 coupe, a little less extreme but equally decked out in Rocket Bunny gear. A few email exchanges later, we had these fine triplets available for us.
Mine's (pronounced mee-nay) build is his second; his first was a lot rougher around the edges and was camo'd out much in the same way his friend's S14 was done. This coupe is a much better specimen, sporting the newer Rocket Bunny diffusers, side skirts and overfender treatments. Matched to the TE37Vs, this is a street-appropriate build that would fit right in on American streets. Its SR20DET powerplant has been upgraded with the works from some of Japan's power-building elite. The cylinder head was rebuilt with full Tomei valvetrain components; a larger GReddy turbo, wastegate and complete exhaust helps deliver even more power—all of which was tuned through an A'PEXi Power FC by D2 Motorworks. The transmission comes from a newer model S14 and has been outfitted with an RG metal clutch and lightened flywheel, plus a NISMO GT limited-slip differential. In comparing the three cars, Mine's is the one we envision seeing the most driving action, and so his suspension is set up as follows: from Megan Racing comes their coilover kit, lower control arms, camber adjusters, toe control arms and a roll center adjuster; an Okuyama cage and sway bars help to mellow out chassis roll. The interior is nearly stripped with the exception of the essentials, including a Bride Zeta III seat, a factory R32 Skyline seat for those willing to yell "shotgun!" and a Nardi Classic steering wheel.
The loudest of the three cars is easily Siro Watanabe's 180SX; partially because of the eye-blinding pink, but more so because of the Bensopra/Rocket Bunny treatment. Closely resembling the 380SX by looks alone, this was one of Work Wheels Japan's 2013 campaign cars. Aside from the aero, it also makes the most power, with the SR20 receiving an IHI turbo upgrade, HKS cams, GReddy intake manifold, A'PEXi turbo manifold and tuning through a Power FC to a grand total of 414hp. Siro took the extra step to maximize his car's performance potential by swapping the OEM transmission out for a 6-speed NISMO close-geared box, which also employs a NISMO clutch and flywheel; there is also a NISMO LSD to help transfer the power evenly to both drive wheels. KW coilovers are positioned at all four corners to bring the ride height down while NISMO strut braces and a custom cage are set in place to help stiffen the chassis. The Work Meister M1R wheels were the final pieces to set this build off, but the front end had to be extensively modified in order to fit the wheels properly in conjunction with the fender work. From the rear half back, all of the factory glass has been replaced with Plexiglass for weight savings. It may not be the Bensopra 380SX, but we're glad to finally have this car locked into our pages!
Last but not least, we have the simplest of the three, owned by Yu Takeda. What this Silvia lacks in actual modifications is more than made up by just being too f'in clean! Sprayed a factory Porsche Riviera blue and updated with all the Rocket Bunny accessories, we'd guess Yu Takeda rides in comfort in comparison to Takashi or Siro any day as it retains a full interior and factory glass. A set of Stance coilovers for a little drop, big 18" Work wheels and a Trust intercooler to fill up the front air dam is perfect for a daily driver.
We gathered all three cars together just a hair north of Osaka/Kyoto in the Kobe region, which was once only world-famous for their beef but can now add "Silvia enthusiasts" to the list.