I might have lied... Earlier in this issue, I told you my favorite car from our Tokyo Fresh meet was Takuya Takahashi's Levin coupe. But I had a tough choice. A car that equally broke my neck was Robert Limtiaco's Hachiroku. His Levin-converted Sprinter Trueno looked immaculate with lustrous burgundy paint, rare fenders made by Impulse, and extremely wide Works CR01s. But wait a minute... "Robert?" That doesn't sound Japanese at all! Upon meeting the young owner, I quickly found out he's not Japanese, speaks English, and even lived in Vegas for 15 years before moving to Texas. At 19, he picked up everything and decided to relocate to Japan to work for the military. With no language barrier between us, it was cake setting up a photo shoot with him and even easier to get to know him.
Robert grew up like many of us. In middle school, he was into chasing girls and skateboarding. He got his first taste of cars from an older cousin who owned a Prelude. He also credits The Fast and Furious for peaking his interest. Of course, he eventually learned that modified cars weren't all about underglow neon and NOS. When he was old enough to drive, he immersed himself into the Honda scene, and well, I'll let Robert tell you the rest!
SS: So your AE86 is quite pimp, but what were you driving before?
RL: Before I graduated high school back in the States, my dad made a bet with me because I was fuckin' up in school. He told me to get good grades and he'd get me a car—so I did! Haha. I ended up getting a DC5 and built that up until I left. It was my first build with full suspension, audio, brakes, and a GReddy turbo making 290 whp. I showed the car at Wekfest and two weeks later, I was in Japan!
SS: Coming from the U.S. to Japan, how is it building a car here?
RL: Building a car in Japan as an American can be difficult—the language barrier mainly. It's hard to talk to individuals in the scene unless they speak English, and I can't read shit, so it's hard to sometimes find what I need. Besides that, though, Upgarage and used parts stores are big out here. Yahoo! Auctions Japan is another good place—deals pop up often. Used wheels are cheap as shit compared to the States, too.
SS: Where does the story of this AE86 start?
RL: After being a Honda guy, I wanted to try a different platform and experience sliding. I got my orders to Japan and knew I had to learn to slide out here. Back in the States, I had always tried to pick up an 86, but being in Texas, there wasn't much nearby, and I never found one. Before I settled on an 86 here in Japan, I considered everything from a Silvia, R32 GTS-T, Cresta, Chaser, and Laurel. I think what made me finally land on an 86 was watching the driving style 86 owners had in Japanese drift videos. Then I saw a super-clean 86 built by a Japanese local—that really made me want one.
SS: And now you have built one! Was it as hard as you thought?
RL: Haha! So where to begin... I guess the hardest thing would be dealing with a 30-year-old chassis. Rust for one, and two, finding OEM parts that have been long discontinued. If you find them, they're pretty expensive. From a foreigner standpoint, the hardest thing can be attaining parts due to the language barrier and just being new to Japan. I luckily got introduced to Masato Hamanaka, a 4AG Club member, who speaks English and has been the backbone to my build for parts. Like all the 4AG Club members who have been doing this stuff since around their high school years, he has all the connects and local respect that I don't have. Huge credit goes to him for the build.
SS: What's your favorite part about the car?
RL: Kind of hard to pick! I'm pretty excited for this motor build, which I'm trying to throw down before the end of this year. But if not that, then I guess maybe the Work wheels. Inspiration I drew for this car came a lot from the wild, super-aggressive S-chassis builds you see all the time. Wild flares and aero, super-fat three-piece wheels—that's what I wanted. I wanted as much low and lip as I could get, and I think I did a pretty decent job at achieving that.
SS: You've now built a car in the U.S. and Japan. How do the scenes compare?
RL: The States simply just can't compare. California is the closest we'll ever have to Japan, but even then, Japan is still on a completely different level, and it's something that's hard to really explain unless you come out here and experience it for yourself. Before I came out here, I already knew all the hype we put on it in the import scene and whatnot, but Japan lives up to that hype and then some! Between the touge, circuits, drifting, time attack, events, street culture...Japan has it all and goes hard in all aspects.