There is something so infinitely interesting about seeing native Japanese car enthusiasts here in the U.S. In the last couple of years, more of them have made the trek to "our side" in order to study our automotive community. We have always looked to Japan as the tuning Mecca, if you will, so it's crazy to think that they would in turn find an interest in what we have to offer. This isn't a completely new idea, as Japan has always been interested in American culture as a whole, but the influx in style adaptations (car wise) has certainly grown within the last five years, especially with builds like Tomoyuki Sasaki's '96 Honda Civic Ferio VTi.
Sasaki resides in Osaka, Japan, an area predominantly recognized for its rich history in Honda tuning lore. You wouldn't know it by simply glancing at his Civic because it looks very American or "USDM." A more knowledgeable Honda guru might even refute the fact that it is a '96 model because it bears the face of a '99-'00 spec Civic, but that is done so intentionally. It is, in fact, a '96 model that has been converted to a newer Ferio Vi-RS via a donor car. The headlights and taillights come from a U.S. model to give you the impression that it's something you would possibly find in North America. Also gone are any visual cues of it ever being a Vi-RS model Ferio because the body has been resprayed in a bright orange hue that originates from Lamborghini.
This Civic is a product of Osaka-based tuning shop Tactical Art, built on Sasaki's behalf. It is perhaps the most extensively modified Civic in Japan, which has been created with this new USDM-inspired aesthetic in mind. It cradles the borders of two different ways of thinking: Western imagery and traditional Japanese craftsmanship. The balance of opposites comes from the two men who aided in Sasaki's Honda build. Yasutaka Shimomukai is a car builder who has spent the last few years devoted to learning all that the U.S. tuning scene has to offer. He befriended some enthusiasts stateside and made numerous trips to California to study both car and Western culture as a whole. Atsuki Tsubouchi, the other half of Tactical Art, is a race car builder and fabricator who utilized Shimomukai's findings to help develop what Sasaki envisioned. Atsuki's blue-collar work ethic and ingenuity can be seen throughout the build, from the custom-fabricated rollcage to the one-off intake and stainless exhaust.
Motivating this bright orange Civic is a B18C engine originally meant for a '96-spec Honda Integra Type R. Though the heart is very much a product of Japan, everything else—with the exception of a Mugen JASMA-approved header (and previously mentioned intake and exhaust)—is from the U.S. domestic market. The 1.8L engine sees a host of components from the Skunk2 Racing catalog, and a Rywire Mil-spec engine harness keeps the engine bay neatly tucked away. Nowadays, custom engine bays are essential to every highly regarded Honda build in the U.S., so it was assembled with the notion that it was a capable competitor to its American counterparts. Since this Civic was put together, it has become a shining example to other Japanese as to how a quality Honda engine bay should be executed (in regards to this specific style). In this era, no Honda build is truly complete without attention dedicated to the bay, and enthusiasts worldwide have come to recognize that. It's a standard that these guys from Osaka have come to understand very well.
The chassis receives a similar amalgamation of traditional Japanese workmanship and components acquired from the U.S. Giving the sedan an aggressive posture are a set of Tactical Art dampers. These are the only Japanese domestic aftermarket parts found on the suspension because they are original goods sold and created by the tuning shop. Beaming like a beacon under the rear bumper is a sturdy rear subframe brace from Function7 Engineering. Attached to the brace are matching Function7 lower control arms. Within the last couple of years, Tactical Art has developed a good working relationship with Florida-based CCW, running its forged wheels almost exclusively. On Sasaki's Civic, you'll find a set of its D110 wheels in 16x8.5-inch format with gunmetal faces, polished step lips, and gold-plated ARP hardware. Wrapped around these three-piece rollers are meaty Advan Neova AD08 tires. The body itself has been strengthened and restructured with a full custom 'cage. Everything other than the dashboard and door panels have been gutted from the interior. The only additions are a set of Bride seats, a MOMO steering wheel, and black Takata Racing harnesses. Even the rear decklid has been deleted with a custom fabricated dimple-died brace giving that area strength. The interior, like the engine bay, was sprayed in Tactical Art Gray.
There's always been something about Japan that is special and unique; it could be based on upbringing, work ethic, understanding of styles, or all of the above. The country just manages to adapt our way of doing things, and somehow make them better. Not always, but even in the instances when they come up short, the result is bizarrely close yet blown out of proportion in a very avant-garde way. If the grass is truly greener, they've done a thorough study on it and inadvertently made our grass an entirely new shade of green. You'll find people who question this new Japanese methodology because they don't understand why our friends overseas would want to replicate anything we're doing here, especially if they have always been our source of inspiration from the get-go. The answer is simpler than you'd think. They have seen and understood everything that is great about their car culture. It is a "been there, done that" scenario. They also understand all the progress that we have made here in North America and have created for ourselves a community of tuning cars that are enviable to the rest of the world. We've help to re-ignite a flame and inspired them to create, as they have inspired us all along.