Japan, as it turns out, is a place where traditional and modern cultures coexist. Takashi Haruyama is no doubt a traditional specimen who still does things the old-school way. He's known for his affinity for Nissans, particularly ones with four doors, as his C35 Laurel is one of the longest-running campaigned cars in D1GP history.
Although his professional drifting days are over, he still loves to drift on a grassroots level and even hosts his own track days, known as soukoukai in Japan. But when he's not drifting, Haruyama runs a humble one-man shop specializing in a line of S-chassis aero called Car Modify Wonder. During our trip to Japan, we visited the icon and asked about his latest 180SX demo car, which we discovered at the '16 Tokyo Auto Salon.
"Look at the car front to back. This is Saitama street style," he says. Saitama is the city Haruyama hails from, and he wants to make his style known worldwide.
The beauty of Car Modify Wonder is that you can start with Haruyama's Glare body kit and add optional parts to customize your own look. Since this is his demo car and also his daily driver, it made sense for Haruyama to outfit the S13 with his newest and most aggressive setup.
The rear sports a "twin blade wing" that screams '80s flavor, and the rear GT quarter-panels extend each corner by 80 mm—reminding us of something you'd see on an NSX. Up front, he combined GT fenders and flares that extend the front 60 mm. "I spend countless hours perfecting each model so you can enjoy your car in style," Haruyama explains.
Car Modify Wonder is one of the few JDM brands that still makes everything in house instead of outsourcing. He'll double check for any imperfections himself so that when a kit arrives, you and your body shop won't spend days making things fit. On any given day, you can find him covered in fiberglass. It just goes to show that style and precision are still the name of the game in Saitama!
Although aesthetics play a major role in this 180SX, it doesn't mean the SR20DET under the hood lacks pep. It still has more power than your typical KA-powered missile. Utilizing a Trust turbo and a variety of HKS bolt-ons, engine power has been bumped up to a healthy 350 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. It's a standard setup good enough to participate in pro-am events around Japan such as Keiichi Tsuchiya's Drift Muscle competition.
There's an ongoing joke amongst the big Tokyo companies. It starts with the Japanese word dasai, which loosely translates to "lame," or "not cool," and from time to time, Saitama has been crudely referred to as "dasai-tama." Haruyama has been a key player in proving them wrong, as you'll see his aero is beginning to be sought after by S-chassis owners from all around the world; everything from the streets, like at our infamous Fresh Tokyo Car Meet, to the track, with professional level cars such as Matt Fields' S14.5, Dave Brigg's S14, and Ryan Raspberry's S13. Car Modify Wonder is catching on and there's no question about it - Saitama street style is here to stay.