We all know RE Amemiya for building incredible rotary-powered Mazdas. Some of the most iconic RX-7s we've loved and praised over the years were born in their house in Chiba, Japan, not to mention they've made a name for themselves in JGTC/Super GT, time attack, and D1 Grand Prix. In accolades to achievements in motorsport, every year at Tokyo Auto Salon they manage to debut a special demo vehicle and blow the minds of nearly every enthusiast that walks by their booth. What you probably don't know is that RE Amemiya is not a one-stop shop; they don't do their own body and paint work... So, while the flashy, high-powered show cars grab all the attention at Japan's largest stage of aftermarket performance, the magic behind the illustrious paint jobs and custom bodywork comes from an unsung hero known as Masao Otani.
Otani-san (not to be confused with the baseball player, Shohei Ohtani), is a master auto body tech at TM Car Body Shop. He's touched nearly every major build that's worn an RE Amemiya badge over the last several years; however, after meeting him, it was very shocking to find out he's never owned a Mazda himself. He's dabbled with a Honda CRX and even a Rover Mini, but his latest projects couldn't have been anymore fitting for this issue—a pair of color-coordinated Nissans.
Visually, the R34 GT-T and S13 180SX cars share a distinct white-with-black color scheme. Otani-san tells us they were built for slightly different purposes. Starting with the Skyline, it was purchased in '00 for the purpose of drifting. Thus, for those questioning, the rear-wheel drive GT-T was chosen over the all-wheel drive GT-R. It remained lightly tuned for a short period of time until Godzilla's RB26DETT was swapped in place of the original RB25DET NEO (which wasn't much more than its 276hp stock rating). Now with the beefier RB and upgraded with a TRUST turbo kit and cams, the result is an impressive 600 horsepower at only 14psi boost. Otani-san explains the boost is set on the safe side, meaning there is plenty of room for more power if he wanted.
Fast-forward several years and Otani-san was given the opportunity to nab a good condition 180SX his co-worker was selling. The addition of another sports car allowed him to begin changing the setup of the Skyline from drift to grip, more specifically to run at Tsukuba's legendary TC2000 circuit. This meant more suspension and chassis upgrades but also allowed him to change the styling to match the Skyline's new purpose, which included Top Secret's front bumper and Uras fenders. For accents, there are plenty of carbon-fiber pieces, including side spoilers, canards, and diffusers—all handmade by, you guessed it, Otani. Additionally, a set of Gram Lights 57CRs complete the GT look—black faces on the driver-side and blue on the passenger-side to trip folks out.
Now about that 180SX... Otani was also working on it simultaneously with the Skyline. It came with a 220hp SR20DET, and he wanted to keep it stock and reliable. It would be better suited for places like his nearby track Mobara Twin Circuit, which measures 0.7 miles long in contrast to Tsukuba's 1.271-mile length—more like a go-kart track or autocross than a true road course.
Leaving horsepower modest meant more time could be focused on the exterior. Everything from the custom bumper work to the handmade diffuser, canards, and side steps, plus fitment and molding of the Origin Labo fenders are examples of his expert craftsmanship. Lending even more to the aggressive look is a titanium exhaust with a downturned "dolphin tail" tip, while wide Volk Racing TE37Vs with meaty Dunlop tires complete the GT theme.
Between the Skyline and the 180, Otani-san admits that he has a soft spot for the R34. Even out of all the other cars he's owned, it's his favorite. The rear-wheel drive layout of the GT-T is just more versatile, allowing him to tackle both drift and time attack events. Probably not what Isami Amemiya wants to hear from his body and paint guy, as neither project cars are Mazdas. But hey, there's just something about Nissans, and there's not much you can hate about these two beauties.