Part 2 of our HKS Premium Day coverage takes us to the holy grail of all things HKS, the world famous HKS factory in Fujinomiya Japan. Our day started off rather early because we had to check out of our hotel and load all of our luggage into the tour bus that would take us 50 minutes outside of the city to this small and traditional looking town.
Upon arrival at the factory I saw one of the major reasons why HKS parts are so magical, just look at that gorgeous MT. Fuji background! Imagine seeing that everyday when you come to work. (I usually just see views of homeless people and parking lots) After posing for a group photo our tour broke off into two groups. One part of the group went off to get dealer training on new HKS products, and the others toured the grounds. After lunch, the groups switched.
Since I was the only editor lucky enough to take this tour, I sort of separated myself from most of the group to snap as many photos as I could.
HKS has a very strict “No photo” policy of anything inside their buildings so unfortunately I can’t show you the best parts of the factory. Before taking the HKS factory tour, I had no idea how much emphasis they put on product quality with everything they do. Every hard part, is scrutinized, manufactured, checked, doubled checked and made in that factory. They even go as far as to making little things like ball bearings in house. They believe in hiring one person to make a specific part, this way a master makes sure each part is perfect before it reaches the end user. There is literally one guy winding and cutting springs for the HiperMax coilovers that has been doing that for over 10 years. There is also another guy who’s only job is to make sure the springs are perfectly painted and each HKS logo is applied in the perfect location all by hand.
Most companies will out-source a lot of components of their parts to save cost and time but not HKS. I can’t stress enough how impressed I was with the quality control of that company.
Another crazy example of their exceptional quality control is their exhausts. While many manufacturers just focus on horsepower and torque numbers with their exhausts, HKS ads another extremely critical checkpoint to the equation, sound. I wish I could have taken a picture to show the world the world’s first exhaust sound “tuner” I’ve ever seen. There’s a guy sitting behind a soundboard (much like a studio mixing booth in a recording studio) with headphones on listening to the car in front of him as it goes through the revs on the dyno. He records all this data and then figures out ways to tweak the sound with the shape of the exhaust bends without restricting flow. Once the sound and power levels are satisfactory, the exhaust prototype gets made and then tested another 20 times just to make sure it’s correct. Yes, these guys are that serious about quality.
They say a picture is worth 1000 words right? Since I can’t show a picture of any of this stuff let’s move on to the HKS museum shall we?
We were allowed to take photos here so we spent as much time as we could geeking out over all the HKS history in one room. Many people don’t realize how many parts HKS actually makes. They even cut their teeth back in the 70’s with airplane engines and they are still making those today. In fact, the US is a huge market for them and their aviation motors. Racing has always been a huge part of the HKS story, since they branched off from Yamaha in the early days of the company; they have always focused on producing the highest quality products from start to finish. Heck they even made their own Formula 1 engines for a while.
While there have been many HKS and OEM partnerships over the years, nothing was more cool in my opinion than the OPEL x HKS JTCC campaign they had in the 90s. As a huge fan of anything touring car, this thing immediately caught my attention and it was hard to peel me away from it. Look at those center locking Enkei’s with Dual AP Racing calipers…. In the front! It totally makes me want to build an Opel Vectra with the famous HKS livery.
Sitting next to it was the equally cool Mercedes CLK x HKS JGTC build. When you think HKS you normally don’t think European cars but this things was rad. It takes guts for these guys to take an unfamiliar platform and make it competitive in a super competitive series. I would love to take this thing for a spin on the streets of Osaka just to see everyone shit themselves as it cruises down the street rumbling and spiting flames. I also really loved how minimal the driver’s cockpit was. Inside, there was only one multi display with a ton of carbon fiber.
At one point HKS was making so many car parts they decided to make their own car. Yes that’s right, their very own car. While staying true to the “build everything in house” theme the entire HKS P10 car was manufactured inside the HKS factory. Considering this is the first one I’ve ever seen, I wonder how many were ever built. The large exhaust and super minimal race inspired dash are little hints that this car had some serious performance goals in mind.
The rest of the HKS museum was filled tons of monumental builds and engines that I wish I could get my hands on in the states.
You could say the one car that put HKS on everybody’s radar was their drag-prepped 180sx. Outfitted with a crazy 7MGTE running two giant turbos this car put HKS in the record books very quickly, even the ladies loved this thing.
After we were done drooling over the insane JDM heritage inside the museum I decided to sneak my way outside and shoot the employee / project car lot. I saw a super clean JZX100 out of the corner of my eye but what really caught my attention was the USDM spec, left hand drive FR-S in the parking lot. This thing was decked out in all the best USDM goodies all the way down to a legit set of CCW wheels. It just goes to show you that people always want what they can’t have no matter what side of the ocean they are on. This is the point in the tour where I snuck off and took pictures of the infamous “HKS Graveyard” but unfortunately I can’t show you any of those photos either. After I was done snapping pictures of some of the most amazing builds in HKS history just left to die in a field I was asked not to publish the photos. I’ll just leave you with this, the rumors are true, the graveyard does exist and the cars that are left to rot in that field brought a tear to my eye.
A huge thank you goes out to Motovicity distribuiton and HKS USA for taking us on the tour and opening our eyes to the wonderful world of HKS. We can't say enough about the quality and performance of their products. The factory tour has given us validation in our years of obsessing over JDM parts. We can hardly wait to go back next year, maybe then we will be able to show you images from inside the factory and possibly even a tour of the graveyard.