The good old days—it’s always fun to reminisce. Everyone has a story about why building cars back in the day was more special but when you break it down, it all comes down to one simple concept: less BS, more emphasis on the car itself. Considering how crazy the art form of customizing cars has become in recent years, one oft forgets that the less taken road of simplicity can sometimes yield the best results—yet, at the same time, one can’t just go less and expect to please the ‘more’ masses of today. A compromise needs to be made somewhere in the plan. The crew of drifters that make up Nagano Koubou are big on the older styles that were popular in the ‘90s, specifically in their home region of Osaka—hence, they’re ready to see this kind of movement make its way back into the spotlight, with a little new school twist, of course.
If you’re the type who scours the Internet for hours on end looking for the obscure (but very cool) cars that come out of Japan, then you’ve no doubt seen this duo before. They are by no means fast—that’s not really the important thing here—but they are very low, loud and carry mad lip; they also drift (plenty of scars to prove it). That’s a cool thing, in case you didn’t know it. While they see a huge number of car enthusiasts going for wider body kits and the ‘Hellaflush’ style, Nagano Koubou opts for what they think is a cooler style, one influenced by the past, and even their personal tuning mantra reflects it perfectly: “Find new wisdoms through old things.” And so they went back into time, so to speak, digging up older ‘90s drifting videos and tuning magazines, going so far as to ask people who were drifting in that time period what they liked about cars back then to help build their cars for today. What they discovered was that it was hard to mix the old and new together—the car couldn’t just be a simple ‘90s replica—yet the simple nature of going very low and choosing the right color for the car was still very much an important part about getting these projects off the ground. “This is real ‘90s Osaka drifting style,” they tell us.
What some people may not know is that the Work Meister CR-01 is a perfect example of the old school coming back to new life. Guess who you have to thank for this? That’s right: these guys. The owner of Nagano Koubou, Masayoshi Nagano was looking for a smaller diameter wheel with a classic look but more aggressive, modern widths, and so Work Wheels Japan answered back with this wheel, which can be ordered in just about any crazy fitment you want, so long as you want 15s. Most all the Nagano Koubou projects sport the CR-01 but they insist that if you’re going to put these on a car that you can’t use wheel spacers and you must run at least -30 offset, adding “Overfenders are cool, too.”
As you can clearly see, these two—a Silvia and Onevia—are undoubtedly true to the low style but clearly driven often, and very hard. These days they’re not as pristine as they were a couple years back when we first discovered them but the overall grittiness adds another element of cool to the overall package. While the Onevia is (by looks alone) the least assuming, it’s the more powerful of the two with a newer S13 SR20DET that’s been rebuilt with parts from the S15 Silvia. Peek inside the passenger cabin and you’ll see a complete change in aesthetics with custom painted panels, dashboard pieces, rollcage and even reupholstered seats—you want drifting in style, this is it. On the outside, the Onevia name says it all: what may seem like the USDM front bumper is quite the opposite—here, the 180SX front end with flip-up headlights are used on the Silvia body, thus creating the “Onevia” name. Masayoshi is using a 180SX Chuki (Chuki meaning ‘middle’, between Zenki and Kouki) front bumper and side skirts but is using a 180SX Zenki front lip for a cool mix-up of factory Nissan parts.
The white and green Silvia, owned by employee Takaya Oigo has a wilder, more Bosozoku-look to his build. As another big fan and supporter of the ‘90s Hashiriya style, it’s shocking that the engine isn’t crazy modified but receives extra props since the late Atsushi Kuroi, D1 driver from the Riverside drifting crew helped work on the cylinder head (do yourself a favor and hit up Google if you don’t know who I’m talking about). This car has seen the most action judging by the condition its front bumper and interior are in—we’re talking scraped paint, damaged headlights and a stripped interior with a Bride seat making up the most expensive piece in sight. Still, its wild paint scheme and aggressive wheel fitment (on both cars, actually) come in to save the day a million times over.
Maybe since I’m a supporter of mixing old with new school styles is a good reason why I love the Nagano Koubou cars so much—but how can I be wrong? The best part is that you can drop the features you didn’t like then and use the present to make the entire package even better. Doubling one’s pleasure, and in this case, in so many ways than just one, couldn’t be any more true.