10 Years In The Making
Standing Out

If there’s one thing I don’t like about Japan it’s the way society is forced to adhere to a predetermined set of steps. As soon as children start their first day at school they are entering ‘the system’ and will be forced to follow the same path that generations before them have gone through, studying and preparing themselves for a series of tests, exams and life goals that are there for the sole purpose of being passed. Actual understanding plays second fiddle in education, as does discovering and nurturing an individual’s unique set of skills and talents.

Yes, Japan is very black and white. ‘The system’ attempts to eliminate anything outside of the expected norm, but because of those who choose not to conform – usually creative types – it will never succeed. These people are the ones you usually hear about; characters that stand out for their god-given qualities and follow an almost anti-social path for the greater good. In my experience, these are the people that can call themselves successful, be it through the things they are able to create, or through the wealth they have been able to generate from not becoming a lemming.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-03

And I’m very fortunate, because through my job here at Speedhunters, I get to meet people like Tomoyuki Nonoshita on an almost daily basis. To the outside world, or ‘the system’ if you will, he would likely be categorised as a repair man. Tomo owns a little garage in Saitama called Silver Rest, and it’s here he spends his days fixing, maintaining and restoring his customers’ old VWs.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-11

But Tomo is much more than that. He’s a young guy with his own vision; a man that on the surface attempts to conform for the sole purpose of creating when nobody is watching. His 1972 VW Type 2 Panel Van is the perfect example of what it means to be creative. Built over a period of around 10 years, this van is still an incomplete project, but it’s not too far away from completion.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-05

It’s such a special vision in the whole VW scene that I couldn’t help but feature it even before it’s able to turn its chunky rear tyres under its own power. Read on and you’ll see why…

SilverRest-VW-Bus-06

Tomo’s van started off as a rusty US$1000 purchase back in 2005. He picked it up on the cheap with the idea of repairing its rust damage and getting it into a reliable state so it could be used as the shop’s hauler. With plenty of loading space in the back it seemed like a great idea, but the more he looked at it, and the more he researched what people in other countries were doing with these things, his creativity sparked into life.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-27

He thought the VW scene in Japan was a little too focussed on recreating old and respected styles, and that there wasn’t enough experimentation or outside-of-the-box thinking. This had to change.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-02

That’s why the first thing Tomo did was prepare the chassis for a true slam.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-07

You just don’t see VW buses on bags in Japan. Low is popular, but extra low is almost frowned upon as most feel like it’s just too much. But just like in the conformist society that makes up Japan, anything that is done differently is instantly noticed. And that’s why Tomo’s Type 2 was an instant show-stopper at last year’s Mooneyes Hot Rod & Custom Show.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-08

The time that Tomo has dedicated to this side project of his is mind-blowing. The reason it has taken so long is that he’s not only done every single thing himself, but he can only work on it at night when all of his customer car work has been completed.

The Attention To Detail
SilverRest-VW-Bus-13

With no time goal set, it has allowed all of Tomo’s creativity to flow. He’s been able to try new things, change them, refine them and perfect them.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-09

Tomo reckons there’s about a year’s worth of work to be done to get the old bus finished. Considering he’s been at it since 2005, that’s not long at all in the bigger scheme of things.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-14

It’s just the smaller stuff that needs addressing, like the interior and front cab. In order to get the van to sit right on its chassis when the air suspension is completely aired out, Tomo has tubbed and extended the front inner fenders so that the 17-inch wheels can sit snugly within them.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-04

The front axle has been shortened to get the required tuck necessary for the slammed look, and is fitted with Old Speed drop spindles. Monroe shocks take care of the damping when the van is lifted to its driving height.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-24

The floor was cut out and remounted higher to allow enough clearance to drive the van on a decently-low setting – something that took a hell of a lot of work.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-25

Tomo even created a custom steering column housing fixed in position under the dash, then painted it in the same contrasting candy red that’s been used for all of the detailing.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-26

Simplistic elements are what make this van such a unique creation.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-10

Tomo extended the rear fenders downwards about 4-inches to almost completely cover the rear wheels when the suspension is lowered. The choice of simple solid, yet very glossy Fiat 500 grey paint was a superb one as it really fits in with the whole concept behind it: making a strong statement out of pure simplicity.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-12

One of the things that I first noticed about Tomo’s van on seeing last year at the Hot Rod Show was the fact that it was sitting on 2-piece BBS RS-GTs wheels. To me, that seemed beyond cool.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-15

But that was before I had even taken a peek inside – specifically in the back. In order to get the van to sit just right Tomo had to create a complete custom rear end, something that started by him cutting off the entire rear section of the chassis, floor and engine room.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-18

He then fabricated a set of raised frame rails that would also extend to the various fixing points for the rear suspension and the mounts for the engine.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-16

Years of work went into getting everything right; the schematics laid out on paper first and then turned into reality. The rear suspension is composed of a mix of VW Beetle and custom arms and custom shock absorbers combined with Firestone air bags. The stock VW 4-speed transmission has remained and turns the rear 18-inch wheels through a fresh pair of driveshafts.

Boxer Power
SilverRest-VW-Bus-28

Can you say custom? The bespoke work out back didn’t end there either… If you’re familiar with VW vans and buses you’ll instantly notice that something is not quite right. That’s because Tomo shortened the rear gate and made the engine cover (or lower rear gate) taller.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-21

Suffice to say, it took a lot of custom fabrication work to get everything to line up and latch safely in place. But why go to all this trouble?

SilverRest-VW-Bus-22

Well, it was all down to the engine that was chosen. You see, what Tomo really wanted to do with this whole project is put a very big emphasis on performance. He wanted something that would be exciting and exhilarating to drive, which meant that the stock air-cooled motor had to go. In its place is a Subaru EJ20 from a 1998 Impreza – the perfect flat-4 layout but with two very important twists. One, that it’s an engine from a Japanese manufacturer and therefore a great choice to add some ‘made in Japan’ appeal, and two, the fact that it would definitely get people talking.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-17

Tomo has spent some time polishing the intake plenum and color-matching the cam pulley covers, but he isn’t quite done yet. Next on the list is turbocharging.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-19

Tomo want’s power and he’s currently researching the best way to do that in a way that also looks cool. Cooling won’t be an issue as he’s already fitted a pair of side radiators with their own extractor fans to keep the engine running at optimal temperature, and with all the space he has at his disposal back there positioning an intercooler won’t be too difficult either.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-20

Once that’s all in place it will then just be a question of fabricating an exhaust system and fine tuning the burble that has long since been lost from Subarus.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-23

One other thing that remains to be done is creating a linkage from the shift lever to the actual gear selector on top of the gearbox. Then the Silver Rest Panel Van will be ready to hit the street and start burning rubber.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-29

I found it inspiring to see this sort of dedication and vision beautifully displayed in front of my eyes. It’s testament to what one talented guy with a hell of a lot of passion is able to create. Everything on the van except the paintwork was made by Tomo’s own two hands.

SilverRest-VW-Bus-30

Japan is indeed a curious place. The need to categorise and homogenise its people may be something that worked in the generations that followed the end of WW2, but it’s not a way that is going to be working for much longer. And that’s a good thing, because I know there is so much untapped creative talent in Japan that is just being drowned by an antiquated system that has truly come to the end of its road. Tomo and Silver Rest is just one example of that.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino
dino@speedhunters.com

Silver Rest 1977 VW Type 2 Panel Van

Engine:
Subaru EJ20, polished intake plenum, cone filter, color matched cam pulleys, custom engine mounts

Driveline:
Factory 4-speed VW gearbox, custom adaptor & linkage

Suspension/Brakes:
Custom shortened front tube axle with Old Speed drop spindle, Monroe shocks & air bags, rear custom frame rails, VW Beetle top suspension arms, custom lower arms, Firestone airbags over conventional shocks, Mercedes-Benz 500SL Brembo calipers custom fitted at front

Wheels/Tyres:
BBS RS-GT 17×8-inch (front), 18×9-inch (rear), 195/40R17 (front), 265/35R18 (rear)

Exterior:
Full restoration, extended rear fenders, custom shortened upper tailgate, custom extended engine hood, Fiat 500 grey paint

Interior/Chassis:
Custom extended inner front fenders, cut & raised floor, custom steering rack housing & mounting brace, relocated steering box & master cylinder, custom shift lever

More VW related stories on Speedhunters
Silver Rest

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73 comments

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1

Can barely see the rear wheels. Looks like it's hovering :D


Awesome car.

2

looks awesome and crazy (*-*)/

3

That is beyond cool! Awesome!

4

I dig it. I'd love to have seen the chassis before the body went on.

5

WOW, So Cool!  Great Work.

6

Incredible!

7

Incredible craftmanship. Can't wait to see what he does to the interior.

8

Reminds me of my car - German car with Japan power!  Turbo is really the way to go, surprised he went with the older style motor. My Porsche 912R-STi  http://forums.pelicanparts.com/porsche-911-technical-forum/488187-help-me-style-beat-up-old-912-a.html

9

...Just realized i can post pics on here!  Enjoy!

10

Wonderful, thanks for sharing.

11

Dino - thanks for addressing our outdated educational systems in this article.  I have young kids and am a teacher at an alternative school in the US where we have auto, building trades, welding... project based learning is where it's at.  Creativity and individuality are being replaced with selfie clones and plastic MOTs.  Vive la différence Dino!

12

I have been looking for an article about this van for awhile. I remember being blown away when I first saw a picture of it. What a great looking project!

13

So, so SO cool! Hard to believe this is in Japan!

14

Amazing craftsmanship! Good idea with the big engine cover, now one can actually do so some work without being a midget. I don't really get why he is keeping the stock 4 speed box considering all the other performance modifications...maybe he is planning on changing the ratios?

15

MichiganMike 
Start your own page. Why try to gain some attention for a crap Porch here. Go away.

16

Dino, in terms of "different" vans, there's a VW van in Tokyo completely covered in a knitted patchwork "sweater". If you see it you should mini feature this thing. A bit odd, but the amount of work is phenomenal.

17
jbfromsiliconvalley

2 words: COSWORTH EJ!!!!!! do it!!!!

18

Speedhunters ❤

19

I'm usually not a fan of the bagged slammed look, but this is beyond cool! The fabrication, the color, the contrast red, just everything.
That is a bloody brilliant car, i'm very curious for its finished form.

20

This homogenization kinda reminds of India... No car culture here tho....

21

walshatron That bus was done up for the opening of the Free People clothing store in Harajuku: http://tokyo-fashion.tumblr.com/post/65320789591/colorful-cloth-covered-volkswagen-bus-driving

22

MichiganMike Just finished reading the build thread.  You and your brother did a great job.  Must be a blast!

23

MichiganMike the thread was longer than i have effort for right now but i skim over the highligts and i love the end product..sounds like you and your brother had a hellova journey figuring out how to make this daily driveable. Well done; wish you many happy miles!

24

i love this thing, the attention to detail is amazing...Dino you better be the first person he calls when it's finished...i definitely want to see how it turns out!

25

That steering column housing is such a cool detail, the brazing work is killer...reminds me of what a lot of custom bicycle frame builders are doing.

26
FarhadOstovarnejad

well , i think you guys at speed hunter wont believe you have a serious fan here in iran :D , forza speend hunter

27

Mayank0809 You have Hindistan Ambassador

28

it took ten long years to make a nice vw van into a totally useless "thing", but finally it's done

29

This is pretty refreshing because it becomes tiresome seeing all the retro slammed VW's.
Also a vw that's also built in Japan with no camber... awesome

30

@open your eyes  useless? in what way

31
Tasos Papazachariou

This is amazing! 
Side note; I wouldn't know but Japan sounds like a very functional,productive society.
Side note 2; What's your most used lens Dino?

32

Do I see this right? Did he reverse the entire intake manifold??? Hmmmm...

33

Pretty cool build right here

34

I'm finding that I really enjoyed this way more than I thought I would. That rear setup and the Subaru choice is just a real winner for me.

35

@open your eyes Useless? Explain.

36

Love the detail and attention on this build. 
That engine from the front view looked off but I see why now and must say that's amazing! 
Keep em coming and good luck to the rest of the build to the owner.

37

JakWhite In the way that it has not been build for be driven ? (not seats ?)

38

You know its not done right... To be driven it only needs a drivers seat

39

I like this thing.

40

Is that Fiat Campovolo grey? Awesome colour

41

is it me or is the engine and trans backward?

42

@Chaz Fiat 500 grey paint (would assume it's the color you are referring to :) )

43

@open your eyes a well engineered panel van that can be used to tear up the streets while hauling a crate motor in the cabin? I think that's a pretty useful "thing".

44

@Deltaklop  regular beetle box I imagine

45

Trackmout JakWhite  looks to me like you never read the article

46

@Deltaklop All VW and Porsche like this are rear engine with mid transaxle. So the engine is backwards from it's stock configuration but in stock configuration for the vehicle.

47
speedhunters_dino

donkyyyyyy Looked pretty beat up, rusty as hell and sitting so high it looked like it was lifted lol

48
speedhunters_dino

DriftingMindz_JP I will probably need to reshoot this when it gets completed!

49
speedhunters_dino

MichiganMike Very cool, what an undertaking!

50
speedhunters_dino

MichiganMike Mike or Larry have to feature this!

51
speedhunters_dino

AM81 I was referring to the Japanese system though, but I guess it's the same thing in other countries :)

52
speedhunters_dino

C_Aasen Yeah I waiting for a while to feature it, then I thought, screw it I'll do it now and do an update when it gets completed :)

53
speedhunters_dino

koko san I guess. Seemed strange to me too

54
speedhunters_dino

walshatron Wow I've never seen this! That's awesome

55
speedhunters_dino

ethosVeritas_Z32 I've already asked him that lol Let's hope he doesn't forget! Won't be satisfied till I have a shot of it pulling a fat burnout

56
speedhunters_dino

FarhadOstovarnejad That's awesome!  Thanks for following us man! :)

57
speedhunters_dino

@open your eyes I was wondering what you may have to say. Pretty disappointed in your criticism this time round. Surely you are witty enough to come out with something better than than? Come on!

58
speedhunters_dino

Tasos Papazachariou 1)It's functional in some areas, very backward in countless others 

2) 50 mm

59
speedhunters_dino

Chri5 Duncan Indeed

60
speedhunters_dino

@Lee Well yes, but he might have to reverse it again if he runs a turbo, depending where he puts the intercooler that is

61

speedhunters_dino DriftingMindz_JP not probably - definitely!

62

Meanwhile, 5 years ago there was this...

And that's at its driving height - none of that airbag nonsense! ;)

63

Chri5 Duncan  Right, I got confused about the Subaru engine facing the other way, my bad.

64

GregFentonHNHS That "camber" is because VWs run a swing axle so while it may bore you, there's a mechanical reason slammed beetles look the way they do.

65

CarWaffle there is another powered by porsche 911 engine if im not mistaken

66

CarWaffle Tony_Bowling Fantastic!! But it wouldn't stand a chance around these parts with all speed jumps and potholes U0001f603

67

CarWaffle Lets hope he never tries to drive over anything bigger than a matchstick.

68

CarWaffle amazing engineering

69

KarlRennison It sure is U0001f44d

70

Can anyone explain the strange spacing on the fan blades? or is it just an illusion?

71

MilesHayler It's the bracket for the fan motor. It just looks off it has 2 braces coming from the right and one from the left.

72

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