Lifting The Veil On Tokyo Auto Salon
We Crave More Than Just Looks

Shows are a tough one for me. I love the visuals, the cars built to grab attention, and all the new styling products that go with them. But it doesn’t last long. Sooner or later I naturally flock to cars that have the show and the go to back it up. After all, substance is what we should all strive for in a car, so that’s what I made a pointing of hunting out at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon.

Don’t for one second assume that this post includes every car worth mentioning at TAS 2018; I’d have to include thousands of photos if that’s what I had to do. But keep in mind that what you don’t see here, will sooner or later probably pop up as a feature or spotlight, as our hunt in Japan never ends. There is so much awesomeness happening and cars worth covering that it’s almost mind blowing.

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To kick things off, I want to return to the Garage Revolver JZA80 Toyota Supra we saw in my event preview post from set-up day at the Makuhari Messe.

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This car has special importance for me, because it seems that Supras have all but disappeared from Japan. You hardly ever see one out on the street these days, and very few Japanese shops still build Supra demo cars or develop parts and upgrades for them. But this collaboration between Do-Luck and Varis may well spark some interest back in a favorite chassis from the ’90s.

You’ll be glad to see that this is far from a solely aesthetic exercise; there’s a fully-built beast of a 2JZ under the vented hood, a T88 by its side, and a horizontally-mounted intercooler to maximize flow.

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The guys at Varis spent months sculpting the wide body aero, coming up with something that not only transformed the lines of the car but also looked new and fresh. It’s all about aggression, from integrated fender flares on widened front fenders, to swooping profile lines that help define the new shape of the rear guards.

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The best touch is perhaps the absence of a GT wing; Varis has gone with a trunk spoiler design that gives the Supra a drag or high-speed car feel.

Before you ask, yes, a feature will be coming. We just need to wait for the owner to be fully satisfied with the car; he wants to have the engine bay shaved and wire tucked before we immortalize it with our cameras.

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Next up is HKS, a company that’s always a welcomed sight at TAS, and who has its much-anticipated Premium Day happening this weekend at Fuji Speedway. On top of the TRB-03 time attack Toyota 86, which might be setting a lap record at Tsukuba this month or next if all goes according to plan, the famous Japanese tuner also brought along a surprise addition to its development fleet – a new-gen Suzuki Swift Sport.

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These fun and affordable cars are already quite popular in amateur time attack here in Japan, but HKS is pushing the platform to its limit with this build. Info is limited, but you can expect the Swift to be chasing the FF lap record at Tsukuba very soon.

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Then of course there’s the little S660, a model we really can’t get enough of here at Speedhunters. We’ll be having a little drive of this development car within the next month.

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It runs the same modified turbo offered in HKS’s street car kit and a ton of other cool aftermarket components for reliability, including what may well be the smallest charge-cooler we’ve ever seen.

Japan & Rotaries
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What would Tokyo Auto Salon be without showing what RE Amemiya has been up to over the last 12 months. Amemiya-san might be getting older, but he seems to find inspiration year after year and managed to show up with two wild demo cars for the 2018 show.

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The car on the left, sporting an instantly recognizable livery, is the shop’s pro-spec D1 Grand Prix drift machine. It’s a refresh of last season’s car and sports an updated 20B in order to take this year’s championship by storm.

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The three-rotor engine may be capable of approaching four-figure power levels, but it’s been set up for response and instant power and torque delivery. 700hp is the magic number, and it’s always there as soon as Matsui-san gets on the power. This year’s evolution has a pretty curious intake plenum design, but apparently it’s something that works best with the goals they had for the engine.

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There are also a few aero tweaks here and there to ensure the FD3S remains the wildest D1 car RE Amemiya has ever created.

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The street demo car parked on the right almost looks conservative in comparison, but it’s a bespoke creation aesthetically and one that packs a bridge-ported 13B equipped with a GCG turbo. While power output is around the 450hp mark, the drivability and throttle response is supposed to be lightning fast. I think we should get to drive this thing and report back, what do you reckon?

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Like all of RE Amemiya’s TAS creations, the car will be doing the show rounds this year, but ultimately will be sold as the one-off creation it is. It just goes to show how well the FD3S lends itself to complete conversions like this, but if anyone from Mazda HQ is reading this, please give us a new RX-7 soon so Amemiya-san can work on something different for a change!

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If you want different, it’s hard to beat a familiar chassis running an unconventional engine swap. This AE86 Trueno from Wiz, a Japanese automotive engineering university similar to NATS, is now powered by an EJ20 of all things.

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Named the EJ86, it’s like a strange vintage take on a new-gen 86/BRZ (the ZN6). After all, the 4U-GSE/FA20 is based on the EJ series of Subaru engines.

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The car wears TRD N2 fender flares and a set of Work Equip 40 wheels wrapped in Yokohama Advan AD08R rubber. It’s all very legit, a properly executed and tastefully built Hachiroku.

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The NA Eunos Roadster displayed next to it was also created at Wiz, and it’s even crazier. I still can’t believe they managed to squeeze a Toyota 1JZ into this tiny little car!

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Because of the limited space, the engine runs a top-mounted turbo with external wastegate – which looks great – but is only quoted as delivering 280PS, so I’m guessing it’s running a conservative amount of boost.

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That’s not a bad thing considering the chassis it’s powering – wheel spin in the first three gears would definitely be a thing in this build. I also love the simple Arios aero and Work Emotion wheels, which all combine to create what must be one hell of a fun package.

The Essence Of Design
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The final car I’ve decided to share with you didn’t even show its engine bay, but I’m running it because it represents something special in my eyes. In the heart of the RAYS booth, and showcasing the new Gram Lights 57ANA wheel, was the Tamon Design Honda S2000.

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It’s a wild representation of a car that so many of us love, bordering on motor show concept rather than what we’re used to seeing at tuning shows. Design and execution is top notch, and that’s because Tamon-san, the man behind the Tamon Design brand and cars like these, is a true designer.

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I hold him in high regards as he’s a real visionary with a sense for proportion and style. He’s a Japanese Giugiaro or Pininfarina in my eyes, and every complete car he’s ever created has always made me take notice. This isn’t a car built for the sole purpose of selling aero kits – it’s done out of a love for the essence of design.

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And that unique style follows through to the cockpit where a metal-like texture from the side skirts is used on the door grab handles. The SMPTE color bars on the 2DIN screen had sort of ’70s feel; I don’t know why but I liked that a lot.

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The rear wheel cover was removed on one side showing off the rear 57ANAs.

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Much like the one-off front projectors, the rear LED taillights really help transform the presence of the S2000, and I’d personally like to see Tamon Design versions of so many Japanese cars. In fact, manufacturers should probably hire him to sort out their sports cars and help inject some funk into their base designs.

With this much cool stuff happening in Japan, plus the inherent love for cars, it’s safe to say this is a scene that will continue to evolve, grow and progress, while always continuing to provide the outside world with inspiration.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino
dino@speedhunters.com

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30 comments

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1

Man...I really love the front of the Tamon Design S2000.. I personally think it could be the face of a new S2000, if Honda were to ever make a new one; it's not often you can say that about a demo/show car from an aero parts manufacturer. The rear is pretty nice looking as well, especially with those LED tail-lights and rear diffuser, and both things have a very OEM/factory to them. I've got say though, I'm not a fan of the wheel cover and metal-like texture used throughout, but that's just me probably nitpicking. Then you have the paint...I'm such a sucker for pearl yellow paint. Overall though, I think Tamon Design hit it out of the park with this car, and I echo your statement on car manufacturers needing to hire him for design help.

I feel like Tamon Design is one of the few aero parts makers, who truly genuinely take the effort to incorporate a "design" into their cars; and I liken that to what ABflug and Veilside does, creating a cohesive design language into each of their iconic cars. That last statement probably won't come off the right way, but hopefully.. my point can be at least, somewhat understood. I'm not trying to knock other aero makers, even though it probably will come off that way.

2

I agree. Except for the wheel covers, that S2000 could (and definitely should!) be the new S2000.

3

Tamon car looks super ugly.

4

On this picture you can see how deep through the firewall the engine actually goes...

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Author5
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yes yes 4-rotor, I did say 26B ;)

6

hehe, no :)
"It’s a refresh of last season’s car and sports an updated 20B in order to take this year’s championship by storm."
"The three-rotor engine may be capable of approaching four-figure power levels, but it’s been set up for response and instant power and torque delivery"

7

Time for an edit, once you wake up Dino :P

8

He is still recovering from the TAS haha...

9

I wanted to go for years, and finally could make it this time... Just wow, once again Japan did not disappoint, I could not even go through the whole place in a day (carrying family though...).
I share your thoughts about Supras, they are becoming some kind of unicorn now, happy to see the Varis one! I also noted the EJ20 '86, the owner was very nice and seemed genuinely happy and surprised of the interest generated.
Good luck summarizing this event, I imagine it should be a torture to decide what to feature and what not :)

10

I can't wait to hear the high rev of those duo spinny boi

11

Every single car in this post was a 10. Those RX7s are insanely cool. I love the gold plenum.

12

I didn't appreciate the pictures enough until I went to Tokyo Auto Salon myself. It is chaos to take any pictures. People walk right in front of you bumping into you ect... Not to include the exhausting foot mileage. I was just carrying a iphone and a bottle of water. You guys were lugging around shit ton of camera equipment. Hats off to your skill keep up the good work.

Author13
Dino Dalle Carbonare

It's a nightmare for people that have to work. That's why I arrive there at 7:30 am and shoot without people for 1.5 hours before they open the doors at 9. Means I don't sleep much lol

14

#teamnosleep

15

The first pic makes my eyes pop out, all that blue. But still nothing yet that makes me want to reach for my wallet and plan a build. Tas is a commercial like sema. It is to create motivation to spend. Last years rx3 made me feel that way and I did start hunting for one. This year I'm waiting for that signal to come

16

Damn, that Varis supra is ugly. No company will ever top Ridox for what a supra should look like.

Author17
Dino Dalle Carbonare

The new Ridox Supra looks hot as. Must shoot!

18

Please do.

19

holy crap does that s2k look good. wheel covers should be a bigger trend imho.

20

That rx7 and s2000.....

21

You know...what does it tell you when TAS displays 25-35 yr old cars and they are still considered "Fresh"?
Sadly enough, I would take any one of those cars in stock form over anything produced today...
Maybe I'm old and these are considered my generation's classics? or maybe the automotive industry has declined to a period of people movers that outnumber enthusiast...or it could be both!

22

I think there's just overall a declining interest in the tuner scene, and the money is just not there like it used to be. Blame insurance companies, blame safety standards with 8 airbags required at all points, blame the fact that there are no real tuner cars any more (The BRZ/GT86, maybe the current Miata?). Yeah, there's the GTR (100k+), and maybe the 370z (which just hasn't captured an audience), but what else? No more Mitsubishi EVOs (never mind the geriatric old DSMs), the STi is more upscale Audi than rally beater now... Maybe the new Mk5 Supra will help? Hyundai Genesis never really caught on...

I kinda feel bad for FDs/Mk4 Supras at this point getting turned into fiberglass 7000 hp monsters...

23
Bleach Blonde Cow

I hold him in high regards as he’s a real visionary with a sense for proportion and style. He’s a Japanese Giugiaro or Pininfarina in my eyes, and every complete car he’s ever created has always made me take notice. This isn’t a car built for the sole purpose of selling aero kits – it’s done out of a love for the essence of design.



It's not THAT good.

Admittedly, it looks better on the side without the rear wheel cover. With it, it looks like one of those "hover-conversion" cars they rigged up for Back to the Future 2.

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24

I like the conversion done on that EJ86, were the fender flares necessary to get it to fit? those engine are WIDE...
The Eunos roadster looks like its foaming at the mouth, that engine is so huge, would the bonnet close if it was "uncut", not sure if it was done for show purposes or because theres no other way. I can't really tell from the 1st pic.

25

Too much blue in there(4 out of 8 in this coverage) , now I got your urge in wrapping the R34 even if it was 1 of the best colors offered. Seems Japan likes blue cars and is perfecting the color in all its range.
Side note: the yellow on the stunning S2000 is gorgeous (usually not a fan of yellow cars very rare to find a non-pale boring hue) and the red used by HKs is also good specially with black wheels (my all time NFS color combination :D).

26

Great coverage as always Dino ! Thanks for that. Somewhat surprised that no one has mentioned the Suzuki, that car has a lovely livery, quite the looker ! Is a feature planned ?
Also, how much power is that HKS S660 producing ?

27

I enjoyed the article, but I have an issue. I can't help but feel like the tuner scene is hanging onto the remains of a time now gone. I think tuners need to step out the woodwork, embrace the lack of "driver oriented cars" and get creative with the less obvious choices. That way it may inspire people to be creative with their cars and maybe help reignite the spark that seems to be dying out.

Those in the UK know the Max Power era. Yes, it was tacky. Yes, it was over the top. But at least people from all scenes were properly having a go with there cars, transforming things as mundane as pug 106's and clios to something eye catching and fun (albeit crude). I think we need that spark again. The "F*ck it lets make something for fun" with new cars. Hell do it to a Dacia Sandero if that's what it takes. The 90's legends are running out and we need to respect that.

28

My goodness, I was just about to say the same thing, but almost didn't even want to bother saying it until I saw your comment. "Tokyo Auto Salon: reinventing RX-7's, Supras, AE86's and S2000s.. again." Nothing seems to change, and every year they post the same cars with different tech. And every year everyone seems to go crazy. Are the cars amazing? Yes. But I can't help but notice the repetitiveness of it every year since I was in high school.

29

Wow i just love this. i am also thnk I personally think it could be the face of a new S2000, if Honda were to ever make a new one; it's not often you can say that about a demo/show car from an aero parts manufacturer.

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30

Tokyo Auto Salon is one of the best Car shows in the World. Find more cheap racing cars at https://goo.gl/6Uab7q#tips_for_selling_a_car_online_near_me

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