RWB. Mention the acronym for RAUH-Welt Begriff to anyone who knows anything about global car culture, and you’ll get a vast array of reactions, from absolute love and admiration to straight out hate. And that’s totally fine; everyone has personal views and the world would be a boring place if we all loved the same things. But whenever possible, I always try to reinforce something that many people out there still misinterpret about Akira Nakai and his style.
Away from the success and popularity of the RWB brand, the guy has never strayed from his initial love of these cars and the reason he does what he does. It’s all centered around driving, fame and success haven’t diluted it one bit.
In Japan, RWB Porsches are for the most part driven hard; they’re taken to tracks and used as they should by their owners. The GT2-inspired wide-body conversion that is now offered in so many flavours, originally came about for reasons of functionality: opening up room for fatter rubber in order to make the handling more forgiving and put more power to the ground.
Away from show cars and vehicles built to promote other businesses, I figured a gallery of some Japanese RWBs from the recent Idlers Club event at Tsukuba Circuit would be a nice reminder of the RAUH-Welt Begriff conversion’s roots.
To kick it all off, here’s Nakai’s Dodge Ram van, which he uses as a daily driver and parts hauler. It’s also the perfect vehicle for him to take to the track as there’s plenty of room inside for sleeping. You see, Nakai never misses an Idlers event. All the builds that he’s busy with around the world are scheduled around Idlers, a series he loves to compete in, and one he wants to be present at for his Japanese customers.
At any of these events, when he’s not at the wheel of Rotana he’ll usually be asleep in his van, dealing with the crazy jetlag he must always have given his demanding travel schedule.
No matter how tired he is though, he’s always at the top of his game and ready to put down 58-second laps all day long.
I think this cockpit has become his quiet place away from the noise, the traveling, and a life that’s totally dedicated to his craft.
And you can tell by the way he drives that he enjoys nothing more. Building cars is one thing, but driving at the limit is something else altogether.
Nakai receives a lot of support from his friends and customers; they celebrate the time that he’s back in Japan and make every event a true party.
His entourage this time around was pretty large, and that’s not including the actual cars that were entered in the Idlers round. Right behind the Dodge van was Spearmint Rhino, another of Nakai’s own cars, and one that sees regular use on the street.
Based on a manual 993 Carrera 2, it’s finished beautifully both inside and out.
It’s funny how that back in the day it was easy to keep up with each new RWB build, but these days, with the 70 to 80 cars Nakai creates every year, it’s almost impossible to keep tabs.
Of course, you can appreciate’s Nakai’s style without having him convert your car. Aside from looking like it just rolled off the Porsche production line, this 964 had details that made me go weak at the knees. I love subtle additions to any car, and the massive modern day Porsche/Brembo calipers at both ends is a master touch.
Factor in super-rare and prohibitively expensive BBS RE-Mg magnesium-alloy wheels – no longer in production, by the way – and you’ve got one special 964.
Right behind it was the car that taught me more about RWB than a decade’s worth of shooting these cars and the man behind them. When Nakai threw me the keys to Rauh Passion five years ago, I spent the afternoon driving it hard on the twisty roads of Mt. Tsukuba. It was only then that I truly understood what these cars are all about.
Underneath, they’re set up for fun and safe handling, cars anyone could drive. Throw in the intoxicating sound and you have a simple recipe for driving bliss. I’ve wanted one ever since.
At Tsukuba in the weekend there were even rawer RWBs, all lined up and entered in various classes.
RWBs come in all sorts, even the narrower variety.
I spotlighted this backdate almost a year ago and it’s cool to see it still doing the rounds at these events. This has to be one of my favorites from the many that Nakai has created; it’s way too wild for the street, but in the paddock at Tsukuba it looks right at home.
Remember when so many of Nakai’s creations wore trademark Nojima-special matte black paint? I think it’s still one of the best looks for these cars, especially those that see track time like this 964.
Seeing that Porsche has just celebrated its 70th anniversary, it only seemed right to sneak this post in. Now it’s back to regular programming with the drift gallery from Idlers up next.
Dino Dalle Carbonare