The Tokyo Auto Salon Mega Round-Up

The best way to experience the Tokyo Auto Salon, and any other similarly-sized show for that matter, is to wander around and be guided by your own curiosity.

And that’s precisely what this post is all about, a ‘best of the rest’ gallery of the things that stood out to me during my three days at the Makuhari Messe earlier this month.


And I’ll start right in front of the HKS booth, which was filled to the brim with exciting new cars and products. I’ve already taken a brief look at the refreshed TRB-02 BCNR33, but HKS’s main showpiece was the TRB-04 ZC33S Suzuki Swift Sport, which was built to lap Tsukuba Circuit in 55 seconds. We first saw this car last year sporting a catchy chrome red livery, but after that the Suzuki went under the knife in order to make it perform properly.


First up, the Swift’s original K14C 1.4L turbo engine was tuned to well over 300hp, which allowed Nobuteru Taniguchi, sitting snugly in the cabin’s central driving position, to record a 57.480-second lap. Then, with a 500+hp Mitsubishi 4G63 engine in place, the little Suzuki managed to take a second off, running 56.047.


HKS still have a good month of cold time attack weather to see whether the Swift can achieve its 55-second goal. The pressure will be on for Nob.


Now it’s time for some RB26DETT indulgence…

It’s cool that so many manufacturers are continuing to develop and release new and refined tuning parts from these legendary engines, and HKS’s big reveal for this year were a pair of 2.8L stroker kits using new designs and materials. The Step 3 kit that you can see at the top of the picture is the big daddy; it’s the strongest bottom end HKS make with a fully counter-weighted crankshaft, and good for engines that go anywhere from 800-900hp into the four figure zone. The kit beneath is a new take on HKS’s stroker kit lineup, a ‘High Response’ version, still packing bulletproof and reliable strength for power up to 800-900hp, but featuring a lighter crankshaft than the one used in the Step 3 package.

This is mated to HKS’s new lightweight billet piston design and extremely light gudgeon pins. You have to pick these up in your hands to fully appreciate how much weight is being shaved off the rotational mass. These parts will allow engine builders to really fine tune the motors they build for their customers.


Not far away at GruppeM, I was drawn in by all the shiny carbon air boxes they had on display, their biggest release for Japanese cars being the FK2 induction kit for overseas model Civic Type Rs. The FK8 box will be on the way this year, too.


On display at the Hashimoto Corporation/Speedhunters booth was this sick BMW E24 wearing a Coutner wide-body conversion and sitting on BBS Motorsport E88 wheels. Looks-wise, it’s more E9 CSL Group 4 than E24 Group 2, but whichever model the inspiration came from we can’t help but love it. We definitely need to take this out for a drive.


The Hashimoto guys had the shop area cranking over the weekend, catering to the tons of people that stopped by to pick up some new Speedhunters merchandise or just say hello. Thank you to everyone for the continuous support and love.


Behind the scenes, Ron and myself were busy juggling between shooting and actually sitting down to get some posts together. TAS is one of our busiest events, and we strive to gather enough material to bring you the best possible coverage. We once again had Phil Boquida join us and put together a film from the show, so make sure you check that out if you haven’t done so already.

The Automotive Cocktail Never Disappoints

In the next hall over, 326 Power was upsetting some people by slamming and doing the onikyan thing with a bunch of different cars. My favorite of the lot was the blue Nissan Silvia Varietta on the side there.


Kinokuniya dropped a pretty big surprise by showcasing this wild DTM-themed creation that Kazuya Iizuka will drive in this year’s Formula D Japan series.

The base is an Audi A5 and the power comes courtesy of a monster V8 reputedly good for over 700hp in NA guise. The question is though, will those headers eventually feed a turbo or two? The GCG decals might be a hint…


I’m always surprised at the sheer size of the Aimgain booth at TAS, and this year they had show cars ranging from a Toyota Prius all the way to a Honda NSX and Lamborghini Aventador. These guys are true masters of stance.


Given the cars that Roberuta had on display, I don’t think anyone even noticed what sort of products they make and sell.


Would you have?


From Team Anija’s overly customized Pagani Zonda to a pair of Koenig Specials Testarossas, it was almost too much awesome for one single booth.


Of course you can’t talk about Ferraris and not mention Liberty Walk’s ‘308 GTBL’ Love it? Hate it? It doesn’t even matter to be honest. It’s so inline with what Kato and his team are known for doing, that my first comment on seeing it was, ‘Of course, what else could he have done.’


Well, he actually did do more, and in a slightly different way than his usual style. Here’s a Liberty Walk wide-body kit with no screwed-on over-fenders in sight.


And to keep the yankee-ness balance alive and well, Kato also had this line-up outside the main booth space. This four-door Hakosuka received just as much attention as the main show cars from LBW.


Oil cooler mounted on bumper – check!


L28 on carburetors – check! All is well in the land of Liberty Walk; we wouldn’t change it in any way or form.

And Now For An Intermission

I’ll take this time to quietly but graphically show what Tokyo Auto Salon is all about for possibly more than half of its attendees.


Oh, Japan…

Right, Where Were We?

I really didn’t know what to make of Varis’s new ‘Chopped Carbon.’ Their R35 GT-R took away a TAS award, and I guess you can’t knock the effort involved in thinking up new ways of using carbon fiber.


This is a few years in the making and it’s impressive they’ve got so close – looks-wise at least – to the high-end process that Lamborghini came up with to create true forged fiber.


It looks like a marble kitchen countertop to me, but I’m sure Varis will have no problems selling the limited number of kits they are planning to make with this stuff.


The Car Modify Wonder S14 and RPS13 were two cars that I fell instantly in love with when I saw them during the show set up.


I love seeing the drift community continuously pushing aesthetics, and these two cars are a great examples of how some shops like to do it.


Talking of drifting, this is T&E’s new D1 machine, a 2JZ-powered Lexus RC F that was on display at the RAYS booth. This car has been a long time in the making; I remember seeing the body in white at their shop a good three or four years back, so it’s great to see the car finally making its debut this year.


Kei Miura and his Pandem cars had one hell of a response from the TAS crowd. I even spotted the man himself being interviewed by Japanese TV.


Vans are such a bit part of the Japanese customization scene that we can never pass up a quick look – even if they’re so far removed from actual Speedhunting. Because who in their right mind wouldn’t rock a Toyota Alphard on air as their family car?!

There’s a massive industry surrounding this modifying genre, and it’s all come from car guys having families. I get it, I totally do. I want one so bad.


Or maybe something more compact like a Honda Odyssey… I don’t know what’s better, the interior or the exhaust setup?!


Garage Active killed it last year by unveiling their carbon fiber wide-body BNR32 Skyline GT-R, and this year they applied the same approach to the BCNR33.


That is, enhancing the lines of the car in a way that it doesn’t upset its overall form. Gently yet massively-widened fenders, a decent spoiler treatment, and an all-new front bumper adds up to one of the baddest R33s in existence. We like it a lot, and we’ll find out more about this car for you guys soon.


RWB combined forces with Car Guy to create one hell of a booth, even though there were only two cars on display. Kimura’s Ferrari F40 was put back into snow-attack mode, sporting the same studded tires it had three years back when it did some fun stuff in Nagano.


Old & Now is a company that has been absolutely killing it over the last year and a bit. I really can’t wait to see what these guys are planning for 2019.


With the Voomerang Mk2, the guys at Euro Magic showed us that their livery game is strong.


If I had to pick the best VW of the show though, it would have to be this Jetta on AirLift Performance suspension.


Once again, the Japanese prove they know how to take inspiration and turn it into something that’s totally theirs. Top marks for the shaved engine bay and the 964 seats with tartan trim.


Nissan did this to a Juke. I think I spotted Ken Block looking at it…


But let’s not lose all hope; let’s stay with Nissan more and move over to the kyusha side.


Here’s  some cars that I’m sure you guys wouldn’t be able to keep your eyes off of if you came across them during a still-empty TAS on Sunday morning.


Speed Forme had this pair of Nissan classics, an S30 and C110 Kenmeri, the latter a GT-R replica running RAYS Volk Racing TE37Vs.


And we can’t possibly talk about resto-modded Nissans without mentioning Star Road.


These guys kill it in every way, and even if both of their cars weren’t 100% complete (hence the blacked-out windows), there was a lot to appreciate.


Shaved of its bumpers, painted in a deep teal hue, and sporting the widest over-fenders that Star Road have ever made, the Hakosuka really did it for me, though.


This image of Novel’s wide-body RC F will be number 234 that I share with your from TAS 2019, and the final one.

I do have one more post that I’m putting together right now, but it’s about an event that was running alongside Tokyo Auto Salon. Don’t miss it – I’m sure you’ll all like the rarities…

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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This round up just confirmed that I need to take the trip up from Sydney next year. Amazing work, thanks for the phenomenal coverage as usual.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks man, and as I tell everyone this is a show you need to experience at least one time!


I am actually liking that R33 and the RC-F. The way the RC-F is looking it's like how Lexus should have made it from the factory. Very surprised about the Suzuki Swift. I did not know it was 4G63 equipped.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I agree, Novel have really nailed that wide body conversion. Will be interesting to see how many people will go for it


My favorite car of TAS 2019 has to be that white E24, box-style fenders WIN.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

We might need to feature it uh... not much out there about it


@speedhunters: You do know that gudgion pins are fairly light compared to anything else in the rotating assembly? About 100 gram for a steel one. Titanium: about 80 to 70 gram? Weight in the rotating assembly isn't a big deal in itself. It only needs to be balanced. Thats because weight also stores energy as momentum. Less weight = Less energy storage. Thats the lumpy feeling on the highway at a stationairy speed. Not enough mass in the components of the rotationg assembly. Most people experience that when lightening the flywheel. That lumpy feeling is actually load on the bearings.
Thats why when I build engines for the street, I never lighten the parts that much, but still balance them. For the track it's a different matter: The gass pedal is practically an on-off switch, so constant RPM isn't really an issue, where it is an engines used on the streets....

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yes I do know that. I talked about the fact that they've lightened them because that's what they did with this new 2.8L stroker kit. I don't need to mention what you talk about, I don't build engines, I report on the latest stuff from Japan. Would you have preferred if I said HKS have no clue what they are doing as they lightened stuff that doesn't need to be lightened if it ends up being used in a street-built engine compared to a circuit oriented engine? Sounds silly right? Why does everything need to spark a debate? You prefer to keep more mass in your rotating assembly because it stores more momentum off throttle? Good for you. Nobody is judging you. All I was saying is HKS released a lighter version of their 2.8L kit. Simple as that.


Aren't you forgetting something: As automotive journalists it is our duty to share the latest news. And to inform our viewers that the news is correct. I'm talking in the "we" form on purpose, as I write for local automotive magazines and newspapers as well. So it also applies to me. If your not knowledgeable enough about the subject, and you don't have a credible source: Don't run the article.
So it isn't about starting a debate. It's about correcting a mistake. There isn't anything to debate about that?
And as for your assumption: Yes, but that isn't the main issue:

"That lumpy feeling is actually load on the bearings."

A.k.a. Longevity. Racing engines are based on running hours, street based engines are based on Km's/miles.

And for the record: I'm not saying that HKS did something wrong: You took it out of context and applied your own imagination on the subject, which is a dangerous territory in automotive journalism.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Sorry, I don't get what you are trying to do here? I'm done arguing, if me reporting that HKS's stroker kit is also now available in a lightweight version for those that prefer outright response - upsets you, so be it.


"This is mated to HKS’s new lightweight billet piston design and extremely light gudgeon pins. You have to pick these up in your hands to fully appreciate how much weight is being shaved off the rotational mass. These parts will allow engine builders to really fine tune the motors they build for their customers."

Above is your piece in the article. Plain and simple. What I'm getting at is the customers part. You don't know about rotational enertia as you mentioned:

"I don't need to mention what you talk about, I don't build engines, I report on the latest stuff from Japan."

But most of the readers won't know the difference as well. And therein lies the problem: Eevery action has a consequence. In this case it could lead to:
"I read it on Speedhunters, so I want that part installed, as it's lighter." And lets say 500Km later: Engine wrecked. I'm not saying your mainly responsible, but it is your responsiblity to educate your audience. More so then it is yourself.

That raises the question: Why didn't you?
A: Deadlines: In that case I can relate to that, but since its a digital publication, you can edit it.
B. You don't care and feel the least bit responsible : I can't relate to that, but its your call.
C1: You didn't know : Happens to the best of us, but you can edit it.
C2: You dind't know : Happens to the best of us, but you won't edit it: In that case go to option B.
D1: None of the above: But you can still edit it.
D2: None of the above: But you won't edit is: In that case go to option B.

And no, it doesn't upset me, because I know the difference. It should upset you, because you don't, But people reading this think you do....


I dont even bother reading the words most of the time now a days and just stick to looking at the pictures. For example, the claim that the E24 is in the Hashimoto Corporation/Speedhunters booth when to me it looks like its in the KW booth. Now i dont know the details as they may be sharing the booth space or there may be some other deal going on but one would hope that a little bit more of an explanation would be provided to explain the statement that counters the visual evidence.

Also, every year there is some sort of comment and a bunch of pictures of how many attendants are there to take pictures of the booth babes. From my personal stand point its not necessary as it comes off as some sort of judgement against those people and it disrupts the flow of the article. I don't think that too many people who read these articles care about those people so why waste the space with pictures of people taking pictures of the booth babes when there were probably several more cars that could have filled those spots?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Hashimoto Corporation is a big distributor in Japan, they do KW, BBS Motorsports to name a few. I've touched on this countless times over the years so apologies if I don't repeat it every time. The thing about the dudes girl-hunting has become a massive aspect of TAS, there's continuous talk about it and it's something that you see a lot at japanese car shows. Hence why I mention it. By the same comment about KW & Hashimoto Corp. you may have been annoyed if I didn't mention this. Can't please everyone, but I certainly try, so sorry if you felt short changed


The tiny purist I have in me is like "they should've left the Pagani alone!", but its better than letting collecting less than 20 miles a year and dust in some millionaire's garage.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

The best was last year when Mr. Pagani actually visited the show for an hour or so and saw the car in question. No comment at all, but the expression on his face spoke a thousand words!

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

I wonder if the E24's Coutner flares are done by Miura-san as well?

Any ideas on what engine the Audi is using? I hope it's not LS, because that's getting a bit boring...

And that RC F at the end... damn it looks stunning!


It´s an LS :)

Jay Soh Tsu Chung


Dino Dalle Carbonare

Best I can do is say that we are trying to feature them all :)


I need to go to Tokyo Auto Salon

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Everyone has to!


My favourites are the A5 DTM and Swift Sport


Thank You for the coverage, on my bucket list of things to do.


"Chopped Carbon" looks fresh.
Overfendered italian exotics looks as exotic as cheeseburgers.
Juke with tracks looks cool.
Novel's RC F - sexy.