I first met Nakane-san whilst shooting Porsches at Garage Abe, a little shop near where I live. After the shoot we stood around talking about cars, and naturally the Renault Turbo 5 popped up as a personal favorite. Nakane-san casually told me his friend was restoring one at his shop, and asked if that was something I might be interested in covering for an article. Luckily, I know the Japanese word for ‘wouldn’t miss it for the world’, so we booked in a shoot for later that week.
On Friday afternoon we set off from Fujisawa to the other side of Tokyo and into Saitama. This was my first time traveling through Tokyo this year – for obvious reasons – and it was nice to see Japan’s capital city from the comfort of Nakane-san’s Nissan President. It was touching 38°C (100°F), and he graciously blasted us with cold air conditioning, even though I knew he was cold.
We arrived at what looked like a steel fabrication factory, and inside were greeted by Higashitani-san, who graciously accepted a bouquet of orchids from Nakane-san. They both lit the first of many cigarettes and proceeded to catch up, as old mates do.
Nakane-san’s nonchalant manner severely undersold the shop we arrived at. This was in fact Auto Project-D, a retail, tuning and custom body company with some serious European pedigree in Japan. Starting in 1990 as an importer of new Porsche 911s and Mercedes-Benz AMG models, they’ve expanded over time and now import all manner of neo-classical vehicles, from Aston Martins to Ferraris and Lamborghinis. Higashitani-san has a particular taste for the ultra-rare stuff.
As they chatted I was wondering where all the cars were, until finally I was ushered through the workshop, past a Ferrari 360, a G Wagon and a 6.0L AMG W124 on a flatbed, and out the other side across a demolition site, past a collection of cocooned exotics (including a Lamborghini Urus) and down a narrow alley, until we finally arrived at a large storage unit shimmering in the late afternoon sun. My tummy turbo began to spool at the thought of what could be inside. The Turbo 5 perhaps?
The lights flicked on and I immediately knew I was somewhere special. The unit was literally floor to ceiling with exotics. A stunning gold 1972 Porsche 911, a menacing and super-rare Mercedes W124 E36 AMG, and a ’58 Corvette in Snowcrest White with red leather interior all screamed for attention.
But the two noisiest kids in class were definitely the red Lancia Delta Integrale and the Ferrari F12 Novitec N-Largo S with a full carbon fiber body – a ‘One of One’.
Naturally I was drawn towards the rally-bred machine, but the all-carbon monster was pretty sweet too. If you want to geek out on the specs of the Ferrari, head over to the Auto Project-D website and print out the spec sheet and keep it for those days when you need reminding that there is still some good in the world.
I snapped away but could sense that time was of the essence and Higashitani-san was a busy man. We wrapped it up in the main warehouse and headed over to yet another complex. Well, an old family home with a small fiberboard shed in the garden… This was it, the car I had come to see, and one I’ll bringing you a separate story on very soon.
I fired of my shots as the sun set and we called it a day. Actually, I call it a very special day, shown around a very special garage with my new friend Nakane-san in 38°C heat in the outskirts of Tokyo. I need more friends like this.
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