Have you ever had someone draw you at the carnival?
You sit there for what feels like a year, hand over half your life savings and at the end receive a huge portrait of yourself to carry around with you. Not a true likeness, but an exaggerated vision that makes you hate your own features and want to crawl under a rock.
Souki’s Nissan Leopard is a caricature on wheels, not only because of how exaggerated it is but also because of the impression it makes once you’ve seen it.
This is a car that sears your eyeballs with its presence, burning an image of itself into your deepest subconscious.
That being said, unlike those hand-drawn caricatures, Souki’s Leopard leaves a very positive lasting impression. I’d go so far as to call it refreshing, as well as batshit crazy. What else would you expect from its owner?
Being an EDM/hardstyle DJ and producer, Souki isn’t your typical shakotan man – if there even is such a thing. Seeing as his other notable car is a bright orange wide-body Lamborghini Diablo, it’s safe to say his style is a little… out there.
As far as shakotan cars go, Souki’s is notably different. Yes it’s wild, but there’s a certain richness to the Nissan that most similarly styled cars are lacking. The paintwork seems to be a cut above most builds, thanks to the influence of US style.
In his teenage years, Souki was fascinated by lowrider culture in the USA, so much so that he visited LA as many times as he could just to soak it all up. His first car was a 1979 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, and he even imported a Chevy Impala to Japan.
He’s never been one to leave them standard though. Even the Cadillac didn’t escape modification, and by the time it left Souki’s ownership it was decked out with a mural and sitting on his own custom hydraulics. Ten Impalas and countless show awards later, he’s put his touch on cars from all over the world.
Obviously there’s a bit of a leap between lowrider and kaido racers, but after a childhood obsessing over scale models and wide-body zokusha cars, it was inevitable that the worlds would collide.
Souki’s issue with traditional shakotan cars is that the build quality leaves a lot to be desired. Most are only built to last until the shaken expires, at which point they’re sent off to be scrapped or kept off the road. What’s the point of putting in time and effort into something with such a short lifespan?
This Leopard sets out to buck the trend and prove that it’s worth putting in the effort. I agree, and even in the photos you can see how much thought has been but into the details. The panel gaps are almost all consistent and the paintwork is gleaming.
The BBS RS wheels are blinding, polished lips and hex nuts contrasting against the gold-plated faces and perimeter bolts.
I’d almost go as far as to say that these could be the nicest wheels ever to grace a kaido racer. Not because they’re BBS, but because of how well they suit the Leopard’s warm colour scheme. The wheels tuck when stationary thanks to air suspension, again almost unheard of on a shakotan-style machine.
My personal favourite touch is the positioning of the taillights. Instead of just adding on a wide-body, Souki has pushed the taillights out to the corners of the car. This gives the rear end a thought out look, almost as if it could have come like that from factory. Almost.
It’s hugely impressive considering almost all the bodywork was done by Souki himself. When he first started modifying cars he never had the money to get work done professionally, so he leaned how to do it all himself with his mates. Engine work, chassis, paint, you name it.
Even the interior has been subject to a few choice touches unlike most zokusha builds. An extended leather dashboard adds a touch of class to what would otherwise be a plastic-heavy cockpit, broken up only by the velour seats.
The warm woodgrain Michelotti steering wheel and matching gear knob do an excellent job of lifting the dark cabin, and suit the exterior colour theme down to a tee. Even small period correct items like the Carrozzeria parcel shelf speakers add more details to the expanse of grey ’80s Nissan fare.
It’s not all about the details though with a build like this – it’s designed for shock and awe on a grand scale. After all, you’re supposed to hear a shakotan car from miles away and see it from space. Laid out at the side of the busy main road with the ridiculous exhaust extensions slotted in place, the Leopard looks like it belongs in a copy of Cowboy Bebop just as much if not more so than in Shakotan Boogie.
It goes beyond alien, especially from a UK perspective where the closest we see to anything like this is a K11 Nissan Micra with itasha down the side and a 12-inch length of pipe replacing the rear silencer.
I can’t think of any car that looks as fast whilst stationary. Even rolling at 5mph it looks like its flying through hyperspace at light speed. The fins, the splitter, the flat spoiler at the back – they’re all inspired by the Skyline silhouette racers of the ’80s, and you can tell.
Unlike those beasts of old, Souki has no intentions of taking the Leopard on track. This really is a late-night city cruiser, breaking necks under the Tokyo street lights.
Not content with just one mental Nissan, Souki is now building another in the form of a Y30 Nissan Gloria. The bodywork appears to be even wilder and with even more thought than into the Leopard. I can’t wait to see it complete, and seeing as it’s a four door it’s fun for all the family, eh?
When asked about why he enjoys building kaido racers so much, Souki simply replied: “It’s fun to customise the car myself, express yourself and show it to everyone. Japan is very conservative, and this allows an escape.”
There really is no practical use or benefit to anything on these cars, but that’s part of what makes them so f**king cool. Souki’s is an example of building what you want just because you can.
According to the man himself, “Music, cars and party are my lifestyle.” Clearly he’s living his life to the fullest.