For me, Phoenix’s Power has always been a prime example of the high-end tuning outfits you find in the Kansai region of Japan. On a recent trip to Kyoto, I had the chance to drop by the shop in the outskirts of the city, for a quick catch up and look around.
After a day spent getting wet and doing touristy stuff, walking into Phoenix’s Power was just as refreshing as it was the first time I visited a long time ago.
In Tokyo, the authorities have really cracked down on modified vehicles, to the point that less and less people are going all-out these days. In the Kansai area though, it’s just like the good old days – nothing seems to have changed.
As Nakatsuji of Phoenix’s Power explained to me, the majority of their customers have the same goals they’ve always had. And with R35 GT-Rs becoming the company’s most popular tuning base, the requests for massive power have actually increased.
Nakatsuji-san puts it down to a combination of the local authorities not seeing modified vehicles as much of a problem, coupled with the attitude of enthusiasts in the region, who wouldn’t even really care if there was a police crackdown.
Hearing this from Nakatsuji-san put a smile on my face. For years now, many Japanese tuners and enthusiasts have been downplaying their enthusiasm and not really doing what they want to do with street cars in order to stay within the limits and not get anyone in trouble. The upside of all this is more people building cars for the track, which is cool, but c’mon, this is Japan, the place where pushing the boundaries of street tuning created the culture that many of us fell in love with.
At Phoenix’s Power – and I’m sure many other respected tuners in this region – street tuning is still the focus. Nakatsuji-san was even able to show me a new build they were just putting the very last touches to.
And no, it wasn’t one of their famed R35 GT-Rs, but rather a Nissan Silvia S15.
The owner had just dropped by to pick it up and was waiting for the last few custom stickers to be applied. They do like things a little bit more showy down this way, which is totally fine by me.
I’d probably categorize this build as a modern JDM take on what an S15 should look like. That said though, they’ve done it in an interesting way, combining 326 Power bumpers with a Pandem over-fender kit at the front, effectively covering the signature triple vents on the side of the bumper.
As I soon found out from the S15’s owner, who introduced himself and walked me around the car, this is very much a no-expense-spared build.
He picked the S15 up as an ex-demo car from another shop, and dropped it straight off at Phoenix’s Power with the request to build it up into an over-the-top street/drift machine.
As a valued customer (Phoenix’s Power had recently finished building his 1,000hp Liberty Walk-kitted R35 GT-R), Nakatsuji-san knew what was wanted and was happy to accomodate all the requests.
The SR20DET sports a forged bottom that brings capacity up to 2.2L and is topped off with a fully ported and polished head. New valve gear and high-lift cams are there to support the boost that the high-mounted BorgWarner twin-scroll turbine supplies. On the intake side, a Plazmaman inlet manifold ensures the higher volume of intake charge is delivered efficiently to each of the four combustion chambers, while fueling is controlled by a Link ECU that activates four 1,050cc/min Injector Dynamics injectors.
The SR delivers a reliable 600hp to the rear wheels – a solid number for the track, let alone the street.
Swinging open the driver’s side door reveals an interior that’s been on the receiving end of the same level of detail. The stripped-out cabin is adorned with Bride, Nardi and Defi goodness. Then there’s the red digital display on the left side of the Nismo 280km/h/10,000rpm cluster, confirmation that the Silvia’s 6-speed transmission has been ditched in favor of a Quaife sequential gearbox that’s been set up with flat-shift.
The owner, who turned out to be quite a character and an obvious bosozoku at heart, even has his custom Suzuki Hayabusa looked after by Phoenix’s Power.
It got even better when he showed me a picture of some of his other toys, appropriately taken in front of Phoenix’s Power. Aside from modified Nissans and custom bikes, he also has a real interest in dekotora trucks. I made him promise that next time I find myself in Kyoto he has to show me his collection. We shook on it, and in these circles that’s a binding contract. Now I can’t wait to go back.
Dino Dalle Carbonare