Living in Iceland, Japanese tuner cars were always a rare sight. The only way I could really enjoy them was through movies in The Fast and the Furious franchise and games like Need for Speed.
But when I was 21, I moved to Sweden and that opened up a whole new world of automotive opportunity. My photographic journey started in 2019, right around the time the very first Japdays event was announced.
The event’s name really speaks for itself; Japdays is a day (or in 2019’s case, a weekend) for celebrating modified Japanese cars. It’s held at Mantorp Park, less than two and a half hours’ drive from Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, and features everything from a show to time attack and drifting, attracting the country’s finest modified Japanese cars.
2020 was a different year for everyone. There is no avoiding that truth, but in Japdays’ case, no spectators were allowed into their event. That said, with so many people entering show cars and racing machines, the September event still felt very much alive despite the situation the country – and rest of world – faced.
If you’re familiar with Mantorp Park, you’ll know that beside the track there is a huge open paddock space, and this area was packed with cars. It didn’t matter what it was as long as it was Japanese, so that attracted everything from old school JDM cars to crazy builds like this tube-framed Toyota KE70 that featured on Speedhunters last year.
I’m a sucker for old Japanese sedans and this Toyota Crown Deluxe was nothing short of awesome. Under the hood sits a single-turbo 2JZ-GTE boasting around 500hp, but its owner, Nicke, has plans of going well over 700. There’s a lot to this car, so I think it’s best I keep all the details for a full feature. And yes, it shoots flames – if you’re into that sort of thing.
It’s not the only interesting car Nicke has in his garage either, and I’ll get to his other one a little bit later.
This early Mazda RX-7 was something I did not expect to see. The only modification I could spot was the Ferrita exhaust system, but there might be some more secrets under the hood. Who knows…
My highlight of the weekend, however, was having the whole track to myself on Sunday morning. The reason? I really love golden autumn sunrises, so it was only fitting to take photos of these two GT-Rs. The clouds settled in quite fast when we caught a glimpse of the sun, but that did not stop the fun.
Like most Skyline GT-Rs in the country, both of these cars were modified by Sweden’s Skyline guru, Tommy Hammar at TH Garage. Of course, Tommy owns one too (an R32 GT-R), but his is not quite ready for the street yet. Trust me though, it’s pretty wild, and I’ll bring you that story as soon as the Skyline is done.
Back to the two GT-Rs in question though…
The R32 GT-R is packing 624whp thanks to an RB26 built and modified by Tommy. With a big single HKS T51R Kai turbocharger in use, everyone on board is guaranteed a good time when full boost hits.
Inside, things have been kept simple and clean with Kevlar seats from Corbeau, a Personal steering wheel and MaxxECU digital display.
The exterior upgrades are limited too, but I’m sure you’ll agree that they’re very effective. The front lip is from JUN, the side skirts are Nismo items, and the rear end features an N1 Gurney flap and Fujimura Rocket Dancer lip spoiler. Furthermore, the Skyline has been fully resprayed in a fresh coat of its OEM 326 Crystal White color.
Finishing things off nicely are a rare set of Nismo LMGT1 (by RAYS) wheels measuring 18×9.5-inch at all four corners, which have been customized with new spike hardware and gold-painted inner barrels.
Like the R32 GT-R, the R34 GT-R’s RB26 was also built and modified by Tommy. With 713whp at 2.1bar (31psi) boost, high performance is also guaranteed.
Despite all that power, both the interior and exterior remain stock save for a Nismo 300km/h dash cluster, Z-Tune front lip, carbon extensions on the wing, and a set of bronze RAYS Volk Racing TE37 SAGA wheels.
As the event progressed, I began noticing a few off-road vehicles around the place. Having completely forgotten that Mantorp Park has a dirt track, I quickly rushed to the area and luckily caught some of the action.
Well, just one lone Nissan Patrol going at it. This BMW-engined off-road machine only hung around for a couple of minutes before making its way through the water bed and up over the hill where it disappeared.
The show side of the event turned up an interesting array of builds, and these cars even had a chance to turn their wheels later on.
When day turned to night, a Fast & Furious-inspired cruise brought a new element to the event. With under-glow aplenty, I enjoyed every minute of it.
This year’s event was very similar but with more cars and a couple of new things on the schedule. And of course, rain.
The JDM scene here in Sweden has progressed too, with more and more people getting into it, which is great to see. We now even have a couple of ultra-low static cars that scrape the ground at the slightest bump. Props to anyone going that route though, because speed bumps are popping up everywhere in Sweden, so air suspension is pretty much a must if you want to ride really low.
I mentioned earlier that Nicke, the owner of the 2JZ-swapped Crown, has another car worthy of note. This is his amazing engine-swapped Toyota Celica sitting on Work Meister CR01s and packed full of other goodies from all over the world.
What engine is it running though?
Look past the Toyota badge and you’re actually seeing a Volvo T5R that’s now pumping out 490whp backed up by a BMW gearbox. Who wants to see a story on this thing?
During the whole of 2020 and up until this summer, the people over at Dual M-TV teamed up with an organization called Ellas Hjältar, which helps kids in tough situations, to customize a Japanese car and give it away at Japdays. By donating a small amount of money (100SEK, roughly US$11), you were in the draw for this one-of-a-kind 1987 Mazda 323, modified with new wheels, new paint, a full engine refresh and one hell of a sound system.
Now, before anyone comments saying they could have built a Supra or something similar, it was the first time the team did this, so they did not know what to expect. As the old saying goes, it can only get better from here. Most importantly though, the equivalent of around US$27K was raised for the Ellas Hjältar organization.
Plans have already started for Japdays 2022 at Mantorp Park, and you can count on me being there. Let’s just hope that the weather gods give us a little more sunshine next time around.