Even though we’re in the holiday season, there isn’t much rest happening over at HKS.
This goes for a lot of other shops and big parts manufacturers in Japan too, because with the 2022 Tokyo Auto Salon now only a couple of weeks away (if Omicron doesn’t spoil that party), there are final touches to be put on demo cars that will serve as promotional tools for their products over the course of the coming year. But in the case of HKS and their new Toyota GR86 demo machine, it’s actually a bit more involved than that.
This is a new R&D platform for a refined HKS product range, and the car will likely be used for the next few years in order to the test the limits of 86/BRZ tuning. That’s because the refreshed Hachiroku comes with a stroked version of its original flat-four engine, the additional 400cc of capacity bringing a 30hp bump and, more importantly, +45Nm to the midrange.
This of course means that HKS’s supercharger and turbo kits need to be revised, and with them the supporting accessories – including electronics – that allow everything to function. For the short-term though, and with the demo car’s Tokyo Auto Salon debut just around the corner, HKS is concentrating on how it looks.
HKS has developed a bolt-on wide-body kit that will allow this R&D car to run a significantly larger and wider wheel/tire package for track use. Right now it’s not clear how far HKS intend to develop this 86, but maybe we could see it become the spiritual successor to the legendary TRB-03.
When I visited HKS HQ a couple of days ago, the 86 was a hive of activity. Mechanics were laying down one side of the overfender kit as well as fitting and laser-adjusting the dry carbon rear wing on its two stays.
I was in the right place at the right time to witness a pretty cool part of the process – the cutting of the front fenders.
Seeing the kit laid out on the ground made it easy to understand what it’s all about and the parts it’s comprised of.
Some parts, like the front splitter, were already fitted. This piece was just waiting for a lower carbon fiber cover to be added.
Craft Square carbon fiber mirrors are an expected addition to any Japanese time attack build.
The GR86 has already been fitted with an upgraded brake package which, as always with HKS, means Endless. This relationship has been going on for decades.
For the rear fenders, things are a little more involved. Aside from the fact that the cut had already been made, HKS approaches it in a very specific way.
Since the rear arch is comprised of two layers, once the outer layer is cut the lower layer gets cut in little slices perpendicular to the outer edge. This leaves little tabs of metal that get folded upwards and then temporarily held in place with cleco fasteners, two per tab. This is to avoid buckles in the arches and to guarantee a smooth surface across their increased radius.
The front fender was cut in much the same way Nakai-san does on his RWB builds, with a pneumatic saw taken from one side across to the other with a continuous smooth flow. The only difference here is that masking tape was laid down as an outline for the cut rather than doing it by eye.
With that completed the rear was finished up. This was a tedious process that involved removing each of the cleco fasteners to expose the holes that had been previously drilled in.
And then inserting rivets, two per tab, to lock everything in place.
And this is what it all looks like inside the arch. Each slice has been previously hammered into position to ensure that the 295-section Yokohama Advan A050 rubber mounted on Advan GT wheels have clearance.
I mean, this amount of rubber would be massive on a GT-R, let alone an 86.
A quick few layers of paint to cover the rivets followed, but one finishing touch I was not able to photograph was the final step. Before securing the overfender, a strip of rubber cement was applied onto the underside of the sliced arch edge and heated up with a heat gun to shape it around all the exposed metal.
It will be cool to see this at TAS in a couple of weeks’ time in its completed form, but I’m so thankful to HKS for opening up their shutters so we could have a quick look at the car as it comes together.
But wait, there’s more… While I was there, HKS gave me a look at their refreshed turbocharger line-up for 2022.
It’s a pretty comprehensive catalog that supports power levels from 500hp to well over 1,000hp, depending on which of the HKS GT series snails you go for.
All of the technical specifications of these turbos will be available come Tokyo Auto Salon time, and you can bet that some will be finding their way onto HKS’s 2022 demo car fleet. I’ll be sharing one of those cars with you shortly, so look out for that spotlight in the coming days.
Dino Dalle Carbonare