Kansai Flavor: Osaka Auto Messe 2013

Tokyo Auto Salon might be the place where the world comes to see the latest and greatest in Japan’s tuning and custom car scenes, but one month later there’s another event that I find just as, if not more fun than TAS. That would be Osaka Auto Messe. I first had the chance to attend Auto Messe last year and quickly fell in love, so I made sure to add it to my itinerary for this winter’s trip.

My current Japan visit included both Tokyo Auto Salon and Osaka Auto Messe, so it was interesting to directly see the differences between the two shows. They do share quite a few traits – both are held in the winter, both are promoted in similar ways, and many of the same cars and companies from TAS can also make the trip to Osaka.

And just like TAS, Auto Messe has plenty of campaign girls…

…along with their legions of loyal “fans” that follow them around all day.

But even so, there are big differences in the overall atmosphere between the two shows. Like Osaka itself, I think Auto Messe presents a slightly more wild, homegrown take on things.

It wasn’t just in the cars in that the Kansai vibe could be felt, but in the the cuisine as well. Rather than your typical car show snack bars, Auto Messe included its own food fair of sorts. All of the local favorites could be had – yakisoba, takoyaki, okonomiyaki and so on.

I don’t mean to go all Foodhunters here, but it was seriously the biggest (and the most delicious) assortment of food I’ve ever seen at an automotive event.

Ok, back to the cars now. Yes, Tokyo Auto Salon has it’s fair share of crazy custom vehicles, but Auto Messe is really on another level in this department.

Body Shop Vivid Luster’s “Jewel Bug” Nissan Fuga is a perfect example of the wild style that runs rampant at Osaka Auto Messe. It doesn’t really matter whether you “like” what’s been done to the car, but you have to smile when you see it.

Perhaps the most common word on the spec sheets for each car was “one-off”. Rather than just being a place for companies to show products, hand-built custom work is king here.

One element that seemed particularity big were custom body finishes – paint jobs and wraps with every type of finish and pattern imaginable…

It’s no secret that Auto Messe is known or its selection of VIP cars. For many, the VIP hall is the highlight of the show, and this year’s batch of scraping sedans did not disappoint.

While the favored platforms have largely stayed the same, builders continue to bush the boundaries with lower ride heights, more camber, and tons of one-off body work. Again, even if you prefer your cars to be of the more “functional” variety, it’s impossible not to appreciate the work and the creativity that goes into these VIP rides.

And of course, whatever can be done to a four-door luxury sedan can also be done to a van. There were countless mind-blowing family haulers like this RB1 Honda Odyssey from Custom Shop T-Style.

In addition to the waves of minivans, the “One-Box” portion of Auto Messe is worthy of being a separate show in itself. The array of custom Toyota Hiaces included lux’d out cruisers, huge RVs, and even one built for drifting (look for it in the next post).

Osaka Auto Messe also shines when it comes to the custom kei car scene. You’ll find these modifed minicars all over Japan of course, but Kansai builders in particular love applying their tricks to these things.

One of the most impressive kei builds I came across was this Suzuki Lapin from Meister Company Limited. In stock from the Lapin is a cute little retro-themed wagon favored by the ladies – but with a host of custom work this one has a completely different vibe.

16″x7 +25 BBS RSs might not sound too aggressive on paper, but sitting beneath the custom over fenders of this Suzuki, they look positively mad.

Another kei machine which grabbed my attention was the Suzuki Alto from CLS. The shakotan stance (on coilovers!) and 14″ Work CR01Rs are fantastic, but what I especially like is the Group A-inspired coloring.

Speaking of Work Wheels, here’s a set of brand new 20″ Durandal DD10.5s affixed to the Toyota Mark X of Masashi Kameoka from Osaka’s Team Madame. Kameoka-san used to drive the previous generation Mark X done in a similar style, but last year he decided to replace it with the new model.

While the 2013-spec Super Autobacs Honda HSV-010 Super GT car was amazing to see, it was sad to be reminded that this beast only exists in competition form. Hey Honda, take the styling traits of the HSV and give us a reasonably priced S2000 successor and Toyota 86 rival!

Ah yes, the 86. While there weren’t nearly as many 86s and BRZs at Auto Messe as there were at TAS, the Toyota-Subaru twins were still the show’s number one tuner car base by a wide margin. One of my favorites was the Rocket Bunny-equipped “AWESOME86″ from Todoroki Auto.

I also enjoyed the simple and very functional style of the Car Station Marche BRZ. It has all the right stuff – TE37SLs,  along with Endless brakes and suspension…

…and an HKS supercharger kit to make things more interesting under the hood.

While Auto Messe wasn’t too heavy on drift machines, the breed was represented by cars like the Origin Labo M-Bros S15. Kansai dori style to the max.

Let’s not forget the venerable RX-7 either. Here’s Total Car Produce Magic’s wild FD3S.

In addition to the crazy VIP cars and vans, Auto Messe also has an especially strong showing of modified European machinery, with Volkswagens leading the way. The new version of the Beetle is proving to be a popular custom base in Japan…

…as is the VW Up!. The little city car just hit the Japanese market recently, but customizers and shops have already taken quite a liking to the small and fuel efficient Volkswagen. This example from Halt Design was looking rather cool…

…as was this demo car from Voomeran/Euro Magic. It’s wearing a complete set of Voomeran aero parts and airbagged over a set of 17″ Crimson RS Cup wheels.

That will do it for my first volume of 2013 Osaka Auto Messe coverage, but I’ll return shortly with a selection of car spotlights from the show floor. Stay tuned!




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Damn, I thought the red FD RX7 was a Ferrari 599 GTO, what an awesome "replica"


you guys should totally start a foodhunters spin-off site!


can we get a desktop of the lifted Kei Truck


I went to it today and had a blast.  The Hiace section really blew me away.  They all looked so comfortable and classy.  The drifting one ...didn't look comfortable.  I finally understand the feelings of "too much of a good thing" with the 86s present.  They were everywhere and I probably dismissed too many of them because of that.  I look forward to your pics to see what I missed.  Especially since a third of my SD card crapped out and I don't even know what I saw!


@roryfjohnston Haha. If you thought Auto Messe was overwhelming in the 86 department, you should have seen in TAS!


@azmedaj Shooting cool cars AND sampling amazing food? I'm down.


@NickWeaver I'll see what I can do :)


wow that food section looks amazing


That "2013-spec Super Autobacs Honda HSV-010 Super GT" (WOW) is looking super cool!


@Davide Prata More of that car would be nice Mike, if you have anything.


@Davide Prata Same here. must  watch three times to reognized the RX7!


Okay, I finally have to ask. I've been trying to figure out whether all of the show cars I see on these pages with the wheels bugging out at odd angles are actually driven that way, or if that's just a side-effect of bagged suspension in a lowered stance? Thanks in advance.


that rx-7 is stunning. a write up would be nice please. also, i keep seeing pics of bikes creeping into some write ups, i know you guys are all about cars, but surely the world of motorcycles will provide you guys with a new challenge. besides, you guys hunt speed, and some of the best speed in the world is 2 wheeled based. you know it makes sense ;)


Man, those are some huge servings of okonomiyaki! Oh, and that white Hiace would look fantastic at our museum... as an errand van. (evil grin)


A lifted Kei-truck ?? bonkers!


you made me feel like takoyaki


@gliebau it's called oni camber (demon camber). not sure the complete origins, but i think it started because people wanted as deep a lip as possible, but still wanted to be in the fenders. then people kept pushing the mods further and further, using modified knuckles and uprights.  and as far as being driven? well check the link on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVU-oXEwfIs


All these Japanese tuner cars are just starting to blend together now. 
Custom paint
Stupid low
There's no originality any more. The lifted kei truck was the most outside of the box thing I've seen from Japan ( a country known for outside the box thinking) in long while. I guess the stance cancer spread to Japan and ruined their car scene, too.


Any kanjo racers @ OAM this year?


I really like that truck, it was actually pretty cool. Reminded me of all the lifted trucks in the states except for that tiny rear axle under it.


That FD3S looks like a 599xx from the rear


Now I'm hungry for Okonomiyaki.


Now I'm hungry for Okonomiyaki.


cant wait for more coverage, not a fan of that ferrari inspired FD though looks kinda wack.


@ClaytonPayton Holy heck, that's odd. Thanks for the response.


VW Up looks interesting, that lifted key truck is my favorite. Osaka Auto Messe looks definitively wilder than TAS. I like the concept of foodhunting LOL.


what wheels were those on the orange 86?




@Slight New 19" Work CR Kais if I recall...


@koko san Yeah, Kansai is quite different than Kanto in terms of pretty much everything.


@SVT_Bryan Me too! And I just had some the other day haha.


I figured, thanks for the clarification =)@Mike Garrett  @Slight


@Rotary Wait until you see the OTHER lifted kei truck that was there!


@apex_DNA None at the show itself, but I have some other Kanjo related material on the way from my time in Osaka.


@jake Laird I understand your view, but crazy "stance" was happening in Japan long before the term was really invented.


@K's Sorry about that!


@Censport Yeah! The best is Hiroshima style with yakisoba mixed in!


@kane87 As cool as I think some bikes are, I think we are already too busy trying to cover the four-wheeled world.


@FunctionFirst @Davide Prata I'll try to add one more shot in my next post :)


@Mike Garrett  @Censport Stop that! I just had dinner and I'm still having a Pavlovian response! (LOL!) I've definitely got to get back to Japan this year and head over to the Kansai region. The okonomiyaki I had in Adachi-ku was pretty tasty, but I'll bet that Hiroshima style puts it to shame.


@Mike Garrett  @apex_DNA Sounds like M&L Party to me.


@Mike Garrett  @apex_DNA Sounds like M&L Party to me.


@Mike Garrett  @apex_DNA Sounds like M&L Party to me.


@Mike Garrett its ok ! im lucky my wife will make it waha


@Mike Garrett its ok ! im lucky my wife will make it waha


@Mike Garrett its ok ! im lucky my wife will make it waha


I want to see more of that rx-7....


Great stuff Mike!! I canNOT get enough bippu!!


Great stuff Mike!! I canNOT get enough bippu!!


Great stuff Mike!! I canNOT get enough bippu!!


those little trucks are cool, everyone around here using these for hunting. couple inches of lifts, 4 wheeler tires and they are a fun little rig


those little trucks are cool, everyone around here using these for hunting. couple inches of lifts, 4 wheeler tires and they are a fun little rig


those little trucks are cool, everyone around here using these for hunting. couple inches of lifts, 4 wheeler tires and they are a fun little rig


Some wallpapers of the Origin Labo M-Bros S15 please? :D


hey what's the make/model of the white sedan in the first pic.


That RX-7 looks really interesting. I'd love to see more of that.


That RX-7 looks really interesting. I'd love to see more of that.


Nice write-up. Especially on the VW Up. Really caught me off guard. But as a typical drift fan, no Origin Labo M-Bros S15 wallpaper is a bit sad. :(


love that little monster truck (white one) looks like it's got big spacer blocks between the axel and leaf springs?? what would it drive like?? wobbles would be my guess but never driven anything like it (series 2 land rover only, and that was pretty scary. never been so scared at 45mph in my life!)