If you’re searching for creative imagination combined with engineering knowhow at Tokyo Auto Salon, you only need to look for the automotive colleges that fill the halls of the Makuhari Messe.
These automotive schools create opportunities for those looking to express their creativity in a manner that is solely original, regardless of whether it comes with the risk of tackling something unknown. This sort of environment is a breath of fresh air in Japan, as most big companies here tend to shy away from original ideas because of the risks involved.
By now we all know that Nihon Automotive Technology School (NATS) dominates in this field, and 2020 was no different.
They knocked it out of the park this year, to the point that instead of highlighting their cars in this post, a visit to the campus for an in-depth look at everything is in order.School Of Illusions
Saitama Automotive College built what at first appeared to be a monster truck Honda S660. After spending time in Spoon’s S660, the want has been strong, so I really had no choice but to investigate this one. But as I soon found out, this isn’t exactly a lifted S660…
Instead, it’s a Suzuki Jimny frame with the Honda body sat on top. The concept was to present a sense of speed that comes with the S660, and pair it with the durability and strength of a 4×4.
A three-inch lift, 315/75 BFGoodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM3 tires, and a host of other off-road hardware helped create the rugged sports car illusion. I wonder if they will let me drive it?Something Electric
At face value, the next car doesn’t have the attention-grabbing powers that those on the NATS booth or the monster S660/Jimny fusion did.
However, the heart of this A70 stopped everyone in their tracks – myself included. A student, his friends and their professor at Fukushima Polytechnic created what’s called ‘The EV Supra’.
Positioned low down in the engine bay is DC motor acquired from the American manufacturer Motenergy, which is powered by four lead 12V batteries. Although it’s electric now, the combination of low power and high weight means that this Supra doesn’t have the same neck-snapping acceleration of a more modern EV vehicle. In fact, the student joked that running would probably be faster.
Other changes include air suspension and custom front fenders to house 18×9-inch Work Seeker MX wheels.Low Power, High Quality
The students at Kadan Automotive Mechanic School had one principle in mind when entering this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon: to “make the coolest sports car in the world.” They call it the ‘Hanadan 86′.
The 14 team members began by stripping the shell back to bare metal and then worked their way up. The fender arches were taken from a Nissan Cube due to their relative ease of fitment (minimum work was required to the bumpers to make everything line up), and they house 15-inch Work Equip 03 wheels that suit the retro styling of the AE86 perfectly.
Wanting the Hachiroku to be more than a restoration exercise, the students tried to incorporate new technology and trends such as the custom paint. In the right light you can see the freehand artwork applied to the body.
Under the hood, everything is as spotless as the exterior. An AE111 20V 4A-GE engine swap, ITBs, beautiful headers and a wire tuck – what’s there not to like?
For the interior, the students wanted to maintain a sense of unity while adding luxury, hence the custom-trimmed Recaro seats to match the reupholstered roof liner.
With the utter chaos of Auto Salon, I know I missed a few of the other schools. Perhaps next year I should put together a post of all the schools. If that’s something you’d like to see, let us know in the comments below.