Going Back To School At TAS
Creative Freedom

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.

Ron Celestine
Instagram: celestinephotography



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When is the store coming back online?


Literally never.


Good luck with that. Been asking for weeks. 0 answers.


I really wish such old-school projects never die and will be among us until the end of time.
Speaking of the AE111 model whose engine is fitted to that 86, I would really love to see a feature of the last generation of the Sprinter Trueno/Corolla Levin BZ-R - the donor car for the legendary 20-valve, Toyota's first VVT engine, 4A-GE. Almost every ITB intake setup seen on 4A-GE's is taken form this very engine, but the AE111 Levin/Trueno has never been seen on Speedhunters and deserves a feature. Looking forward to seeing one, I believe there's plenty of dope ones around!


The Irish Youtube channel/blog called 'Juiceboxforyou' features them occasionally. You should check them out if you haven't already!


yes definitely a article on the schools, maybe even incl old builds they've done.


I agree, let's see all the schools, support them and the future of the automotive scene, but also show us some of their previous work. Excellent idea


I honestly have to admit I didn't know the Jimny is body on frame, like some old 4x4s.


You forgot to say that the EV Supra has a Six speed manual


Recently I have been having many urges for an A70 Supra..


Any idea what the interior handlebars are for on that crazy Honda S660 build??


If I had to take a guess, I'd say they're just grab bars for the passenger if the thing ever sees use on trails where you're getting rocked around inside the cabin!


when off roading the passenger has something to hang onto. (A.K.A. oh Sh!t handles)


Anyone know what seats are in the 3rd gen Supra?


Oh my word, where can I get a Nihon Automobile College jacket?!!


Please do a post of all the schools! This is such a huge deal to those students I'm sure they'd love to have the feature! Maybe even hook them up with some Speedhunters swag and just encourage that sort of mentality to go out and build something different but with roots.


The idea of ​​the school is quite good. Hope it is always developing and creating new turning points.