Tokyo Auto Salon 2023: Everything You Need To See From Day One

The first time I visited Tokyo Auto Salon, Dino gave me one piece of advice crucial for covering it on Speedhunters: “Go to the very last hall, first. We Japanese feel the need to complete them in the correct order intended by the show. That last hall will be empty for the first hour.”

It’s the perfect example of why Japanese culture can be both massively entertaining and frustrating depending on which side of the fence you’re sat. And that’s not just Dino banter either; it genuinely remains the most efficient way to cover TAS on any given day.


In England, we’re conditioned to believe that rules are there merely for guidance rather than a code to live by. And look where that’s got us; Brexit, three PMs in as many months and a nation convinced summer tyres can be used even when it’s snowing. ‘Siri, show me cars stranded on the M25.’


I don’t think there’s a single story on Speedhunters where I haven’t rambled about Japan at some point, and the simple reason is because I adore this place. For decades, Japan has been the driving force behind my obsession with car culture, and every visit just seems to compound that obsession further.


There’s an odd phenomenon when something you’ve followed for so long gains huge popularity with the masses. It’s like when your favourite unknown artist starts getting played on the radio. You should be happy for ‘em, but there’s a part inside you which resents the success. Not to them as an individual, but towards the army of new fans acting like they’ve just discovered literal fire.


And it’d be very easy to feel this way about Tokyo Auto Salon. 2023 promises to be one of the show’s busiest years to date, especially with so many western media outlets and social media personalities in attendance. So, if your interest in Japanese car culture is minimal at best, you’re in for a very long January.


But that mindset above is also total nonsense. Nobody – no matter how many followers they have – is unearthing Japanese car culture for the first time. TAS existed long before Speedhunters, and long before most of us were even born. Anyone acting like a gatekeeper here needs to put down the anime and go for a walk.


In reality, what we’re all witnessing is just genuine, almost uncontrollable excitement for car culture. And that is a very good thing for everyone locked in this industry. Few places in the world present it on such an authentic level as Japan. And if you’ve been fortunate enough to visit this country, you’ll know exactly how that feels regardless of what year it was.


Tokyo Auto Salon, like other aspects of Japan, has this odd sense of being an environment which reached the year 2005 and decided ‘yup, this is our optimum year. Let’s not go any further.’ The only giveaway that we’re now in 2023 is some of the cars on display.


Journalists are still given press information on CDs. Hand-held camcorders are littered with metallic stickers boasting 720p resolution. And promo girls adopt the less is more approach to clothing the deeper into Tokyo Auto Salon you get. It seems that #MeToo hasn’t translated very well into kanji, yet.


TAS is also one of the few places you’ll see a major automotive manufacturer rubbing shoulders with a batsh*t LED-clad demo car from a tuner who decided that a giant dinosaur was the perfect mascot to promote their range of cupholders. If you want to be positive, you could say this is Tokyo Auto Salon treating everyone equally. In reality, nobody’s prepared to speak up or suggest otherwise for fear of offending one another.


Now I’ve wasted 600+ words taking you down a memory land nobody actually asked for, let’s get to the real reason you’re here – the cars. And I’ll keep this as brief as possible, partly because we’ve got TAS-centric stories planned every day for the next week, and mainly because it’s Friday evening in Japan and this story should’ve gone live a half hour ago.


Let’s start with the new cars. Unsurprisingly, Nissan’s Fairlady Z and the Toyota GR86 are the two big winners here. And that’s absolutely worth celebrating, because in a world where internal combustion engines and manual gearboxes are being phased out, these two prove there’s still life in the (new) dogs yet.


With the Z especially being so new, the bulk of tuning on display revolves around bolt-on parts and exterior components. But there are a few pushing things much, much further, and like at Toyota Auto Salons of the ’90s and ’00s, you can always count on VeilSide to deliver the goods.


And then there’s Rocket Bunny. As one of the first to produce a ‘complete’ kit for the new Z, it’s no surprise to see Pandem-kitted cars taking centre stage on multiple stands, including those of RAYS, GReddy and Cusco.


Speaking of familiar tuners… they’re back. Alright, they never went away. But those tuners we grew up watching on grainy Video Option DVDs are out in full force at TAS 2023. And even better than that, it seems they’re embracing their past history too.


On the HKS stand, where 50 years of tuning is being celebrated, their brutal Drag 70 Supra – a 7-second beast from the early ’90s – fills the back section, nestled in company by the iconic HKS Gr.A R32 Skyline GT-R. Top Secret’s stand is amassed with screens showing Smoky Nagata’s old speed-based escapades, and RE Amemiya are showcasing some of their classic builds too.


But if we’re talking about blurring history with modern technology, nobody has done it better than Toyota this year. Head to the Gazoo Racing stand and you’ll see two AE86s on the main stage alongside all the latest machinery. Strange but cool, right?


But all is not as it seems under the bonnet. That Levin sprouts bright orange electric wires on display, and a lot of empty space. Yup, it’s electric powered. And yup, it was inevitable one day, wasn’t it? Before you dismiss it, there’s two things which might change your mind…


For a start there’s a gearbox in it. Not a token shifter or push/pull sequential, but a proper H-pattern manual. And it’s not electrically-triggered either; it runs a normal clutch with actual feel and the ability to clutch-kick and run through the gears. Muck up the shift and it’ll kangaroo and judder just like an ICE-powered one.


Then, there’s the Trueno next to it. Under the bonnet looks like a super-clean 4A-GE. It’s not powered by electricity… but it’s not powered by petrol either. This one’s hydrogen. Not only have Toyota built a hydrogen-powered AE86, they’ve retained its iconic 1.6L twin-cam 16-valve four cylinder engine too.


Aside from the tanks in the back, there’s no other giveaway. And – we’ve been assured by Gazoo Racing’s Koji Sato – that it sounds and feels just like the original 4A-GE. As the Operating Officer of GR and a proper petrolhead, we’ll take his word for it.


If you’re wondering how we ensure the preservation of classic motoring in a future free of fossil fuels, this might just be it. Same noise, same experience, no emissions. We’ve got a full feature on both these cars coming very soon.


The last car we’ll highlight right now is the obvious one – Liberty Walk’s Ferrari F40. It’s been teased for months, and the internet has been a hive with both admiration and disgust.


For Tokyo Auto Salon 2023, Kato-san decided to blur the lines between performance art and car tuning by taking a cutter to the F40’s rear arch right before unveiling it. You might cry in pain, but the balls to pull this off are beyond admirable.


Over the last decade especially, Kato-san and his team and proved that no car can – or should – be left untouched. The F40 was always the one car we assumed would be holy, but that also makes it the perfect statement in 2023 too.


And you know what? It looks incredible. We all anticipated it to go a more extreme route similar to the 458 and Aventador LBW kits, and while it’s hardly subtle, you can tell Kato-san has been both bold and sympathetic with the styling cues. The arch cutting? That’s pure theatre. But as an executed build? It’s exactly what we know and love from Liberty Walk.


Whatever your thoughts are on this car – and Liberty Walk in fact – you cannot dismiss the impact these boys and girls have had on the tuning world. This is a brand pushing boundaries; they’re stylish, they’re approachable and they know how to make a statement.


And while other brands at this point simply would’ve fizzled out or ran out of ideas, Kato-san is only just getting started. Lord help us all.


Variety will always be Tokyo Auto Salon’s biggest selling point. Intentionally or not, the show has never forgotten about its past and continues to make heroes of those iconic JDM cars from every decade, regardless of value or current demand.


Talk to the owners and you’ll find the bulk of these cars have been owned for years and built on nothing but passion. Yes, those newer models represent a marketing opportunity for bigger brands, but for the smaller tuners TAS remains an annual exhibition to showcase all the ideas they’ve collated over past 12 months.


This attitude is why I believe Japanese car culture will never feel spoilt or mainstream regardless of who’s documenting it. It’s not trying to be something it isn’t; it’s still moving like the year 2005 and no amount of exposure will seemingly change that either.


Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t without its frustrations for many. And I can say that as someone who dips into it several times a year rather than being surrounded by it 24/7. But it always circles back to embracing all its traits, whether you’re a manufacturer, major tuning house or an individual wrapping your car’s bonnet with hentai artwork.


Everything is encompassed together and free from judgement at Tokyo Auto Salon. The very least we Speedhunters can do is pass that notion on to anyone weighing up their own trip here. Book a ticket, prepare to have your mind blown and we’ll see you at the very last hall next year.

Mark Riccioni
Instagram: mark_scenemedia
Twitter: markriccioni



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The LW F40 is peak internet car culture - and is no different to a clout-chasing Instagram model who pitches up on No Jumper with a carefully crafted steaming hot take. There is a whiff of George W. Bush hanging the "Mission Accomplished" banner on an aircraft carrier about this - here I am on Speedhunters talking about it - but as a build, it does nothing. The F40 was the best that 11-time Formula One World Champions could build at the time and LW sacrificing all of that for stance is truly an insult to Ferrari. This is not tuning, or modifying, or even a new build. It's botox, implants and a BBL on Michael Jordan. Remember - we all laughed at Just Stop Oil for trying to vandalise a Van Gogh.


people complaining about tasteful LBWK mods. But doesn't give af about what Brabus/Mansory pointless ricer over the top carbon kits early 2000's showcar tastes


This nonsense is the result of people like kyzyl saleem being allowed to screw up cars because they think it looks cool in video games. Truly the PC gamers of car building


Agreed. Not arguing if a F40 is sacred or not but...

Feels like LB is tiptoeing itself on the line of desperation, trying to stay in limelight by pulling outlandish ideas to get crowd reaction.

"How do we hype ourselves up this year?" F40 was the answer. What's for 2024? Let's put some fenders on Gulfstream jet


They've jumped the shark.


You could apply that logic to some of the most iconic sports cars. Not sure Toyota’s engineers were envisioning people pumping more and more power into Supras, or that Lamborghini’s would imagine a Urus getting the Mansory treatment, or that even something like the Scion XB was built with even the slightest inkling that it would be aired out on some three piece wheels.

I get what you’re saying but there’s plenty of untouched, pristine F40s out there, and the modding scene is about self-expression, and what could be. An open mind is imperative to enjoy yourself in automotive culture. Life is too short to get hung up on some guy modding a car you’ll never have. Least you can do is respect craftsmanship for what it truly is.


there is no respectable craftsmanship to speak of in the Liberty walk F40. We have an open mind. This is garbage regardless


You’re calling that quarter panel over fender fitment craftsmanship? Strange


Honda tried it over a decade ago. It won’t be happening


The hydrogen AE86 is quite possibly the most important car there. Its the realistic future for cars, just takes someone intelligent to push it forward.

Christopher McElligott

Hydrogen would work fine in a fusion reactor, but it's not a viable civilization-wide combustion fuel. It takes more energy to refine and deliver it to vehicles than the vehicles themselves can get from it.


I am fascinated by the H2 AE86. It is extremely impressive. But that being said I still unfortunately have the bias towards gasoline. It isn't because I don't care for the environment, it is just what I prefer. I know that gasoline is unfortunately being phased out. And I understand why. And I agree that it is good for the world and environment...I just can't bring myself to be onboard with it yet though. But no hate towards the movement or the people that support it.


not that i hate the environment or i don't know the severety of pollution, but still allowing inustries to run on coal and banning ICE because they have the power to make the rules is not helping. That's why i'm not standing with the current alternatives and sticking with ICE until we the regular people don't have to pay the bill all of it by ourselves.


I look forward to blue-white turned bright yellow flames shooting out the back of zero emission hydrogen cars. Safer than gas, cleaner than gas, and sounds literally the same, but burns even faster, allowing higher potential RPM. I don't see what isn't to like but you do you


I will "do me" Like I said, I have no hate towards it or to the people that are for it. I just have a difference of opinion and I am entitled to it.


As a big F40 guy I can’t explain how excited I was that Liberty Walk would be giving an LM of all cars the treatment. Car came out fantastic and reminds me of the 2004 build they did, such a big fan. Toyota also really knocked it out of the park with their feat of engineering that went into the pair of 86s. The show is looking really, really good and can’t wait to see more. Great words, great article.


So BMW did hear the jokes and gave us the "biggest?" kidney grill they could build.
That dark red corvette's front end that keeps popping in this article is a real piece of art.


Biggest? I'm pretty sure that's just the stock ones from an M4.


Cutting up a legendary car the F40 is the most Japanese car thing ever. People who get butthurt when you won’t ever be in a position to own one anyway, y’all really need to learn about Japanese car culture. The different groups that formed, the image illegal street racing had in Japan during that time.. instead of being so negative, can’t we just celebrate these guys for constantly answering “what if” questions we all have? We’re all just some car loving little kids at the end of the day. Might as well have some fun with it.


This is not the most japanese car thing ever. This is barely japanese. It's just tacky junk thrown at a formerly fast car, now slower and uglier and cheaper because of what they've done to it. A widebody F40 is a great idea, this is not.


This is what happens when people who think they understand Japanese far culture try and make relevant comments. You’re right, it’s awful


The problem I have with that F40 isn't that I think it is sacred or too precious to be modified. It's that the finished product is a bit rubbish. Maybe it looks more impressive in person, but on my phone it just looks like any other Liberty Walk project, exposed (fake?) rivets included. Dodgy wheelarches, replica F40 GTE wing, a front splitter, new wheels and air suspension. It doesn't strike me as the kind of project that would give people anything to be excited about. It doesn't improve the F40 either aesthetically or functionally - in fact I think it is worse in both aspects - so I have to wonder what is the point?

If I was in Makuhari, I would be much more interested in the Honda Civic GT500. I know that class is pure silhouette with no connection to the road cars at all, so it's not really a Civic. But GT500 is just so coooooool.


Sometimes it’s just form over function. She’s a show car, and while you may not like how it came out, it is textbook Liberty Walk, that’s for sure.


A white F40 is a thing of beauty. That white F40 is not. Has nothing to do with cutting it up, or modifying it, as there are great strides to be made in updating a 30 year old Italian car. But this one has zero purpose, and it's worse than it started.


Agreed. Looks tacky and formulaic


Is that F40 the same one that DIno shot like 10 years ago?


No, this is a different unit that Kato-san bought just a few months ago.


liberty walk is mansory of japanese cars. this is not a complement.


LB is way better than Mansory.


mansory cars are at least faster than their originals, but I'll say that LBWK looks better 70% of the time


No denying that. LB is just focused on aesthetics.

Michał Fidowicz

Man, that EV AE86 is incredible. I want to learn more about it, see it move and hear it.

LWF40 doesn't do much to me personally, but, there's plenty F40s out there getting driven and plenty in time capsule bubbles sitting about doing nothing. There's no reason to be upset about someone cutting one up, offering a new perspective and doing as they please with it, that's what metal at the end of the day. Anyway, fun is subjective!


Yup. The less everyone even reacts to LWB the less F40's, F1's, etc will get destroyed for their owner's visions... Not that it even matters as you said, there's plenty as long as it's not something truly unique. If LWB has *THAT* tiny of d1ck to take a saw to "the" 250 GTO or whatever, then sure, someone snipe these losers before they might break something singular for humanity's record. Ego isn't art and NEVER will be, and expression doesn't EVER need destruction... The True Artist always chooses the best way to CREATE. If you wanna see a low resolution Mclaren F1, then make the whole thing yourself from your own sweat - THAT'S a craftsman, a real artist. A 3D printer can beat you to it anyways, so the real performance is in creating the Art from the raw, even from nothing if you're so talented. Taking The Mona Lisa and spray painting a logo is destruction, but to paint it yourself from oils and canvas you made yourself and THEN spray painting a logo over it would maybe then be real Art, real sacrifice, real endeavor.


The EV AE. Hydrogen is where Japanese government looking at their infrastructure bill for a BEV future causes heart attack and hara kiri, so instead they hail mary the idea that hydrogen is not vaporware... But the idea, the design, the execution on that lEVin is the KING of this year's TAS.

Absolutely, without even a pale, KING. To see that someone out there has a very real solution to infuse actual production technology with the spirit of what we are all leaving behind is the hands down champion. If development on 3 pedal manual transmissions that pair with whatever the BEV/hybrid world has to offer as far as relatively lightweight propulsion is what can seriously be called a sports car in these endtimes. Eventually there will be just a handful of nerdy nuts left to even care we got around on wheeled cans, but until then this is a very real and genius solution to keep the human in the driver's seat... Just make sure to NOT kill the soul of this idea with software nannies and "active safety" nightmares of delusion and inexperience. KISS.


The wide F40 just doesn't look good. There, I said it.
It's not the rivets, it's not because it's "special" or rare, I just don't think it looks good. Look at old DTM BMW 3 series cars.
They have rivets, again not the issue, and yet they don't look like crap, because they're trying to widen the stance of the car for better stability through corners, like a race-focused car (IE BMW M3, Ferrari F40) should be.
This looks comedically japanese and doesn't respect any of the body lines of the car, and I doubt it's any faster through corners sitting on bags that most certainly don't help it in any capacity.
Doesn't look good, doesn't perform better, what does it do? Prove a point? Offend purists? Who cares, that's easy crap. They really dropped the ball.
They could have modernized the F40 and made something innovative, they certainly have the capability. Instead we got this. The same old dry formula. Bags, extra fiberglass, dished wheels. Should get some 12 inch subwoofers while we're at it, Xzibit.


The flax fiber porsche cayman looks incredible, really hope flax panels take off


Nearly the whole GT4 Clubsport is fitted with flax panels. They're awesome.


One observation here: There's a bunch of new Zs right here which is really cool reminds me of when the new Supra first came out
Also I really like that white F40 it's so clean


Anyone know what wheels are on the small dark grey car that's pictured below the beige FJ60 and above the panda AE86? Looks like a dished aero style wheel, polished rim and grey center.

Thanks for any tips


That's a Strosek (シュトロゼック) Ultra Porsche 928 and that's the Strosek logo in the center cap but I think the wheel is new or bespoke. It's a demo car for Kamikaze Collection that makes detailing products.


Next year: Liberty Walk Pope mobile

Christopher McElligott

Dave Barry once said that it'd be easier to get the entire population of Tokyo to wear matching outfits than to get any two randomly-selected Americans to agree on pizza toppings.

I'd say he could've replaced "matching outfits" with "masks."


RETRO HAVOC- Mk2 pink color is from Malaysia!!


Ford Escort Mk2 pink color is from Malaysia!!


Kudos to Toyota for coming up with different propulsion options. Viability I guess also depends on geographic limitations rather than infrastructure, big bucks, hype or foreign pressure. So it's good we have choices.

One week of TAS posts, I love it!


Gosh, a lot of comments on here. Love the pictures, and the BMW Z1 x Alfa SZ convertible is amazing!

I've given it some thought, and opinions are always subject to change, but I think I am actually completely ambivalent about the LW F40. Its not what I would do with one, but then again there are as mentioned so many of these sitting in garages.

I'm most excited for that all carbon-fibre (!!!!) 911 we got a glimpse of. Thanks for the pics!


I wonder if Wataru will get a cease and desist letter from Ferrari. lol


Pic 21 is a a new countach right??


People getting so bent out of shape over a modified F40, when folks go gaga over the F40 Barchetta..hmm.


That's a weird stunt for sure. A kind of Banksy copycat. Given the price of genuine F40 panels they could have simply built new panel. At first i was like come on F40 are cools but it's just another piece of equipment. But seeing thin complex carbon nomex part sawed still ticked the engineer inside me.


So many simps here for the electric 86 it makes me sick. Electrification = symbol of the:

Globalist left
Socialist left
World Economic Forum
Big Entertainment
Big Government'
Thier banker and billionaire friends,


The Entertainment Industrial Complex

If you think that life should be lived by rules, then better ask yourself who makes the rules? Who keeps the rules?

That's right. Conformism is the Japanese way, and Conformism is cancer.


So... "Ben Mossimi = incel simp" is all I was able to understand from this post.


To be fair, he never implied he wasn't a simp. His argument was elsewhere.


I care beyond not for Ferarri's in anyway(so much so I'm not even sure I spelt that correctly), but that F40 doesn't look good. People that fap over cars like that are on the pipe. When a guy that builds and sells bodykits for a living can make enough money to not onlyt buy an F40, but chop it up, then there's a lot of twits out there buying too much of his janky crap to make their cars ugly than I thought there was. Also, why is the fender he's cutting red? Do they not even paint the whole car?




Sheesh, lay off the caps champion. Firstly Japan has long worn masks well before covid was even in your vocab, so move on to another boring topic and take your dribble elsewhere. Bye.


This year was my first Tokyo Auto Salon and I had the time of my life. The people are super friendly and talkactive, so you can ask anything about there cars. Also the underground meetings after Auto Salon are insane. This is the closest to "Tokyo Drift" I have ever experienced. Beeing at the meet fells like hanging with your family you have never met before. Absolute 10/10 experience, hopefully see you next year!


Gazoo Racing got my attention now with that hydrogen 4A-GE. Not so much with the LEVin, although clap-clap for retaining a H-pattern manuel.

Also, is that ND MX-5 converted into an RX-3 doppelganger the handiwork of the NATS lads?

Also also, hoping you got more on the FEED GT3 FD in that deep maroon/burgundy colour!

Also also also, best thing is that Hako on massive Wats :o

ok bye


Not sure what the link is behind the promo girls, their amount of clothing and #metoo.

No one is forcing them to stand next to cars with hardly any clothes on. If they don't want to stand next to cars with hardly clothes on then all they have to do is say "I'm going to earn some money doing something else."


I agree, such a stupid comment has no place, nor relevance to this story.


F40 looks awesome. Love the wheels, wheels can be trickiest part, make or break a car, but these are top pick and the color is right as well.
From livery to design to wheels and presence, an awesome car.

It has that "punch" and the fact people are fuming is even better. I always root for the underdog, for the anti-hero, for the "misunderstood".
Excellent car. Now lets see if they can do some other classic.

But the wheels on this thing, really. Such a good choice. Whoever chose the wheels - kudos!


Dino's advice about visiting the last hall first at Tokyo Auto Salon is a clever tip for anyone looking to cover the event. It makes sense that the Japanese would want to complete things in the intended order, and this strategy would allow for a more relaxed and efficient experience for those covering the event.


Dino's advice about visiting the last hall first at Tokyo Auto Salon is a clever tip for anyone looking to cover the event for Speedhunters. It makes sense that the Japanese would want to complete things in the intended order, and this strategy would allow for a more relaxed and efficient experience for those covering the event.


That F40 can either look gorgeous to someone, or down right fugly to many others. Look is subjective.
However, this F40 being slower and less in performance makes it on-par with other untouched F40s collecting dust in storage. At least it is seeing the daylight outside of the temperature-controlled garage.

I, personally, don't think this is an art of any breakthrough. It is just a market stunt to gain attention, nothing more. The more people hate it, the more they get exposure on the internet anyways.


Awesome stuff Ricci... but what about that hot pink Mk2 Escort!!