You’ve heard or read about it again and again; perhaps one of the first things you should know as a car enthusiast is the fact that “Japan is the melting pot of car culture”. From a third person perspective it seems like a sweeping statement that just says ‘anything and everything can be found there’.
Once we hit ground zero at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon (TAS) however, the variety of vehicles displayed at the show further drove that point better than any form of media could.
You see, given there are limitless ways of building and styling a car, anybody can go in any direction they please. That meant that the show had everything from staple japanese sports cars, to exotics from europe, to pint-sized kei cars, and even vans – lots of vans. The quantity of cars present was overwhelming in itself, however the whole experience would not have been as enjoyable if majority of these show cars were sub-par. Thankfully though, the thing with the way the Japanese do their work though is whatever they do, they do it well. Too well. Whether it be building a street car, an off-roader, a track monster, or providing performance parts such as wheels and exhausts, TAS showcased an almost limitless assortment of quality vehicles and parts throughout the weekend.
I must admit, being a kid from the 90’s meant that my personal focus during the show would be towards the Japanese sports cars and saloons that featured in games I grew up with such as Gran Turismo. In this respect, it’s pretty obvious that there was a strong presence of these vehicles spread throughout the eleven halls of the show. Despite the age of these cars, it’s wonderful to see them still being developed and pushing the boundaries of performance – not to mention being well kept too. Countless GT-Rs, Silvias, Zs, a few Supras, and several RX-7s certainly made all the walking worth the trouble.
As much as 90’s ‘JDM’ sports cars would immediately be the first that comes to mind during a show like this, those cars barely scratch the surface of what’s really in store. TAS is always about the latest and newest styling trends, and that means cars from the modern era are always highly showcased along with the latest goods.
A few lucky shops had an opportunity to showcase the new Honda NSX with a few of their own parts. Given the exclusivity of that car however, plenty of other contemporary vehicles filled the halls of Makuhari Messe. Hybrids have all been embraced with open arms by the aftermarket judging from the number of Prii – yes, that’s the official plural term for ‘Prius’ – at the show.
The Toyota Prius wasn’t the dominant hybrid car at this year’s Auto Salon however, as it appears most shops have focused their efforts towards Toyota’s new hybrid crossover, the C-HR. With its aggressive profile and well-rounded proportions, the C-HR lent itself well to various styles of modification.
Not to be outdone by the aftermarket, even the manufacturers themselves took to the Auto Salon in full scale. Often with giant booths showcasing several vehicles – even down to their competing racecars – the manufacturers gave plenty of showgoers to ponder on for their next vehicle purchase.
For those looking for a luxurious twist, bippu (or VIP) cars are well represented in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s a full-size sled like the Lexus LS or an SUV like an LX 570, a bippu car takes on an already-luxurious platform and brings it towards an even higher level of elegance and class. Needless to say, going this route will not be cheap!
On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, retro vehicles – especially those of Japanese origin – are also scattered throughout the show. It’s reassuring to know that classics such as the 240Z or the Hakosuka Skyline are kept in pristine condition for future generations to appreciate. Continuous support for parts and services can be had for these classic cars, and the cars on show have no signs of going to rust.
As much as the rest of the world desires the quirky and fancy machines from the land of the rising sun, for the Japanese it’s the other way around – European and American cars have become somewhat of a status symbol for wealthier individuals. Even with cars that are considered the cream of the crop however, the Japanese always find a way to improve the aesthetics or performance of their chosen imports. This Ferrari F40 for example finds a new set of wheels that compliment and update its looks for the modern era.
Over the recent years, plenty of craze has gone into chopping up and installing wide overfenders into any car. While certainly this is a bold – and even questionable – move, the widebody movement shows no signs of stopping. If Liberty Walk is anything to go by, it certainly looks like nothing can escape the grasp of those riveted arches. This new LB McLaren 650S certainly didn’t, but we’re not complaining.
Some builders have chosen an entirely different direction for their platforms. While most cars would have high performance or luxury in mind, cars like this Toyota Vellfire from Kuhl Racing and Rohan are simply rolling pieces of art. This full metal engraving painting process has become a signature of Kuhl and Rohan over the past couple years, and now they’ve taken their art to other platforms – most notably towards larger vehicles like the Vellfire.
With the three-day whirlwind of stylish cars and the latest aftermarket trends, this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon made for an interesting event. Not only was there something for everyone’s automotive palate, the show always had something interesting tucked behind most of its random corners. Stay tuned for more as we go into a few vehicles from this year’s show!