After nearly twenty-four hours of nonstop travel, three airplane meals, and watching Black Mass, Fast and Furious, and The Departed while working on the flight, we landed in Narita, Japan, for Tokyo Auto Salon 2016. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to Japan three times now for Vossen Wheels, twice for Tokyo Auto Salon, and I must admit, I am always very eager to see how wildly different-yet-similar the car culture in Japan is.
Liberty Walk, the bolt-on over-fender craftsmen of E90 and Italian exotic fame, brought out a very classically-styled Nissan S30 240Z, with one of my favorite liveries I’ve seen them do. Free of excessive logos, the rising sun, their slogan stretching across the doors, this Z totally won my heart, along with the crowd of photographers that I saw surrounding it each time I passed by.
Hamana, one of Japan’s premier widebody specialists—much like Liberty Walk, but with a focus on a more OEM approach—stopped the show with their trio of white German cars. Their new Mk7 VW Golf R particular stood out to me, fitted with Vossen’s latest LC-105T forged wheels, measuring 20×11″ in the rear—quite the feat for a Mk7! Hamana’s Mercedes-Benz GTS was another elegant gem in the sea of busy visually-overwhelming cars at Tokyo Auto Salon 2016, beautifully masking its six extra inches of width in the front and eight in the rear, as if it were the designers’ original lines.
As soon as I wandered outside I found myself immersed in the drift festivities taking place in the parking lot, even including a Lexus LFA! I’ve been around Formula Drift and the various Club Loose events up in New Jersey a little bit over the years, but I’ve never seen it draw crowds of all ages like it did at Tokyo Auto Salon. Young and old, they gathered to watch four cars drift in tandem around the small lot, bumping and rubbing, and filling everyones’ faces with smoke and specks of rubber!
Deeper into the depths of the Makuhari Messe’s parking lots I wandered, eventually stumbling upon one of the internet’s most notorious widebody builds. I swear, widebody builds are really the thing in Japan and it’s nothing new. Liberty Walk, Rocket Bunny, Hamana, you name it, everyone is doing it here. But this particular Toyota Celica, fitted with impossibly-deep-dished Leon Hardiritt splits, quite frankly takes the cake for me.
I remember first seeing it in the early stages of the metal work, circling Facebook and various forums. It polarized people more than the first thousand slammed and cambered STIs did the NASIOC forums, and received a massive amount of criticism before disappearing into the mystic depths of the internet. So when I casually walked up to it amidst the plethora of cars out in the parking lots, I not only did a double, but a triple take.
Hidden amongst the countless R34 Skylines that also filled the never-ending lots was another surprising gem, of totally different lineage and style. As the family of four carefully hopped out and walked toward the show, I snuck in for a closer look. Perhaps its the desire for something you can’t have that drives my love for the Land Rover Defender (like the Bobber Garage beast I drove in Liechtenstein), or perhaps it’s just the vehicle’s sheer awesomeness (mixed with the experience of driving one into the backcountry of the Alps), either way, the desire is there and the subject is the Defender—and this one was done up exactly as I would imagine my own, sans a half dozen Hella lights.
Before wrapping up a long weekend at Tokyo Auto Salon I finally made my way back to the first gem of the show that caught my eye: APR Japan’s Audi RS3. Wrapped in an IMSA Quattro-inspired black-red-white-grey livery, it made me weak at the knees. Pokal’s period-correct-but-updated take on the Ronal Racing and Compomotive wheels that frequent my dreams made for the perfect fit. I’d be lying if I said seeing this RS3 didn’t make me want to immediately come home and do up my Mk7 (or the Battlewagen!) to match. Well done, APR Japan, well done!
Before we knew it the music stopped and, as quickly as the first flood of people entered, the crew came in to tear down the show. As we made out way out of the halls they tore up the carpet, rolling it up to be stored for next year’s event, and engines were starting and revving everywhere! Thanks again for another great year, Tokyo Auto Salon, and many thanks to Vossen Wheels for letting me share a little peak into the show here on More Than More!