Modified Mecca: Tokyo Auto Salon 2018

Posted in Cars, Events


All the radness from inside the Tokyo Auto Salon 2018

^ Perhaps one of the most recognizable styles in Japan is bosozoku — the loud, over-the-top and in-your-face stylings of outlaws who simply don’t give a f#ck. This GX61 Cresta belonged to the custom upholstery shop on crack known as ‘L-Tide’



Tokyo Auto Salon (TAS) is the mecca of the Japanese car-tuning world and every year the number of cars and people that cram its halls seems to skyrocket. You know it’s happening, too, even if you live firmly under a rock for the other 362 days a year, as social feeds descend into glorified pits of jealousy from those of us who aren’t there, sitting at home and work drooling over what could possibly have been the best overseas trip we ever made.

Set near the Japanese capital, TAS 2018 kicked off a three-day triple hit on Friday, January 12, with 11 halls of all things custom automotive. Occupying the entirety of Chiba’s Makuhari Messe convention centre, this year marked the 36th anniversary of the annual event, which started back in 1983 as the ‘Tokyo Exciting Car Show’. The brainchild of Daijiro Inada, editor-in-chief of tuning car magazine Option, its name was changed to TAS in 1987.

^ Better known in its former white guise with Breed fenders produced by SerialNine, Yuhei Baba’s 1.5JZ-powered Aristo gained notoriety after a front wheel ripped off mid-drift during the 2015 1JZ drift meeting at Fuji Speedway. Fast forward to 2018, and the Aristo now rocks club Moccoman’s vibrant yellow paintwork and is kitted to the teeth with items from the SerialNine back catalogue

“The Tokyo Auto Salon [was created] to diffuse the notion of tuning more publicly so even people that didn’t understand what this movement was all about could get into it. I got resistance from the police, as they were afraid of allowing me to hold the show since tuning was ‘illegal’,” explains Inada-san, who continues, “It all worked out in the end, however, once I explained that it wasn’t going to be a bunch of bosozoku that would come over but true enthusiasts.”

^ The talk of the show this year was Wataru Kato of LB-Works (Liberty Walk) fame’s Lamborghini Miura. Sliced, diced, and on its guts, the internet was abuzz with disbelief that someone could do this to such a rare car. “How could you chop up a Miura!!” and “it’s ruined” followed photos of the Miura everywhere, but that’s just the charm of TAS — pushing the boundaries. And if it makes you feel any better, it’s only a replica ...



The attendance of automaker giants such as Honda, Mazda, Subaru, Toyota, and Nissan over the years has lent the show serious amounts of legitimacy in the automotive world, being used as a platform to launch the latest concepts — this year, it was the Toyota Gazoo GR Super Sport concept causing a stir. However, while many automakers continue to attend each year, at its core, TAS remains a show very much dedicated to the celebration and promotion of aftermarket manufacturing, tuning, dressing, and customization.

Chances are you’ve already seen the ruckus that LB-Works (Liberty Walk) set in motion with its display, the mainstay of which was a very low, very wide Lamborghini Miura, set alongside reinvented versions of its R35 GT-R and NSX. Other names in attendance included the likes of 326power, with a line-up consisting of a popping yellow Lexus IS-C, a 180SX licked in the same paintwork, and a white Infiniti V37, all slammed to the max and clad in signature 326 wheels, lugs, wings, and aero. Zestino Tires Japan brought out sponsored drifter Maeda Tsubasa’s Honda Odyssey–fronted 180SX and made sure that outside stayed busy by way drift demonstrations. Origin Labo Japan flexed its muscle with an all-carbon-fibre-panelled 180SX set alongside Miki Takagi’s championship-winning N-Style S13. And the list went on.

^ There was even a little slice of Kiwi pie present by way of Colin McRae’s 555 RS Legacy World Rally Championship (WRC) car. The car’s first and only win before retirement was the 1993 Rally New Zealand, and, as you can see, it still wears the same attire from 25 years ago!



This year’s TAS also saw the inaugural BH Auction, which comprised a collection that would make even the most casual of car fans tear up. The most notable, and inevitably most expensive, was a Nissan R90CK Group C race car that collected a cool  ¥193M (NZ$2,382,748), while the infamous 360kph Top Secret JZA80 Supra went under the hammer for an undisclosed amount, a Spoon NSX-R GT took home ¥18.7M (NZ$230,758), and an R34 GT-R V-Spec II Nür with just 10km on the clock claimed an eye-watering ¥32M (NZ$395K).

^ It wouldn’t be a true automotive fest without characters like Akinobu Satsukawa and Mitsuru Haraguchi, of Team A-BO Moon and 326power fame, respectively, clowning around in the way that only the Japanese can



With over 300,000 punters flooding through the doors over the course of the weekend, and upwards of 440 exhibitors in attendance, showcasing some 880 cars, it’s safe to say that you need not stress that you didn’t make it this time around. TAS is sure to be around for many years to come, and we highly recommend that it makes it onto your bucket list — it might very well be one of the best shows you have never been to.

Jaden Martin

Growing up inhaling paint fumes and bog dust at his old man's panel shop, Jaden is a qualified word bender that has obtained a 'brofessional' diploma in car building from years of trial and error. He's currently trying to finish his creation of Australian-based debauchery crammed with Japanese- and Euro-inspired goodness. You'll find him writing for NZ Performance Car and producing content online.

Instagram — @jaden_nzpcmagazine