Spoiled For Choice: Our Top Picks From The 2019 Tokyo Auto Salon
Covering the Tokyo Auto Salon is no one-man affair. With twelve halls filled with hundreds of cars with thousands of attendees in between, we would have to attack this show with our full crew to get the most out of the vehicles there. That said, Jaime, Jose, Kevin, Jakob, Alec, and I began planning our trip early last year to bring you our take on Japan’s trend-setting aftermarket show.
Having almost the whole crew at the show not only yields different kinds of photos, it also gives us the opportunity to provide various perspectives on how each person saw the show – and pick out the cars that struck them the most. Seeing as we all have different tastes, a lot of different cars ought to pop up down below. That said, each of us will be sharing two or three cars that we feel are our best cars of the show. I’ll start:
Aurick’s Pick #1: RE Amemiya ADGT3 RX-7 FD3S
Come on, you know I’d pick an RX-7 off the bat. While this may look like the basic RE Amemiya recipe to the untrained eye, this red FD3S is actually sporting the new ADGT3 version of Amemiya’s signature widebody. New front fenders with vents, rear fenders with different tapering at its tail end, and a new set of aggressive canards fitted to the original AD GT Bumper give the FD a refreshed look. While I don’t think i’ll be rocking this kit on my own FD anytime soon, I appreciate the fact that Isami Amemiya continues development for the FD more than 20 years into its existence.
Jaime’s Pick #1: Ken Block’s Ford F-150 “Hoonitruck”
Okay, people might think I’m going mainstream with this choice but hear me out. Everything about the car is an engineering marvel - from its fully modular chassis to its twin turbo Ford Performance engine straight from their Ford GT race cars, the level of fabrication done to this truck is insane considering it’s not even a full fledged race car; Do note that this car was only built for their Gymkhana Ten video - and seeing all the work Hoonigan and Detroit Speed put into this truck up close makes me appreciate it a lot more than just watching it slide and slay tires around a small town in Texas.
Jakob’s Pick #1: BH Auction Ferrari F40
For this trip to the Tokyo Auto Salon the Ferrari F40 was something that I never really expected to see considering the show is known for aftermarket businesses that showcase their new dazzling builds. Even though I’m not fan of Ferrari, I can say there are a few models that can change my mind over a Porsche GT3RS – the F40 being one of them. What truly grabbed my attention of the F40 apart from all the other cars was that it looked way better in person, it almost felt as if I met a celebrity and saw them in real life… only better.
Jose and Kevin’s Pick #1: Coutner BMW 6-Series E24
Jose: A widebody BMW E24 6-Series. What isn’t there to like? Built by the guys at Coutner Japan, this kit gave the classic Bimmer the appearance of an 80’s DTM racer complete with wide box fenders, BBS wheels and a massive rear wing. It’s not the usual tacky widebody we’re used to seeing too, the box fenders flow well with the E24’s original lines and enhances it even more. Heck even the wing looks era correct. What’s unique about this car is that there was no news or photos of this creation prior to Tokyo Auto Salon, making it a real surprise to see on display at the KW Suspensions booth. More impressive is that the owner then drove it to an underground meet a few hours after the show ended. A race car, show car and street car all in one.
Kevin: My personal favorite from this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon – the Coutner E24 designed by Kei Miura himself. This car displayed at the KW Booth has mixed styling influences from Group 5 cars infused with Pandem’s signature over fenders. While still falling under the “widebody” stigma, the Coutner E24 delivers a fresh bold take on Japanese-Euro mash-ups.
Alec’s Pick #1: Sano Design Lancia Delta Integrale
Japan loves their Deltas. On the collector market, Japanese-owned Deltas have been prized for their good condition, and it’s not unusual to see a pristine Delta driving around Tokyo even in the present day. This Delta by Sano Design is far from a well-kept collector’s piece, however. Fenders widened by 105mm on each side surround big, meaty slick tires, with carbon aero bits rounding out the package. You know this car means business, and here’s hoping we see it set some lap times soon.
Aurick’s Pick #2: Racing Paddock Miyoshi Pandem RX-7 FC3S
All the other guys are picking out the pistons for you, so spare me. Kei Miura’s latest offering for the FC3S gives a menacing look to the 944-inspired fastback. The Pandem line’s signature box-style fenders just work perfectly to emulate the silhouette racers of the mid to late 80’s. Matched with Racing Paddock Miyoshi’s signature Neon Yellow-Green shade, this particular Pandem FC easily had me staring for a good few minutes.
Miura-san also has a penchant for changing up the base car’s front end to give a completely different look. And while I don’t particularly like what he did to the FD (he made it look like an S13), this in-grill quad-lamp setup works with the era of the vehicle perfectly. Perhaps FC owners would have a different opinion, but I’d definitely rock this kit if I ever got the chance to own a second-gen RX-7.
Jaime’s & Jakob’s Pick #2: Voltex Honda S2000
Jaime: This S2000 is the definition of form and function. Not only does the kit make the car look a million times more menacing than a stock S2000, but those aero bits actually do something to improve the car’s performance. Pair the aero kit with a set of TE37 SAGA Time Attack Editions and you’ve got a car that’s not only ready for a show, but also ready to set some lap times. Unfortunately I was not able to check if the car had a spec sheet with all of the engine modifications listed down, but I’m confident this S2000 isn’t running a stock engine - the car was built in Japan after all.
Jakob: As one of the younger guys here the first piece of advice I would get from older, more experienced enthusiasts would be “Get a Honda”. I would always cringe when I hear that since I never really liked Hondas in general and they’ve been pretty notorious for being riced out in the Philippines. However, that image of the H-badge flipped when I saw this majestic grand prix white S2000 on matte black TEs with an eminent Voltex aero kit. After seeing such a mesmerizing S2000, my ideal S13 Silvia was replaced in a heartbeat with an S2000. The S2000 just left a very big impression on me when I saw it in the show and I hope to own one someday.
Jose’s Pick #2: Garage Active BNR32 Nissan Skyline GT-R
Yes, this particular build is old news. In fact, it originally made its debut at TAS last year. While their new widebody 33R is definitely impressive (especially with the amount of body work that went into it) it was Garage Active’s blue 32R that really caught my attention. The detail that went into the build is just astounding; The whole body is built from carbon fiber, forcing the heavyweight GT-R to undergo a strict diet. The way the wide fenders continue to flow with the car’s original line doesn’t give it the appearance of being widened especially in photos. It’s only up close where you see how wide the car has gotten. Combine that with a fully built 800 PS horsepower RB26 and it makes for a rather serious recipe. We haven’t even mentioned the fact that this car is clocking laps using T-Demand Air Suspension. Form and function combined into one?
Alec’s Pick #2 Koenig-Specials Competition Evolution II Testarossa
The 1980s. A decade of decadence. No other car better encapsulates the spirit of the decade than the Ferrari Testarossa, and Koenig-Specials took that up to eleven. With a twin-turbo flat-12 claimed to make 1000 horsepower, the Koenig Testarossa was excessive both in price and in form. But then came the 1990s which saw conspicuous consumption come to a halt thanks to the Japanese economic crisis. The 90s was particularly hard for Japan, as it entered economic stagnation from which it has yet to recover. Still, Japan still has quite a few well-kept Koenig Testarossas still running, some having remained with the same owner for decades. These cars today serve as time capsules, relics from days long gone. It’s Vaporwave on wheels.
Kevin’s Pick #2: HPI Hakosuka Skyline
The HPI GC10 Skyline is a raw interpretation of a resto-mod “Hakosuka”. It takes guts to incorporate carbon fiber parts onto a 70s classic. What I love about the HPI Hakosuka is that the builder still used the trusted L28, and from what I heard the engine is stroked out to 3.1 using Tomei cams and Kame pistons.
Aurick’s Pick #3: Toyo Tires Pandem Hilux
This one’s for the offroaders who thought that rendering of the Pandem Hilux made it utterly useless. Guess what folks? It looks damn good with a proper lift and huge tires. The Hilux may be way out of Miura-san’s comfort zone, but the kit turned out quite well considering it was used for a proper off-road setup. Apart from the widebody and raked nudgebar/skid plate, the articulated Hilux was sporting a beefy set of triple reservoir King Shocks on each corner. Yes, each corner had two extra shock reservoirs, serious offroading gear if I’ve ever seen one. Considering this is the first time I’ve seen the kit and it was impeccably executed, the Pandem Hilux gets my thumbs up for now. Maybe it’ll get old quickly once the Manila Offroad Salon rolls in later this year, but let’s see.
Jose’s Pick #3: HKS Drag R33 Skyline GT-R
Nowadays HKS is known for building some of the fastest machines to hit the circuit. From the new Suzuki Swift based TRB-04 to the infamous Hipermax Evo that set the Tsukuba Lap Record over a decade ago, they’ve built it all. What most do not know however is they’re also known for building really fast GT-R’s such as the R33 on display at their booth. After much googling, this R33 is supposedly the original T200 machine built in the 90’s for Yatabe Speed Trials but has been completely refreshed for 2019. Almost all parts are new, from the Bride bucket seats, Advan GT wheels, all the way down to the HKS GTIII turbo under the hood. It just goes to show how much potential these cars still have even 20+ years later with HKS dedicating time and money to continue its development.
Jaime’s & Alec’s Pick #3: 4LAWS Full Carbon Porsche 911
Alec: I love aircooled Porsches, everything from the 964 Turbo 3.6 to the 993 GT2 gets a nod in my book. But there’s just something about the ‘63-‘73 ‘Longhood’ 911 that the later models can’t match. The smooth, elegant lines of the Longhood are a stark contrast to the more brutish big wings and wide fenders found on its successors. Make no mistake though, the Longhood is not confined to being a softie in terms of its styling. Builders such as Magnus Walker, Rob Dickinson, and the members of the R Gruppe have proven time and again how eyecatching the Longhood can be when given a certain ‘outlaw’ quality – even without going to such extremes as Rauh-Welt Begriff. 4LAWS has done the same here with a 1981 911SC finished in carbon fiber, backdated to look like a ‘73 RS. The bare carbon really pops, giving the normally soft look of the Longhood an aggressive character.
Jaime: My answer is simple - It’s. A. Full. Carbon Fiber. 911. What else is there to explain?
Jakob’s Pick #3: Brixton Forged, er, Forged Carbon Pandem GTR
Walking into the Tokyo Auto Salon I couldn’t be anything but hyper. Seeing all these cars in person was very thrilling as compared to seeing cars from my phone screen. One of the few builds that made everything more thrilling was the Pandem GTR over at the Brixton Forged booth, it’s probably the best build I’ve seen in my life! The Brixton Forged PF5 wheels, Forged Composite Carbon fenders, and the matte black wrap really set it off. I probably spent a lot of time paying attention to this build out of the thousands of cars in this years auto salon.
Kevin’s Pick #3: Wonder S14
Builds like the Car Modify Wonder S14 are the main reason why I’ve always wanted to visit Tokyo Auto Salon. These builds are a pure personification of “JDM styling” for me (RWD, slammed, built engine, and dish wheels). It’s still good to see the classic S14 since over the past few years Tokyo Auto Salon shifted into more commercialized builds.
These are our picks from the crazy fiesta that is this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon. We’ve got plenty more to show you outside the walls of Makuhari Messe though, stay tuned for that.