Photos by Dino Ray V. Directo III
Chiba—The Tokyo Auto Salon is Asia’s biggest custom-car show. For a precious few days in the month of January every year, Japan plays host to car enthusiasts and geeks around the world as car manufacturers and custom car shops put their best food forward to dazzle patrons with the latest equipment, accessory and other go-fast goodies that make car fans weak at the knees.
An estimated 300,000 visitors trooped to this year’s staging of the Auto Salon at the massive Makuhari Messe to witness automotive titans Toyota (TRD, TOMS and Modellista), Subaru (STi), Nissan (NISMO) , Mazda (Mazdaspeed)and Honda (Honda Racing) showcase their aftermarket products and race cars. Absent in this year’s TAS is the Ralliart division of Mitsubishi, which usually has one of the biggest display areas at the show.
Honda stole the thunder with the spectacular display of the new NSX GT3, whose body is made from carbon fiber. The GT3 version deviates from the production version NSX by coming to the party equipped with a twin turbo V6 matted to an XTrac six-speed sequential gearbox. Honda’s other star is the kitted version of the pint sized S660 by Modulo, equipped with a five-stage adjustable dampers to attack the “Touge”.
Subaru’s drop dead gorgeous Viziv Performance Concept were one of the most popular variants on display at the TAS. The car had dramatic creases in the bodywork and box arches which is a throwback design of the old Group B cars of the WRC. For this year, STi also displayed the performance versions of the Levorg Wagon, the GT 300-spec BRZ and the WRX STi Nurburgring edition.
Toyota flexed its muscles at the TAS with the unveiling of the Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Super Sport Concept, a concept car that incorporates hybrid technology honed through participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). The newly revealed GR Super Sport Concept is composed of mostly the same main parts as the TS050 Hybrid race car that competes in the WEC. Beneath the beautifully flowing and original form are a V6 twin turbocharger and a Toyota Hybrid System-Racing (THS-R) powertrain, which have been honed through actual racing. With its high-efficiency EV system and lean-burn engine, this next-generation super sports car is set to deliver both ultimate power and environmental performance.
Formerly known as the Tokyo Exciting Car show when it was established in the 1980’s, the 36th staging of the TAS drew 440 exhibitors, showcasing 880 customized and tuned vehicles. Its popularity has grown down the years and currently considered as one of three biggest cars shows in the World in the same league as SEMA of the United States and Auto Mekanika of Germany.