FEATURE – 2013 TOKYO AUTO SALON OVERVIEW

February 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Car Shows, Events, Latest Articles

280,000 people, 800 cars, 4 days, 12 hours of sleep, 1 M6 convertible, 73 cans of Redbull, and 3000 shots later, the curtain (mercifully), fell on the 2013 Tokyo Auto Salon. Come with me as 7Tune takes a look back at the biggest TAS in years…

Record breaking crowds piled in at the crack of dawn to get their relative overdoses of flesh and metal at the biggest tuning festival in the world.

It was literally the “Attack of the Eight-Sixes” this year with an unprecedented ninety-one individual builds of the car present in virtually every corner of the four gigantic halls.

Everywhere you turned, you were bound to bump into one and after four straight days at the show, I was actually starting to get a little tired of seeing them.

Some builds, like the Abflug Spiral 86 were simply astounding…

…while others were simply awful. What is this, Toyota… a catfish? Why must you try and model cars after animals?!

Japanese tuning is like that though.

It tends to polarize people; you either love what the tuners build or you simply scratch your head and ask yourself what the hell you’re supposed to be looking at. It’s a quirky, idiosyncratic and sometimes questionable tuning style but is always a huge load of fun to take in.

And there is no denying Japan’s position as the absolute best place to spot where the movements (and the trends) will start and where they will end.

I was fortunate to have a couple of gun shooters supporting the 7Tune ranks this year; both Rob Shaw…

and Adrian Venner would help me march the halls, checking every crevice of the gigantic Makuhari Messe for anything that was post worthy, so you can rest assured over the next few posts we will cover absolutely everything.

Including the girls… who were covered in nothing more than sweaty, horny men for the entire event…

Thanks to Abflug and Pentroof, I had backstage access for the Thursday set-up day and some of the shots you see here are from that day, so please don’t mind the “mess” at the Messe. When I left, it was 9pm and I thought there was absolutely no chance that the halls could be cleaned overnight for the Friday open but sure enough, in true Japanese style, they were absolutely spotless the following day. You really do have to admire Japanese industriousness, if nothing else.

Friday brought with it all the industry insiders, bigwigs and the press but for some strange reason, the TAS organizers only give us 4 hours alone with the cars and that’s nowhere near enough time to cover a single hall, let alone four of them! By 1pm, the freaks had arrived in droves on special advance tickets and there was only one thing on their minds; the girls.

I am constantly blown away by how intense their fascination with the TAS girls is and sure enough, at some booths, the mosh pit was five deep with a sea of camera and cell phone wielding “otaku”.

Getting photos during this time is difficult to say the least but with a flash of the press card, in I go to have some quiet time with the girls uninterrupted. You can’t imagine how it feels to have hundreds of cold stares boring holes into your back while you’re trying to take your shots! Some say over 70% of the people that go to TAS do so for the girls and I don’t doubt that at all.

The TAS is really the best way to kick off the year for automotive fanatics and there were a lot of interesting new products being developed by the biggest names in the game.

Despite the obvious and anticipated overload of Hachi Roku’s, BRZ’s ( and the occasional FR-S! ) at the show, it was clear that the Japanese are absolutely in love with the platform and are innovating at a superior level and pace.

This is a good sign for the industry and all its followers but one has to ask the question, “What the hell is wrong with you, Nissan?” You’re wondering why I say that but there is still no S16 Silvia to speak of and the show needs it; the industry needs it, the 86 and BRZ need it.

I think Nissan has dropped the ball big time and the success of the Toyota 86 and BRZ at this years TAS is damning proof. I’ll never forget the day during the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show where senior Nismo and Nissan representatives told me in no uncertain terms that the decision to resurrect the S16 would be dependent on the success of the Toyota 86 and the Subaru BRZ. Well, you got your answer, chaps.

One of the most disappointing things about the show this year was the extreme lack of 70 and 80 series Supras, AE86′s and other famous platforms; not to mention only a handful of classic machines.

It was almost as if the tide of the TAS has shifted completely away from the 80′s and 90′s. I’ll go into more detail about that in a future post.

As with any Tokyo Auto Salon, it’s a sensory overload from the minute you get in to the minute you leave. This year we had a ton of spectacles to witness inside…

…and outside the Makuhari Messe in Chiba.

An indication of how much bigger 2013 was, was in the opening of the North hall, which has remained empty for many years previously.

It’s impossible not to have a good time at the TAS and you’re always bumping into someone… in some cases hundreds of people as you jockey for a spot to shoot from!

I managed to get some fooling around in during the weekend with some friends, including Wataru Kato from Liberty Walk… who likes to “play some interesting games” with images on his blog!

…And even found some time to drive out to the Wangan in the M6 Cabrio to meet some friends with the craziest Monkey in the world, Ove Harlem from Driftmonkey.

One of the best highlights was a great night out at dinner with the good people from Bulletproof Automotive, Abflug and Pentroof. There was a lot to discuss.

Despite extreme sleep deprivation, the 7Tune team had an absolute blast shooting our brains out but I, in particular, left the show puzzled about one very important thing.

A lot of people are concerned about the future of the Japanese tuning industry and their concerns are somewhat valid. When the day comes for some of the tuning legends to move on, who is there to step in and take their places? There to grab the torch and run with it? What brands are up and emerging as “legends” in their own right?

The worrying thing is that there doesn’t appear to be many people following in the footsteps of these giants and that’s not a very good sign at all. I suppose they are, after all, very big shoes to fill.

Words – Adam Zillin

Photos – Adrian Venner, Rob Shaw and Adam Zillin

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1604604372 Armanda Zukic

    Absolutley GREAT write up Adam. This excites me about TAS that I might want to go next year. And thanks for the pic of the Work Booth, they are my favorite ;)

    • 7Tune

      Can’t believe you haven’t been to one yet! You’ll never be the same after a TAS event ;)

  • andyarnott

    Looks like it was really busy this year, hope to make it over for the next one.

    • 7Tune

      It was a lot bigger than previous years but that’s a good sign!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rholfi.eis Rholfi Eis

    These awesome pics and writeup makes me even sadder to have missed attending this year so BOO…but then again, this post makes it seem like I was right there along side you guys so THUMBSUP!!

    • 7Tune

      But you now have a baby girl to educate in the true ways of JDM, y0!

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