FEATURE – BEHIND THE SCENES AT TOKYO AUTO SALON 2014

January 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Latest Articles

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We’re back again for the biggest custom tuning show of the year; TAS 2014. And once again Rob from BackfromLeave and I were wandering around the halls backstage checking out what’s hot and what’s not. Click on to see our exclusive back stage coverage…

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The overriding impression was a bit tepid this year. Some of the stands have gotten bigger, some of the bigger names weren’t present at all and the ones that were are in basically the same positions as they were in 2013 but all in all, nothing has really changed from 2013 apart from incremental developments.

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And to sum it up, we have yet another explosion of 86′ and R35′s along with a huge increase in the number of Euros and Japanese vans. They were everywhere.

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That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot of variety besides but from halls 1 to 8, it was a sea of the car types I mentioned above.

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Naturally, manufacturer presence is big and there will be a few surprises tomorrow for the unveiling of certain models.

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This Honda S660 concept will be getting shown…

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Along with what’s under this cover… Hmm, I wonder what it is?

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Subaru have a brace of Levorgs present this year in varying states of tune.

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The Levorg and WRX share strikingly similar fascias.

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Not sure about their approach on colour co-ordination though. That combination looks horrible for a car you’d tune with parts from factory partners.

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Daihatsu had a cool stand dedicated to their new Kopen…

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…along with a huge slot car track where people (read: kids) can customise the slot cars with paint and pens and have a play. I’m sure the stand will be a big hit.

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Nissan showed off their naked GT500 racer ( Naked is good with this thing) along with their new R35 Nismo and a brace of other cars with mild tuning additions.

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Lexus had a small but tastefully decorated cubicle that contained this monster and it’s pit crew dressed in a butler’s rendition of racing overalls and shoes.

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Honda had a very similar stand to last year showcasing their past and present machines in both street and racing configurations. They also had this new concept tuned by Mugen called the Vezel.

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I don’t like it one bit and to me it looks like a mashed up Forester (which is not a pretty place to start) but tuners are working with what they are given and when it looks like a dog’s breakfast, there’s not much you can do.

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One booth that was teeming with cars was Liberty Walk.

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They were everywhere and while I don’t know where Wataru Kato get’s his money from, he certainly has a lot of it.

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And as we all know Liberty Walk and Rocket Bunny have been doing a lot of work together recently. Overfendered 86′s were present in every corner of the halls. And I can’t help but think that with every version released, it looks the same or very similar to the last.

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I suppose the train of thought is that you can slap over-fenders onto anything with wheels (like this Zed for instance) and as we all know, bolt on overfenders have been all the rage in the last 12 months. Doesn’t mean they don’t look good though and Miura san from Rocket Bunny is a consummate artist.

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Big 4 door Toyota saloons are also big in numbers this year…

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In every state of modification you can imagine.

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VIP and shakotan tuning styles are still massively popular.

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Over in one corner of the main hall I spotted D1 driver Ueno-san still setting up his booth. He’d been working all day and still wasn’t finished. TAS is a tough event for all concerned unless you’re there for the eye-candy.

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Of which there is plenty.

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But spare a thought for the people who set up the space the tuners use!

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You are familiar with the red carpet treatment the Makuhari Messe gets prior to TAS but you have no idea how much of it goes into the event.

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And the same goes for those who get the cars looking their best.

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Subaru brought along Auto Glym staff to make sure their cars were at their gleaming best.

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It was frantic and noisy activity from start to finish today as the worker bees set up the halls for the grand event.

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Our friends at Star Road have been busy with their classics…

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…And the lineup of new Glow Star wheels that is being released. 7Tune is an official distributor for Star Road so if these modern takes on a classic wheel pique your interest, let us know. There are 6 different designs available for you to ogle over this year.

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Inoue san stayed most of the day looking on to make sure everything was perfectly arranged.

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And what a great pair these cars are. Look for him in Hall #3

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Wheels are a huge thing again this year – easily the most prolific example of modifications possible.

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Rays, Work and countless other smaller manufacturers displaying their best shoes…

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Including the new Rays TE37 Ultra and ZE40 multi spoke.

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They are everywhere.

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Including on Bulletproof Automotive’s FR-S; the standout 86 for me on the set-up day.

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Ben Schaffer has put in a lot of hard yards to get the recognition he deserves and in the Concept-1, the rewards show. 7Tune will be having a closer look at this car after the Salon has passed into history.

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No TAS would be complete without massive doses of WTF and OMFG.

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Don’t ask me… I THINK it’s an Alphard and I remember seeing it at D1 in Odaiba once but the sheer size of it is absolutely crazy.

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Yes… that’s a Supracino – however you want to call it. The students at NATS college come up with these crazy machines year in year out and every year it’s a different mix. Yes you can puke at the way they look but when you let your imagination run wild, this is the result and that in and of itself is a good thing for the future.

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And yes, that’s Lightning McQueen. A pretty damn good Lightning McQueen to boot.

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But no, you’re not seeing things – that is a Mazda Miata/Roadster/MX-5… a chopped, rodded out Mazda.

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This was a real treat to check out up close and the engine is a real peach of a thing.

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From the back it was just as interesting.

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But the second biggest WTF, if that Batmobile juggernaut in purple and yellow wasn’t crazy enough for you, was this Copen made to look like a Bugatti Veyron. I can already hear what you’re saying as you view this.

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The biggest? THIS…

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I don’t even know what to say…

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and having owned and tuned classic Daruma Celicas I can’t help but cry a little at the sight.

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But back in Normaltown, there are a number of classics present including a juicy selection from Rocky Auto that consisted of this pair of Ken Meri’s contrasted against a checkered floor arrangement.

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Classics are few and far between this year and that’s a shame really.

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What wasn’t few and far between are Euro’s. They have literally doubled in numbers since last year. Everywhere you looked there was a BMW this, a Ferrari that or a Lamborghini whatever.

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None of them were stock.

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Some where tastefully created.

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Some were aggressively tuned.

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Others just want to punch you in the face.

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A few want to knock you out cold.

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And then there was THIS booth! Hmm… 48 as in AKB 48 but with scantily clad chicks? I’m sure it has something to do with girls. And lots of them – and I intend to visit this booth again tomorrow… and the day after tomorrow.

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Something else that is plentiful this year are three letters and two numbers…

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GT-R…

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… and 86

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Cusco had the most interesting display of them all in hall #10/11

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But again, the Bulletproof FR-S for me was hard to top.

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Anyway, I’m out of Sexy Power and this gargantuan post has dragged on long enough. It’s 5am here in Chiba, my room reeks of tobacco and I’m slightly drunk and in desperate need of sleep.

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So I will say oyasuminasai now but don’t forget to check back tomorrow for more of the best content you’ll find anywhere on the net fresh from the 2014 Tokyo Auto Salon.

Photos – Adam Zillin and Rob Shaw

Text – Adam Zillin

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