JDM Heaven: Daikoku Parking Area, Yokohama
The name might not be so familiar to some, but the location is unmistakable.
So it’s your average run of the mill Saturday night in Tokyo, the weather is warm, there is not a cloud in the sky and you’re looking for something to get you racing! Of course, you could always take a trip down to Shinjuku and enjoy a few drinks at Kabukicho, or take your chances and wade through the masses of people down in Shibuya. If you’re more into cars, take a quick detour over to Yokohama and the legendary Daikoku Futo that waits just outside of the famous port city.
Daikoku Futo, lying on a man made island, is just a few minutes away from downtown Yokohama and China Town. During the day the area functions as a port and shipping hub whilst nearby, the parking area serves as a convenient truck stop for the countless numbers of vehicles servicing the port. It may seem a little seedy hanging out by the docks but by nightfall this parking area, encircled in huge twirling sky-scraper like highways, transforms into a total and utter Disneyland for car enthusiasts. With the evening sky opening up, the sweet smell of high-octane fuel in the air and some concern just exactly how to get ourselves there, we took off.
Not knowing exactly how long it would take to get there, we decided to do what all drivers do and flew along the Shuto-Ko (Shuto Highway) past Tokyo Tower, through Ginza and across Rainbow Bridge crossing over to Odaiba (where the D1 ‘Tokyo Drift’ in Odaiba was held). Before we knew it though, and in what seemed like less time than it takes to cook instant ramen, we had hit the off-ramp for Daikoku and were gently touching down in the entrance to the parking area. It wasn’t even 9:00pm.
With time on our hands and few mildly interesting cars floating around we decided to have a bit of dinner and kill a bit (okay, a lot) of time in the McDonalds at the rest stop. Coming out after dinner, what we found awaiting us was a very different picture to the one when we had gone in. There was now a constant stream of highly modified cars, vans and bikes pouring off the highway and into the rest area like a waterfall into a stream. Looking like kids in a candy shop we started having a look around the car park. With cars continuing to peel off the highways above us, we struck up conversation with some nearby owners of some very delectable machines.
One of the first people we ran into was Yusuke Ikeda who was driving a FD3S RX-7. With its candy sparkle paint job it stood out in the car park like a 10 inch nail in the flooring of your house. What made it so was the beautifully applied 100mm blister fender kit molded into the body and then dumped on 19x10J rims. Yusuke was telling us that not only did it look the part, but it also packed the power to go with it. With a claimed 380hp under the bonnet, thanks to a PowerFC, one off muffler and other modifications, his car was a true all rounder. He also mentioned the LED tail lights and Lamborghini door conversion were also some highlights that made his FD unique. No arguments there…
Parked next to Yusuke was Rikiya Yamazaki, or Riki as everybody calls him. Riki told us he works as a driver for cute girls working in some naughty bars, but doesn’t get to take them home in his car. That’s a shame because it’s quite a nice piece of work. His NA Supra took up most of the allotted space next to Yusukes car and another JZA80 Supra. Like Yusuke’s RX-7, Riki’s car was also fitted with Blister Fenders which add 20cm on each side, pushing the overall girth to 2.05 meters. He also had the Lamborghini door conversion to go with it and 18x10J wheels to fill out the massive guards guards. To keep it all under control and for a tough stance, Kei Office coil overs were equipped on the car too.
While talking to Riki and Yusuke, we heard something unusual and that resembled a 747 on takeoff. Upon closer inspection, we spotted a blue R33 GT-R coming down the on-ramp. It wasn’t your typical BNR33 either. At first Mr Oota was a little apprehensive but after a little conversation, he was happy to tell us a little about his GT-R. From the outside Oota-san’s 33 looks like a normal, albeit limited edition R33 GT-R LM. What gives it its characteristic sound though comes from what lies under the hood. From the outside one might not suspect this blue rocket packs 1000ps, but when Oota-san was nice enough to raise the hood just long enough so we could snap off a few pictures, we saw that this was no toy. Under the vented hood lay a full counter balanced RB26 bored out to 2.7 liters with the whole Tomei catalog of parts thrown into it. Pushing air into this 300km/h+ beast was a filter-less T51Kai ball bearing turbo providing up to 2.5bar of boost on full power and earning its nickname “devil”. Keeping all of this power on the road, a Getrag gearbox and 19×10.5J BBS wheels with Advan Sports tires was do the job well enough to see the car reach over 340+km/h! Oota-san is not one to look over any finer details either, spot welding the entire body from top to bottom. Keeping him safe and the car light the rear was stripped out and 12 point cage takes care of the rest of the business. Oh and 370mm 6-pot AP Racing brakes do a good job up front too we were told.
While hanging out with Oota-san, we spotted another very cool looking skyline owned by Dan. Dan’s Skyline is also a one off custom car. Originally it lived life as a GTS25t Type M, but has been given the once over and remodeled with a full BEE-R body kit, an R34 front end conversion and a one off front bar that helps make it stand out from the crowd. But again it’s not all looks, inside the engine bay Dan has left the original motor but given it a bit of TLC adding a Tomei head and a Trust TD06-20G turbo for response. He also mentioned 550cc injectors and whole host of other stuff making it difficult to write down.
By now the music was absolutely pumping leaving no quiet space in the whole place, we decided to have a look at the crowd of B-Boys and their music van blasting away in one corner of the parking area. If this were any other country the police would’ve been and gone a long time ago but these guys kept the music pumping all night long. Just out the front of the McDonalds where we had dinner was a van filled with enough speakers to put a night club to shame. What was even cooler though was that the owner had also brought along all his DJ equipment (and possibly half the nightclub) to go with it! Lined around him were people dancing to his tunes all night. Then we came across something with a slightly different flavor…
A car some of our international readers may not usually see was also busy banging out some beats all night. The Honda Mobilio Spike minivan owned by Takashi Yanagibashi was filled from top to bottom with nothing but the latest Alpine gear, turning his Mugen inspired ride into a total theater and studio on wheels. Six Alpine monitors were installed throughout the minivan and complemented inside by, you guessed it, Alpine amplifiers, sub-woofers, speakers and head unit. Thinking this was only for sound enjoyment, Takashi-san was quick to point out that it also had a VTEC controller by Apexi, a Top Fuel Air Chamber and HKS Pod assisting with breathing. Giving it a real street look were also a set of tight fitting and almost guard rubbing Rays Gram lights in 17×7.5J and hiding inside the wheels were a set of upgraded pads and Dixcel slotted rotors. Cool!
By now we thought we had seen it all. Crazy high power street cars, sound vans loud enough to scare away the ships in the bay, VIP Cars scraping along the ground and drifting going outside the car park, but the icing on the cake was a pair of old school 240Zs and their friends. We managed to grab a hold of the owner of the red Nissan 280Z and this is what he had to say. Kataoka-san drives this stunning L28 3171cc powered old schooler. In fact he also takes it to the drags on a regular basis too! In full street err.. should we say drag trim, which happen to be one and the same, Kataoka-san drove the car without any problems down to the rest area. He still had the numbers on the side and a set of Nitto NT555s on the rear! He mentioned that the car runs steady in the 12 second bracket and frequents the Sendai Highland drag strip in northern Japan. He didn’t go into too much detail about his car, but did mention the Nitto NT555s, a sequential HKS gearbox, Wiseco pistons and an 85mm crank.
With the time getting desperately late and our eyes starting to blur, it was around 2am that we decided to call it a night. With our brains in pure automotive overload we suspected we may have just witnessed something very special that evening. It turned out that this kind of scene was quite usual and the regulars told us on weeknights the place was also home to a good variety of modified vehicles. With that in mind we were almost happy to say good-bye to Daikoku but vowed that we’d be back again soon in the future to see it all again.
Words: Peter Horniak
Images: Peter Horniak