Two hard tuned demo cars, more VIP Kei vans than you can poke a stick at… and a bagged Prius.
I’m really not sure what to make of this years Super Auto Collection. I’ve attended the Sunshine Wharf show since 2003 and have seen it decline in both the number of vendor booths and cars on display, but this year it has got to be close to dying as the show is now half the size it was only 3 years ago. Visitors were greeted with open space once they walked through the giant inflated arch at the entrance, an area which was once prime real estate for traders. The Super Auto Collection is only a local car show organized by SuperAutobacs Sunshine Wharf and Rays Wheels, so it’s to be expected that it wouldn’t last forever. What could be the cause of its decline though? The steady rise in fuel prices in Japan is far from crisis point although you probably could lay some blame there. It just feels like there’s something else at work here.
The Modified Prius Brigade
Am I seeing things or is that a BAGGED Toyota Prius? Oh there’s another one, only it’s on super low springs! The Prius brigade took what could arguably be called “center stage” at the Auto Collection, right in the middle of the shows display area. The olive colored lead car with air bag suspension was the most eye catching, if you gave it a black paint job and a set of rims a few inches bigger you could be forgiven for thinking it was a new eco-friendly trend amongst VIP car enthusiasts. The offset of the wheels was perfect down to the last millimeter with the rim almost coming in contact with the rear wheelarch. The brown car wasn’t as low as the bagged Prius but it made up for any lack of ride height with a beautiful audio install. The matte black spokes and gloss black outer rims did wonders for the brown paint work as did the black combination tail and headlights… only black paintwork could’ve made this ecological wonder car any more badass. Wait, what am I saying? Speaking of black Prius(es), Mooncraft’s Aero Prius YURASTYLE also made an appearance over by the Rays stand.
Modified Non-Prius Cars
After feeling my carbon footprint literally shrink as I stood there eyeballing the Prius brigade, I couldn’t help but think that SuperAutobacs was trying to subliminally tell us something… that the tuning scene can’t rely on performance cars anymore? Japanese car enthusiasts know sooner or later that support for performance cars will eventually slow to a trickle and that SuperAutobacs, being the eco-friendly company they are, have to keep up with the times and won’t cloud reality with car shows populated by big horsepower street cars. That’s not to say SuperAutobacs are giving up on performance car owners, just that the emphasis is now on environmentally friendlier vehicles rather than the other way around. This trend has been going on for some years as evident at the Osaka Auto Messe for example, but the reality is only now hitting home at local level.
With that in mind, the two cars that easily stole the show were the Auto Craft FD3S Mazda RX-7 and Signal Auto V35 Skyline Coupe. Both cars had huge presence in a sea of mini vans, assorted VIP cars and the Prius brigade, they were a sight for sore eyes that’s for sure. I asked the Signal Auto representative why they swapped the VQ35DE in the Skyline for a SR20DET and he replied, “At the time we thought the SR20 was easier to work with and it was (and still is) a proven performer.” At any rate the 2.2L SR20DET looks pretty comfortable in there and there’s enough room to lay down a bag of golf clubs on the intercooler and still close the hood… if you were so inclined.
Rays had half their inventory on display bolted to various cars, some of which were used in the 2008 Rays Wheels catalog such as the Heartily Suzuki Wagon R and Daihatsu Move Custom, the Altine Toyota Noah and the Daytona Toyota HiAce. The VIP styled Kei mini vans made up about 60% of the cars present so between them and the Prius brigade there really wasn’t that much to see for the performance car enthusiast. There were only a few Euro cars in attendance, the Wald Mercedes Benz CL600, Alderla Mercedes Benz E320 (unchanged from last year) and Work Audi TT grabbed the most attention, while a very nice E46 BMW M3 made a space for itself down by the Prius brigade… a reminder to Prius drivers what a real car looks like? There was actually a “Subaru Tuning Parts Fair” going on too in one section, but if you blinked you could’ve missed it. Zero Sports had a very mild 2008 Impreza STi on display which was way down on their effort last year. It reminded me of all the traders and demo cars that were absent this year: Sunline Auto, monoCRAFT, Tommy Kaira, Car Service Hiro, Superior Auto Creative…
I didn’t hang around for the live entertainment, the Race Queen appearances or the free giveaways that were happening later in the day. I made my way back to the car via the parking lot (always worth a look in Japan) and even that was a disappointment compared to last year. Where was everybody? I can’t be too critical of the show, if anything it shows the sheer depth of the Japanese tuning car scene from hard tuned circuit racers to, yep I’ll say it again, the modified Prius brigade. I’m kind of curious to see what next years show will be like… if there is one.
Words: Justin Karow
Images: Justin Karow