Tokyo Auto Salon 2014: Custom Cars & Girls...and Cars (VIDEO & GALLERY)
Contributor Nayalan Moodley, AKA DarcNoodles, co-founded and wrote for South Africa’s vanguard Otaku Magazine. Japan has been his home since 2008.
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2014 Tokyo Auto Salon
For when your car needs a facial and a manicure...Okay. Maybe not.
Held January 10-12 at Chiba City’s Makuhari Messe convention center, this year’s event drew a staggering 296,714 visitors! The first event, held back in 1983 by Option Tuning Magazine, was an effort to promote car customisation and tuning culture.
The event has steadily grown over the years, and 2014 was billed as the largest custom car show in the world.
Essentially, it’s Japan’s SEMA show (Specialty Equipment Market Association). Tuning companies and parts manufacturers show off their new products, tuning houses show off their latest builds, and automakers show off their future enthusiast and competition models and concepts.
Also present: a D1 Drift exhibition, scantily clad race queens, memorabilia shops, Gran Turismo 6 simulators, and free 0% alcohol beer (spoiler alert: It’s almost but not quite as bad as it sounds)
The star of the show was far and away the Toyota 86. It’s a tuning favorite and there were numerous versions on hand from high-power V8 transplants to slick cruisers with big subwoofers. There was also a large selection of BMWs and several Japanese companies that produce custom aftermarket parts for the blue & white badge.
If we had 100yen for every Toyota 86 on the floor we’d be able to get drunk on non-alcoholic beer.
The big players were out in force, too. Honda was showing off the new NSX and S660 concepts. Toyota had a tasty looking Gazoo Racing Mark X and 86. Lexus showed off their new LFA racecar, and Nissan brought their NISMO GT-R and delta wing. That said, all the manufacturer-tuned cars were just a tad too vanilla.
Godzilla Returns! The NISMO GT-R
From an automotive fashion standpoint, this year’s new look is the bolt-on fender, which appears to be making a comeback. It’s a classic, retro move that harkens back to the shakotan bousozoku of old. Retro-inspired wheels in modern sizes with massive offsets are also in vogue and, needless to say, low ride heights and negative camber are a given.
Fenders Fenders everywhere… even on cars that shouldn’t have them...but they look so good!
Surprisingly, there wasn’t much in the way of audio and electronics this year. Apart from Tein’s nifty real-time adjustable ride suspension and one or two interesting smartphone integration suites, there was a distinct lack noteworthy in-cabin tech. Even the show cars with epic sound systems onboard were often rigged up to good old 2DIN navigation head units running the same old speaks and amps.
Were beautiful. The mobs that swarmed around them whenever they were out, however, were not so much fun. To be fair, the car fans could look at their favorite rides as long as they wanted and get as many shots as they liked. Race queen fans need to get their eyes and SD cards filled in a much shorter time window.
Because Car Show
It truly was epic. It was not only was it a feast for the eyes, but it was inspirational, too. For enthusiasts who like to take their cars beyond factory boredom, there is no better place to get ideas for their own builds. Even demo cars from smaller shops and individuals were finished perfectly.
Runzip Design BMW e46 m3. Their original bumpers add modern refinement to the classic e46 M look.
The show’s only real negative was the size. There were just so many halls with so much to see that one day would barely whet your appetite. If you wanted to talk to people, get any decent photos, or just truly appreciate all the little details, you would’ve had to be the first one through the door and walked non stop without any major breaks. Or, you’d just have to shell out for another day. For someone with petrol in their veins, it would have been well worth it.
Have a look:
Want more car stuff? Tokyo Motor Show 2014
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Images & Video: Nayalan Moodley, AKA DarcNoodles
Nayalan is a freelancer specializing in words, photos, videos, graphic design, and illustration. He's also working on YouTube fame, blogging Japanese randomness, eating too much, hunting for tech deals in Akiba, driving his car sideways, volunteering in Tohoku, and shooting things.