Saturday, January 11, 2020

TAS 2020

Tokyo Auto Salon 2020 could have easily been renamed “The A90 Supra Show”. With the Toyota being the only new JDM (well, not so JDM) car of relevance released on the market in the past couple of years every single tuner, wheel, accessory or part maker had one on display.

This perhaps reflects the sad state of the automotive industry as a whole, as younger generations have progressively lost interest in cars and the dynamics of global economy have made it pretty much impossible to build affordable sports cars, albeit very few exceptions.

As much as we should consider ourselves lucky to have a new Supra I just can’t come to terms with the way the thing looks. Yes, it has some interesting design cues, but overall is pretty soulless.

And while I’m in full blown “whining mode” I might also add that I was never able to get behind the two main trends of the modern tuning industry, namely stance and wide-body kits.

Considered the above I found myself, like every year, wandering around the halls of Makuhari Messe in search for sprinkles of a JDM tuning era that is now long gone. 

Luckily I was able to find a few bits and pieces of the golden era of 90’s tuning as RE Amemiya had on display quite a few RX-7s. I just wish I could go 20 years back, when these cars were taking the center stage at shows.

But it’s not all bad news, there is definitely plenty of interesting stuff to see and going through the various booths and stands is always a good way to spend a Saturday morning.

Everybody who is anybody in the car industry is present and is cool to see how some of the more recent technology finds application on older models still in use today.

TAS is more relevant than ever and I was surprised to see high-end brands like McLaren and Aston Martin being officially represented at the event.

This is not exactly the stage where one would expect to see these names, but there were definitely some stands with some very tasty metal on display, like the Motul one.

This original Alpine looked absolutely fantastic. The bodywork, the details, the paint all belong to an era where cars could be built following unique philosophies instead of having to confirm to global standards, both in design and function.

Perhaps I haven’t, but times have really moved on, as demonstrated by one of the most iconic Japanese GT racers sitting largely ignored by the younger crowd.

The Nissan stand wasn’t particularly exciting and its outdated lineup reflects the current status of the company.

It was painful to see the 400R badge so out of place on this hideous Sprint Concept. It’s really time to move on and I want to see Nissan going back to where it deserves.

On the good news front, I managed to catch up with Andrea from Italdesign and seems that sales of the GT-R50 are going very well!

One maker that absolutely nailed it was Honda, with their Modulo division presenting an incredible restomod of the old Civic.

This is what TAS should be all about: fun, performance oriented ideas that pay homage to the past while looking at the future.

The details on this little machine were absolutely spectacular and it was my car of the show by far.

Just behind it there was an unassuming S2000 freshly restored by the factory to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the model.

Again, these are the little unexpected surprises that the Japanese are so great at.

It’s all in the details and I really hope they will release this kit and upgrades to the market. It doesn’t look too expensive and it would be a great way to refresh and update a car that is now a classic.

Toyota also stole a bit of the show with the GR Yaris: a 3-cylinders, 268-HP homologation special...that I didn’t manage to photograph as I was just too far away from the stage! However, it was good to see their new lineup of OEM parts for the older Supras, a trend that Nissan started with the Heritage Program.

Now, onto the fun stuff: I know that I just slammed wide body kits a few paragraphs above, but this homage to Super Silhouette racers by Liberty Walk was absolutely fantastic.

They also had a wide bodied Lamborghini Miura in Advan livery that I can only hope was built around a replica and not an original car. But you’ll never know...

Talking about making an impact, sometimes you just have to go all out, or so the Yokohama PR team must have thought when they decided to nonchalantly load a Jimny on the back of a Raptor.

Back at the Top Secret stand it was a very nice, fully restored Skyline that caught my attention over the 1,000ps plus R35.

Not that this car was any less mental, with a fully built NA RB30 which, according to a recent inter by Video Option, took longer to build than the engines on the recent GT-Rs.

What about our beloved BNR34? I didn’t look very hard, but I managed to find only two: one was the Kansai Service democar (a white, early chassis example) and the other was my friend’s M-spec with a S1 engine and a matte silver wrap that is a nod to the paint finish of the original GT-R Nismo launch car.

TAS is one of these events that I don’t take too seriously and just enjoy for what they offer: a nice couple of hours to enjoy some of the best and the worst that the aftermarket industry has to offer.

Off to Omori Factory tomorrow for some new parts and an upcoming event!

Until next time.

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