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11 cool facts about Japanese car-customization expert Minoru Goko

A regular judge at the Trans Sport Show


If you\'re a frequent visitor to the Trans Sport Show and the Manila Auto Salon--both of which are organized by Tradeshow International--then you may have noticed the mild-mannered Japanese who serves as one of the regular judges of the car competitions.

His name is Minoru Goko, who, for the past 10 years, has been a constant presence at the country\'s major aftermarket auto shows. We had the opportunity to talk to him and find out 11 things about him and the Japanese automotive aftermarket industry.

1. Goko-san started out in the automotive industry very early. His father once owned and ran an automotive workshop which sparked his interest in the business. As an engineer, he has worked for various manufacturers and dealers, like Suzuki and Nissan where he worked on exhaust systems.

2. Goko-san is currently a professor at the Nihon Automobile College where they offer different automotive courses--including a two-year technician course, a three-year car-customization course, and a four-year automotive engineering course.

3. If you seriously want to enroll in his school, the annual tuition fee is reportedly around $15,000 (over P630,000). Despite the high price, the school currently has around 800 students. We figure part of the tuition goes to the racetrack that\'s adjacent to the college, on which the students can test their project cars.

4. Some of the crazy projects concocted by his students are a Lexus pickup truck out of a Lexus sedan and a Suzuki Cappuccino body on the frame of a Mitsubishi Pajero.


5. One of Goko-san\'s co-professors at the Nihon Automobile College is former drifter Manabu Orido. According to Goko-san, you\'ll know Orido-san is making his way to school because you\'ll hear him drifting around the corner.

6. According to Goko-san, 100% of the school\'s students are hired immediately after graduation by manufacturers like Toyota and tuner companies like Subaru Tecnica International.

7. Goko-san occasionally teaches at TESDA as well, specifically in teaching the agency\'s instructors the latest developments in automobile technology. Goko-san claims that he can easily restructure some of the courses taught in his school for local colleges like Mapua, where he taught briefly, and Don Bosco.

8. Goko-san\'s role as a judge at Tradeshow International\'s car shows came about when he was contacted by the Manila Sports Car Club for his hobby as a classic car collector. Since Tradeshow International\'s Sophie Delos Santos serves as MSCC\'s secretary, the collaboration was inevitable.

9. Wide-bodied cars and power upgrades will always be the top customization trends, said Goko-san. As for what\'s currently hot in Japan, it\'s supposedly using four different wheel styles and colors--but using the same specifications like the size and offset--for all four corners. Another current fad is exhibiting so-called \"battle scars\" like scratches on the cars, which probably means our local taxis could hold their own against the JDM cars.

10. Goko-san believes that, because of the popularity of the Toyota 86, other Japanese car manufacturers will soon come out with their own affordable, rear-wheel-drive sports coupes. He even hints that Nissan could resurrect the Silvia nameplate to do battle with the 86.

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11. According to Goko-san, the Subaru Impreza is one of the most stolen cars in Japan today. Goko-san added that, despite its age, the first-generation model--particularly the WRX--is the one that is usually targeted by carjackers. We can only wonder if some of those stolen Imprezas found their way to Port Irene.

Photo by Patrick Everett Tadeo

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