At the 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon, everything is fair game

No car is too sacred to modify
by Rowan Horncastle | Jan 19, 2020
PHOTO: Mark Riccioni

SEMA is America’s monolithic tuning convention where the great, the good, and those people looking to wash illegitimate money go to show off their modified wares to the world. Well, each January, the same thing happens in Japan. It’s called the Tokyo Auto Salon and is like SEMA...just with less of the crowd perusing the show floor via electric scooters with oxygen tanks on the back, but more creepy photographers blinding female booth workers with high-intensity flashes, relentlessly gunning them down, in order to commit the moment to memory cards for their ‘alone time.’ Oh, how we shudder.

Even so, you can’t deny that the cars are pretty wild. Actually, they’re probably a bit crazier than their American equivalents, mainly because they’ve come from the brain of a Japanese person, where the boundary for what’s socially acceptable and clinically insane is increasingly blurred. But you can’t fault their creativity/madness. So, keep scrolling and prepare for all kinds of modified GT-Rs, Jimnys, and every kind of Supra (new and old) you can imagine. And that thing above? A car with afterburners and exhausts. Lots of exhausts. You have been warned.

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If you’ve ever wondered what Tony the Tiger’s dream two-car garage looks like, wonder no more. It’s no surprise he thinks they’re grrrrreat!

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This is not a screenshot from the new Gran Turismo game. It’s just a full-carbon R32 GT-R basking in the morning sun of Tokyo R246. Oh, yes. You have permission to ask Alexa to play Feeder’s ‘Just a Day.’

Fed up of hearing your kids scream and shout on the school run? No worries! Just drown them out with a trunk full of subs or the sound of your MPV’s undercarriage scraping against speed bumps. Or, in this case, both.

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The Ferrari F50 is well-known for having two banks of six cylinders arranged in a V. It was a V12 Ferrari based on Alain Prost’s F1 car, and it made 500hp and a very, very good sound. This yellow version still does all that, but has a bodykit and rear wing assembly similar to something that’s come out of Maranello’s XX program. What’s that we hear? Enzo spinning in his grave? Or cheering from the heavens? We can’t really work it out.

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The late Paul Walker had a lot to do with boosting the profile of the Mk4 Supra. Having driven a bright-orange convertible version in the first The Fast and the Furious film, he was a human PR machine for the 2JZ’d Toyota. Now there’s a new Supra, and here’s one with a scalped roof, orange paint, nitrous, and those all-important tribal javelin tattoo-thing decals.

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Having to conform to strict regulations (being within 3,490mm in length and 1,490mm in width, and having maximum engine size of 660cc and no more than 64hp), by their very nature, kei cars are small. But look! You can make them bigger! Just sling a roof tent on the roof and live in that.

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The Toyota Century is the height of Japanese luxury. Century clientele include Japan’s Imperial Family, the prime minister...and the yakuza, Japan’s Mafia—the largest organized crime syndicate in the world. It’s renowned for its plush ride. Which has now been ruined thanks to the hunt for Instagram gratification.

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Depending on how your brain is wired, the image above will either fill you with a warm fuzziness of deep joy or short-term paralysis from deep-seated anger. Yes, that really is a Ferrari low-low.

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What happens when you load a 1997 EK9 Civic Type R into a cyberpunk’s musket and fire it into the future? This! The Cyber Night Japan Cruiser 2020, a factory-funded refresh from Honda that smooths the old car’s bodywork, fills in some holes, and adds some LEDs, but keeps the original running gear. Basically, it’s the equivalent of outfitting your granny with a futuristic suit of armor.

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Japan loves Lambos. They love them modified, too. The shopping list goes a little something like this: antisocial exhaust (check), loud Tron-inspired paintwork (check), and scores of flashing LED and neon lights (check).

How do you like your speakers? To look a bit like Mickey Mouse mixed with a crab? Then this is your car.

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The original dorifto kingu: the Toyota AE86. Just with ritzy carbon bits and a set of trumpets. The induction noise must be off the scale.

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Godzilla in HKS warpaint. F-yeah.

The original NSX was the supercar that proved supercars don’t have to be painful to drive, and painful to own. Take it easy in the NSX, and it was as comfy as a boggo Civic. Not when you chop the springs, though.

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You thought it was just Singer making mad 964s? Think again.

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We’re not going to get all crystal ball on you, but this is the future of TAS. Only joking—obviously Supras and Jimnys will fill the halls for years to come. But there will be more EVs.

On a nondescript main street somewhere on the outskirts of Tokyo that’s a highlight of incongruous, there’s Anjia—a tuner that specializes in the exotic. Blingy exotic. See, they luuuuurve diamonds. So slap them everywhere. Even on Aventadors.

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As far as one-make racing series go, Jaguar Sport’s 1991 ‘Intercontinental Challenge’ surely ranks as one of the coolest. The short-lived series was a support act for three races on the Formula 1 calendar. And not just any three races, but the marquee events held at Monaco, Silverstone, and Spa. To race here, you need something fast. And cool. Step forward, the XJR 15. The most underrated Jags ever?

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The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is the company’s belated and controversial response to the boom in SUVs. Even if you struggle with the concept of the big, fast, heavy SUV, it’s catnip for tuners.

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Good grief. How heavy must those tires be on the roof to make the suspension do that?

Remember when Subaru was cool? No. Well, keep looking at this image for a bit longer. Then Google ‘Subaru XV.’

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Don’t worry, it’s not broken. We promise. But that rear arch is quite something.

We literally have no idea what’s going on here. Anyone care to explain? Should we call the police? Maybe we should call the police.

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No car is safe from the itchy imagination of Tokyo tuners. Not even this little Daihatsu.

The S2000 seems to be aging like Paul Rudd: well.

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Ha! You didn’t think we’d leave you going cold turkey and not put in a Mk4 Supra, did you?

Japan loves a Lotus. They also love modifying cars. This is what happens when their two hobbies head-butt each other.

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Smokey Nagata—he of 200mph A1M fame—and his company Top Secret brought this C110 Skyline along to TAS. This isn’t any old Skyline, though—look under the hood. Yep, that’s an RB26 block with RB30 heads, octopus-leg manifolds, and ITBs—a combination of acronyms and numbers that amount to very, very good things. Especially for your ears.

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Want to see more wide-bodied racing Porsches? No worries. Just click here and check out RWB’s crazy race shop, RWB Republik.

What flavor would you like your race car in? Old, Japanese, and awesome? Or old, European, and awesome? Answers below.

NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.

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PHOTO: Mark Riccioni
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