February 22, 2024

New & Old At Tokyo Auto Salon 2024


Whether you’re into JDM kyusha, Formula 1 winners or the latest advancements in high performance automotive technology and aftermarket tuning, the Tokyo Auto Salon has something for you.

For our final story from TAS 2024 – and to wrap up a huge 10 days of continuous coverage – I thought we’d take at some of the classic and contemporary machines from this year’s show.

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When it comes to new cars at TAS, the majority are production models on display from major manufacturers. Models like the new R35 Nissan GT-R T-spec and FL7 Honda Civic Type R are evolutions of hero cars which have reached the peak of engineering and real-world performance.

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As far as tuning goes, it seems that everyone’s old favourites like HKS, Trust and Blitz and others all have bolt-on bits for cars like the Nissan GT-R, Civic Type R and 86/BRZ, but they don’t seem to be building complete cars anymore. Nothing serious like we’ve seen before, anyway.

As expected, the new Nissan Fairlady Z/400Z was on display in a few aftermarket booths, including Crewch. Osaka’s Speed Forme have one as a base, and we can expect a new body kit from them soon.

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When it comes to going all-out with modifying a new car, Taisuke Kawato of Total Car Produce Magic and Mad Mike Whiddett cast a long shadow across the halls of Makuhari Messe this year with their rear-wheel-drive-converted Mazda3 and its four-rotor, twin-turbo engine swap. Yes, it’s a competition car, built for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, but we’d love to see more of this hardcore tuning applied to late-model bases at TAS, because it’s lacking.

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This mid-sized truck from Toyota grabbed my attention. It’s called the IMV and it was built especially for the Thailand market. Of course, it is not available in Japan, but so many people here want one.

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These personal electronic transportation devices from Yamaha are the kind of clever little things that get me excited about the future.

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Top Secret have plenty of tuning and dress-up products for the R35 GT-R, but really, we all just want Smoky Nagata to build something wild along the lines of his V12-swapped MkIV Supra.

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Despite a lack of excitement from Japan’s tuning powerhouses and OEM manufacturers, there is still hope for modified new cars. This GR86 built by Delta and JP Turbo has a bridge-ported 13B rotary engine. It’s also fitted with an OS Giken 5-speed transmission and a TRD LSD.

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And RE Amemiya showed off this Mazda Roadster build, complete with a 13B rotary swap. It’s not the first one they’ve done, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.

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It’s making nearly 600PS thanks in part to a JP Turbo twin-turbocharger setup, plus features an RX-8 transmission, RE Amemiya-spec Endless suspension, Endless brakes, and a Powercraft exhaust system. It’s not nearly a new car, but I still can’t help think it lacks soul when compared to RE Amemiya’s older builds.

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Especially if you compare it to the first-gen RX-7 they also had on display. There is something special about these cars.

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Not to mention the quirky old school RE Amemiya legends parked in the adjacent booth.

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Which brings us to my selection of old (pre-2000) stuff. This new body kit from Wonder gives the Nissan 180SX a few more angles – and for the better.

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This Nissan Z, owned and built by Riko, is timeless in design and style. It’s simple, swooping and balanced in ways that the new Z cars will never be. I think that’s worth sacrificing a few pedestrians’ knee caps for.

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Subaru has discontinued the STI for the time being, but these examples – all WRC works cars, lovingly restored to Prodrive factory specs – show how well loved they are. Imagine if Subaru were to bring back a modern version of the two-door 22B… I think it would sell like hot cakes and could be a market rival to the A90 Supra.

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If you compare the E36 with the new styling on offer from BMW, then I think it’s safe to say that the oldies are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Especially when we have people like Khyzyl Saleem modernising and reimagining them into aggressive new creations.

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It might be a while before the new models, which are trying to evoke a sense of passion, beauty and nostalgia really start to find a place in our hearts. But that’s OK; we’ve got a pretty decent back catalogue to enjoy until they do.

That’s it from the Makuhari Messe for another year. Thanks for tuning into our Tokyo Auto Salon 2024 coverage!

Toby Thyer
Instagram: _tobinsta_
tobythyer.co.uk





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