Saturday: it was a very, very cold and drizzly day today (so no carpark pics, sorry) but it was a great day at TAS08. Maybe the lousy weather kept the crowds away, but it was considerably less crowded than last year, which made it a much more relaxed experience than TAS07. But even so, TAS is as always, a sensory overload, an overdose of the kind of JDM cars which we like best. Often you have to pinch yourself that all of this is really in one spot.
Japanese fashions change in a hearbeat, and so TAS is always a barometer of where JDM automotive trends are heading. So where is the JDM scene going in 2008?
This is only about 1/4 of it by the way
In the past few years, performance (and especially drift) have started to take a bit of a back seat as the Wagonist/VIP and Euro areas have made a real resurgence, with the really impressive cars being VIP’d Lexus LS and Soarer and blinged up MPV and vans.
But 2008 would bring the debut of three very important performance cars (LanEvoX, Impreza Sti and R35 GT-R) and so one of the BIG questions leading up to TAS 08 was whether performance was about to make a long-overdue comeback.
The answer is a qualified no.
“Traditional” JDM performance cars like this were not given pride of place and rather were pushed to the corners and sides of the pavillions
Considering they were released quite some time ago, there were not as many modified LanEvoX’s and Stis as expected, and even then the great majority were light-tuned.
The big-dollar JDM performance rides are still the “Time Attack” Tsukuba lap-dash cars
…..in comparison, there was no shortage of VIP or Wagonist vans with mega-dollar builds.
As for the R35 GT-R, almost all of them were largely stock, and in some cases, still with the stock wheels and just “sticker-tuned”. Given that it was only just released, and given that it has very complex electronics deliberately designed to make modifications difficult, perhaps that is unsurprising. And so if you want to see extreme modified R35 GT-Rs, maybe TAS09 will be the time for that. It does look impossibly tough in the flesh I have to say!
One area which is growing steadily is Euro. Last year saw some VIP brands show some Euro heavy metal like VIP’s Benzes etc, and there were some very headline-grabbing big dollar modified Euros like the Ferrari 430 at Fabulous. But this year saw the Euro contingent increase, with even HKS showing a brace of M3 CSLs and there were also quite a few modified 911s (a couple by Top Secret no less) and even a few Lambos given the JDM treatment.
Top Secret 911 GT3 is quite attractive
Cayenne rolling on 24s
VIP remains a strong force in Japan, with the great majority of the showcars being the gorgeous new Lexus LS460/600h, whose sleek, clean shape seems tailor-made for the VIP treatment. Euro makes are making big inroads into the VIP scene, with many BMW and Benz VIP showcars, but the really bonkers VIP rides are the JDM models.
Another area of growth has been in the small cars. Not Kei-cars, but rather the 1300-1600cc class with the Colt, Yaris, Jazz and the Swift etc. TAS always has small cars on display, but in the past they have usually been eye-grabbing extreme cars which aren’t that driveable. But TAS08 would have many desireable small cars with very production ready supercharger kits etc.
As for the classic/GrandJDM area, there was a surprising (if small presence). Classic car dealer Rocky Autohad a very tasty Hakosuka, and Tokyo-based restorers Star Roadhad a Wangan-Midnight styled 240Z. There was the Top Secret TA22 Celica from last year, and MoonEyes had a popular stand with lots of mechandise and a cool classic slammed Crown.
Star Road 240Z was sublime.
However, up close, some aspects of the Rocky Auto Hako had paint prep shortcuts which left something to be desired. Not everything JDM is perfect.
Cool Crown by MoonEyes Japan/Crown Customs (which offer a 2JZ 3.0L conversion for Y2.2mil)
Mazda Carol Hi-Boy ’rod. Crazy? Inspired? Awesome? Ridiculous? ….all of the above
Enkei is reissuing some old designs. This is the Enkei DISH, available in 15×8 and 15×10 in zero offsets. Check out http://www.enkei.co.jp/eaa/wheel/index.htm
Very silly Cressida Wagon based thing (Ben from JNC would be having a heart attack right about now) But it was just a crude mockup, not a running car
30in Hummer wheel. That little rectangular thing at the top is my phone for size reference!
Lineup of goodies at HKS stand
…but surprisingly HKS also decided to display its old turbo kit for the L-series (circa 1980)
Wouldn’t you like this on your 240Z project?
TAS always has some examples of bad taste…this was an FD RX7 before www.ducks-garden.co.jpgot their hands on it…and yes it is a bodykit they charge good money for
Would you believe this is an MX5? (With a Lexus V8)
For the past few yrs, bullnose Hi-Aces have been very popular Wagonist rides at TAS
And why not when they give you so much interior room to do things like this
Last yr one Hi-Ace had a marble floor…
Daihatsu Copen Kei car given the nostalgic roadster treatment
Rather clever LUMMERN conversion, based on the 90s Nissan Rasheen SUV, whose slabby styling only needed a few tweaks to become a mini Hummer
But the oldschool guys have their own show, the JCCA classic car show in 2wks time, so most of the classic iron would be saving themselves for that (sadly I won’t be here for that).
The feeling one gets from TAS08 is that the scene in Japan is still rebalancing. As recently as 4 or 5 yrs ago, TAS would be dominated by circuit and drift cars, but in the past 2yrs VIP & Wagonist have almost had a total domination of the show: and the numbers still lie with the cruiser scene. JDM performance will be popular again, and the thick crowds around the Rocky Auto and Star Road cars indicate that JDM enthusiasts still love their classic metal.
But it will take a while for the tide to change, and today, in Japan Bling is Still King.
If you have some time to kill, we have a few hundred more pics in our gallery below: