Japanese Nostalgic Car events cover


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Tokyo Auto Salon
Chiba, Chiba Prefecture

T his year marks the 25th anniversary of the Tokyo Auto Salon and if the annual custom car event was an automobile itself, it'd be a classic by now. We thought the name sounded funny too until we learned that it was originally called the Tokyo Exciting Car Show. Something probably got lost in translation there. First held at the Tokyo International Trade Center in Harumi, about 100,000 car freaks attended. As it's grown over the years, the venue moved from there to Odaiba's Tokyo Big Sight for a couple of rotations, and finally to its current locale, Makuhari Messe in Chiba in order to accommodate the quarter million visitors.

The vehicles on display likewise chart the evolution of Japanese custom car culture. From the boxy VIP aero sedans and high-powered Wangan racers of the 80s bubble economy to today's dominance of wild drift machines and luxo-vans, many a trend have passed over the show's floors.

This year, a handful of Japanese classics showed up, not a spectacular showing by any means, but a definite improvement over recent Salons.
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 Smoky's Celica
Most signifcantly, uber-tuner Top Secret, famous for their 1000-hp expressway missiles and founder "Smoky" Nagata's high-speed antics on the public roads of sovereign states other than his own, displayed a lightly modded 1975 Celica liftback front and center at their booth. More details can be found in our Profiles section.

Other nostalgics included another first-gen Celica liftback with a polarizing (in both senses of the word) paint job, a trio of early Z-cars, an old school Skyline, and finally, Modest Cars was there with their retro minivan kits.

thumb_8 Keiji Shimizu's swapped the grille and taillights on his 1977 Celica 2000GT Liftback to the much-preferred zenkis from a '76. The loud stereo has 2000 watts. The loud paint was done by none other than Craig Fraser.
thumb_15 This gorgeous orange 1975 S30 Fairlady Z held down the gigantic Dunlop/Falken Tire booth.
thumb_18 This mean black 1982 S130 Z sports a carbon fiber hood made by a company called Proudear.
thumb_22 Illegal street racing gang Mid Night Club's 1978 280Z-T, a 461-hp 300-kph Wangan-devouring monster, still L28 powered and all. Look for a feature article on the legendary team coming soon.
thumb_31 Tiros, a Japanese upholstery and interior specialist, displayed this sexy 1974 C110 "Ken & Mary" Skyline.
thumb_41 Modest Cars and their nod to nostalgic vans, built on modern Japanese microvans. For details on the Honda Step Van, click here.


For now, pimped-out minivans may capture a disproportionate segment of the late teen and early twenties demographic, something to do with Tokyo's expensive and cramped living conditions and the fact that these rolling love nests all have seating that easily folds into a flat surface. If the Alphard's a-knockin'...

However, we've learned from our friends in the Japanese car-customizing industry that the classic car scene has just begun to bloom, much like in the US. Whereas even five years ago, you'd be hard-pressed to observe anyone less than middle-aged behind the wheel of a classic, younger transplants from tuner circles are getting in on the act. It should be very interesting to see where this will take the scene in Japan's always-changing and ever-creative car culture. end

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