The car world is still, unfortunately, very male dominated, with few woman-run shops anywhere on the planet. At the Tokyo Auto Salon this year, however, one of the most striking booths was that of L-Tide, a woman-led shop located in western Tokyo, and its display cars hailed from two of the most testosterone-fueled subcultures of Japanese tuning.
L-Tide stands for Ladies’ Tide, and it specializes in VIP cars. President Mayumi Fujita is an expert in custom interiors, which are often even more elaborate than external modifications on VIP cars (more on this in a moment), but the shop also performs custom paint and body work.
For the 2018 Auto Salon, Fujita’s shop had no less than 11 cars on display. One that might be of interest to JNC readers was a VIP Toyota Celsior with a K-Break body kit and 19x10J-5 and 19×11.5J-27 Work XSA 02C wheels. The others ran the gamut from heavily customized kei cars to slammed Alphards to a yellow Liberty Walk-kitted Ferrari 360 Modena.
The two cars that took center stage, however, were acutely traditional styles of Japanese tuning — a Super Silhouette-inspired kaido racer and an 80s-style VIP sled — both genres steeped in machismo with not-too-secret links to the, uh, sub-legal side of Japanese society. But that hasn’t stopped L-Tide from diving right in.
The most notable was GX61 Toyota Cresta wearing Migaki Tatsumi FRP overfenders integrated seamlessly into the side skirts and front bodywork. Though barely visible, 225/40-14 and 245/525-14 Toyos were stretched over well-deep 11J and 13J SSR MkIIIs on the front and rear.
The rest was a laundry list of zokusha features. The deppa chinspo, takeyari exhaust, and sharknose hood all made for a faithful tribute to the yancha-style cars that terrorized the streets of the 1980s Japan.
More subtle in style was a 430 Gloria dressed in classic 80s VIP elegance. Defined by a clean, black color scheme over a Hiro body kit, its 8J and 9J Focus Racing wheels cloaked in Toyo rubber attracted onlookers both young and old.
Once you peeked inside, its subtlety gave way to a full-on bacchanal of red velvet. Not only are the seats swathed in crimson padding befitting of Count Dracula’s boudoir, so were the pillars, headliner, and door pulls. The look was not unlike that of a yakuza’s suit, simple and black on the outside with just enough flair in the lining to let you know he’s no businessman.
While L-Tide’s custom interior work is certainly ornate, they also make seat cover kits for most VIP Lexus and Infiniti models that owners can install themselves. Their creations tend toward the wild side, but it’s great to see them spotlight stunning tributes to the heyday of Japan’s tuning culture as well.
To be continued…
In case you missed it, more 2018 Tokyo Auto Salon can be found with spotlights on the Endless Hino Contessa, Alaska-to-Chile Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota’s Gazoo Racing booth, the TOM’s KP47 Starlet, Banzai Sports Sunny Truck, and Nissan and Mitsubishi’s booths.