EVENTS: 2016 Tokyo Auto Salon, Part 03 – Tunertopia


When it comes right down to it, the Auto salon is all about tuning. Sometimes, that can be downright cringeworthy when it comes to the classics we know and love. Other times, the result is inspired. And sometimes it’s just about getting a hunk of metal to go as fast as humanly possible. While not all of the cars in this installment fit the JNC style, they were at the Auto Salon, and so we’re reporting on them. 


In that respect, one of the most impressive cars at the show was Garage Saurus’s DR30 Nissan Skyline RS Turbo-C. What it lacks in beauty it makes up for in power. Displayed on the windshield was what looked like a Japanese used car “for sale” sign, but was actually its top speed, a whopping 330.2 kph (or 205 mph)!

Bringing it up to an escape velocity is, believe it or not, a turbocharged four-cylinder. The Tokyo-based tuning house kept the original FJ20ET engine, albeit with displacement increased to 2.4 liters and the inclusion of a Greddy T88-33D turbo. The total output is about 740 horsepower, which is apparently how much it takes to push an 80s box faster than a modern twin-turbo McLaren V8 or a Lamborghini Murcielago V12.

Garage Saurus was once most known for drag racing, and has built beautiful cars from Silvias to R32/R33/R34 GT-Rs. What’s notable is that they silenced naysayers by creating a couple of cars — R32 and S14 — that were dual purpose drag and circuit cars, which could revert to either discipline with just a few tweaks.

Since drag racing in Japan has been almost entirely list due to the famed Sendai drag strip being destroyed in the 2011 tsunami and earthquake. Top speed trial runs are again making a comeback from the glory days of the 80s and early 90s, and that is where Saurus and other garages are promoting their tuning prowess now.


In addition to the Skyline seen in Part 01, classic Nissan tuner Star Road brought back their famous S30 Z, which debuted at the Auto Salon a year ago. With a smoothified body and urethane widebody kit, we wouldn’t call it a period correct classic, but it evokes a kaido racer built with modern customizing methods and technologies. The base body is a 1975 Fairlady Z, a perfect mid-generation chassis to use for such an extreme project.

Under the hood lies a stroked L28 chugging 3.2 liters to put out an estimated 375 horsepower. Wrapped in old school-looking Pirelli P7 Corsa Classics are Star Road’s own Glow Star wheels, massively offset in 15×9 -53 front and a massive 15×12 -60 rears.


Modded Zs are all the rage, especially USDM ones. Beverly Auto is a company that specializes in dress-up accessories for vans and crossovers, but for some reason chose to import, display and gauchely offer for sale this LHD 1971 Datsun 240Z. The re-patriated Z looks like your typical JCCS fare, modified with an HKS muffler and a 3.1-liter stroker.


Who would modify a Toyota 2000GT? Rocky Auto, that’s who. After every iteration of Skyline and Laurel imaginable, The Nagoya-based tuner has turned his attention to the most expensive Japanese  classic on Earth. In fact, it’s a fully scratch-built car. Last year Rocky Auto came out with the the 2000GT RHV (Replica Hybrid Vehicle), also a complete re-creation with Prius FWD drivetrain and interior trim.

This car, dubbed the 3000GT, is RWD and is powered by a a 3.0-liter Toyota 2JZ engine under the hood. The interior more in keeping with the original, but all the trim, emblems (which say 3000GT) were recreated by Rocky-san at considerable expense. The frame and body were also recreated via CAD. It’s mated to an automatic, sports fully functional hydraulic rack and pinion power steering, power windows, and air conditioning.


As the popularity of kyusha tuning increases, aftermarket companies have been prompted to focus again on classic applications they haven’t thought about since nostalgic cars were new. Fujitsubo, best known for a massive catalog of exhaust systems and mufflers for modern cars, had a hakosuka Skyline GT-X as the star of their booth. They’ve been making exhausts for classic cars for decades, but only promoted their Legalis line for modern cars at TAS. Now, something that was always in the shadows have become their calling card.


Over at the NGK booth, the nostalgia extended to the 1976 Kojima KE007, a home-grown Formula One car with a tumultuous history. For those who are interested, the full history of this unusual race car can be found here.


Speaking of race cars, Toyota displayed a fleet of race-prepped Lexus LFA supercars that have competed many of which competed in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. We’re pretty sure one of them is the one Akio Toyoda drove, but we’re not sure which.

231KY0587_Toyota86-JUN 232KY0588_NissanGTR-R35-JUN

If you were an import fan in the 90s, you couldn’t escape JUN Auto Mechanic’s parade of insane, yellow record-breaking drag and time attack cars. After their head engineer Susumu Koyama left to build D1 cars — notably Kumakubo’s Team Orange cars, Evo, WRX and Laurel — the company has largely retreated from the US limelight, but they’re still doing their meticulously engineered thing in Japan. Rather than Civics and Supras, they’re tuning neo-hachirokus and neo-Godzillas.

The JUN FT86 is the civilian of the two, tuned to be a high-response NA machine. The GT-R, on the other hand, is a 974-horsepower monster whose 3.8-liter V6 has been stroked to 4.8 with completely built internals. It’s good to see the creators of the Super Lemon still active.

We’ll have more 2016 Tokyo Auto Salon Coverage coming up, but in the meantime, in case you missed it here’s coverage from our TAS Preview, Part 01 – Old School Cool, and Part 02 – Callbacks, as well as a spotlight on the Liberty Walk S30 ZTo be continued… 

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7 Responses to EVENTS: 2016 Tokyo Auto Salon, Part 03 – Tunertopia

  1. Scotty G says:

    Ok, I’m not a big let’s-add-more-laws sort of person, but I have a new one that I’d like to add to the books: no more modifications on Toyota 2000GTs! A car that rare! Bbbbbb.. whew.. I know, I know, when a person owns something, no matter what it is, they can do anything they want to it, but come on, it’s a Toyota 2000GT!, it’s not like they made a million of ’em! No disrespect to the skills of the builder of that car, but man.

    Next up, some Bugatti Royale restomods; as long as we’re going to mess around with one of the world’s rarest cars: (at least these are just photochops, no real car was harmed in the process)

    • Yuri says:

      In the right hands, any car can be made better. There is no need to think that every example of a car should be held sacred, this is the thinking that turned the muscle car market into a bunch of old dudes wearing hawaiian shirts, and fretting over numbers. Especially in the case of the 2000GT, a car so rare and highly esteemed, that the vast majority of them will remain originally and never be driven. If a talented tuner like Rocky Auto feels they can improve one out of a couple hundred that survive, I say go for it. Honestly, if you’ve seen one 2000GT in white, you’ve seen them all. I believe there should be beautiful original examples of classic JNC’s, but there should ALWAYS be a place for well-done modified versions of the same car. It’s why we started loving them in the first place, for what they had the potential to be. It’ll be a sad day when JCCS is filled up with narrow-wheeled USDM bumpered AE86’s and stock-ride height bumper overrider equipped S30’s.

      • Scotty G says:

        Just different schools of thought, and you’re 100% correct because that’s your opinion and our opinions are always right (at least, that I’m aware of). I’m an original or restored-to-original-specs guy – that’s just what I like because it brings me back to that era and I just like to see cars in their original spec. I know that I’m in the vast (VAST!) minority here with that thinking, there is absolutely no question about that. But, there’s nothing wrong with either viewpoint, this is a huge globe and there’s room for all of us; even boring oddballs like myself who like things original.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      Fear not, no 2000GTs have been harmed in the process! This car was built from the ground up. More details added!

  2. Kev says:

    JNC, you’re going to have a full feature on the Rocky Auto 2000GT, right?


    Thanks for the great photos 🙂

  3. cesariojpn says:

    ” This car, dubbed the 3000GT, is RWD and is powered by a a 3.0-liter Toyota 2JZ engine under the hood. The interior more in keeping with the original, but all the trim, emblems (which say 3000GT) were recreated by Rocky-san at considerable expense. The frame and body were also recreated via CAD. It’s mated to an automatic, sports fully functional hydraulic rack and pinion power steering, power windows, and air conditioning. .”


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