EVENTS: Tokyo Auto Salon, Part 01 — Old School Cool


As one of the most important auto shows on the Japanese calendar, the Tokyo Auto Salon is a showcase of Japan’s latest and greatest tuning trends. With every customization style imaginable on display, however, old school cool is not always easy to find. But even as you journey across the seas of carbon fiber and bling, you just might stumble upon, hidden in plain sight, the most badass nostalgic sleds imaginable.


While the theme of the Auto Salon is bigger, better and ballery-er, Tokyo-based tuning house Star Road classes up the joint with a proper Skyline. Nothing sensational, just a clean drop, an immaculate paint job in factory hues, and a growly L28. The only indulgence is from the shop’s own line of 15×9+10 front and 15×9-28 rear Glow Star wheels, one of the few new school rims that still exudes an old school feel.

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If ownership of a full-size Hakosuka remains elusive, however, there’s always highly detailed replicas. In Tokyo, where garage space might be even less attainable than an actual Hako, exacting scale creations of garage tools, storage bins, and a set of newly delivered SSR wheels to replace worn Watanabes is all part of the dream.


In a hall recalling the heyday of 1960s convention center decor and lighting, the G-Works Magazine booth held court with Restored Japan’s kenmeri Skyline. Refreshingly, the car was kept to its original GT-X spec rather than cloned as a GT-R, showcasing Shinichiro Sakurai‘s surf line.

In fact, the car’s purpose was to showcase Restored’s newish line of fiberglass or carbon fiber quarter panels. These go over rotted or flared GT-R clone rear quarter panels to return the car to GT-X spec and “restore” the surf line. The new quarters are subtly widened so that you can run wide wheels such as the 10J Volk TE37-Vs that the display car has. De-cloning your GT-R for GT-X spec — a new trend?


In the proud tradition of the bosozoku, Free-Style brought a mean, green street brawler to upset the carefully crafted rows of VIP vans. Starting with a G-series straight six-equipped  Z10 Soarer as a base, the addition of sharknose bodywork, external oil cooler and takeyari pipes is standard kaido racer stuff. Instead of your typical bright colors and metal flake, however, it looks like a Fury Road survivor that’s gone through hell and back.


Upon closer inspection, the the big white and red roundel and yellow squadron insignia point to the paint scheme of a WWII A6M Zero, complete with kills represented in sakura on the driver’s side door and — wait, is what looks like a blood on the windshield? Clearly, this is not a build that fears controversy. It’s a fresh take on the zokusha; dare we say it’s the first kaido rat rod?


From imagined street fighters to real ones, our friends at Osaka JDM brought out their latest sky high-revving Civic. With a Honda K20 swap, the goal is to show off their new line of fenders that widen. We have no doubt it will be the most potent weapon yet in the Kanjozoku‘s late-night, hockey mask-wearing, law-defying assaults on the Osaka expressway loop.


December 2015 was the 50th anniversary of Fuji Speedway, and to honor the occasion the circuit’s management put on a special display of racing legends from its golden era.


From the pre-Nissan merger comes the legendary Prince R380, which Yoshikazu Sunako piloted to victory at the 3rd Japan Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway in 1966. Hideo Oishi came in second in a similar R380, defeating Porsche with its 906 that Nissan had been gunning for since the the previous Grand Prix.


The 1969 Toyota 7 competed at Fuji Speedway as part of the Japan Can-Am series. This is was Toyota’s second iteration of the winged prototype, powered by an advanced 5.0-liter, 4-valve-per-cylinder, dual overhead cam V8. It was good for 584PS (576 horsepower). Though the Toyota 7 never raced side by side against the Prince R380 the display let us wonder what might have been.


For the average Tokyo Joe, top-of-the-line cars from the likes of Prince or Toyota were still out of reach in the 1960s. What most could afford didn’t exactly set hearts on fire, but man, do people wax nostalgic for them today. The Toyota Publica was among the most memorable cars of the go-go Sixties, a family car with plenty of style, as well as an engine and suspension components borrowed from the Sports 800. It’s no wonder that Toyota Technical College Tokyo chose to modify a UP20 Publica with metal flares, Longchamps, and its 2-cylinder boxer upgraded with a Solex carb. You wouldn’t have seen a Publica like this back in the day, but it looks like loads of fun now.


Typically, when you see a 1960s 31-Series Nissan Cedric at a Japanese car show, it has been painstakingly restored to bone stock. The lumbering sedans had virtually no performance value and an ungracefully tall factory ride height whe new. That’s why we were floored to spot this slammed Ceddy, holding down the ACG booth with sinister presence.


Finished in gangster black and converted to suicide doors, it’s not the kind of car you’d want to meet in a dark alley. Adding to the funereal vibe, the tank and lines for the bagged suspension are fully chromed and look like an ancient church organ. Even the Cedric font looks ominous for some reason. Or course, the carpet it was displayed on had to be red.


Inside is more black. Bench seats, a column shifter and a thin-rimmed steering wheel give off more of that mean old school menace. It’s lucky that the air suspension equipment tkes up the entire trunk, because otherwise you’d fully expect to see a body or two inside its cavernous depths. We’ve seen so many ungainly 1960s Cedrics at other shows. Why didn’t anyone think of this before?

We’ll have more 2016 Tokyo Auto Salon coverage coming soon. To be continued…

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10 Responses to EVENTS: Tokyo Auto Salon, Part 01 — Old School Cool

  1. Nigel says:

    The Hako is awesome. I also see the orange Z from last year’s Star Road display.
    Does that 1/24 shop work on Toyota’s ?

  2. Scotty G says:

    Ohhhhh.. that Skyline 2000 GTX.. I won’t be able to think about anything else today.

  3. Jim Daniels says:

    The R380 is sex on wheels, the shape and curves. Wow, hard to look away from that. That is one of the most beautiful cars ever built.

  4. Ant says:

    That Osaka JDM Civic has done nothing for my desires to buy a fourth-gen hatch. That shape looks better every day.

  5. mister k says:

    yay for the return to the surfline… sorry r clones

  6. No Salsa says:

    The Cedric is my pick, so cool looking, just a head turner. The Dato 240k is quite nice they all disappeared from Australian shores many years ago. The hako is too try hard for my tastes, terrible wheel choice, looks no different to the hektic Sydney Rx’s on huge wheels. Your mod kev has the formula right, low and wide with side wall (13s or 14s only, 15s if you must).

    Another observation that Civic with Toyo painted on the side walls seems to be the latest trend amongst all the Sydney ricers.

  7. Bart says:

    Damn, that Cedric is more goth than a hearse!

  8. Censport says:

    A friend in Japan found a short YouTube video of the Publica. Complete with ultra-groovy soundtrack. 😀

  9. elsin says:

    The cedric looks amazing. Question Which car was released first the Prince or the GT40, they look very similar, or they both just happened to be made around the same time.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      The GT40 came first, but you are also correct. A lot of race cars from the mid-60s used that basic mid-engined design, including the Ford, Porsche 904, Ferrari 365 P2, Jaguar XJ13, etc…

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