Tokyo Autosalon ‘08: GrandJDM reports…

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

… 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


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 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:



This post is filed under: events, Japan Stuff.

9 Responses to Tokyo Autosalon ‘08: GrandJDM reports…

  1. Pingback: Tokyo Auto Salon: Pimped mini-vans, Cayennes on 24’s and a lifted Cressida : culture|garage

  2. p00cardriver says:

    The top secret celica is a RA25 not TA22.



  3. Jnostalgics says:

    Some… body… call an am… bluance. can’t… breathe!

  4. importjap says:

    So jealous right now.


  5. john_mellberg says:

    Thanks for the informative look at the tokyo auto salon. Unholy pangs of jealousy are coursing through me, this very moment!

    Anyway, as a yank, I just wanted to comment on that awful Cressida Wagon that was ‘lifted’. It appears that this showcar is a nod to the American hi-riser / dirty south hip-hop culture. This particular treatment would be known as a ‘donk’ or ‘box’. Wikipedia has the scoop.

    It’s an awful think to do to any car, but then tuners of all stripes can be guilty of bad taste.

    Anyway, love the blog. Keep up the excellent work!

  6. john_mellberg says:

    I thought it was quite novel how the JDM has shifted focus away from performance tuning, towards more of a glam/luxury flavor. Overall, I think the VIP trend is actually rather tasteful. So, it could be worse. The Lexus LS definitely wears the treatment well.

    Of course it’s nothing I’d ever do to my infiniti g37s (aka skyline coupe in the JDM). It’s perfect right out of the box..

  7. Kev says:

    Well the Cressida donk wasn’t finished by any means, from memory it didn’t even have a dash or pedals (maybe they didn’t think anyone would be tall enough to look inside?) 🙂

    But as for the move away from performance, that’s something that’s beein going on in Japan for quite a while. We did a little piece on that here.

    Young people in Japan would rather have a VIP car or van rather than a sports car, and given that few of the JDM makes still offer sports cars, who can blame them?

  8. Pingback: Japanese Nostalgic Car - Blog

  9. J-Spec says:

    … the hell? How did I manage to completely miss both the Top Secret and the HKS areas?!

    The biggest surprise for me was the move away from boso-like VIP style, almost everything was EXE, and in particular on very new vehicles. Some of the wilder, mid 90’s VIP stuff is where my heart lies so it was a shame there were literally only 1 or 2 such cars there.


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