Raw and Direct: Osaka Auto Messe 2017
Most are familiar with Tokyo Auto Salon, but few have heard of the next big show on the Japanese calendar: the Osaka Auto Messe.
East vs. West
Tokyo is on the east side in the Kanto region, while Osaka is located on the west side of Japan in the Kansai region. These two regions, similar to America, each have their own characteristics and think they are the best. Tokyo feels very polished and refined, while Osaka is more raw and direct. This difference is noticeable when comparing various characteristics of each city, including their car cultures.
This year, Osaka was in a deep freeze, blanketed with snow when we arrived. It was Friday and as we made our way to the INTEX-Osaka convention center to attend the 21st year of Osaka Auto Messe. The lack of cars and people was surprising, but we didn't mind, as we didn't have to fight the crowds to get a good look of what Kanto tuners had to offer.
INTEX-Osaka is smaller than Makuhari-Messe and is spread out over six buildings. Attendance wise, Osaka Auto Messe receives about 220,000 visitors compared to Tokyo Auto Salon's 325,000 visitors. There are definitely more cars on display at Tokyo Auto Salon, but one should not discount the great cars on display during the Osaka Auto Messe.
Osaka Goes Big
People living in Kansai are known for their dialect, humor and hard work. This is why it was no surprise when we saw all of the working class cars that had been customized, which included vans, kei trucks and even a deco-truck.
Kei truck specialists included Sho Produce and Hello Special. Most of these kei trucks started out as work vehicles but now live the glamorous life. Some on display sported more a bosozoku style with small but wide wheels with stretched tires, crazy low, classic headlight and taillight swaps and of course, the trademark exhaust.
Like a Boss
The most noticeable style on hand was VIP. If you are a fan of VIP, this is the event to see. There were plenty of big dish wheels, air ride and custom stereos to keep any fan busy for the day. Shops like NBT Complete and Spark Fine had a fine display of old school Toyota Crowns and Centuries, but the Infiniti Q45 from BEECAS was the boss of all the bosses.
The exterior was wild, featuring one off bumpers, side skirts and fenders. As wild as the exterior was, the interior was even more so. In the passenger seat was a mannequin with monitors and speakers also watching a large in-dash monitor. The rear and trunk looked like the stage at The Robot Restaurant, while the door handles... well, let's just leave the doors open or closed.
C-HRs Take Over
This year's big news was the release of the Honda NSX, but it seemed that the new Toyota C-HR was this year's big noise maker. Released at the end of 2016, it didn't give tuners a lot of time to create parts in order to debut at Tokyo Auto Salon, but it did give enough time to debut at the Osaka Auto Messe.
Modellista, 326 Power and Black Pearl all debuted their C-HRs at the event. With all of the lines and angles that the C-HR has naturally, it provided a lot of design opportunities for aftermarket aero designers.
When Old is New
The last you may have heard of Bomex is from the early days of the Fast and Furious. Everyone should be pleased to know they are doing fine and are focusing on racing, including Super GT and Time Attack. They brought their GT Concept V001 to Auto Messe. Does the V001 mean they are planning to have triple digit versions of this car, or did they think it just sounds cool?
AP Garage also brought their new Porsche 996 turbo with the Old & New slant nose. In addition to the Porsche, in a completely different hall, was the AP Garage BMW E30. The standout feature had to be the quarter hood; whether we like it or not is still to be determined.
There were two surprises waiting for us as we walked the final hall. Off to the side was a bright Nissan 180SX by Neo-Pro promoting that it had a V8. Equipped with a 1UZ, nothing except the big sign in front would have let us know there was more to this car than the Rocket Bunny aero and the signature rear quarter window covers.
There was a special collection of classic Japanese cars including a Skyline Kenmeri, Toyota 2000GT, Cosmo Sport and more.
So, who does it better, Tokyo or Osaka?