Trends & Highlights: Tokyo Auto Salon 2015
Being in constant amazement is tough on the psyche and walking the expansive Makuhari Messe for more than 16 hours over two days is tough on the legs, feet, and back. But the excitement of what might be in that next booth kept us marching on. We’ve come away with some insights into what’s trending in the JDM market - here are the trends & highlights from Tokyo Auto Salon 2015. The Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ and the Nissan GT-R are still the top dogs. You could write a book on the astounding R35s at the Salon. The Lexus RC F was the emerging star of the show. In a short time the RC F has penetrated the market as a performance platform and a VIP whip. BMW builds are far more popular than in previous Salons and we’ve seen a lot of Bavaria’s best on the roads in Tokyo. Vettes, especially the C7, are relevant. RV’s are stronger than before. There were some intense Prius builds and not as many modded Hondas compared to previous years. There seemed to be more separation between body aero and hard core performance parts - in that there were more aero-kitted, wheel-tucked rides with many only sporting mild engine mods. So expect that the stanced scene will continue to grow in America, perhaps with more wide body builds. TAS is all about the style of the build, not the make-up of the parts. On that front, JDM Swagger is alive and well. Along with capturing that JDM feel we should all also take the craftsmanship and attention to detail on display at the Salon to heart as we wrench on our own projects. On to the eye candy... Army Girl is an apparel company, but any booth with a pair of Rauh Welt Begriff Porsche 911s is sure to get our attention. Check out the massive lip on the Green car’s front wheel… a kid could crawl in there during a game of hide-and-seek. This matte black FD RX-7, nestled in the Garrett Turbochargers booth, will be one of three cars Big Mike will manhandle in drift series from America to Asia and beyond. The team is also constructing a Miata that will complete the triple threat. Whoa… this Mazda sports an extreme four-rotor Wankel engine. Can you say 26B? The TCP Magic built R26B engine is boosted by a pair of Garrett turbos, each with twin blow-off valves to enhance throttle response as Big Mike powerslides to glory. Visions of James Bond in You Only Live Twice were hard to fight off as we laid eyes on this pristine Toyota 2000GT. But the engine had an unmistakable Miata vibe to it. Turns out this is a kit car that can be ordered to accommodate the Miata engine, a VQ series V6, a Ford V6, or a 6.0-liter V8. This is the Japanese version of American Cobra kit cars. We’ll take a V8 roadster please. One of the crazy trends we noticed at the Salon is the extruding or etching of body panels. The grooving on this VIP style ride looks like it was stamped into the sheetmetal… a time consuming and highly skill-specific task. Gives new meaning to the term "body lines." The G-Drive booth wowed us with a stanced out Tesla. An Air Runner suspension put the slam on the sporty EV. The Prius is a surprisingly popular ride to modify in Japan. This sinister Prius was set up for drag racing which was quite a shock considering how green-thinking the car and the Japanese people are. The real slap in the face is under the hood; a buffed out small-block Chevy V8…carbureted no less. The most anti-ecology build at the Salon, the thing was caged and looked ready to make some passes. Booth Gals are a segment of the TAS in their own right. The models have rabid followings and are more photographed than many of the cars. There was some creepy use of zoom lenses going on… but who are we to judge.