The 2009 Tokyo Auto Salon kicked off last January 9 at the Makuhari Messe. Being the biggest custom car show in Japan, it attracted more than 600 car displays and dozens of exhibitors showcasing the latest in tuning and modifications.
Arguably the two hottest machines in the show were the world beating R35 Nissan GTR as well as the newly announced Nissan 370Z (Z34). Despite being barely two months old, several tuners were already on hand to display modifications done to the latest iteration of Nissan’s Z Car. Companies such as Fujitsubo, Sunline Racing, Impul, Cockpit, etc. all had their modified Z’s on display. Zele International had a pair of matching orange R35 GTR and Z34. The two cars were being sold by Zele in limited numbers as completely built, pre-tuned machines.
Also incredibly popular were Mitsubishi’s new Evolution X and Subaru’s STI. Several companies were on hand displaying modifications available for the two rally-bred machines. One of the more interesting Evos was the HKS CZ200S Evo X. It actually wasn’t part of the Auto Salon itself but was displayed outside rather inconspicuously. The white Evo barely had any graphics on it but a closer look revealed just how much HKS has been able to squeeze out of the current Evo. Just a week before the Auto Salon, HKS took the Evo to Tsukuba and with Super GT driver Nobuteru Taniguchi behind the wheel, the car was able to hit the 59+ second barrier, making it the fastest Evo X in Tsukuba.
The Hondas also made a large showing in TAS 2009. Honda Motors Corp. brought out its Fit and S2000 Modulo concept as well a FD Civic Type R Super Taikyu race car. Renowned Honda tuner J’s Racing brought out their Fit (Jazz) and a nice widebody AP1 S2000 designed to commemorate the model’s 10th anniversary. It’s hard to believe that the S2000 is already 10 years old, with countless companies still churning out parts and modifications for it. Arguably the most impressive Honda at this year’s event was the Mugen NSX RR Concept. Outfitted with a full Super GT style widebody kit, Mugen pulled out all the stops, even replacing the standard 3.2 liter NA engine with a 2.4 liter supercharged one.
This year’s Tokyo Auto Salon also featured an “Import Auto Salon”, a separate event catering to mostly non-Japanese vehicles. Popular European cars such as the BMW E92 M3, Porsche 911 series, as well as supercars from Mercedes and Audi were all on display. Some of the more outstanding cars included the ASI equipped widebody Bentley Continental GT, the Rauh-Welt flat black Porsche 930, and two diamond-encrusted Mercedes Benz SL series convertibles.
The Tokyo Auto Salon has traditionally been the place where new cars from the most talented and popular drifters were unveiled. This year was no different as two of the most anticipated new machines were unveiled for the first time. Nobushige Kumakubo of Team Orange showed off his RWD Evolution X for the first time. The car was able to give a few demonstration runs outside to the delight of the crowd. Takahiro Ueno of T&E unveiled his BMW E92 M3, complete with a full widebody kit from T&E’s Vertice Design series. The car was a distinct departure from Ueno’s usual bright red Toyota Soarer drift car. However it wasn’t entirely different as the BMW has had its original 4.0 V8 engine replaced with a 3.1L 2JZGTE engine, similar to the engine used in his previous Soarer.
With all the news about the global economy and the losses incurred by most major auto manufacturers, the 2009 edition of the Tokyo Auto Salon seemed to bring some sort of good news. As the automotive tuning and modification industry proved to be alive and well.