With a total of 179,434 people in attendance, up from 126,869 in 2022, it’s safe to say the Tokyo Auto Salon is heading back towards its pre-pandemic self. With Japan’s borders fully opened in 2023, the biggest tuner shower in Japan welcomed foreign visitors for the first time since 2020. That’s three years of catching up to do all in the span of three days in mid January. It’s a good thing this year’s show was bigger and better than last year’s.
Check out the end of the post for extra angles of these gorgeous machines.
It was hard to avoid hearing the words ‘Liberty Walk’ at the Tokyo Auto Salon this year. It’s no surprise, as its star attraction this year was an F40 that it had cut up and put its trademark over fenders on. The original front cowl has been replaced with a GTE-look treatment, giving it extra canards and lip.
Originally a red car, at the last minute Liberty decided to wrap it white for the show. Before the grand unveiling, Kato-san gave an enamored speech about this car representing what he wants for Japan; a place where people have the liberty to do what they want to do. To be free to express themselves without fear of judgement, and most importantly, to have fun. He let his son, wearing a mask for privacy, do the finishing touches by cutting up the last part of the fender. The mask was also another metaphor, where 10 years ago his son wouldn’t have needed one in public — read into that how you will. He finished by saying Liberty Walk will keep doing what it’s doing, for better or for worse, and next year it’ll aim for an even more expensive car. As if the F40 wasn’t already expensive enough. It’s no surprise the Liberty Walk F40 walked away as the winner for the Import Car category this year.
All the Zs
One of the things I look forward to seeing at TAS is which will be the ‘hot new car’ all the tuners will focus on that year. Previously, it was the GR Yaris and GR86/BRZ, Jimny, and Supra. This year, unsurprisingly, it’s the new Z. It was hard to avoid seeing one, as almost every booth had its own spin on it. The absolute standout for me were the Veilside (yes, that Veilside) Z and the GReddy Pandem car. The Veilside was a creation with Fast and Furious actor Sung Kang who wanted a Z inspired by his character Han’s infamous RX-7. The GReddy Z with its Pandem kit blended retro and modern into an eye-catching and desirable package.
All the Zs
The usual suspects HKS and Top Secret also got their hands on a Z for some early stage tuning but expect some crazier and hardcore stuff to follow.
Not to be left out, the Nissan Automobile Technical College came up with their own spin on the new Fairlady with this ‘Fairlady X’. Based on a Nissan Murano with a new Z face and bum swap, it’s very much a tongue-in-cheek play on the rumours the 370Z replacement would be a crossover.
The front end treatment was done very well, the rear less so, but it was an admirable effort overall. It’s great to see students of some of Japan’s biggest OEMs being able to play around with their creativity and humor like this. It’s something the Toyota Technical College has done a lot in previous Auto Salons, too.
Another college that’s known for its wacky concepts is the Nihon Automobile College, or NATS for short. You’d be familiar with its previous concepts such as the Century Limousine from last year, the A90 Supra Convertible in 2020, and the Vellfire pickup in 2018. This year, NATS is back to the minivan base car with the Alphard Super Dually concept. If you follow NATS on Instagram, you can see the progress of the build — and it’s insane.
Starting off with an Alphard, complete with executive lounge ottomans, they’ve attached a whole truck bed to the back. The result is something quite gargantuan and rather out of place in Japan. However, I’ve maintained the Alphard is one of the best cars in the world, so perhaps this could be a good way for Toyota to ease people into it for the U.S. market. A luxury pickup with reclining rear seats — that’s a novelty.
Unparalleled GR86 GT4 Concept
Take one lightweight GR86 and add around $100,000 of modifications to it, and you’ll pretty much end up with this. Done by Unparalleled, a shop based north of Tokyo who do a lot of grassroots racing events, this GR86 GT4 Concept was made as a road and track ready weapon.
Unparalleled GR86 GT4 Concept
Stripping out the back — because who needs rear seats and trunk lining — to add a full roll cage with pink highlights, and replacing most of the exterior panels with Vortex carbon fibre pieces, has resulted in an 86 unlike any other. I really do like the subtle pink scattered around the build from the seatbelts to the tow hook. More pink in cars, please.
Inside the NATS Alphard
Inside the Unparalleled GR86 GT4 Concept
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