Now that I’ve given you guys a broad look at Wekfest LA 2013, it’s time to close out my coverage with a Spotlight-o-Rama featuring some of the most interesting cars from the show. The result of my hunt has brought a mix of clean street cars, mad stance machines and some cool engine swaps. Let’s begin with the RHD EG Civic pictured above.

With so many high quality Honda builds appearing at events like Wekfest, it can be hard find the cars that really stand out. But there was just something about this particular Civic that I really liked.

The car was in immaculate condition inside and out, and the right-hand-drive cockpit was set off with with a few cool details like a wood-rimmed Nardi steering wheel. I also like the use of the factory seats rather than aftermarket buckets. How can you not like those cool 1990s seat patterns?

The wheels on the EG were also quite special: 16-inch Desmond Regamaster Evos that have been custom-widened into some very aggressive sizes.

All in all, this Civic is a perfect example of the extreme attention to detail you find on so many cars at Wekfest. It was certainly one of my favorite Hondas of the day.

We’ll be sticking with the Honda theme for the next car – a CE1 Accord Wagon from the City Stars Crew. I might be slightly biased because I used to own one of these things, but the I absolutely love the long-roof version of the Accord.

Before I continue on with the Spotlight, just a little piece of trivia on this generation of Accord Wagon. Did you know that even the Japanese market versions of these car were actually assembled in Ohio before being exported to Japan and labeled as the ‘US Wagon’?

Anyway, this particular wagon was really built as a perfect cruiser. A set of old school Volk Racing mesh wheels are a fine choice to go with the 1990s style – although the fitment and stance are something that’s a little more contemporary.

Inside, a simple leather interior was complemented by a few small bits like another wood Nardi wheel and a classic bubble shift knob with Crown Royal boot.

Good style, tons of room for passengers or parts hauling, and bulletproof Honda reliability – it’s not hard to see why the Accord Wagon makes such a good daily driver. I’d love to have another someday.

I know some of you guys have expressed concern over the lack of Toyota MR2s on Speedhunters, so when I saw this Nevada-based SW20 I knew it was the perfect chance to do something about that.

Then again, the car was cool enough on its own merits to warrant a spotlight. In my eye this example seemed to have the perfect balance of aesthetic and performance modifications.

It was also in fantastic cosmetic shape, as evidenced by this view of the cockpit.

As for wheels. the car was equipped with a set of staggered Work Emotion XD9s – a perfect match for the subtle body upgrades and hunkered-down stance.

There you have it – some much needed Speedhunters MR2 love. I suppose the fact that an awesome mid-engined turbo sports car is somewhat ‘overlooked’ really shows just how good Toyota was back in the ’90s.

Next up, we have a car that just might incite some colorful conversation in the comments section. In fact, it almost seems like that may have been the intention with this build.

And whether you love it or hate it, the BMW Z4 from the Low ‘N Slow Crew certainly stops people in its tracks. If there was a negative camber award at Wekfest, this car would have taken it home.

I do have to say that the sweeping body lines of the Z4 are actually a pretty good match for this sort of cartoonish ride height and wheel fitment.

Just look at the way the fenders literally sit on top of the Work Schwert SC2 wheels. Whoa.

Before you go nuts over the nonfunctional suspension setup remember that the car does have “Low ‘N Slow” written down the side of it after all.

Moving in another direction now, we have a car that was clearly built for a little more than just looking pretty on the grass. From a distance it looks like a nice clean example of a first generation RX-7…

… but then you look under the hood and see that the car is powered not by a rotary, but a Honda F20C from an S2000.

To be honest, I’d never really thought about how good of a combination the SA22C and a high revving VTEC powerplant would be. After seeing this car, it all makes sense.

Besides the requisite S2000 instrument cluster, I also really liked how the owner fitted a vintage Mugen steering wheel – just to further throw people off when they peek inside.

So yes, contrary to the beliefs of some commenters there were plenty of cars at Wekfest that were about more than just aesthetics.

Last but not least we have one of the coolest and most unique cars in the entire show. Actually, it’s not even a car but a first generation Honda Odyssey built by Fast Eddie’s Racing.

From certain angles the van looks like your typical cruiser, but the looks are really just scratching the surface of what this minivan is all about.

Sure, there are cool style details like a set of 1990s-era Racing Hart wheels, but you have to look at the engine bay to really see where the magic is.

Under the hood, you’ll find a Honda H22 swap – but not just any H22. This motor has a totally trick reverse head setup based on the Honda Accord touring cars of the 1990s. The front-facing individual throttle bodies really make for a strange response when peo0ple walk by.

So there you have it – a little sampling of the kind of machines found at Wekfest LA. Some were built to go fast, some were built raise eyebrows and some were built to do both.


Mike Garrett




source: speedhunters


When I got the memo asking whether I could start putting together a project story for the site every month, I got pretty excited. Why? Because many years ago (at least six or seven at a guess) I took a chance on a rather sorry-looking ’83 AE86 hatch. The Toyota had been exported from Japan to New Zealand in the early ’90s and since then had changed hands multiple times and racked up hundreds of thousands of kilometers. Although I already had a couple more AE86s in my garage at the time (call me greedy!), they were both JDM import Levins GT-Vs, and I had always longed for a JDM pop-up headlight Trueno in GT Apex spec.

My original idea was to build an Initial D-style car – not so much an inch-perfect replica like the car that Mike showed us the other day – but simply a stock-bodied AE86 finished in panda paint scheme and sitting on a set of gunmetal Watanabe wheels. The classic AE86 combo, if you like.

Of course, there were plans for modifications too. I wasn’t interested in building a drift car, but more of a fun street car that was set up to go, turn and stop equally well. Right from the start I resigned myself to using as many Japan-sourced aftermarket parts as I could, and where possible encompassing trends from my favourite era of Japanese performance tuning: the early-to-mid ’90s.

I got a little way down the road with the project but then other stuff called, like paying a mortgage, and appeasing my long-suffering missus by remodeling our home. Turns out there’s only so long you can store your collection of 114.3mm old school wheels in the bath tub! But if I thought restoring a 30-year old was an expensive enough challenge, my 80-something-year-old house well and truly taught me otherwise!

Suffice to say, up until a couple a months ago when we finally pulled the covers back off the car, the Trueno had been sitting idle for a long time. But given that the car is exactly 30 years old this year, now is time to right that wrong and get the car finished and back on the road where it belongs. But before I delve into the work that’s been completed thus far, I thought it would be a good idea to show you exactly what I’m working with. As I’m sure you can tell from the pictures above, which were taken when I first picked up the car after purchasing it sight unseen, the exterior wasn’t in a very good way at all. In keeping with that, neither was any other aspect of the car…

Apparently the 86′s factory engine had been just rebuilt and only run for a few hours, but I’m not so sure. The condition of the 4A-GE didn’t really matter though as I had already planned on piecing together another one based on a latter AE92-spec small-port head/seven-rib block engine. I’ll have more on that build in an upcoming post.

It’s often said that less is more, but I really wish that the previous owner hadn’t done this to the interior. He told me that he was planning to rally the car (hence the rally ride height and tyres), and therefore set about stripping and binning the interior in preparation for a roll cage which never eventuated. The good news is, I’ve been able to find all the bits needed to get the front part of the interior back up to its oh-so-’80s burnt red and chocolate brown factory spec, including a pair of the correct door cards without aftermarket speakers holes hacked into them. Believe me, that’s not been easy!

While the car obviously never saw a proper rally stage, it was thrashed up and down a hedge-lined gravel driveway, which goes some way to explaining the multiple scuffs and scrapes that ran the length of the bodywork. As dirty as it looked though, once all the dust and mud was washed away, I was very pleased to find a rust-free boot cavity and no signs of any previous rear-enders. Surprisingly, it still had its original wheel jack intact too!

As I thought it might – or at least hoped it might – although the AE86 looked rough on the outside (and inside), beneath its dulled and oxidized red paint, dents and scratches seemed to be a pretty honest car with no previous real damage. That’s something that we were able to confirm later at the body shop, where digital tools were used to accurately check all of its underbody measurements. The perfect starting point for a restoration? Well, not quite, but for the money I paid it was definitely close enough for me to bite the bullet and get the project under way.

And so a gratuitous spending frenzy ensued. It started off innocently enough with a phone call to Toyota New Zealand to see what new parts were still available for the AE86 ex-Japan. Turns out there was quite a lot…

Of course, it all added up quite quickly and before I knew it I had spent more of my savings on new OE parts than I had on buying the car in the first place! But that’s okay though. When the project is finally finished I think it’ll be the little details, like brand new lights on every corner, that’ll really make the car.

Not everything I’ve purchased has been new though. I was pretty to happy to find this hard-to-find little device along the way too, and in New Zealand even. A’PEXi never made a Power FC specifically for the AE86′s 4A-GE, but its specialist offshoot AP Engineering did.

Body-wise, Toyota New Zealand was able to supply me with every bolt-on panel except the two front fenders. However, a couple months spent scouring Yahoo Auctions turned up a mint example for each side, which were fitted up to the body (along with the new hood, new doors and new rear hatch) to make sure everything lined up nicely. As you’ll be able to tell from this shot, outer rear three-quarter panels were also on Toyota’s inventory, so I made the call to have both outers replaced. I was happy I did too, because removing the outer fender revealed a bit of rust on the edge of the inner fender, which was able to be taken care of before the panel was welded back on, along with a new rear tail light panel too.

Immediately the car went from looking all beat up and bent like this…

… to this, courtesy of Auckland body shop Westside Panelbeaters.

Before any welding happened though, I decided to paint the inside of the fenders. Why? Because rather than try and piece back the original interior in the rear of the car, I’ve decided to keep this end stripped bare. In keeping with the ’90s Japanese street theme, a Safety 21 bolt-in roll bar – which I’m well aware holds no real safety merit –  will fill some of the void. It should look pretty clean in here once it’s all white and shiny.

Even though getting the bodywork back in shape wasn’t a cheap exercise, I definitely feel that it was money well spent. Japanese cars from the early ’80s aren’t renowned for their resistance to rust – at least where I live anyway – so knowing that there’ll be no horrible surprises in that department any time soon is good peace of mind.

So this is what I’m working with, or at least it was a month or so back. Although I think the Trueno will end up largely the way that I first envisaged it would, some of my ideas have changed along the way, and some details are still yet to be decided. So I’m kind of excited to see how it all pans out in the end. What would you do if you were in my shoes?

There’s a bit more primer to lay and some final prep work to be done before I drop out the front crossmember and suspension, and detach the entire rear end. Then it’ll be off into the booth. I know it’ll be a good feeling to finally have it back home and wearing a brand new coat of paint. But more on that next month!


Brad Lord


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source: speedhunters


It’s time to dedicate a bit of time to the true tuner cars that were dotted around the vastness that was the Tokyo Auto Salon this year. Performance is the name of the game here and if there is a bit of style thrown in for good measure you can rest assured it’s all driven by functionality. Ever since my first TAS I have always started shooting show from the RE-Amemiya booth. If you enter the Makuhari Messe from the parking lot side of the the exhibition centre the rotary tuner’s stand is the first one you will find and always a great spot to get started from as “Ama-san” always seems to surprise.

He swore that last year’s NA Super 7 would be his final full-blown conversion based on the FD and most assumed this meant no more wild cars from him all together, but of course that is just not going to happen, not from Amemiya-san! Instead he used an old Lotus Europa project he started years ago and decided to finish it. The result is this FD-faced, 911-headlight wearing, Lotus hybrid creation thing. It’s strange and cool at the same time and if the looks don’t do it for you then what is under the engine cover should…

…because this vintage Lotus chassis is powered by an NA 20B!

Kei cars have always made the streets of Japan all the more unique, and it’s been a while since a new yellow-plated car has been such a hit with tuning shops. The Honda N-One, which borrows its retro-ish front design from the Honda N360, is obviously the Kei car of 2013 and there were lots of modified versions around like this particular example built by Endless and running their compact 6-pot front calipers.

As you probably saw in our team spotlight-o-rama post Mugen came up with the coolest one of the lot but I also like the Blitz one, slammed on a set of BRW Profile 16-inch rims, matte black of course to match the grille and blacked out headlights. It will be cool to see what kind of engine tuning parts will be developed for this car.

I have a feature coming of the Pit Road M Mitsubishi GTO, so I won’t say much except it’s one of wildest GTO’s ever built.

Phoenix’s Power has established itself as one of the must-go-to shops for R35 upgrades. On top of a ton of bolt on goodies they will cater to your every need…

…including shipping your car to Italy so it can participate at the Option Magazine organized Nardo’ top speed challenge later in the year. That’s exactly where this 1200 HP customer R35 has been sent off to today! Sounds like a cool event!

Art Tech Hanatsuka may not be the most well known name in JDM tuning but since having surfaced at a few other events in the last few years it has quickly stood out for coming up with some cool cars, much like this awesome Z-tune kitted BNR34. I really must make the trek up to Tochigi and shoot this beast!

There was plenty on show at the RH9 area, like the T-get san-yon above and the Marche BRZ.

We will be seeing more of the HKS Kansai Service R35 track car at the Premium Day at the end of the month but I thought I’d show you at least one picture of this awesomely tuned GT-R. It’s hard not to like the 20-inch white Yokohama RCs

Unlike SEMA there were only a few of GT-Rs wearing the BenSopra kit at TAS, but seeing it painted in yellow and fitted to a JUN customer car certainly gave it a very different feel to the white and bronze demo cars that BenSopra had on show last year.

I know I keep saying this, but if Mizuno-san and his team at Nissan don’t make a limited edition version GT-R wearing a GT-3 inspired widebody…

…they will have failed the GT-R brand as a whole. The “R” in the GT-R stands for “racing” and aside from a sort of failed attempt with the SpecV I feel every version of the GT-R has been too much “GT” oriented. So more “R” means a more spartan interior, half a roll cage…

…and of course slight blisters around the fenders as well as race inspired styling. Hell even RWD to make it more like the race car! It’s what Porsche does with the GT3 and the GT3 RS, or the GT2 and GT2 RS so Nissan PLEASE, this is something you have to do.  Maybe the soon to be opened, all-new Nismo might be able to give a few ideas!

I mean come on, even a Suzuki Twin comes in an RS version…thanks to Ducks-Garden.

Impulse as ever had some impressive AE86s on display like this spotless street example…

…running a highly tuned 4AG.

More cool Kei car tuning thanks to Prest with this Mira slammed on a set of green Meisters.

Garage G-Force has worked wonders with the CZ4A and the 4B11 that powers it. On top of building the fastest time attack Evo X in Japan, it has recently put the finishing touches to this more street oriented car. Highlights include a 500+ HP tune, SST dual-clutch transmission for everyday drivability and a set of the brand new Volk Racing TE37RTs.

These “Rigid Tuned” rims are actually 16 grams heavier than the popular TE37SL but 6% stiffer for better performance all round. These wheels will initially be available in red but more colors will follow.

They were also joined by the TE37TTA “Tokyo Time Attack” which now feature a machined Volk Racing logo, a great way to make it harder for suspect companies to copy the real thing.

Joining the top of the line forged monoblock Volk Racing wheel are the more affordable cast Gram Lights with this new 20-inch 57FXX wheel…

…as well as the multi spoke Volk G25s which were a big hit with tuner cars last year.

Now here is a car that really made me smile. Built in Italy by Team Ciociaro Corse this racing Fiat 500 shares only a few parts with the actual car it’s based on…

…as it’s built around a bespoke tubular frame chassis, FRP removable body…

…and powered by an Aprilia RSV4 V-4 bike motor. It kind of reminded me of the Mini Quattro I shot at Gatebil! What an awesome little car!

There are no doubts that the BenSopra 380SX stole the show this year, much like their GT-R did in 2012. The project has been put together by Ueta-san in order to compete in the Option top speed challenge in Nardo’. On top of an all-new aero created for BenSopra by our good friend Miura-san of TRA Kyoto…

…Ueta-san and his mechanic made sure that it would have enough power to reach their goal of getting as close as possible to the 400 km/h mark (248 mph). More on this car soon.

Another 180SX that really stood out at the Option area in the North hall was this beautifully widened example built by Spirit and sitting on a set of Work Meisters…

…with plenty of aggressive offset. It looked especially good form the rear!

The 13B is renowned for requiring regular and at times expensive maintenance, not to mention having questionable reliability when highly tuned. So, for a dedicated drift car a more reliable option may be a better choice…

…as this Sexy Knights, Chiba Damashi team FD shows with its 2JZ swap.

For those into Honda, and in particular S2000s there were certainly some pretty inspiring cars to feast one’s eyes on starting off with this carbon masterpiece built by J’s Racing.

Under the hood this AP1 sports a 2.4L bottom end and a highly tuned head good for 320 HP.

Check out the rear view of the J’s Racing GT widebody conversion! Plenty of aero to keep this beast glued to the track.

Not too far from the orange carpeted Option and Option 2 areas was this Racing Factory S2000, a little more street-oriented than the J’s Racing demo car…

…but with plenty of attention having been given to the performance side of things too.

And to finish up a this third S2000 built in collaboration with Evasive Motorsports, running Gram Lights 57Xtreme and a superb aero package that gives the car a very modern feel.

Next up from Tokyo Auto Salon will be a look at the VIP and Vans side of things, a very important part and growing aspect of the show. Make sure you check back soon!


Tokyo Auto Salon 2013 coverage on Speedhunters


-Dino Dalle Carbonare




source: speedhunters


My favorite event ever.

I suppose that’s a strong statement considering how many great automotive gatherings I’ve had the pleasure to visit, but if someone asks me what my single favorite event is I’d easily answer with “the JCCA New Year Meeting”.

There are so many different words I could use to describe the New Year Meeting experience, but I think the best one is “overwhelming”. I mean overwhelming in its most positive form. Too many amazing sights and sounds for the mind to process. The New Year Meeting spans the course seven hours, but if I had my way it would last seven days.

And I don’t mean that just in the sense that the event is good, but in the literal sense that a one day is not nearly enough time to see everything the New Year Meeting has to offer. There are just so many different sides to this gathering. So many storylines in this vintage automotive opera in the middle of Tokyo Bay.

I think most of the regular attendees come to the New Year Meeting for a specific purpose. Some come to see rare foreign and exotic classics. Some come to hunt for parts and collectables in the swap meet, some come only to cruise and hang with their buddies in the parking lot.

For a wide-eyed Yankee like myself though, it’s almost too good. 2013 marks my fourth New Year Meeting experience and it just gets better each year. Where do I even start?

As I learned when I attended this event for the first time several years ago, the parking lot is just as good if not better than the show itself. This year I decided I’d head straight to the parking lot upon arriving at Odaiba in the morning.

The main gates of the show hadn’t even opened yet and already the lot was jammed full of exciting machinery. I think many of these cars gathered before dawn to make the trek down to the Odaiba, or perhaps they headed here right after a night of street running?

Whatever the case, the New Year Meeting parking lots are unbelievably awesome. Every sect of Japan’s vintage car scene can be seen here, from full-on works replicas like this flared Mazda Savanna.

…to impossibly low street machines like this Z10 Toyota Soarer – a perennial favorite of the shakotanists. While there were very few of these cars within the main JCCA show, the parking lot was brimming with them.

“Sexy Night”, proclaims the windshield banner of this Celica XX kaido racer in full competition colors.

70 chassis Corolla? Plenty of those too. This sedan was looking very tasty dumped low on Equip 03s. Ready for battle.

Of course the S30 Fairlady Z could also be found in every style imaginable. I wanted to salute this Ibaraki-based kaido racer style ZG with its stars and stripes paint work.

Meanwhile, this stunningly beautiful Z432 presents a completely different take on the S30. I especially like the modest, works-inspired front chin spoiler.

If I had time I could do several posts full of nothing but Hakosuka Skylines. Hiking around the Odaiba area on Sunday, you’d encounter everything from fully restored GT-Rs and tough looking street replicas…

…to mind blowing kaido racers like frame-dragging Shinshi Racing KGC10 on its dramatically widened steel wheels. Scrape scrape!

I certainly wasn’t the only one hunting around for cool cars in the parking lot. The Ebina Racing 910 Bluebird was stopping everyone that walked by it. As you can see, it’s been built as a rather convincing replica of the Autobacs Super Silhouette racer from the early ’80s.

Corolla perfection. Not only did this 70 sedan have the style down, it was so clean you could eat off it. Unbelievable.

Of course the New Year Meeting isn’t just about Japanese cars. Vintage imports of every type could be found mixed among the sea of domestic vehicles. Here’s a beautiful Lancia Fulvia HF I stumbled across.

Elsewhere I caught this ’70 Road Runner sporting a pretty wicked stance. The Kawasaki number plates proudly state the cubic inch displacement of its big block Mopar V8.

Speaking of rumbling V8s, at one point I was walking down the street and heard the distinctive song of a Ford small block winding up. I turned just in time to catch this ’67 Shelby GT350 disappearing into the afternoon sun. Sensory overload.

Yes. All that, and we haven’t even gotten inside the actual show yet…

By early afternoon I finally headed inside the gates and joined the massive crowd of people enjoying the “official” New Year Meeting

While there are plenty of amazing cars that enter the show every year, the big crowds and the tightly packed spaces don’t make for the most ideal photographic conditions. I wandered the rows for a bit and shot what I could, then headed for one of the greatest parts of the event…

…the fleet market and vendor booth areas. After past year’s experiences I’ve learned to keep my wallet light at the New Year Meeting or risk blowing my entire trip budget on car parts or other rare goodies.

Of course even if I did bite the bullet for a set of wheels, over fenders, or something else, the logistics of getting them back to my garage in the states would be another challenge entirely. Maybe I should be thankful for that?

Oh sweet temptation. I’m not even going to talk about how cheap some of these wheels were compared to what they sell for in the US because I’d just regret not buying a set even more…

Then again there were plenty of lighter, less expensive things to blow money on as well. Vintage model kits anyone?

Steering wheels too. More of them than you can imagine.

Speaking of steering wheels, the Datsun Compe wheel is a legendary piece among classic Nissan owners. Peek inside any properly done S30 or Hakosuka and there’s a good chance you’ll see this wheel.

I’m a sucker for old magazines, so there was a lot to like here…

Again it became an issue of time. I could have spent hours just digging through these boxes of mags, but then I wouldn’t have had time to photograph any actual cars…

The same goes for the thousands of rare diecast cars being sold by various shops and individuals. I felt like I could have spent days hunting through these things. I did end up buying a few though, which I’ll share with you guys sometime later.

Stickers! I quite liked these Ossan (old man) and Niisan (older brother) decals. Fitting, given the type of cars we are talking about here.

With so much to see and so little time, I’d be completely happy if I woke up in a Bill Murray Groundhog Day scenario where every day was the JCCA New Year Meeting. Unfortunately when I woke up this morning in my hotel it was just another Monday….

No worries though. Lots more to come from Odaiba.





source: speedhunters


Ever since running across Nagano-san and his creations at past Nagoya Exciting Car Showdowns, I’ve been wanting to drop by his workshop in the outskirts of Kyoto for quite some time. It’s hard to put a finger on it all but Paint & Cutting Make Nagano Koubou has been extremely influential in creating the very unique Kansai drift flavor we have seen over the last few years on a lot of cars.

Nagano Koubou primarily deals with the aesthetics of a car, so the selection and preparation of body parts, the fitting and molding or modifying, and finally the painting of course. But for a one-manned body shop this little garage has churned out some pretty wild and recognizable cars…

…some of which happened to be parked outside when we stopped by. The Rose Bud Onevia…

…and the green S13 next to it are two dorisha that we are all very familiar with, built to not only showcase the unique style of Nagano-san…

…but to be used hard at local drift tracks like Meihan.  Sitting extremely low and sporting riveted on overfenders they both manage to exhibit a very 90′s inspired style spiced up with some modern stylistic touches.

Nagano-san lifted the hood open on the Onevia to give an idea of the amount of work that has gone into turning this into a very capable slider. But we won’t get into all of that quite yet, you will have to wait for a feature on the car to indulge in its rough yet purposeful drift set up. It’s the shop we are here to see now…

…so let’s continue on with our little tour. Outside the garage, which is located right at the bottom of a dead-end street, there are countless cars sitting there either waiting for a full make over or in to get a little bit of touch up work done. There are tons of used tires stacked up along with old and damaged bits of aero, all waiting to be picked up and disposed of.

As I head inside the actual workshop itself, it’s the details that I am drawn to like the old pictures on the walls of the old projects that Nagano-san worked on which include his old Civic kanjo racer, one of the most popular cars to race back years ago in this particular area of Kansai. Actually TRA Kyoto and Miura-san, another ex-kanjo racer, is only a five-minute drive from Nagano Koubou.

No self-respecting workshop would be without a sticker bombed fridge…

…or tool cabinet!

During our visit Nagano-san was in the process of prepping an aero kit for a customer’s Soarer…

…which would soon be receiving a bit of a make over.

A souped up Radio Flyer always comes in handy!

For any painter and creator of new styles his workbench is probably the most important are of his shop. This is where custom colors and finishes get mixed and devised…

…before being applied by hand with one of these little gadgets.

Nagano-san of course doesn’t limit himself to any particular style, in fact as of late – like a lot of shops in Japan – has begun embracing the more USDM influence that has been steadily flowing into Japan, from the whole stance movement to its various interpretations.

He actually had a customer’s imported Scion bB in for some work…

…serving as a good example of what other type of projects he is involved in.

But there is only so much one can take in from visiting a body shop like Paint & Cutting Make Nagano Koubou, as his creations would speak far louder than any behind the scenes look into his activity. So, to do just that…

…you can expect a feature on one of his latest projects, a Onevia that perfectly illustrates the continuous fusion of styles that is occurring right now in Japan.  So I leave you with a few desktops for now, but don’t forget to check back shortly for a detailed look at this very pink S13!


Paint & Cutting Make Nagano Koubou

Nagoya Exciting Car Showdown Coverage 2013


Dino Dalle Carbonare




source: speedhunters


You may remember that I featured a very special and unique Ferrari F40 around this time last year. I titled that feature ‘An afternoon with a legend‘ – a rather fitting choice of words I thought, considering my particular infatuation with Ferrari’s rawest ever street car. Today, at Suzuka circuit, I counted a total of 12 F40s, three 288 GT0s, three F50s, three Enzos and eight 599 GTOs…shall I keep going?

But this being Japan, and today’s event being the first day of the Ferrari Racing Days, such a mouthwatering turnout was to be expected.

Tomorrow will actually be the main day, but there was no way I was going to hit the sack without sharing some of the awesomeness I witnessed today. On top of these sort of views in the paddock…

… were views of practice and the first qualifying session of the Asia Pacific Challenge series.

This international mix of 458 Challenge drivers will be pitching their race cars against each other…

and a very special guest…

… who will starting from the very last place on the grid and attempting to work his way up towards P1. Any ideas who it might be?

Ferrari Japan has done an incredible job putting this event together.

No matter if you are a die-hard Cavallino enthusiast…

… or just there to enjoy the sights and sounds of some of Ferrari’s rarest limited edition creations.

These privately owned cars were neatly lined up in the paddock for everyone to see and enjoy…

… but Ferrari had also prepared a variety of display areas inside the pits, like this beautifully-lit selection.

Unfortunately Ferrari’s latest hypercar, LaFerrari, wasn’t present, but the official launch video was being projected onto a big screen in one of the pits.

Seeing that Ferrari’s history hadn’t been forgotten was a very welcome surprise. Cars like this 1957 250GT Tour De France…

… sat along side other greats, like the 1967 375GTB/4 Daytona.

Ferrari is attempting to create a stronger and more accessible bond with its fans, and allowing them to get up-close-and-personal with its current line up is a great way to show everyone first hand what Ferrari design and quality is all about. Its latest front engined V12 beast, the F12 Berlinetta, which represents the true essence of modern day Ferraris, was one of the cars that people could check out.

It was probably by mid-afternoon that the action on track intensified. In between the various Challenge practice sessions…

… Ferrari Japan’s own press fleet was used to give lucky fans a quick spin around Suzuka.

Customers that had signed up for the soukoukai session had a chance to drive their cars hard…

… but no matter how good of a driver you are, you should always remember to warm up your tires first. This 599 GTO ended up in the kitty litter in its out lap, understeering out from the “S” curves. Luckily no damage was done.

In a closed-off pit four FXXs were being prepped for their short outing on track tomorrow. I can’t wait to hear their unbridled V12 engines scream down the Suzuka straight at full noise!

The Challenge series continued to race right until 6pm tonight…

… the drivers attempting to string together a fast lap during the first qualifying session of the weekend. With the possibility of rain for tomorrow’s final qualifier, getting a good time today was a must.

Shooting at tracks up and down Japan almost on a weekly basis sort of tones down your enthusiasm for the cars you get to see. But today was very different. Seeing all these cars lined up…

… and then blasting around Suzuka really put a smile on my face. Talk about a once in a lifetime opportunity. Which I why I am still up at 2am putting this post together…

… so I could share this first selection of images from the unique day with you. A day where I found a little slice of Italy right in the middle of Japan.

I’ll be back soon with more from Suzuka, but in the meantime make sure you download some of the desktops below.


Dino Dalle Carbonare



source: speedhunters


Nestled in the hills of Japan’s scenic Gunma Prefecture lies a car museum unlike any other I’ve ever seen. Actually, to even call this place a “car museum” is to understate just what you’ll find here. A visit to the M. Yokota Museum is like taking a trip back to a different era, and the exquisite selection of vintage Japanese cars is only one part of the experience.

I’d seen snippets about the place online over the years, but on my most recent Japan trip I was determined to see the museum for myself. Those images of Yokota’s race car collection alone were enough to put it high on my 2013 winter to-do list.

So one morning my wife and I hopped on a train at Tokyo’s Ueno station and made our way out of the city and toward the countryside of Gunma.

After a two-hour train journey and a short bus ride from the Shibukawa station, we arrived at the destination. The building’s architecture was interesting to say the least.

It’s certainly not something you expect to see on the side of a road in rural Japan.

But enough about the outside. It’s what’s inside that counts, right? Being a Speedhunter, it was of course the collection of vintage cars that brought me here – but the The Yokota Museum is so much more.

In fact, the official name of the place is the “Ikaho Toy, Doll, and Classic Car Museum” and even that doesn’t properly sum up the fascinating and sometimes strange world that’s found inside.

More than anything, the museum pays homage to post-war Japanese culture – the automobiles, toys and dolls are the artifacts used to bring the past back to life.

The entire place is full of items that call back to Japan of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

From vintage movie posters…

…to photographic tributes to the country’s long line of pop singers and teen idols.

Along with so many other things that tell the story of Japan’s rise from post-war gloom to becoming the economic, technological, and cultural powerhouse it is today.

But how exactly did the Yokota Museum come to be? What’s the story behind this nostalgic wonderland in the hills of Gunma?

It’s all the work of Mr. Masahiro Yokota, a carpenter originally hailing from a poor working class background. After mastering his craft  he was able to have a very successful career as a house builder working during Japan’s massive economic boom of the 1980s.

And while he was able to achieve financial prosperity through his career, he never felt fully satisfied. The money was there, but he really wanted to do something that made people happy. After traveling the world and seeing how the economic landscape was shifting in the United States and Europe, he knew Japan’s bubble economy was going to burst.

So in 1994 Yokota-san decided to take a leap of faith. He left his building career behind and created this toy and doll museum.

During his years of tearing down old houses and building new ones, he started to amass a big collection of unwanted toys. He felt bad seeing them thrown away, and it was this collection that became the starting point for the museum. But more than just a display of old toys, he wanted the museum to speak of the era in which they were manufactured and used.

This was actually a bit of a risky proposition. At the time, there wasn’t a whole lot of nostalgia for the Showa period, so the idea of a “modern” museum with toys artifacts from the last couple of decades was unheard of.  Not to mention, Japan’s economic bubble had in fact collapsed, just as Yokota-san feared.

But it turns out there was a demand to travel back to this not-so-ancient period of Japanese history. Perhaps it was actually good timing. Maybe the tough economic times of the ’90s had people yearning to return to a simpler and more optimistic era?

Whatever the case, people from all over Japan were soon coming to Gunma to see Yokota-san’s new museum. He was soon on his way to paying off the massive bank loan he’d taken out to construct and run the museum. More importantly though, he had accomplished his goal of building something that put a smile on people’s faces.

Of course, for me it was automobiles the brought me here in the first place, but to be honest I found the toys and other bits of nostalgia just as interesting.

While I can appreciate an ancient temple or traditional Japanese garden as much anyone, it’s really Japan’s more recent contributions to history that led me to fall in love with the country. In that sense, the Yokota Museum is an absolutely fantastic place.

But what about the cars? Well, they actually enter the picture a bit later in the museum’s history. Yokota-san had always been a gearhead, and has owned hundreds of motorcycles. During the height of his business success he drove Ferraris, Porsches, and other high end import cars that were rampant on Tokyo’s streets during the boom years.

And while he loved these bikes and exotic imports, he’d never paid much attention to the automotive contributions in his own country.

But that all changed when he was in Yokohama one day and first laid eyes on the iconic Toyota 2000GT. He’d heard of the car as a young man, but it wasn’t until much later in life that he actually had the chance to see one in the flesh. It was love at first sight. A beautiful, timeless automobile designed and built in Japan.

His encounter with the 2000GT ignited a huge passion for Japanese kyusha, and soon his collection was growing to include a number of legendary domestic vehicles from the ’60s and ’70s.

Not only had he fallen in love with these vintage machines, but they served as perfect addition to the museum. A perfect complement to the assortment of Showa era nostalgia he’d already assembled.

So in 2004 the classic car section of the museum was officially opened with a group of 70 hand-picked and fully-restored vintage cars. Yokota-san had already found an enjoyable and rewarding way to share his passion for vintage for Japan with the public, and the process of collecting and restoring these cars made things that much better.

The cars in the collection have all been restored with painstaking authenticity. Everything from the original gauges to the period correct bias-ply tires have been accounted for.

While the majority of the cars in the museum are street models, a number of race cars feature in the mix, too.

There’s some mouth-watering machinery on display, but I’ll wait until the next post to dig into the cars in detail.

One thing that’s especially cool about the car displays is the way they’re accompanied by artifacts from the period they were built.

Sometimes it’s as simple as factory brochures and old model kits…

…or promotional items like this cool Toyota 2000GT-branded hand bag.

Some of the other displays are even more thorough – here’s a tire rack loaded up with vintage rubber for example.

And in another corner, a shelf packed with steering wheels, mirrors, hub caps, and many other cool old car parts.

Check out these S30 Fairlady Z coil springs from Race & Street Service Toyoshima. To quote the English motto written on the front of the box: “The most revolutionary advance since the invention of the suspension. It’s a power and balance experience. We have been producing inquiry suspension for new generation. Who could ask for anything more?”

Promotional models, diecast toys, old car magazines – it all makes for so much more than just a collection of old cars.

With the continued success of the museum over the years, the facility has expanded to include a teddy bear museum, as well as chocolate and wine museum…

…which includes this bartender of the future. Admission to all of the displays are part of the modest 1,050 yen (about $10) admission fee.

There’s even an outdoor area that includes a squirrel habitat. To use the old cliche, it’s fun for the whole family.

It also happens that the squirrel area sits directly across from Yokota-san’s Ferrari F40. A bit surreal, but it’s all part of the experience.

The Yokota Museum made me nostalgic for a time and place decades before and half a world away from my own youth – something I’d say speaks of its effectiveness.  Judging by the young and old faces I also saw enjoying the vintage atmosphere, it’s safe to say Masahiro Yokota’s dream has become a reality.

Next time I’ll return with a closer look at the machinery that calls the Yokota Museum home.

Mike Garrett


source: speedhunters

All-New 2014 Lexus IS Debuted at the 2013 NAIAS

Lexus has officially revealed the next-generation Lexus IS at the 2013 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).  For 2014, the all-new Lexus IS will be offered in IS 250, IS 350 along with F SPORT model and the first IS Hybrid model- the IS 300h. The IS hybrid will be available in Europe, Japan and other international markets.

With the all-new Lexus IS, every feature has been engineered with a new focus on connecting performance, handling and response of the vehicle to driver input and onion.  According to Lexus, the whole development of the all-new IS has been adopted with a completely different attitude targeting the driving performance along with the new bold design accommodating that new attitude.  The all-new Lexus IS design includes a new, powerfully articulated headlamp cluster design with Lexus’ trademark, L-shaped Daytime Running Lights (DRL) located independently below.


The all-new Lexus IS 250 is powered by a 2.5-L V-6 engine and the IS 350 is powered by a 3.5-L V6 engine.  The Lexus IS 300h uses the Lexus Hybrid Drive powertrain, based on a newly developed 2.5L Atkinson-cycle engine.  The Lexus IS 350 is equipped the 8-speed Sport Direct Shift (SPDS) automatic transmission inherited from the IS F with faster shifts, full torque converter lockup and throttle blips when in manual mode.

The new Lexus IS comes with the Drive Mode Select system offering up to four switchable driving modes: ECO, NORMAL, SPORT and SPORT S+, S+ is available only on the IS 350.

The Lexus IS F SPORT model is characterized by the exclusive spindle front grille, bumper and unique 18-inch alloys wheels designed inspired by the LFA.  Interior, it is differentiated by having F SPORT parts including shift knob, steering wheel, aluminum pedals along with scuff plates with the Lexus logo.


source: japanesesportcar

KIDNEY, ANYONE? Belatrix Yellow 1967 Toyota 2000GT

1967 Toyota 2000GT belatrix yellow 01

This 1967 Toyota 2000GT is expected to fetch $650,000 to $850,000 when it crosses the auction block on April 27. If it does, it would be a new high for Japan’s first supercar.

1967 Toyota 2000GT belatrix yellow 05

This particular example, owned by Texas collector Don Davis, is said to be one of the original US-market cars. In the 46 years since it was first sold, it’s been back to Japan in the hands of a collector and back again to the US.

1967 Toyota 2000GT belatrix yellow 04

It has 62,000 miles on the odometer, but really who cares. It’s a 2000GT, and Belatrix Yellow is arguably one of the most gorgeous colors to grace it. It has been repainted in its original color though, and apparently Davis corrected some of the minor non-original colors on some trim pieces while it’s been in his possession.

1967 Toyota 2000GT belatrix yellow 03

In 1999, a younger pre-JNC Ben saw a Belatrix Yellow 2000GT on eBay. He went as far as to contact the seller to inquire about the reserve, which was $150,000. He says he briefly entertained the idea of taking out a massive loan and living in it, before sanity prevailed. However, if this car can fetch the price Davis expects, it that loan may have proven to have been the wiser investment.




source: japan nostalgic car


Following last week’s all-Roadster edition of #FeatureThis it’s back to a slightly more diverse selection of machines from the around the planet this Thursday. This week we have a strong selection of cars from Japan in particular, mixed with some other cool entries from across the globe.

Here they are!

(Above) Let’s begin with one of the less commonly seen generations of the Fairlady Z – the Z31. This choice example on RS Watanbes belongs to Masaya Yamamoto from Tottori-ken in Japan.

A fantastic shot of Ichizo Kubo’s R32 GT-2 prowling the the historic back streets of Tokyo. A timeless machine in a timeless setting.

Rob Andrew has owned this ST205 Celica GT-FOUR for seven years now and the car has become a potent track weapon as well a daily driver. Besides being a regular at track days, Rob has also taken the car to the dragstrip where it turned in a best ET of 12.808 seconds.

Meanwhile over on Instagram, @jeaves6 can be found modeling the new extra extra large Speedhunters decal on the window of his BMW E36.

We always love seeing homebuilt projects like this E30 BMW owned by Stuart Russell. With the help of his father, Russell swapped in a mildly built 306 cubic inch small block Ford V8 which makes for great fun considering the car weighs less than 2,500 lbs.

There’s something cool about this late night gas station shot submitted by Sunny Side Racing from Chiba, Japan. The title that was attached to the photo – “Tough Grip Night”.

We don’t see a whole lot of SAABs come through the #FeatureThis inbox, so it was pleasing to see Patrick Zielinski’s 2000 Viggen pop up. Even with little aftermarket support, Patrick’s car is making 455 horsewpower to the wheels through a variety of mostly self-fabricated modifications.

Instagram user @colinbolin caught this image of his friend’s Volvo 850 T5R grocery getter.

Kazuhiro Odachi from Hokkaido, Japan is the owner of this fresh looking JZX100 Mark II. It’s an interesting mix of street drift style with just a hint of USDM.

Another cool gas station shot from Japan, this one showing Kyotani-san’s two-door AE86 Trueno from Kobe. The car is light-tuned with things like a high compression 4AGE, a carbon hood, and of course a set of Volk TE37Vs.

A pair of fine English classics photographed by Instagram user @gasolinephoto.

A bumper-less Datsun 280Z on the streets of Olsztyn, Poland, as captured by Adrian Banach.

A panda MR2? Why not? This AW11 owned by Korey Hamm from Virgina has also been swapped with a 2ZZ-GE motor and six-speed transaxle for maximum high revving fun.

Got meat? @silvergt’s Mustang sure does.

The Evo might be the most well known of Mitsubishi’s performance cars, but we are quite liking this tuned CJ4A Mirage submitted by Kibo-san from Japan.

Following up the Mirage is another less common front wheel drive car from Japan. This Nissan Pulsar Pulsar Serie  VZ-R・N1 ver.Ⅱ is owned by Gooseke-san and he can be found enjoying the little Nissan around the famous corners of Suzuka Circuit.

Yuichiro Morikawa from Hokkaido sent us this image of his V36 Skyline and a Toyota Prius, both wearing Gramlights 57 Extreme wheels and supporting a local shop called Total Car Office “BREAK”.

Chris from Ontario, Canada has owned this first generation RX-7 since 2005. It now has a street-ported 13B and a bunch of other modifications like a set of 16″ BBS RS wheels.

A pretty mental looking Peugeot build under way at the hands of @pug106.

Finally, in a fitting closing shot we have Kotaro Matsumoto’s 180SX from Japan parked seaside at sunset.

Until next time!



source: speedhunters


There are certain projects that are best left for a while before exploring, and the HKS 86 Racing Performer is one of them. Much like every 86/BRZ/FR-S/GT86 demo car around the world, it has all been put together in an impressively short space of time if you consider that the ZN6 and its Subaru counterpart has only been officially on sale in Japan for a year. HKS are always at the forefront of JDM tuning and parts development and when it came to the most anticipated car the industry has seen in the last decade, they certainly didn’t hold back.

So when I had the chance to cover their time attack attempt, organized in collaboration with Yokohama Tire, I took advantage of the opportunity and featured their rather special 86.

After all it’s not every day you are given full access to such a cool car, not to mention Tsukuba and its challenging layout.

The way HKS have approached this project is pretty smart; the car is not only their D1 Grand Prix pro drift machine but we have seen it double up as the occasional time attack car too. This is because it also serves the purpose of test mule/ development car, testing out a bunch of prototype parts in the harshest of conditions.

This helps guarantee reliability once specific upgrades get signed off and put into production, giving both HKS and its customers peace of mind. But before we get to all the interesting oily bits, let’s take a quick look at the exterior of the vehicle; one that makes it stand out among the hundreds of other 86/BRZ demo cars in Japan.

Having the ability to create their own dry carbon parts in-house allows HKS to really make performance car owners extremely jealous. Was there really a need to make a dry carbon front bumper and integrated diffuser section? Carbon front fenders? Probably not, but hey, if you have the means… right? Of course it’s not all for show. While being extremely nice to look at in their satin unpainted state, these bits also help shave precious weight up front. And in case you’re wondering, yes the front fenders are moulded off the Rocket Bunny/6666 Customs bolt-on items. HKS have collaborated with TRA Kyoto on the aero but had to do things a little differently to stand out.

Tow straps are a must in Japan these days!

The rear gets the regular Rocket Bunny/6666 Customs overfenders, screwed down with exposed screws.

It would be great to see this 86 in the bare without any graphics or sponsors…

… just to appreciate its simple yet functional exterior. Certainly looks like no other ZN6 out there, especially when blasting around the track with Nob at the wheel.

You won’t find any wild engine swaps under the stock aluminum hood because HKS have preferred to apply their know-how on the base FA20 flat four motor. Having received a couple of pre-production cars even before the 86 went on sale early last year allowed them to start work on the engine before most of their competitors. Knowing that forced induction would be the only way to get the 200hp lump to develop decent power, they worked on a bottom end capable of taking the abuse of serious boost levels. The 2.2L stroker kit that the FA now runs is made up of slightly oversized 87 mm forged aluminum pistons, H-section connecting rods and a counterbalanced crankshaft with an increased (89 mm) stroke.

So with that taken care of the bolt-on bits followed. First up the HKS GT7040L supercharger, a pretty large unit that has been set up to deliver 1.6 kg/cm2 of boost right across the rev range. It has been positioned slightly offset from the center of the engine, mounted on its own bracket…

… and plumbed into place with custom aluminum piping. An HKS sponge filter makes sure the blower doesn’t suck up unwanted debris while the HKS front-mounted intercooler cools the intake charge before it passes through the throttle.

To keep the GT supercharger cool a dry carbon NACA duct has been worked into the stock hood, the latter probably getting replaced with a one piece carbon item in the near future.

While the 2.2L FA20 is technically force-induced, what differentiates it from turbocharged versions is its sound. Thanks to a more flowing stainless steel four-into-one exhaust manifold the HKS 86 screams with an NA-like throaty growl, as there’s no turbo in the way to muffle it all up.

This makes it one of the most unique-sounding 86s out there…

… and no matter where you position yourself around Tsukuba Circuit you can hear it as it blasts all the way around the 2km (1.2 mile) track.

The engine makes about 520 HP in its forced induced state, an HKS F-Con V Pro taking care of engine management including the fuelling which is kept at pressure through two externally mounted Bosh fuel pumps and a set of 700 cc/min injectors.

Giving another additional punch of power is the Nitrous Express nitrous oxide system, which delivers 50+hp when Nob needs it. With close to 400hp over the stock power the driveline needed some serious attention, with most of the factory components being relegated to the trash. The transmission was replaced with an SR-base HKS five speed sequential unit, fitted onto the motor along with a prototype triple plate clutch. Transferring drive to the TRD LSD housed inside the Toyota eight-inch rear end is a Skyline GT-R propeller shaft; all beefed-up components needed for reliability in competition. It’s all completed with thicker driveshafts from a Toyota Mark II.

More prototype parts follow in the suspension department with custom adjustable suspension arms and knuckles as well as a modified steering rack. These are then joined by HKS Hiper Max IV GT adjustable coilovers, specially set up and developed with input from Nob and a year’s worth of testing and competing in D1.

For the time attack session in Tsukuba the 86 was running 18-inch Yokohama RZ-DF shod in 265/35R18 Neova AD08R all round for ultimate grip.

Braking is handled by some of the best brakes currently available from a Japanese maker: the Endless monobloc six-pot kit. These front anchors have no problem scrubbing speed off quickly and effectively – and seeing the contained curb weight of 1,150kg – are almost completely fade-proof. The rear is stabilized with regular Endless six-pot calipers, which are directly linked to the hydraulic e-brake.

The open wheel wells allow copious amounts of air to flow towards the brakes, helping to keep things nice and cool.

Since drifting also requires a good amount of downforce, HKS have slapped a big dry carbon wing onto the carbon trunk…

… but it’s actually the Valenti rear taillights that really finish off the back end superbly. For you keen-eyed readers you may have noticed that the headlights also got some attention with LED DLRs and BMW-like angel eyes around the main HID projectors.

For what is a fully-fledged pro drift and time attack car, the interior has remained quite sedate. The door cards and most of the dashboard have been left untouched, only cut out where they would have otherwise interfered with the roll cage.

Oil and water temperatures are monitored via the HKS DB meters while the HKS A/F knock amp constantly checks engine performance and warns of excessive pinging. Aside from the Endless hydraulic e-brake lever and HKS sequential selector…

… Nob also has a button on the steering wheel to play with.

This actuates the nitrous oxide system for an instant boost in power when a bit of extra speed is needed down a straight, or as a little boost when the engine is out of its power band.

What really impresses about the HKS 86 and 86s/BRZs in general, is the sheer pace of evolution that has occurred in only a year. The JDM aftermarket world has never seen anything like this…

… and to think we’re still only at the beginning truly boggles the mind. What more can we expect for this platform? Or better still, what would you, the enthusiast, like to see developed and pursued? No matter how it will all progress however, you can bet HKS will continue to be right there spearheading it all.






Max Power – 580hp / Max Torque: 549 Nm (405lb/ft) / Max Boost: 1.6 kg/cm2


HKS ø87 mm forged pistons, HKS connecting rods, HKS full counter-balanced crankshaft (89 mm stroke), 2.2L capacity, HKS four-into-one stainless steel exhaust manifold, HKS one-off exhaust system, HKS GT7040L supercharger, HKS filter, HKS intercooler, HKS piping, HKS blow off valve, HKS oil cooler, HKS oil filter, oil catch tank, one-off surge tank, Bosh fuel pumps x2, HKS 700 cc/min injectors, Nitrous Express nitrous oxide system, one-off oil catch tank, F-Con V Pro ECU


HKS triple plate clutch, lightweight flywheel, HKS five-speed sequential transmission, Skyline GT-R propeller shaft, Toyota eight-inch rear end, TRD LSD, Toyota Mark II drive shafts


HKS Hipermax Max IV GT adjustable coilovers, HKS one-off adjustable arms, HKS one-off knuckles, modified steering rack, Endless monobloc six-pot front brake kit, rear Endless six-pot calipers, Endless two piece slotted rotors front and rear, hydraulic e-brake


Yokohama RZ 10Jx18″ front and rear, Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R 265/35R18 front and rear


HKS dry carbon front bumper, HKS dry carbon splitter/diffuser, HKS dry carbon front wide fenders, Craft Square carbon mirrors, Rocker Bunny 6666 Customs rear overfenders, HKS dry carbon rear GT-wing, Valenti taillights


Nardi steering wheel, Bride Zeta III bucket seats, DB meters RS, HKS Knock Amp Meter, HKS OB-Link, NX nitrous pressure gauge, roll cage


Dino Dalle Carbonare





Nothing is as it seems in Japan. As a rule of thumb you should never, in any circumstance make any sort of assumptions about any car you see on the street. This is especially true if that particular car proudly wears the Rocky Auto name, a shop we are all pretty familiar with these days. With the Nostalgic Two Days show coming up tomorrow I though we might as well start getting into the vintage swing of things and what better way than a high performance classic from Watanabe-san at Rocky.

“Modernizing” is something a lot of people are attempting to do with their cars, even those that aren’t that particularly old. Heck I’m attempting to do the same to my GT-R, trying to add upgrades and other little bits and pieces that will help bring some aspects of the whole package into the new millennium. Except what you see here sort of takes that whole notion to extremes.

This is the point purists should probably look away. While Watanabe-san does offer authentic restorations, it’s not something his customers are exactly into. The whole idea behind one of these cars is the fact that they manage to combine the looks and feel of a classic car – in this case an S30 Fairlady Z – with a modern, reliable and more powerful engine and driveline.

Built last year, this is one of a few rides that Watanabe-san classifies as his “favorite.” Looks wise he has gone with the “ZG” look…

…painting the car in the period correct dark maroon and adding the long-nose conversion, the fender flares the trunk spoiler and the fender-mounted mirrors.

The car is fitted with special modern-day dampers that Rocky Auto developed for the classic Z and sports a set of 16-inch Watanabes wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza GIII street tires, 205/50 up front and 225/45 at the rear. It’s from this point on that you begin to notice the subtle yet important changes that have been made, like the front 4-pot AP Racing brake calipers and cross-drilled rotors.

But things don’t really get serious until you lift the stock hood…

…revealing the awesomeness that powers this Fairlady. As Watanabe tells us, it’s not all about horsepower numbers; he’s built some very powerful Zs in his time, but he much prefers creating something more balanced, a conversion that builds upon the car’s original character, making it even more evident.

He has found all of this in the RB30-based engine he has created for this, as well as a few other builds. It’s a straight six just like the L24 that powered the S30 in the first place, naturally aspirated and delivering just the right about of power to the rear wheels. It all started with an Australian-sourced RB30 bottom end, onto which he dropped an RB26 twin-cam head. The engine breathes in through six aluminum velocity stacks – part of the “sports injection” system that Rocky Auto devised. If you recall the Rocky carbon bodied Fairlady we featured last year was also powered by an RB30, except it was running on 50 mm Solex carburetors and higher lift & duration cams. Watanabe really liked that car but wanted something a little bit easier to live with, something more street oriented.

As if seeing a gold RB26 head in the engine bay wasn’t enough, Watanabe-san made sure that the visual aspects of this engine swap didn’t end there…

…fabricating a beautiful and complex set of stainless steel headers, the same 46 mm 6-into-1 items that were used on the carbon car…

…helping to really emphasize the unmistakable straight-six sound that exits through the rest of the exhaust system.

The engine is good for just under 300 HP, about double what the S30 came with back in the early seventies. To transfer drive to the rear Cusco 2-way LSD a R32 Nissan Skyline 5-speed transmission was fitted, more than able to deal with the power at hand and the occasional track day abuse.

Out on the roads around the Rocky Auto HQ in Okazaki, the Zed looked phenomenal, the RB30′s scream reverberating across the hills we went to shoot around on. The three liters of capacity and the somewhat mild stock RB26 cams all help deliver a very strong low and mid range, making it a pleasure to drive around on a daily basis. Despite the longer stroke the RB30 is still and RB, so has no problem to rev to higher than normal rpm. For durability however the redline has been set at 7,000 rpm.

The restoration-slash-modernization of this S30 continues inside where, along with a dose of spot welding around the door openings, glasshouse, front and rear suspension turrets, engine bay and other strategic locations – a bolt-in roll cage was added.

This spans to the rear of the car and down behind the seats, helping increase torsional rigidity of a frame which is well over 40-years old now.

There’s no doubting that Nissan really got the interior design right all those years ago, standing up to the test of time rather well. Still, to make things nice and comfortable Watanabe spent some time adding a few nice touches like the R32 Skyline automatic climate control system, modern HD navigation with pop-out LCD screen…

…and a pair of Recaro leather/alcantara seats – with Willans harnesses for the driver.

The mix of old and new continues with a classic Datsun steering wheel…

…original main gauges….

…and the addition of a triplet of modern clocks from Blitz.

The period correct wooden shift knob and well used leather boot serve as a constant reminder of the car’s vintage-ness.

It might be a different school of thought to those that restore older cars in a more period-correct way, but for some reason the Japanese manage to pull it off so well especially when applied to cars like the Fairlady Z. Even if you may be a purist, it’s hard not to admire and appreciate the work that went into creating something so special. If that’s not the case maybe a quick ride in this RB30-powered Rocky Auto creation may change your mind…



Engine: RB30/RB26 hybrid engine swap, Rocky Auto engine mounts, Rocky Auto sports injection with aluminum velocity stacks, Tomei Powered fuel rail, RB26 injectors, Rocky Auto 46 mm 6-into-1 exhaust header, Rocky Auto stainless steel exhaust system, Billiion power steering reservoir tank, Rocky Auto gold head covers, clear cam covers, Koyo radiator, HKS oil cooler, R32 Skyline fuse box & wiring loom, Power FC ECU

Transmission: R32 5-speed transmission, Exedy single plate clutch, Cusco 2-way LSD

Suspension & Brakes: Rocky Auto front coilovers, Rock Auto rear dampers, Cusco carbon front strut tower bar, AP Racing 4-pot front calipers, cross drilled rotors

Wheels & Tires: Watanabe wheels 8Jx16″ front 9Jx16″ rear, Bridgestone Potenza GIII 205/50R16 front, 225/45/R16 rear

Exterior: ZG nose, ZG front & rear overfendes, ZG rear spoiler, ZR side mirrors

Interior: Spot welded and reinforced shell, bolt-in roll cage, Recaro driver & passenger seats, Willans drivers-side harness, Datsun spot steering wheel, R32 Skyline A/C unit, Carrozzeria HD navigation system, Blitz dials (ex. temp, oil temp., water temp.

-Dino Dalle Carbonare





Joining the list of impressive new machines unveiled at the New York Auto Show last week is the 2014 Cadillac CTS sedan. From the get-go the CTS was designed to rival sport sedans from Europe and Japan, and the new third generation car could be the best of its breed yet.

The styling for the new CTS draws from Cadillac’s 2011 Ciel Concept, but it also shares many design traits with the smaller Cadillac ATS. While both the wheelbase and overall length of the car have grown, it weighs less than the previous model, and GM says it’s 200 pounds (90kg) lighter than the BMW 528i.

The interior treatment on the new CTS is also representative of how far GM’s interior design and material quality has come in recent years. The days of cheap, sub par cockpits seem to be a thing of the past.

However, the biggest story is under the hood where the 2014 CTS will be offered with three different engine options. The base motor is 2.0 liter four-cylinder turbo making 272 horsepower (203kW), while the mid-grade engine is a 321 horsepower (239kW) naturally aspirated 3.6 liter V6. Topping the line in the new CTS VSport model is an all-new twin turbocharged 3.6 V6.

The twin turbo V6 will make 420 horsepower (313kW) and 430 foot pounds (583Nm) of torque mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. In real world numbers Cadillac says the CTS VSport will hit 60 miles per hour in 4.6 seconds. The VSport also comes equipped with Brembo brakes, high performance tires, a limited slip diff, and more.

Of course the VSport isn’t to be confused with the CTS-V, which should be coming along later with some sort of mad V8 under the hood. But for the ‘standard’ CTS, which is set to go on sale later this year, this is looking very good.





COVERAGE> It’s JDM Yo! Anniversary In Cerritos

It's JDM Yo 1st Year Anniversary Meet Cerritos Infinit Wheels

Over a year ago, when you heard the phrase ‘It’s JDM Yo!’ you would just think of a bunch of Japanese cars with parts from Japan following a trend.  Now, as soon as you hear it, the first thing that comes to mind are the hot models and Tony ‘It’s JDM Yo’ Lee with his posse at every major car show representing.  The meet turned out more like a car show but with free entrance and in and out privileges for both people and cars.  With vendors, food trucks, free NOS Energy Drinks to quench your thirst, and lots of eye candy the day went by without a hitch.  A raffle, emceed by Tony and Miss Natalia Marie from NOS, was held and proceeds went to help fund Big Abe‘s daughter Sophie’s funeral cost (if you don’t know who Big Abe is, he’s the guy with the big ass rim hanging from his neck).  I have to give a big shout out to Big Abe for showing up to the meet after going through what he and his family had to endure.

A familiar sight at any major meet or event in the SoCal area, Anthony Do and the Infinit crew rolled deep with 10+ cars.  So many that I couldn’t get all of them in a single shot!  Each of the cars in team Infinit rock sick JDM wheels from new school to old school and they all have crazy stance and offset, even on the front wheel drive cars!

It's JDM Yo 1st Year Anniversary Meet Infinit Wheels Abraham Ceja EG6 Civic Hatchback

Abraham Ceja aka Infinit Abe has one of the cleanest and sickest EG hatchbacks I’ve seen.  With some low offset staggered SSR mesh wheels and an individual throttle bodied B series the car is always a show stopper when it comes to Hondas at the meet.

It's JDM Yo 1st Year Anniversary Meet Cerritos Bisi Ezerioha Bisimoto CR-Z Turbonetics

Bisi Ezerioha from Bisimoto brought out his fully built Turbonetics/AEM powered Honda CR-Z to the meet.  As I arrived to the show, I was expecting to see his design matched trailer and his Escalade pickup, but he told me that he DROVE the car there from his shop.  We then discussed what the point of having a car is if you never drive it!  Not to mention the car is a hybrid so it is smog exempt.

It's JDM Yo 1st Year Anniversary Meet Arnel Phase 2 EG Honda Civic Sedan VIP Air Ride BBS Wheels

Arnel Ortiz from Phaze 2 brought out his VIP styled EG Civic sedan with BBS RS mesh wheels with gold plated hardware and a Universal Air ride system to match.

It's JDM Yo 1st Yea Anniversary Meet Cerritos Terry Pham Infinit Mazda Miata Limited Edition Panasport Work Goocar

After arriving to the show with my homie Terry Pham, I quickly got out of the car to take this snap of his immaculate 1993 Mazda Miata Limited Edition.  I then helped him get the other two Work Goocar wheels off of the car to put his 15×10 Panasport race wheels on the rear.  I was with Terry when he originally purchased the car and was stunned at how clean the car was.  With an all red interior and OEM hard top/paint job, the only things he changed were the tail lights, now Garage Vary tail lights, wheels and an aftermarket trunk spoiler.

It's JDM Yo 1st Year Anniversary Meet Cerritos Chumpot Mazda RX-7 FC SSR Type-C

Chumpot Chansonthi from Infinit brought his clean white Mazda FC RX-7 rocking some SSR Type-C wheels.  His car definitely is one of the cleanest FC’s I’ve seen at meets and shows. Not only does he have a really clean paint job, Chumpot also went as far as replacing all of the moldings, weather seals and plastic bits to give it a showroom finish.

It's JDM Yo 1st Year Anniversary Meet Cerritos Mikey Cristi XB Radius Fender CCW

Mikey Cristi rolled in a bit later with his all metal flared “VIP*BOX” Scion xB with his CCW wheels.

It's JDM Yo Anniversary Meet Cerritos Mango Corolla Phase 2

This Phaze 2 1971 Toyota Corolla Mango Peanut was one of the few Japanese classic cars at the show.  I’m really digging the fender mirrors, how about you?

It's JDM Yo 1st Year Anniversary Meet Cerritos TRD Widebody MR2 SW20

This clean red SW20 MR-2 Turbo with a TRD styled widebody kit showed up later in the day.  His wheels were a nice complement to the widebody on this now seldom seen car.

It's JDM Yo 1st Year Anniversary Meet Cerritos Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 Hellaflush Fitment RoyalOrigin

While just cruising through the parking lot I spotted this royalorigin Mazdaspeed 3 with one of the craziest stances of any FWD car.

It's JDM Yo 1st Year Anniversary Meet Cerritos Honda Civic EK Hatchback Chameleon Engine Bay Paint Sprint Hart CPR RoyalOrigin Las Vegas

I normally don’t like bright Lamborghini-esque colored cars but this Civic, owned by Chivas Sotelo, definitely got my attention.  Sitting on some dope Sprint Hart CP-R wheels and a chameleon colored engine bay, Chivas drove down from Las Vegas for this weekend of events.  His car reminded me of how show car style and JDM can be fused together successfully.

It's JDM Yo Anniversary Meet Cerritos Civic Si JDM Type R Tail Light Conversion

Since this meet was about ‘JDM’ style, this 2007+ Civic Si Sedan was not lacking any.  The FD2 Civic Type R rear end conversion is no cheap modification.  Usually costing over $1000, this rare mod definitely sets the car apart from other Civics.

It's JDM Yo 1st Year Anniversary Meet NOS Energy Models

Natalia Marie and her friend (I somehow forgot her name) were making sure they looked good for the day ahead of them.

It's JDM Yo 1st Year Anniversary Meet Cerritos NOS Umbrella Girls

Speaking of eye-candy, the NOS Energy Drink Girls were out giving free energy drinks to the thirsty people.  And I’m sure plenty of people were very thirsty at one point during the day.  Maybe even a few times thirsty?

It's JDM Yo 1st Year Anniversary Meet Cerritos Slammed Civic SI Sedan

There were a few cars not in the meet which had pretty cool setups.  This 2007/2008 Civic Si sedan had some awesome stance driving through to the parking area.

The day ended without any hitches and I would have to say one of the most successful “car meets” that I’ve seen in a long time without any drama.

:: Mike Kim




Drifting: Past And Present

It’s amazing how fast time flies when you’re having fun. Seems like it was just yesterday that Mainstream Productions, in association with On the Scene Video Magazine brought the first-ever professional Drift Showoff event to Irwindale Speedway, CA. The event set precedence on March 2, 2003, exposing an estimated 7,000 attendees to the world of professional drifting. Spectators lined up trackside to witness four D1 Grand Prix drifters from Japan perform exhibition runs. Feeding off the crowd’s excitement, Seigou Yamamoto, Signal Auto’s Fumiaki “Drifter X” Komatsu, Kazuya Bai, and Yoshinori Koguchi (“Koguchi Power”) didn’t disappoint, running in excess of 80 mph with Komatsu in the blue Signal Auto 180SX tagging the wall with his rear bumper, as it precariously dangled off his car while he continued to drift around the track. Seconds later, Bai in the orange Signal Auto S15 followed suit, tagging the same wall, mangling the same section of his car. Many fans cheered on while others cringed in horror as their picturesque dream cars were being demolished right in front of their eyes in the parking lot just adjacent to the infield oval. As crazy as it seems, previous to this event, the only professional drifting any of us witnessed was relegated to watching Option videos or reading magazines from Japan.

Not only was Drift Showoff an exhibition, it was also a competition, drawing in many of the top U.S. amateur drifters to battle it out amongst their peers. Before they competed drivers were given the opportunity to ask judges Koguchi and Yamamoto questions. It was interesting to look back and notice that most U.S. drifters were unfamiliar with the terms competitive drifting. Here’s a quick rundown on some of their queries:

Drifters: What type of engaging would you like to see? Clutch kicking or e-braking?
Instructors: Doesn’t really matter what type of techniques you use, as long as you can enter and exit the turns smoothly, maintaining your line.

Drifters: Because cars like the AE86 are considered by some to be underpowered, will horsepower be a determining factor?
Instructors: We’ll look at certain situations, such as whether or not the car is turbocharged, and factor them into judging each competitor and vehicle.

Drifters: What tire pressure do you prefer, and how important is it?
Instructors: Tire pressure is a very important aspect in drifting. We prefer the tires to run about 34 psi in front and 30 psi in the rear. If the car is understeering you should raise the pressure in the rear. If you want more grip, you need to lower the tire pressure.

Time does indeed fly by as drifting has taken the world by storm and prevailed as the fastest growing motorsport in the United States. It’s been eight years since the first Japanese drivers lit up their tires on U.S. soil. During that time, Japan’s D1 Grand Prix’s popularity has declined and become and a skeleton of its former glory, while Formula D has continued to expand, becoming the dominant series in spectator size and popularity. By the time you read this column, FD will have already crowned this year’s champion. Our chips are down, betting that Daijiro Yoshihara in the Discount Tire/Falken Tire Nissan S13 will pull off another dramatic season ending run to defend his 2011 crown, but he needs to get past tough competitors like 2010 champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. in the Monster Energy/Falken Tire Ford Racing Mustang, who’s determined to take his title back. But the one thing I will say is that it will be an interesting scenario to say the least.