All Photos Credit: Ken Saito
A Car Nerd's Guide To JapanAn insider look at car culture in Japan.

The 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon was without a doubt the year of the Supra. You’d be forgiven for thinking “TAS” meant the “Tokyo All Supra” show. (SEMA in the States was no different.) Nearly every booth in all 11 halls where the Tokyo Auto Salon takes place had a new modified Supra of some sort, and some classic Supra for good measure.

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With the exception of a few standouts, in particular the orange Supra ‘Convertible’ by the always amazing Nihon Automobile College (NATS) which was actually based on a Lexus SC430, much of the modified Supras were identical. After walking around TAS2020 all the Supras sort of turned into one massive blur, there were times where I honestly thought I’d seen the same car before despite it being in a completely different hall.

It’s easy to stick a wide body kit, titanium exhausts, and chrome wheels onto the hot new model of the year and call it a day but TAS is so much more than that. What draws me to TAS every year is the hope of seeing some truly crazy and amazing creations, cars and modifications that are so uniquely Japan it shows there’s still life left in Japanese car culture.

Honda Civic Cyber Night Japan Cruiser 2020

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With a name like that it’s hard not to get excited. The most exciting Honda offerings at TAS2020 weren’t actually on Honda’s main stand (that was reserved for the recently tweaked FK8 Type R and the Japanese introduction of the Spa Yellow color for the NSX) but instead on the Modulo stand. Think of Modulo as Honda’s in-house aftermarket tuner offering dealer fit cosmetic accessories to Honda models.

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The Civic Cyber Night Japan Cruiser 2020 is purely an exercise in what could be done with existing/classic Honda models. It’s Modulo’s take on the iconic EK9 generation Civic Type R for 2020. There’s contemporary LED lights front and rear, a light up badge on the trunklid, and plenty of speed holes. The interior keeps its ‘90s look but the tech has been brought over to this decade with a complete digital display and an iPhone compatible dash.

Purists needn’t worry, the signature titanium shift knob for the manual gearbox remains untouched.

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It’s strictly a concept for now but given what else Modulo showed next to it I’m hopeful we’ll see more factory-backed restomods in the future.

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Behind it was the 20th anniversary S2000 complete with a new front bumper for improved aero, special 20th anniversary trimmed seats, new wheels, lowered suspension, and modernised audio. All the parts can be purchased and retrofitted to current S2000s from February 20th, 2020.

It’s great to see manufactures like Honda continuing to provide support for cars such as the S2000, even two decades after its release. I respect Honda for not trying to recreate the success of the original with a ‘new’ version, Honda have left it as is and are instead continuing the legacy with updates for existing owners.

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Toyota Prius Ambivalent PD

You can’t knock them for unoriginal naming, I can’t think of any other car called the ‘Ambivalent’. What you’re looking at is the joint-effort between Modellista and TRD, two very different but similar in-house tuners for Toyota. Like Modulo to Honda, Modellista provide cosmetic accessories to pretty much all new Toyota models out of the showroom. TRD on the other hand offer more performance-orientated extras.

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What started out as a Prius Prime (or Prius PHV depending on your market), it looks as if it’s come straight from 2120. It has all the lights; the bumper has lights, the wheels have lights, heck even that massive fin on the back has lights. I’m not sure how I feel about this or what it’s supposed to be, but I suppose that’s the whole point of something called the Ambivalent.

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Ferrari F50 Anija

We all know the guys at Anija know no bounds to their modifications. This year they were supposed to show the latest iteration of their crazy Zonda Anija project with a completely new interior but unfortunately it wasn’t going to be completed in time for TAS.

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Having secured space for four cars (Anija shared the stand with the Roberuta cars) they needed a quick replacement for the Zonda.

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Enter the Ferrari F50. You know, the ultra-rare ultra-expensive Italian supercar from 25 years ago. Not the typical car you see cut up and modified.

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It just so happens that one of the members of their A-Team had one available as tribute. But what to do to a F50 that would wow crowds? How about cutting the wing and turning it into some sort of F50XX? I suppose that’s the logical thing to do under such stressful circumstances. Don’t worry too much, this F50 was far from a factory-approved example before the chopped the wing off. It certainly got people talking proving any press is better than no press.

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S-Rock

This whole trend of sporty 4x4s is getting out of hand. Built by students at the Saitama Automobile University, this is what happens when you take the ladder frame chassis of a Suzuki Jimny offroader and plonk a sports car Honda S660 body on top. Combining two of the most likeable kei cars into one monster creation was a surefire way of winning the crowd over.

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Whereas the original S660 was a mid-engine rear-wheel drive kei sports car, the S-Rock (a pun as the number six in Japanese is ‘roku’ which sounds close enough to rock) is very much a front-engine four-wheel drive beast. Not much else has changed, it retains the Jimny’s 63hp 660cc three-cylinder engine but does benefit from Monroe Twin Shocks and three-inch springs.

KANTODream02

The term “breadvan” gets thrown around a lot in the car world describing a shooting-brake style car. Perhaps the most famous is the Ferrari 250 GTO Breadvan, but nothing comes close to being as literal as the creation from the students at the Kanto Industrial College.

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Starting life out as a Subaru Sambar kei truck, the brief for this year’s display at TAS was simple: Make the winning car from a car painting contest come to life. It just so happened the winner was a “bread car” idea which has resulted in a truck that’s got melon pan wheels, croissant wheel arches, and donut headlight surrounds. Tucked away in the back corner of Hall Nine, it was a real treat to see something this nutty in a show that seems to take itself seriously every year. With a few tweaks, I could see this thing being the must-have urban food truck. Going by the popularity of it at the show, a production version would very certainly sell like hotcakes.

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