The second weekend of the new year brought one of the automotive industry’s biggest, anticipated events in Tokyo, Japan: Tokyo Auto Salon 2024 took place at the Makuhari Messe in Odaiba – the same venue since the event’s beginnings in 1985.
While TAS 2023 was a return to some form of normalcy post-pandemic following the cancellation of the event in 2021, this year, the 42nd Tokyo Auto Salon appeared to be the busiest and most action-packed, with international visitor numbers felt to be at their highest ever. Every one of the convention halls booked for all three days of the event was packed with plenty of foot traffic to see what was in store for this year. Check out the full gallery below.
Former stars, brought back for a reunion tour
Many fans of the Japanese tuning scene, who likely grew up on Best Motoring Hot Version videos, magazines, or Playstation racing games also encountered several tuning shop demo cars, adorned with graphics and brand-specific liveries, as well as the various parts made specifically to be tested on said platform.
For TAS 2024, it seemed quite a few of these automotive celebrities were brought back to the public eye, as a number were center displays at several manufacturer booths, some of which had yet to be brought out for a sizeable number of years.
The MINE’s Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R made its appearance – still with its MINE’s graphics (abit updated with new Volk Racing wheels).
APEXi brought out their famous RX7 FD3S, still in its original livery. And familiar rotary workshop R.E. Amemiya also brought a few bright-colored familiar cars to the event hall.
Retro, nostalgic styling, by Japan
The retro-style aesthetic tuning trend has remained strong since it exploded in popularity a few years ago. Many of the booths showcased new and interesting ways even models that have been in production for a few years, maybe even longer, can still be given an eye-catching look with a few updated exterior pieces, or even a complete exterior overhaul.
One that stood out this year was DAMD Inc – the tuner known for their body kit conversion kits made exclusively for the Suzuki Jimny (JB74) that can transform its appearance from a regular compact SUV into a completely different car, inspired by some of its bigger SUV counterparts like the G-Wagen or 90-series Defender, was yet another center of attention for this year with two more body kit conversion kits they announced added to their lineup.
The two kits, made in partnership with Italian wheel brand OZ Racing, pay tribute to two of Europe’s 80s rally legends. ‘Little 5’ is a clear inspiration of the Renault 5 Turbo (sans turbocharging as the Jimny doesn’t come from the factory with it, with a ‘NON TURBO’ side decal as a reminder), rectangular headlights, foglights, front grille design with Renault design traits, and rear-mounted roof spoiler. ‘Little Delta’, in trademark red, gives the Jimny the Lancia Delta Integrale treatment. This includes four circular headlights & foglights as seen on the original Italian rally legend, including the front grille design, Delta Integrale-style front bumper with spoiler, racing stripes down the center, and yet another roof-mounted rear spoiler.
Wide on the attack
No one can be in the JDM scene without encountering Wataru Kato and his tuning shop, Liberty Walk. Now a worldwide lifestyle, fashion, and as always, automotive icon, Liberty Walk not only brought a few previous builds that made their mark in previous Tokyo Auto Salons but also premiered two builds that drew crowds throughout all three days.
How to top off last year’s entry, a Liberty Walk widebodied Ferrari F40? How about not one, but two wide-bodied, midengined supercars of the 80s? (Well, at least one inspired by the latter).
TAS 2024’s centerpiece from Liberty Walk came in the form of their widebodied Lamborghini Countach – featuring in-house made custom fenders, rear wing, spoilers, as well as low-profile Rohana wheels all around; evoking some Need for Speed energy in the room. Pair alongside it was a shrunken-down version of last year’s widebodied F40 – the ‘LB40’, based on Mazda’s kei-sports car, the Autozam AZ-1, that premiered simultaneously, those with money to spend, and not afraid of cutting some fenders on a classic sportscar, will be hard pressed to choose on which one to go for.
Another regular group appearing are the various automotive engineering & vocational schools of Japan – composed of graduating students showcasing builds and projects they’ve made specifically to premiere that weekend; not surprisingly, on a time crunch (some within just six months from start to finish).
The center of attention went to the graduating class of NATS (Nihon Automotive College) based in Narita, Chiba. Said build came in the form of a ‘stretched’ and slammed Humvee-inspired vehicle. Composed of two Suzuki Jimny bodies combined into one, it was also rocking a powerful in-car audio system taking up all of the rear cargo space.
The same could be said of this Honda Integra DC5, dubbed ‘Will Get 650Vision’ by its creators of Gunma Automobile College, with the front of a Toyota Prius and the rear of a Lexus IS 350.
From manga, to anime, to reality
Fresh on everyone’s minds has to be the successor to the long-favorite of any JDM fan: Shunichi Shigeno’s Initial D, MF Ghost. Surprisingly, with an MF Ghost inspired-GR86 (ZN8) proudly on display outside the central event halls, BLITZ’s booth prominently dedicated its main spectacle to the show, along with a live talk session with some of the voice actors of the series.
BLITZ’s GT86 (ZN6) tribute was a full one-on-one replica of the lead character, Kanata Rivington’s own ZN6. All of the appropriate decals on the outside, as well as prominently featuring the same brake parts used in Kanata’s car.
More space and room..for activities
Interestingly, one platform that seemed to be getting a lot of attention and experimentation across all the aftermarket brands was one that not many think of as a hotbed for tuning potential, minivans, MPVs, or even standard delivery vans built with the task of meeting industrial needs and jobs. The modified Van scene within the Japanese tuning brands has been very strong, but this year at TAS 2024 – it appeared to be even more present and at its peak across the board.
Conventional brands like AIMGAIN aiming to offer VIP or show-style modifications with a focus on low-profile fitment & ‘VIP’-styling continue to showcase their potential with the ever-popular MPVs from Toyota, the Alphard, and Veilfire, but interestingly, brands focused on suspension tuning, brakes, and enhancing drive/handling were very eager to showcase the potential enhancements that could be made to these luxurious people carriers.
It wasn’t all just low and stance that populated vans on display – evident by the wider track, WorkMeister wheels, and Recaro bucket seats in a stripped-out interior, this particular Nissan Serena was packing a little extra underneath the front seats.
Overlanders still are all the rage among enthusiasts, and brands at TAS are not ignoring the strong demand for ‘glamping’ or car-camping post-pandemic days. Plenty of options are out there if you are looking for an outdoor getaway, with everything from a Suzuki Carry kei-van to a full-size Hiace or Nissan Urvan as your home away from home.
Ultimately, only so many words can tell about the latest, nostalgic, and wild that came out for this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon. If you want to get a further taste of what this year was like, we’ll let the photos do the talking.