Welcome to Tokyo Auto Salon 2024! If it can be tuned, widened, slammed, lifted, drifted, gripped or fettled in any way, shape or form, there’s a good chance you’ll find it within the halls of the Makuhari Messe this weekend.
TAS, which was started in 1983 by Daijiro Inada of Option magazine fame, has grown into a major international event, but it still maintains its uniqueness thanks to the weird and wonderful stuff the Japanese get up to with cars. We’ve got a lot of coverage planned from Tokyo Auto Salon 2024, but as usual I like to kick things off by heading to the venue during the Thursday set up for a preview post.
It’s always a great way for me to get an idea of what cars have been built and where they are displayed within the expansive events center, facilitating my plan of attack for the next few days as I make my way through the show in detail.
At the same time, it hopefully gives you a taste of what’s to come. Like this Lancia Delta-themed Suzuki Jimny, possibly the coolest thing I came across during set up.
Not too far away I found Star Road’s latest creation, a more street-focused version of their wide-body S30 track/street all-rounder. This Z sports slightly narrower overfenders and a 3.1L L-series that features an all-new cast aluminum cylinder head.
Of course, being Tokyo Auto Salon it wasn’t long before I was left scratching my head. Here’s a Mazda Roadster with a very surprised-looking front end conversion and Toyota badges all around.
It also wouldn’t be TAS without a few Super GT race cars…
…Or something totally wild from Liberty Walk. We already know what this car is thanks to Kato-san having teased the wide-body Lamborghini Countach on social media for weeks now, but how it looks in person will all be revealed when the covers come off on Friday afternoon.
It joins a massive selection of cars from Liberty Walk, including their new RZ34 with overfenders, that Ferrari F40 – now with a fresh Inozetek wrap – and a customized UD Truck. Is Kato-san reinventing Dekotora?
Tokyo Auto Salon always manages to bring so much together in one place, and import cars are a massive part of it.
As are off-road vehicles. This is an ever-growing segment in Japan, and one that Toyota has pretty much dominated in recent years with the Land Cruiser 300. That model is no longer available, but with the new 70 Series remake having just landed in local dealerships, the domination is set to continue. My want is so strong!
Tokyo Auto Salon is as much a show about cars as a place to meet with people from all over the world, not to mention a real occasion for overseas brands to get a foothold in the Japanese domestic market.
The students from Nihon Automotive College (otherwise known NATS, an acronym for Nihon Automotive Technology School) are once again showing us than unrestricted creativity can deliver some insane creations. Who knows what we’re actually looking at here?
Right beside NATS’ Hummer-themed custom is this Suzuki Mighty Boy converted to look like the #73 KPGC110 Skyline GT-R race car that never actually raced.
Not everything at Tokyo Auto Salon is totally crazy though. Here’s a great example of gently modified Japanese conservatism, courtesy of Rozel. With more aggressive bumpers and classy flared fenders, this Toyota Century is impossibly cool. Rolls-Royce, eat your heart out.
This year’s theme at the HKS booth is… get ready for it… Ecology. I’m not sure how their R35 GT-R fits into that in any way or form, but let’s give HKS the benefit of the doubt until we see what else they have to show.
Kansai Service on the other hand has focused solely on performance, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from them.
An early standout for me is this turbocharged BMW E36 by Moontech, which was built in collaboration with GReddy.
The car sports the LTO body conversion designed by Khyzyl Saleem and looks sensational. In fact, there are two E36s at the show with this kit.
Meanwhile at the RE Amemiya booth, it looks like Ama-san has built a custom Roadster. I didn’t get to see what’s under the hood, but I’m willing to bet it’s a rotary.
The KW booth is always on point with car selection, and this year there’s a brand new BMW M2 sporting some top-of-the-line aftermarket upgrades, including an Akrapovič exhaust, BBS wheels, and a set of KW Variant 3 suspension.
It’s now Friday morning in Japan and the doors to Tokyo Auto Salon 2024 have just opened. So stay tuned for more from TAS, plus coverage from other events happening in and around the city this week.
Dino Dalle Carbonare