Show Review: Tokyo Auto Salon 2008
by Takeshi Sato    25 Jan 2008
Suzuki Palette at the 2008 Tokyo Auto Salon. Click for larger images
Mitsubishi Lancer gets the treatment
Nissan GT-R by Blitz
Carlsson Aigner CK65
BMW 1 Series interior by iS.ME…(left) …and their Mazda Demio
Photos: Takeshi Sato

Barely three months have elapsed since the 2007 Auto Show, and now Tokyo has just hosted the 2008 Auto Salon. Not to be confused with the international biennial show which focuses on advanced concepts, this annual salon is parallel to America's SEMA in featuring modified cars from a range of periods, and it is more localized. Hosted in the same halls as last year's show, this show was even bigger both for exhibitors and exhibitionists. As well as sporting more cars than the auto show, it is also renowned for the sheer number of girls.

Inside Tokyo's Auto Salon
Rice Rockets (Suzuki Cappuccino with Honda Beat behind)
Trunk of one of the many Subaru Legacys
Mazdaspeed Atenza (6)

More cars in the same space means this place is dense, and with so many tech-heads attending on public days a press pass is imperative. But while they may be hawking the models, the show is also popular with cool young magpies looking for shinier wheels and accessories. A lot of stuff here has been seen before, but past the pouting lips and padded bras a few things stood out.

Paint combos was one of them, not so much for colors but textures: Several vehicles used matt finish for the hood, roof and trunk deck with gloss for the body-sides. The flanks of the vehicles also became canvases responding to the body-art trend that has inked the States, and here we saw similar patterns spread on the side of minivans - Suzuki a notable example in embracing this fad.

Painted keylines were popular as well, and several modding outfits used red to highlight graphics, especially vents and feature lines, while many more introduced red rims to their wheels. And if it wasn't paint being used then it was LED lights, outlining everything from suspension mounts to cup-holders. There was also the usual array of companies insisting on go-faster stripes, not that many cars needed it with the host of turbocharging kits on offer. However that didn't stop tuning-house Blitz from trying to negotiate the complex fenders of a Nissan GT-R with their stick-ons.

Predictably this was one of the most popular cars at the show, being used to sell everything from rubber to lubricants almost as effectively as the models. There were a lot of Mercedes too, especially the CL, which had been covered in vents by German tuners Wald, while compatriots Carlsson chose a more dignified approach for their CK65. Not content with just upping the power and dropping the ride, leatherwear company Aigner had been approached to create a sumptuous interior, while the exterior took a leaf out of Maybach's book with its twin colors really raising the exclusivity stakes.

Elsewhere the quilting of the Carlsson's interior was mirrored by iS.ME, a Japanese auto-upholsterer who brought a 1 Series, an A8, and a Mazda Demio/2 one step closer to a handbag. The interiors of the Germans were well-finished, featuring buckles in the 1 and diamond-stitched Alcantara in the Audi, but things went more awry in the Demio with a color palette that seemed to have come from Barney the Dinosaur.

Continues →