Just like any event in Japan, big or small, it’s never a bad idea to spend 30-minutes strolling through the carpark to see what gems can be found hiding in between the daily kei cars and 4 door cruisers. During lunchtime on the final day at Formula Drift Japan, there was some downtime, so with that in mind, I headed off to see what I could find!
If you arrived early enough you’d be able to park your car on the main straight of Suzuka Twin Circuit – how epic is that? Now, everyone that parked along this straightaway can have the pleasure of saying that their car was on Suzuka Twin Circuit.
It was obvious from the start, this was going to be a great haul, finding epic cars one after the other. I started from the main straight and worked my way around. The first car that intrigued my interest was this RX-7. Being all black sort of hid the features that it had, like the TCP Magic body kit and the Rays Gram Lights 57XTREME wheels. I’m thinking it’s a daily driver that dips its fingers in time attack races every now and then.
Evidently, since we are in Japan, there is going to be A LOT of S-Chassis present. And there was lots of them. This 180SX looks to be having a good life, not a garage queen, but a used and abused drift machine. I can never get over how great the factory Type X kit looks on the 180SX, accompanied with some nice wheels, it’s a combination that can never disappoint.
DAJIBAN! If you watched one of Noriyaro’s latest videos you’d know all about these American Dodge vans and just how popular they are in Japan. They are big, and having a big car in Japan is not a simple task when everything else is so small. It would be perfect for a support vehicle though, lots of space and you could easily stick an A-frame on the rear and tow a drift car.
There is something about RX-7s. The presence they have just seems to be greater than that of a Silvia, Skyline, Integra, or something similar from the 90s. I don’t mean the amount of RX-7s, but the vibe that they give off. The instantly recognisable pulse of a rotary engine, the rear light bar, and the unmistakeable flip up front lights have created a 90s icon in the automotive world.
This one had me confused for a second. It’s a first generation Toyota Century. You may not be familiar with this car as it was rarely exported from Japan. Depending on the year it either came with a 3, 3.4, or 4-litre engine, in manual or automatic. The second generation of the Century comes with Toyota’s first ever production of a V12 engine. The strange thing here is that it’s really long. Unusually long. I’ve never seen a proper limousine Toyota Century before. I suppose there is a first time for everything, as it’s said.
Toyota’s 4 door cars also had a good presence. This tidy example is a Toyota Chaser JZX100 sitting on a nice set of Work Emotion XT7s. It was clear that this was a family car. How do I know? Well, the family were enjoying a BBQ lunch right behind the car.
Sticking with the Toyota family, here is the long lost cousin. Only one was present today, it seems that their popularity isn’t the greatest anymore. The Toyota MR-S, the big brother of the much-loved MR-2. This example had a full Spirit body kit, matched up to a set of Rays TE37Vs. The Recaro seats and row of gauges on the dash gave away the fact that it must be a race car.
Amongst the crowd of Japanese cars, was the odd foreign one. I’ve never been a massive fan of the Mercedes line of cars, and I’m still not. There is always an exception though, and here it was. The R231 or the sixth generation Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is on another level. Well this example is anyway. Being an AMG model it comes from the factory with a 5.5 litre V8 twin turbocharged engine pushing nearly 400kw. I’ll have the keys to this for a test drive any day of the week.
If you’ve been to Japan you would have picked up on the fact that there are a lot of small cars. These are called ‘kei’ cars, (not pronounced ‘key’, but ‘kay’) and come with a yellow number plate. Because these are cheaper to own, the aftermarket support for them is massive. This Daihatsu Hijet was half van, half truck mash-up with some external rear support and of course the much needed additional downforce that the rear wing provided.
I had walked the whole strip of the main straight, hopped up the grass hill, crossed the road, and was welcomed by yet another parking area. Just like the RX-7, the R34 GT-R has an aura that is matched by no other car. The already ludicrous price tag is only going to increase when America is able to import them legally. I’d say grab one now before they are forever out of your reach.
Ahh, one of the few newer sports cars on this planet. The Toyota 86 and the new Mazda MX-5 are about all the choices you get for a light, compact, fun-to-drive sports car at the moment. Hopefully someday soon other manufacturers will follow suit, like Nissan and Honda, making the competition higher, and the results better for everyone.
What ever happen to pop-up lights? Is the RX series of Mazdas the longest living production car with pop-up lights? Maybe they are only desirable now because they are not available on new cars. If every car had pop-up lights, the cars without would be in higher demand, right?
While focusing on the red FC, I heard a familiar pulsing noise coming from behind me. As I turn my head, I was welcomed with a fully equipped time attack RX-7 from Kobe. At this point a couple of Japanese youths were beside me, they said ‘sugoii’, I repeated ‘sugoii’. Easily the raddest car in the carpark at FD Japan.
For obvious reasons, the little Toyota Corolla Levin couldn’t be left out of this article. The most iconic Japanese drift car, becoming more sought-after with every passing day. This one looked to be in good condition, and maybe did the odd touge pass too.
If you ever head to an event, any car event for that matter, anywhere in the world, make sure you spend a little bit of time walking through the attendee’s carpark. You’ll never know what you might stumble across.
Photos: Shaun Constable | Words: Shaun Constable | Proofer: Chadd Davis
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