Custom cars dazzle at Tokyo’s ride-pimping extravaganza

by Kevin Buckland

Bloomberg

It’s Japan’s biggest custom-car show. The Tokyo Auto Salon has hundreds of exhibitors — from automotive titans like Toyota and Mercedes to tire makers, tool makers and toy makers — who all want to show you how to tune up, dress up, or otherwise pimp your ride.

There’s more than just row upon row of polished chrome to thrill the 300,000 visitors to the annual three-day event that ran through Sunday. Highlights for 2018 include never-before-seen concept cars from Toyota and Subaru.

Start your engines!

Can you guess custom car specialist LYZER’s signature color? It took six nail artists six months to glue all 600,000 Swarovski crystals onto this pink super car. Even the shift lever is studded with them. And since that’s clearly not enough pink, LYZER (Leading Your Zone to Extra Radiance) also installed pink leather seats, pink brakes, and pink LED underbody lights and headlamps.

Here’s another take on rhinestone rides from D.A.D., who even decked out the wheels in Swarovski crystals. Other features befitting of a pimpmobile include lush faux-fur seats and a gold steering wheel. All this bling will set you back a cool $900,000 according to a spokesman. A more affordable option is just the rhinestone-laced license plate frame, which runs about $55.

The owner of this take on Suzuki’s best-selling minicar is a major fan of Japanese teenybopper superhero cartoon series “Sailor Moon” — where the moon princess masquerades as a high school student when she’s not fighting the forces of the Negaverse. The color scheme for this car’s leather interior is designed to represent Sailor Moon’s costume. The floor mats are even embroidered with images of the heroine’s pet cat.

Custom car owners generally coalesce into local “teams,” and this car with the oversized sound system is from a team called Valentia. LED lights give “surround sound” a new meaning, framing the main speakers and four subwoofers. The supersizing doesn’t stop at the stereo: the rear bumper of this one-of-a-kind, pink and gold Toyota has also been given a hefty silicone injection.

Company president Akio Toyoda said in December that he wanted to build a road car based on Toyota’s 24 Hours of Le Mans racer, the TS050, and less than a month later, here it is. The GR Super Sport concept has the same hybrid guts as the Le Mans car, giving it an astounding 1,000 horsepower. A spokesman said they’ll probably tone that down before it finally arrives in showrooms.

The students at Toyota Technical College in Tokyo dressed this up especially for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and called it the JPN CAR. It’s a veritable summer festival on wheels, from the LED fireworks display built right into the ceiling, to the gear shift lever modeled on a traditional cup-and-ball toy and to seats upholstered with genuine kimono fabric. They also ripped out the rear seats to install a tatami room, and there’s a replica of a Japanese castle built right on the roof.

Wondering if this car is street legal? You bet! The company displaying it is actually an auto insurer. This model is a reproduction of the car that appeared in the “Mad Max” films, all the way down to the supercharger, the cut-out bonnet to fit it and a big red switch on the gear shifter to activate it. Having the supercharger gives the car 600 horses, more than double the power of the original factory vehicle.

Custom paint shop Show Up has pulled out all the stops in dressing up this piece of German engineering. The paint flanking the bonnet is done in a 3-D effect, achieved by injecting layers of resin between the illustrations, that ends up being about a centimeter thick. But the newest innovation is the smiley in the center, which only shows up under black light. Considering not many streets are lit that way, your secret paint job is likely to remain a secret.

Viziv is Subaru-speak for “vision for innovation”, and STI stands for Subaru Technica International, the part of the company charged with making its cars faster and more fun to drive. The standout feature of this adaptation of the Subaru WRX is the massively oversized rear spoiler. It’s painted a pearly silver-blue, and the cherry red accents are an STI signature.