This year's tour went as smoothly as the jet stream; 31 peopletravelled on a direct flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo in a touch more than 12 hours, with a return of just more than eight hours. As in years past, Turbo and guests stayed at the Shinagawa Prince hotel, which is perfectly located across the street from a major railway station and mere stops away from the most interesting districts of Tokyo. Once settled, we exchanged our benjis for yengis and headed out to sample Tokyo. The tour included bus service from the airport and to the show, which meant more free time in the city for us. As in past tours, we checked out the big Super Auto Bacs on the Tokyo side of the Rainbow Bridge and as usual, it impressed many of the tour attendees with super trick parts stacked in bins as if they were in the clearance aisle at Pep Boys. We hope to expand the tour for 2002, offering different lengths of stay and different itineraries, maybe even a shop tour. Whatever the case, expect bigger and better in 2002; stay tuned for Turbo to give away a trip later in the year.
While there were many of the same cars in attendance as last year, the 2001 Tokyo Auto Salon provided enough new blood to invigorate the senses. The standout of the show was the HKS Drag Supra. The car is a Jerry Bickle-built, tube-frame masterpiece that flexes i-Force V8 twin-turbo power. The Toyota should be an absolute terror at the track.
Our brief observation of the car revealed dope-ass, electronically adjusted Koni rear shocks, an air-shifted sequential gearbox, an innovative intercooler set-up, where each turbo pressurizes the air-to-air chiller from each side. The cooler's piping to the throttle body exits the intercooler in the center of the unit. This design provides good cooling, while limiting lag. The car also has shock travel datalogging capabilities as well as engine datalogging. Furthermore, the wheelie bar treatment was unique. The engine's upper intake plenum and eight individual velocity stacks look cool and its 16 injector fuel system seems more than ready to tackle its duties. Short of that, this was a typical Supra.
In other 0-400 news, Blitz had one of its distributor's race-oriented RX-7s in its booth. A stock-sealed 13B motivates the silver 7 to mid-9 e.t.s with bolt-on parts. Video footage of the car running showed the suspension still had some development, so we look forward to seeing quicker e.t.s. As we understand it, Blitz USA is sending the crew some 3mm apex seals and if the car responds with a big number, it could earn a trip stateside. (Look for a feature on this high-spirited Mazda in this issue.) Top Fuel had its mid-engine del Sol from last year in its booth again. A placard on the roof displayed a 10.8-second e.t. accomplished on street tires. We would still like to see this car come to the United States in Quick Class trim and run on slicks.
As far as make and model goes, the 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX owned the floor. There were so many of those restyled oval headlights peering at us, we felt like we were being stalked. The rally tuners, Subaru Technica International (STi) and Rally Art, had packed displays and street tuner Zero Sports unleashed a number of trick WRX components. We're looking toward GReddy and HKS to develop an in-depth line-up of parts for the WRX in the States. The question is, will some of the Japanese Subaru tuners join the fray?