As I'm writing this column, the annual Turbo Magazine Tokyo Auto Salon is days away. Although Turbo has been covering the event for years, this will be my first time attending it. (A pesky little passport issue was finally resolved.)
I'm excited to see what the land of my favorite cars holds. Funny enough, I've never been to the mother country of my prized Toyotas, Hondas and Nissans. For years, I listened as my colleagues told me about what amazing cars they saw in Japan, and now I get to see these precious gems with my own eyes. I'm also looking forward to eating the bomb-ass ramen and sushi.
Besides seeing the show, I'm hoping to go to the junkyards and search for cheap parts. I'm known to many of my friends as the Asian Sanford. My brother owns a junkyard, so I'll feel at home in a Japanese junkyard. Car parts are supposedly very inexpensive in Japan, so I'm dreaming about smuggling back some spare engine parts in my suitcase. It would be cool to pool together with some people for a container and ship back three cars loaded with used parts inside. I hear you can get clean R32 Skyline GT-Rs for a mere $4,500. You could also take advantage of the AE86 craze in the United States by buying cheap "hachi roku" parts there and selling them here for a nice turnaround. I guess I'll be paying for that overweight luggage fee. And let's hope customs doesn't search my suitcase!
What does the Tokyo Auto Salon hold in store this year? Last year was dominated by the new Nissan 350Z and the new Skyline R35, known Stateside as the Infiniti G35. (Ever since my mom got a G35 coupe here, it doesn't seem quite as cool anymore. I can't see my mom driving the new Skyline, in an automatic no less.)
The STi and EVO were also two very hot models last year and will most likely still be this year. I'm also looking forward to checking out the outrageous and cool step wagons and minivans. I might see some cool tricks I can integrate into our Project xB and xA. Most likely, the new Japanese vehicle models will dominate this year's show, but I'm hard-pressed to predict which cars they'll be.
We also hope to see new parts featured by Japanese companies that have U.S. divisions, such as GReddy, A'PEXi, HKS and Blitz. I can hardly wait to check out all the awesome products from the smaller shops in Japan. Drifting surely is still popular there, so we hope to showcase some hot items for the drifters among you. We definitely will hit the mountain passes to check out some drift action.
We're also lucky to have the opportunity to go on tours of the facilities of such companies as Tanabe, GReddy (Trust), Signal Auto and Yokohama. Our next issue will feature some inside peeks of our favorite products' Japanese home offices, factories and car shops. Since these facilities are spread out among the far-flung regions of the island, it will take a lot of crisscrossing and hustling, but we'll pack in as many sites as we can to bring you the most features possible.
We'll try not to get into too much trouble there and not instigate too many crazy street races or mountain runs. You can bet we'll bring back the best pictures and get the scoop on the latest new products. Until then, you'll just have to wait one more month. Let the countdown begin...