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Tokyo Motor Show 2019 from the eyes of a car-guy

By Botchi Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer October 30,2019

As a preview of our Tokyo Motor Show special coming out later in the week, I thought of sharing some of my personal favorites at #TMS2019. Cars that inspire, point to the future, occupy a special place in our hearts, and nod to motoring’s glorious past. I am and always will be a car-guy first, and a Motoring journalist second. Car culture runs strong, and these cars greatly enrich custom car culture, and our collective imagination the world over.

Ferrari F40

I believe this is the first time I’ve ever seen a Ferrari F40 in the flesh, upgraded with some LM bits such as the mono-block center-lock wheels, the upgraded rear multi-place adjustable wing and a small front diffuser/splitter. It also has a roll-cage inside and red bucket seats. It isn’t a full LM conversion (that is, a full-on competition version) as it still has the regular pop-up headlights, among other things. But this is still the stuff of dreams, released in 1987, the final vehicle Signore Enzo Ferrari had a hand in. It will and always will be my favorite Ferrari, bar none.

A90 Toyota GazooRacing Supra D1GP drift car

Masao Kawabata’s infamous A90 Supra drift car, shod in Toyo Tires livery is proof that the JDM sports car and aftermarket tuning community has accepted the A90 as a serious performance vehicle. It competes in the Japanese D1 Grand Prix Series as well as the FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup. Sideways in a Supra is always going to be fast and fun! Powered this time by a 3UZFE V8 from a Lexus, and sporting a massive single turbocharger for mega (over reliable 1,000hp), it runs massive TOYO R888r tires on RAYS Wheels, a sequential transmission and Wisefab front and rear suspension arms for massive drift angles. The car was on display at the Tokyo Auto Salon preview booth at TMS2019.

Tomica Toyota 86

Tomica die-cast model cars have always captured the hearts of the young and young at heart. I myself have a modest Tomica die-cast collection, and each time there is a Tokyo Motor Show or Tokyo Auto Salon (the largest Japanese custom tuning car show, second only to SEMA) event, Tomica rolls out a massive pop-up store with special event-models available only during the show dates. Tomica’s popularity is massive, such that they have sponsored a Toyota 86 that competes in the 86/BRZ One-Make Race in Japan.

Kremer Porsche 935 K3

Arguably the coolest old car in the entire TMS2019 is the Porsche 935 modified by Kremer Racing. Kremer is a long-time Porsche tuner, racing team and race-prep outfit that modified the 911 and other Porsche models, with the highlight of their existence being victors of the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans as a factory-backed team, even beating the Porsche factory team themselves in the process. Resplendent in orange Jagermeister livery, the Kremer Porsche 935 K3 married modern cutting edge technology, particularly in the field of aerodynamics, on an otherwise old 911 based chassis. The biggest technical advantage was the Kremer team’s air-to-air intercooler which helped give it more power and reliability on the Mulsanne very long 6-kilometer straight down the Circuit de la Sarthe versus the factory Porsche team’s air-to-water intercooler. Uber cool classic!

Nissan Skyline

A lone Nissan Skyline was on display promoting Naoki Osaka as the brand’s latest ambassador, previously beating top-seeded Serena Williams at the 2019 US Women’s Open Tennis Championship. People could get an image beside the car with Naoki Osaka’s digitally super-imposed image beside you. But for me, the Skyline, long a cult favorite of Japan’s tuning car underworld was the main attraction. Today, we get the globally available R35 GTR, but when the Skyline bore the GTR moniker, it was more alluring, mysterious and seductive in its rarity. Indeed, “Gojira” was a legend then, and continues to be a legend now.

Honda RA272

The first-ever Japanese made Formula One car to win a Grand Prix, the RA272 opened the doors for Japan to compete at the top echelon of motorsports globally. Designed by Yoshio Nakamura and Shoichi Sano for the 1965 Formula One season. It won at the Mexican Grand Prix driven by legendary F1 Ace Richie Ginther, with teammate Ronnie Bucknum finishing fifth for a double points finish for Honda. Power came from a technologically advanced (at that time) 1,500cc 48-valve 4-cam V12 engine making 230hp and revving to 14,000rpm. Today, Honda engines still continue their high-revving histrionics. Since then, the Japanese manufacturer has always been involved in F1 in one way or another.

McLaren MP4/4

Another Formula One car at the Honda booth was the McLaren MP4/4 driven by the late Ayrton Senna. Designed by American Steve Nichols and Gordon Murray (yes, THAT guy), the MP4/4 was considered to be one of, if not the most successful F1 car of all time. It won all but one of its races in 1988, and captured all but one of pole positions in the same season, boasting a success rate of 93.8 percent. No other car has come close. Best car and best driver of that era, sometimes the stars align perfectly. Resplendent in now banned Marlboro livery, the MP4/4 represents the truly golden years of Formula One Grand Prix Racing. Power came from a Honda-built RA168E, an over-square turbocharged V6 engine which featured the Japanese manufacturer’s attention to detail to create a highly responsive and fuel-efficient engine that would last the distance.

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