JDM Heroes of Las Vegas

It could be argued that car customization existed in some form pretty much from the moment first ever car rolled off production line.  Humans' thrive for perfection and uniqueness cannot be debated as today many styles have merged and evolved into the scene we witness on regular basis and to some extend blended into.  This undeniable part of human nature has given us SEMA(Part 1 Part 2  Part 4)

Without a doubt however, if there is a single contributing force that channeled the direction where car customization is going, it would most definitely be the tuning world of the JDM.

Japanese cars are known for their simplicity, reliability, conformity, as well as, at least on most occasions - lack of power.

Judging by what I witnessed at Tokyo Auto Salon throughout all these years, the Japanese have mastered all possible techniques to overcome box constrained mentality of car manufactures, so it was interesting to see what our fellow car guys from across the pond have come up with.

It goes without saying that American style,


and choice of wheels will always be different from the Japanese

On top of that, as we covered in Part 1, the scene in general in America is a lot more vast allowing for options to be more competitively priced, ultimately opening opportunities for more potential customers, who in turn have full garages with complete set of tools at their residencies to pursue their goals and ideals.  Yes, we are a lot more limited in our choices and possibilities in Japan.

But regardless, let's check out some of the Japanese cars at SEMA!

Many may recognize the familiar forms and design clues of this JZA Supra displayed at Fitipaldi booth as it was a 2016 tribute to the car featured in Fast and Furious.  Sometimes I find it hard to believe it has been 15 years since that movie came out and changed after market scene forever!

Some companies remain true to their roots and base their product lists on experience in racing technology.

New product was introduced by Cosworth for the FA20 flat four found in Subaru BRZ or Toyota 86, which often been complained about for its lack of power.

Cosworth has used their knowledge to manufacture a Stage 2 Power package consisting of bolt on positive displacement supercharger, headers, and state of the art cooling system. to provide a significant increase of power, torque and feel of a bigger engine.

Some builds are perfect blends of styling and engineering bringing the best of both worlds.  The M&M Hyper Wide body kit perfectly blends with matte gun metal gray body paint on this S2000 built by Buddy Club and Infinite Auto Design.

Brand new Konig Hypergram wheels were fitted as the car was the show vehicle for Konig USA

Some cars, like this widebody R35 GTR with wide body kit and artistic engraved paint done by Kuhl were brought straight from Tokyo Auto Salon.

Others, like this 240Z had a unique SEMA vibe to them.

This LS3 engine is part of the reason.

When new model Prius was first unveiled at Tokyo Motor Show, I swore to avoid featuring even a single picture of it on this page or my Instagram account.  However, when I see one lifted on set of dirt and fitted with steel beams for proper offroading, I am ready to make an exception.  Hope it has a V8.

Sometimes simplicity yields perfection. The new black Rays Volk Racing TE37 look fantastic on the Infiniti Q50 sedan.

To my amazement this year's SEMA featured not only domestically sold Japanese cars, but grey market imports as well.

I managed to find total of three R34 Skyline GTR's as well as some other versions of the legendary machine.

From the R34's, the white VSpec in BorgWarner booth on Advan Racing RZ-DF wheels was the most impressive.

Partially because it belongs to none other than Toshi Hayama - the man behind most of the cars in Fast and Furious movies, but mostly because of this well presented RB26DETT.

The most distinctive feature was a pair of BorgWarner turbos's in sequential setup allowing for significant reduction of turbo lag and instant power delivery.

The four-door Autech BNR32 look-alike Skyline is actually a base model GTE known for its unimpressive RB20E and rear wheel drive -- sufficient enough to transport middle aged house wives of industrial 90's Japan to local supermarket and back.  Not this one though, as the old timer destined Skyline ended up in Irvine California and went on a significant body building and power course that would make Arnold jealous.

While the RWD drive train was kept as is; only fitted with LSD and gear box originally mated to turbocharged RB25 motor, the gutless engine was binned and replaced with proper RB26DETT with single Garrett GTX3582R turbo conversion and Greddy cooling and intake systems.

The most jaw dropping Skyline however was the KGC10 Hakosuka displayed at OS Giken booth.

A very saturated tone of red with white stripe instantly sets this build apart from the gray and white variety of Hakosuka's often seen in Japan.  Flowing fender flair covering the staggered TE37V's is also a unique feature of this Skyline

but not as unique as its power plant.  For starters, the block was used was originally built for diesel-powered work horse, which was taken apart and fitted with race spec crank shaft and forged pistons.  Addition of ITB and Adaptronic ECU allows this normally aspirated state-of-the-art engine to get close to 500HP!  Who needs turbo's if you can get your hands on a diesel block and some race bred toys to fit on it?

Well, don't write turbo's off just yet, as forced induction is irreplaceable source of power for the R35 GTR.  Displaying custom manufactured suspension components Voodoo13 chose this Vibrant Red R35 as their demo car.

The VR38DETT engine was fitted with custom intake and titanium cooling pipes as well as top-mounted turbo for quicker response and more linear power delivery.

Speaking of turbo's... My first reaction was that that giant snail should belong on a tractor, or a boat, not on a....

but this FD RX7 is unique, actually to call it unique is an understatement.  This is SEMA, where each and every car is unique. This, ladies and gentlemen is the reason to visit SEMA!

Builder - Rob Dahm is well known to internet community and this time he has a vision like no other. The car is undeniably one of the most talked about at SEMA and if you are, just like me looking for unicorns - this is where you start and might as well finish.

The Vossen wheel sporting RX7 has a custom-made flowing wide body kit, which was fitted on extended wheel base, allowing the quad-rotor turbocharged engine to sit behind the front axle.

Which of course is over-complicated now due to incorporated all wheel drive system.  Yes, you read this right - this Mazda RX7 is all wheel drive! The purpose of this build is simple: to have a hypercar defying performance in a daily driven JDM sports-car and to breathe new record-braking life into the lungs of a 20 year-old tuner.  There is still a lot of work to be done, as the car is missing all cooling, piping and wiring, but the base is there and Rob is undeniably on the finishing straight of this build.

But to think that at this point I have seen it all and could just go to local pub and relax would be very wrong, because before me was the most unthinkable and insane rule and logic defying combination I have ever seen.  OK, let's take a step back -- a V8 in a 86 is nothing new.  We have seen things from LS3 to NASCAR engines to pair of custom welded superbike motors being thrown into the what seems like a giant black-hole-like engine bay in a tiny ZN platform.

But this...OK, I am not going to saying. Just try to absorb this....

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a Ferrari engine engine in  a Toyota 86; and not just any Ferrari engine, but a highest horse power per litter normally aspirated engine from Ferrari 458 Speciale found its way into this Rocket Bunnied 86!

To add insult to injury - flame throwing side exhausts were fitted for good measure.  The car is still under development but apparently it runs and drives (and drifts - as it is the primary purpose of the build).

Apart from insane builds, car manufactures were in the spotlight as each had their new models on display and that's something no car guy could miss.

We start with brand new Civic Type R finished in dark shade of matte grey and fitted with 19 inch Rays Forged wheels and Brembo brakes

Rear was instantly recognizable withe triple exhaust setup.

Right next to it was the new NSX, which was first time for me to see in person.  With prices approaching 911 Turbo S and Audi R8 V10 range it will be interesting to see how well it does against competition.

It certainly does look great!

Lexus was there to impress as well, and while I do admire the new GSF,

it was the new LC that was most talked about.  Right here at Lexus booth the final production version of the coupe was displayed with Lexus representatives accepting deposits for early orders.

Boy oh boy how much I wanted to hop in here and drive that screaming V8 sports car all the way to LA.. and back... and to LA again...  That's how good and ergonomic the interior felt.  Lexus has certainly done their homework as they took clues from LFA and applied comfort features of the luxury models.

Next to it was a version of what Lexus would vision a customized LC would look like.  I do like the HRE wheels, but let's actually wait til the first owners start taking deliveries to see what real tuners will have to say about the car.

All in all, exhibitors at SEMA have created a great showcase with perfect atmosphere to display Japanese cars that seem to be so far away from home ground

If anything, the show felt so authentic that organizers of Tokyo Auto Salon could benefit if they took a few pages out of SEMA's book.

That concludes our JDM coverage of SEMA 2016, please scroll down for more photos and don't forget to check back soon for final update from Las Vegas where we will feature the supercars of SEMA!




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