A Momentous Occasion
This is Option‘s 500th issue; a landmark achievement in this era of instant gratification. That a magazine can still print to this day, when so many publications have gone by the wayside, is something special. I never had much of a chance as a kid to peruse the pages of Option – I never had access to them – so in their place I read things like Sport Compact Car, an informative magazine from a time when that was the norm. Publishers today struggle to maintain relevancy, with many magazines like SCC dying off long ago and their staff oftentimes being absorbed into the likes of Super Street, seemingly one of the only remaining publications in the west. That’s certainly not a problem unique to the west, as most of us still bitterly remember the closure of Best Motoring (and by extension Hot Version) in 2011, 24 years after the release of their first issue. That’s only two of many long-gone publications both in Japan and in the west. Its a beautiful thing to see Option still running.
This was a special day.
Picking up right where we left off with part one, we’ve got a whole lot more Option Super Fest for you!
This Bayside Blue GT-R prepared by famed Osaka tuner Auto Select was another favorite. Auto Select is known for building fast GT-R’s. Some of you may remember their name from years back, when they built the infamous GT-R Yellow Shark, one of the fastest time-attack GT-R’s in Japan.
With such a pedigree, this car had much to live up to when I saw the Auto Select name, and it more than trounced my initial expectations.
The beautifully retrofitted projectors within the GT-R’s Xenon headlights were just the tip of the iceberg. The car was very low compared to most R34’s I’d seen up to this point, yet it was done with such finesse that I didn’t even mind how low it was; in fact I loved it.
If that wasn’t enough, this car was sporting what was, to me, the most beautiful engine bay of any car present that day. I’ve been coming back to this shot again and again as I’ve been preparing to write this, and the way the engine components play off of each other is nothing short of inspiring.
Not one to be outdone, Garage Active had GT-R a few cars down from Auto Select. It too had the same exhaustive work done to it as it’s blue sister car, but with fiberglass panels instead of the full carbon. Nonetheless, an amazing car. This car sported an entire Greddy catalog under the hood. I’m not usually one for chrome but this car had the right combination of presence and style to pull it off.
Situated across the way was this trio of classic j-tin goodness.
This perfect S30 Z sitting on a timeless set of Watanabe Eight Spoke R’s was the first of the three to really catch my eye, for good reason.
This is every Datsun owner’s dream – an OS Giken twin-cam TC24-B1Z. This head takes Nissan’s venerable L-series and modernizes it with current engine building techniques to create the ultimate L-series; the original, extremely rare head was capable of 325 hp, but this modern version ramps that up to 420 hp with a screaming 10,000 RPM redline! Plus, it’s got the firing order on the cover, like any good old car should.
This Hakosuka sedan had a way about it that just pulls you in, and the wheel fitment was on point.
Of the three cars in this line-up, this was the only one with its original head. That doesn’t necessarily mean its a bad thing though, as it more than makes up for it by being cool.
Completing the old Nissan sandwich was this white Hakosuka, with yet another OS Giken engine under the hood.
Walking across to the other side of the lot I saw a familiar sight – an S13.
This 180SX was sporting the full “USDM’ treatment, which in Japan, means very low with very shiny wheels and a wide stance. Interesting to note is the great attention to detail to achieve this look. For starters, the ‘pig-nose’ zenki front bumper is rare in Japan, having been phased out after 1990 – only 2 years into production.
Taking the ‘USDM’ concept to the extreme, the third brake light, antenna, and even the body line have all been shaved – a once common practice in the 2000’s back in the states. US-spec front bumper lights and sidemarkers have been added as well. It’s extremely interesting to see the takes on this concept occurring in modern-day Japan, where careful attention to detail is more commonplace.
Down the way from the ‘240’ was the car that stole the show for me, one that I’ve been following for a while now.
Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re no stranger to Sean’s work over at Narita Dog Fight, without whom Exciting Hero might never have existed.
Meet Your Heroes
This is a special 180SX. A very special 180SX. The result of a collaborative effort between NDF Japan Body Works and Fun Ride Sharing, a famous team made up of some of the coolest time-attack S chassis in Japan. This is the NDF Japan 180SX Demo Car.
Not a single panel of this car has gone untouched – the fit and finish is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, and its all essentially one-off. The venting added to the Koguchi Power MAX hood is one of my personal favorite touches. As anyone into S chassis knows, those hoods aren’t cheap, and neither are the vents added to it. Together, these elements create a one-off beauty the likes of which haven’t been seen before in the S chassis community. With a car as celebrated and endlessly tuned since its release as the S chassis, that’s an incredible accomplishment.
Every single panel on the car fits as good, if not better than that of a factory 180SX. It’s all delicately shaped and sculpted, blurring the lines between bodywork and artwork.
The interior was well-appointed, with a carbon S15 dashboard and cluster in place of what was likely a cracked S13 dashboard. As I was gawking at the car the owner walked over, and without even having to ask, opened the hood for me to get a better look. Noticing my NDF shirt he also very graciously gave me a Narita Dog Fight x Fun Ride Sharing key-chain. I was starstruck, and despite my poor grasp on Japanese I made sure to communicate how grateful I was.
The engine bay, sporting an S13 SR20, was befitting of such a car. Elegant and functional, everything serving its purpose.
One thing which stuck with me was just how cleanly the fan shroud had been trimmed. Many S13’s in Japan have had their fan shroud trimmed to clear vented hoods (something I had to do as well for my Koguchi Power hood), but this was so well done you’d think it came from the Nissan factory that way.
There’s not much more I can say about it other than to check out Sean’s in-depth and personal writing about the car and the build process over at Narita Dog Fight here – it’s also got an in-depth look in the newly released 80R if you’re really interested!
Parked nearby was this beautiful ER34… GT-R? Yes, this is a GT-T converted into a GT-R, with painstaking measures taken to ensure absolute accuracy. Nissan’s subsidiary Autech had once produced 4-door versions of the R33 GT-R, but that was a one time deal. No such thing ever happened with the R34, so I was caught off guard to see such a convincing take on the concept.
Components were replaced with their GT-R counterparts wherever possible –
– down to swapping in an RB26, the engine synonymous with ‘GT-R’. It was, for all intents and purposes, a fully fledged GT-R.
In addition to the RB26 and GT-R bodywork, careful attention was paid to all the little details. Autech badges were everywhere, and I would venture a guess that this car had just about the whole R34 Autech catalog bolted to it, no doubt a nod to the Autech R33 GT-R four-door.
Across from the four-door GT-R was an unmistakable relic from the past – an ABFlug S900 Supra. Back in the early 2000’s, ABFlug was known for these over-the-top renditions of the A80 Supra. This particular car seems to have taken that even further. The tail lights and mirrors unlike any S900 I’ve ever seen, and though its hard to tell, the entire original Supra headlights are still there – hidden under all that body work.
I was more than pleasantly surprised to see one of these still kicking in Japan!
But wait, there’s more!
Walking over to the pedestrian parking, there were just as many interesting cars to peek at.
This GT-R duo was striking. The R34 especially due to its long list of modifications, such as the Z-tune fenders, R-tune hood,
and these intricate looking carbon canards!
This URAS GT-clad ER34 was a surprise as well. A nicely set-up street car.
Across the way was this GT-R representing Global Auto, a well known GT-R dealer from the Osaka area. Equipped with Nismo’s entire aero catalog and a GT wing it was possibly the most impressive car that wasn’t in the main show.
To give you a hint of just how serious this car is, these Endless monoblock brakes cost upwards of $5,000 USD. That’s more in brakes than some people have in their entire build.
I always say I’ll get an R32 some day, but the R34 always has a way about it that makes me want to change my mind.
Finally, there was this RE Amemiya FD, but what made it interesting…
…were the D’z Racing Cafe Garage stickers all over. Proprietors of an Initial D-themed cafe in Gunma – where Initial D takes place – D’z Racing Cafe helps make JDM fanboy dreams come true by offering tours of Initial D locales in full-blown replicas of the cars from the manga. They also deal with buying and selling tuned cars.
If anything, the Initial D connection just works to make this car even cooler.
At this point, the event was winding down, made evident by the droves of people in line to take the shuttle back to their respective parking areas (me included as I shot these photos). As cars began to drive away from the event I began to reflect.
I was really here. I was really in Japan, experiencing something I could have only dreamed of when I was a little kid playing all those games nearly 18 years ago, and I wasn’t disappointed.
It’s everything I ever imagined and more.
Japan is beautiful.