It’s good to be back. It’s always a privilege to be able to attend the Tokyo Auto Salon at Makuhari Messe but more so this year. After a couple years of smaller-scale shows with smaller crowds and exhibitors largely due to Japan’s strict travel restrictions, we finally have an Auto Salon that’s back in full force. 

2023 was a true return to form for TAS. Entrants and spectators from all around the world gathered once again to celebrate some of the best, craziest, and newest tuners cars the Japanese tuning scene has to offer. It’s a glimpse of what we’ve missed over the last couple years and what to expect for the future of the Japanese car scene. 

It’s hard to escape from the star of the show this year, the Liberty Walk Ferrari F40. Yes, the maniacs at Liberty Walk actually cut up and slapped their trademark wide body look on an actual F40, the front being replaced with a ‘LM-look’ cowl with the rear fenders were cut for the wider fenders. Liberty Walk’s Kato-san wanted it to be an inspiration to Japan to be able to be free, or rather have the liberty, to do whatever they want to do without the constraints of what others think or expect from them. It’s something Japanese society and the Japanese auto industry should take to heart. 

Another talking point were the pair of zero-emissions concept cars on the Toyota stand. Sure, chucking out the petrol engine from an AE86 might sound sacrilege. In their place were a BEV setup in one car and a hydrogen fuel cell in another because this is still Toyota after all. What made these concepts unique were the gearboxes they’re equipped with; a stick in the middle and third pedal. Lexus Electrified who are now spearheading Toyota’s EV development were tasked with making this work. I’m told that they’ve engineered it to feel and behave like an actual manual car. It’s an interesting idea and future applications for something like this could be endless. But for now, it’s only in the concept stage with no plans for productions. There is some hope. 

The other big OEM talking point was the “new” R35 GT-R. Yes, it’s the ageing Hollywood actress that keeps getting botox to stay relevant. The now 15 year-old platform gets another dose at life with its most recent facelift getting rid of the single frame grille for a face more reminiscent of GT-Rs of old. The styling was certainly divisive on the show floor with people either loving it or hating it. We’ll leave that up to decide on but it seems whether you like it or not this will be the GT-R we’ll have until Nissan eventually comes around to giving us a whole new generation. 

With all 11 halls of Makuhari Messe packed to the rafters will some of the best and craziest cars this year, it’s best to just have a flick through the gallery of photos taken by international automotive photographer Aaron Chung below. 

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Ken Saito
Words cannot begin to describe how much I love cars but it's worth a try. Grew up obsessed with them and want to pursue a career writing about them. Anything from small city cars to the most exotic of supercars will catch my attention.


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