Tokyo, We Have to Talk

An R8, this ain't! Why won't this trend die?
It is that time of year when all of us look to Tokyo Auto Salon for guidance on what is hip in the Sport Compact world from the sick to the disgusting. SEMA has some of the World’s most outstanding builds in the 1 million sq. ft. monstrosity that is the Las Vegas Convention Center but the show is still aftermarket everything. You see exhibitors searched for. In Japan, it’s all Japanese well, unless they are customizing exotics or taking a stab at some other automotive styling like: Rice, Donk or Low Rider and this is an open letter to TAS to plead for this behavior to stop:

Dear TAS,

I have only met you in person six times but will always cherish the memories. I have taken photo and videos of you that will never fade from my private collection. As I walked your halls, I felt a sense of exclusivity and privilege knowing that I was one of a handful of International journalists that could make the journey and report to my readership back home on what your talented exhibitors put tremendous work and passion into. Each year I attended, I never lost interest in your core group of exhibitors who built the cars and products a whole generation was addicted to like a drug. Alas, for whatever reason you wish to make as an excuse, you have changed and I feel the path on which you are headed is not the one I envisioned. Our relationship will never be the same and yet, I feel compelled to tell you why we need to address these issues publically.


Hello Kitty never gets old, but those pink interior parts do. Rice gone wrong! Gotta love those $99 flip down LCDs facing forward and is the questionable craftsmanship supposed to look like authentic rice? Hi pink Lexus IS-C, 1999 called and it wants its Louis Vuitton arm rest back!


I cannot bear to see you whore out your valuable booth space to make way for Donks and Low Riders. That movement may have legs here in North America but will never be the same over on your shores. Sure low riders have cemented their gangsta-status here in North America as a result of rap videos and hip-hop films but the convertible 350Z will never replace the ’64 Impala drop-top as a platform with street-cred, so seriously, don’t even try. When I see your pitiful attempts at emulating a US sub-culture in this way, I die a little inside. You needed to know this, I cannot and will not even acknowledge cars like this in my publication now or any media outlet I will work for, ever. Not on my watch!

Seriously? Who whould drive this "Low Rider" Z in any country? You wouldn't look G, you'd just get laughed at.


And Donks? What the hell do you know about Donks? Please tell me because I am in the business and I still don’t understand this movement at all. Don’t try and be something you are not because boxes and bubbles are considered scrap by most of the country. A Toyota 4-Runner is a great, capable vehicle, I have owned one and it gets top marks in reliability and practicality. But when you paint it in gold, raise the body and put tacky 26’s on it, it is about as useful as jet-ski in the arctic. I’m just going to pretend I didn’t even see this, repress the memories and end up being a self-medicating, neurotic in major therapy five years from now.


New 4-Runner ... old TAS habits of trying to emulate something else. The Time Attack stripe doesn't help the Donk aspirations.

I can buy a Suburban like this for $500, why would I fly around the world to see one? I suppose it is super rare and desirable in Japan.


Ah, the Rice movement. Reformed ricers out there know what I am talking about, so don’t front like you didn’t have Lambo doors and a two-tone red and white vinyl interior at some point in your checkered past. You and your 25 screens in the cabin, your fishtanks and glowing everything are to blame for all this mess because the Japanese didn’t invent it. So, Tokyo Auto Salon how dare you follow individuals with questionable character for inspiration! These violators aren’t even doing it anymore and are as ashamed of their riced EG, as my old man is of his polyester 1-piece jumpsuit from the disco days. This destructive behavior has to stop now. You might have been onto something with your early days of ‘Wildu Speedo’ (Japan’s Fast’n’Furious) when you had poked and stretched chromies with wild graphics and scissor doors but now its just getting too weird for me. I can’t handle you doing this, it has to change because M3 vents, Supra tails and Mercedes fascias belong on the cars they cam with – period. White or sparkle vinyl has no place on any interior part and as for millions LED lights and 20 LCD screens – they had their day, many years ago.


The Odyssey somehow gained some street cred in the last few years, but this lime green thing took it all away. All of the wrong elements are used in this build and I have to give credit for originality by having those Alpine amps velcro'ed to the trunk floor!


Ouch! Can this Honda Jazz generate enough power to turn these 70-pound chrome flywheels on each corner? Then will it stop?

It's Zee-FR-Porsche! Probably slower than a Z and any Porsche ever made.


With the tuning popularity shifting over in Japan I suppose this next part I am going to mention was bound to happen and is my fault for not predicting it. I have never seen more minivans, Hybrids and minicabs all in one place and the problem is spreading like a virus. I know your strict emissions and steep fuel prices make them attractive but I just can’t bear to see this side of you. Can you round up all these wanna-be boxes and put them in a separate hall for green tuners to drool over. North America is kinda getting there but we’re just not there yet, give us time and maybe we can work it out. We still appreciate a manly Supra, stupid Skylines and guilty pleasures of a 3-way between Silvias of different ages.


Sorry, any car that adult males almost have to sit on top of each other to ride in the front seats together is not for me.

Nice, it has a Geisha umbrella and some Sakura pink graphics so it must be JDM-tyte. Waste of space, get it that Prius and the minivan off the show floor!


I knew Hybrid tuning was coming, I can accept that. But I just never though it would look this lame. Love the mural on the hood paying hommage to a real motor.


If it is over between us please let me know now, so we both can move on. For every bad thing you do, there are still so many highlights every time we meet. We still want to see you and relive the good old days as if the economy is still steaming along and there was no energy crisis. I’m willing to try harder and make you the star you once were, just show me you still care.


Love Always,

Your #1 Fan


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