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When attending a big event like Osaka Auto Messe, it’s important to have a plan when going about shooting photos. Since I’d be spending two days covering this year’s show, my plan was to gather as much as material as I could on Friday, when foot traffic would be lighter and it’d be easier to look at the cars up close.

By the end of Friday this was largely accomplished, so when I returned to Intex Osaka for day two of Auto Messe on Saturday, I had a bit more freedom. While I spent some time wandering the halls, dodging the crowds and looking for anything I might have missed on my first pass, my primary mission for the day would be to check out the parking lots.

As strange as it might sound, this is actually one of my favorite parts about covering an event like Auto Messe. Maybe it’s just nice to get away from the noise and crowds for a little bit, or maybe I enjoy the thrill of the hunt for cool cars. Whatever it is, I was excited to get out there and see what I could find.

I was however, a little worried about the effect that the weather would have on the selection of modified cars in the parking lot. Saturday’s weather wasn’t nearly as bad as Friday’s snow storm, but with clouds and the occasional rain shower, it still wasn’t what I would call great driving weather.

So with a bottle of hot tea to keep me warm, I headed out to see what I could find in the various parking lots and garages that surround Intex Osaka.

After a few minutes it was obvious that while there wasn’t quite as many modified cars as in years past, there was still plenty of interesting machinery to be found. After all, a little bit of ugly weather isn’t going to keep the passionate Japanese auto enthusiast at home.

And even if the numbers of cars were slightly lower than I remembered from the past, the variety was as impressive as ever. There was everything from custom vans and drift machines, to exotics and high horsepower tuner cars.

Since this is Osaka after all, what better place to start than with a Honda Civic? This one’s a super clean EK9 Type R model sitting on a set of 17″ Buddy Club wheels.

It’s really hard to get more Japanese than a slammed kei car. Actually, to call this Daihatsu slammed would be an understatement.

Looking for something a little more international? How about this cool Alfa Romeo race car replica? For whatever reason, you don’t see this sort of thing often in the US but the Japanese are quite fond of putting race liveries on their street cars.

Compared to the creations inside of Osaka Auto Messe, this Toyota Crown was as mild as it gets. There’s nothing wrong with the simple look though.

Being a long-time Mazda Roadster fan, I was happy to find this limited edition version hiding in one corner of the lot. The brake dust-coated Enkei RPF1s tell me this one’s no show car.

Want the performance of an Impreza STI with some extra room for the family, or whatever else you might need to haul around? That’s why you’ve got the Forester STI. Whether you call it an SUV or a wagon, the fact is it’s damn cool.

Outside of an aggressive drop and a set of Work Meister wheels, this Celsior was as stock as it gets. Sometimes though, that’s all you need.

Pocket-sized fun in the form of a Suzuki Alto Works. If I were to move back to Japan, I thinking some like this would make for the perfect daily driver.

A Mazda Bongo van done in full Lightning McQueen/NASCAR style. Only in Japan…

While it seems the new Toyota 86 is all over the place at events these days, it’s always nice to spot an original hachi-roku in the wild.

This JZX110 Mark II is typical of a street-driven Japanese drift car. It might not be the most pristine thing around, but it’s got a style all its own.

It’s never a bad thing to stumble across a 911 GT3 RS in the parking garage. It’s also the one car in this post that’s free of any aftermarket modifications.

Yet for as cool as the GT3 was, I was equally excited to find this P10 Nissan Primera with a full roll cage and other circuit-spec bits. Yes I know I’m strange.

A Honda Accord Wagon with 3SDM wheels – an unusual but surprisingly effective combination.

Here’s a Mk6 GTI modified in typical Japanese fashion. There are RAYS wheels and a few simple exterior modifications that I was able to spot. Thumbs up.

Not only did this Honda N-One have a very tasteful exterior treatment, but I’m quite sure I heard turbocharger noises later on when I saw the car leaving the event. Awesome!

E46 BMW on a set Japan’s own BMD wheels sitting beside an R34 GT-R. Not a bad pair at all.

Here’s two more GT-Rs I spotted parked side by side in one of the parking garages. Legends – plain and simple.

I love the Honda Fit because of its versatility. Not only do they have a ton of interior space, but you could make one into a fun little track machine or just as easily build a smooth-looking cruiser, as the owner of this second generation model did.

Somehow I don’t think it was by coincidence that these three red MINIs wound up parked beside each other.

Of course these weren’t just any MINIs, but the ultra-desirable JCW models – all outfitted with a choice selection of aftermarket parts.

Here’s a very fast-looking Legacy Wagon, coated in the same shade of World Rally Blue as the Forester we saw a few moments ago. Who says only the Impreza owners can have fun?

There’s only certain cars that can pull off a pink paint job, and this R32 Skyline sedan is definitley one of them.

As I was heading back to the car after my parking lot expedition, I heard the distinct sound of a 2JZ and looked over just in time to catch this tidy JZA80 Supra go by. What a great-looking car.


So there you have it. Whether it’s inside the halls or out in the parking lot, there’s no show in the world quite like Osaka Auto Messe.

See you next year.


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