HKS Japan Tour 2016…

This set is BY FAR, my favorite photos of any that I captured this year while I was in Japan. There was just something about the exclusivity and air of mystery that came with being at HKS that really inspired me to shoot. I think that doing what I do all these years has at times left me a bit uninspired, but being in places like this just completely blow my mind and really gets my motor going. For those that are unaware, HKS is an incredibly private company. Most tuning shops and companies have to submit a request to get a tour of the facility and a majority of them NEVER get access. I think I remember hearing that you have to be like one of THE top tier distributors of HKS ($$$) to even get considered for a tour. We were able to get an exclusive look at HKS because we have a man on the inside that is one of their most-respected employees. I guess it helps to have friends in high places. Even with this friend however, things still remained very much shrouded in mystery. It felt weird walking around the massive facility knowing that were certain areas that we were curious about that we couldn’t even LOOK AT. Yes, you read that correctly. I remember specifically that day when there was a red R35 GTR driving into the dyno/tuning building and some of us were lucky to get a quick glance of it driving in. Someone in our group mentioned seeing it and so we turned around, only to be told that we definitely shouldn’t look and just keep walking forward. It’s crazy, but totally respectable. I get it. There’s a reason why a company like this has lasted so long and has been such a mainstay in this highly competitive industry. In an era of social media and unnecessary transparency, its refreshing to see that a tuning company of such stature has been able to remain so private. Just walking around the lot gave us this feeling of nostalgia because of how unchanged everything was. The vehicles that they tinker with, along with the technology they use, has obviously remained current with the times but everything else just appears frozen in time…

We started the tour walking around outside where they gave us some details on what daily operations happened in what building. During that time, we learned that HKS’ aftermarket parts and tuning only accounts for 10% of their actual profits. The other 90% is all invested in OEM manufacturers vehicles. For example, our friend who worked there was the tuner responsible for creating fuel maps for OEM vehicles. They also take specific vehicles from different manufacturers to prepare them for sales in other countries. I guess their aftermarket manufacturing side has been able to survive for so many decades in this industry because they don’t rely on just that to exist…

Even with this exclusive tour, there were still many areas of HKS that remained completely unseen by us. We really wanted to get a look at the long known-of “HKS Graveyard”, where all their old demo cars go to die, but alas, we were not given access to it. We got to see a small glimpse of it in another lot that had some of their older cars, but there are so many more vehicles that they have built over the years that are just rotting away in another area. It would have been cool to see but it isn’t something that we could just ask to see. When it comes to situations like this, it is better to just go with the flow and not try to ask for anything more than we were already receiving. They let us see the HKS Museum area and that was pretty epic in itself. It was cool to see the cars and parts that they felt were important enough to give it its own section to showcase their history. After that, they took us out to lunch at a famous Hamburger steak place down the way before bringing us into this really random elevator. This wasn’t just any tiny elevator, it was actually a huge car elevator. I can’t say that we actually felt it go anywhere but when the doors of the elevator re-opened, we found ourselves thrust into this beautifully-lit room that featured the HKS GTR, HKS Toyota 86, and the famed HKS CT230R-NGV. The beam of sunlight that was cast through the windows of this room just made the cars look incredibly epic. Not that they weren’t on their own already, but man, talk about ambiance. I wish we would have had more time there because we could have literally been in there for hours and hours and still managed to find something on these cars to study or photograph…

Hopefully you guys have had a chance to watch the HKS Vlog that we put together. Yuta Akaishi did an incredible job of being really technically descriptive in it while talking about the HKS CT230R time attack vehicle. I’ll attach it below at the end of the post so you guys can watch it (again)…

The whole entire tour was quite mysterious, being that the company itself is so shrouded in privacy but the first spot they took us too was an overflow lot where they parked some of their older demo cars from year’s past…

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While walking around, the first car that we noticed sitting outside was the brand new HKS Honda S660. We had literally just seen it at Tokyo Auto Salon 2016 inside the Yokohama Advan booth a couple days before and there it was just left outside in the parking lot with snow melting off of the brand new paint. These cars just sit outside after major events because there isn’t much use for them. The race vehicles obviously go race whenever they need them to to test new products and what not but the display vehicles like the S660 are just used for visual appeal…

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This HKS-tuned Toyota Chaser on Advan TCII wheels looked like it had probably been parked in this lot for a number of years now. There wasn’t anything specifically new about it and it showed its age, so one can assume that it was either an employee’s vehicle or a ghost of HKS’ past…

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This FD2 Civic Type R would be a gem for anyone outside of Japan to own and mod but it was left out to rot there at HKS with little regard for what the weather had done to it over time…

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Even more worn down than the FD2 CTR was the old HKS “CZ200S” Evolution X. This car used to look really good too when HKS used to track the car regularly. It was spotlighted on sites like Speedhunters but now it just sits out in the cold. Sad and also a bit eerie to see it with its now patina’d body…

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An R34 Skyline GTR with the signature chrome HKS livery blacked-out and hidden from view. I wonder what the story was on this BNR34…

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The beautifully-scenic HKS facility with Mount Fuji in the distance…

After a tour of the exterior, we were given access into the legendary HKS Museum….

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Even in this small, tight space, there was so much to take in; From Formula 3 vehicles to older HKS-built engines down to even an HKS concept vehicle, it all felt like a strange dream to be able to take in such history…

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A Formula 3 race car wearing the signature HKS graphical livery…

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HKS MA70 Supra drag car that made its impact in the drag racing world during the early 90s…

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This 7M-GTE twin-turbo powered Supra produced around 826whp and broke the 8-second 1/4 mile barrier back in 1991 running a 7.91!…

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A glance inside the Supra with its gutted and tubbed interior with a reflection of the HKS Opel race car in the reflection of the passenger window. Interesting that it was left-hand drive…

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Center-lock OZ Racing wheels with period-correct Bridgestone rubber…

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HKS Hemmings cafe racer parked next to an HKS concept vehicle that they flirted with the idea of creating back  in the day….

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Another angle of the HKS Formula 3 race car…

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HKS Formula 3 carbon intake…

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The tight confines of the cockpit inside their race car…

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HKS test vehicle that featured a 3.5L V12 engine…

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I guess it doesn’t hurt to have one more shot of this thing…

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A wall of HKS memories, many filled with famous Chinese film star, Jackie Chan…

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The 3.5L V12 engine built by HKS for F1 produced 680ps at 13,500 RPM….

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Before the Mitsubishi 4G63 engine came along, there was the G54B found in the 1980s Mitsubishi Starions. This “G54BX” was a variation put together by HKS and still on display in 2016…

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One of my favorite photos that day was this rear shot of the famous HKS JGTC Mercedes CLK…

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Still one of the coolest HKS race cars ever…

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They popped the hood of the CLK for us and everyone clamored to get a shot of it…

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The carbon air box with dual air ducts of the W208 CLK…

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HKS Super Fire Racing…

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The cockpit of the HKS test vehicle definitely shows its age….

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Der shooting with his Sony A6000 while wearing the green HKS hat that indicted we were guests that afternoon…

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Old AP Racing calipers peeking out from behind the centerlock Enkei wheels on the HKS Opel race car…

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Really old HKS catalog resting on a display of equally as old HKS products…

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I actually captured this shot of the old “HKS Sports” logo using the light that bounced off the HKS graphical livery from an adjacent race car to give it this titanium-like glow…

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HKS Opel and Mercedes Benz…

After we left the Museum, we took off for lunch as mentioned before returning to HKS. They then took us into this elevator that brought us into another room that was filled with some of the more current HKS competitive race vehicles….

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The first car that immediately captured our collective attention was the chrome vinyl-wrapped HKS R35 GT1000+…

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The GT1000+ was built to be the fastest R35GTR in the world and competes at events worldwide like Australia’s World Time Attack series…

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The HKS 4.1L stroked VR38 is equipped with its GT1000 turbo package that helps the R35 produce 1200PS at 2-bar of boost. You can see here the massive Endless Monoblock 6-pot brakes behind the gold 20-inch Advan GT wheels…

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…Under the chrome vinyl-wrapped HKS livery is an aero package from Ben Sopra. The hood and doors are all HKS carbon pieces…

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Exposed through the center of the Ben Sopra rear diffuser is a single exhaust and right above it is the chassis-mounted Ben Sopra rear wing…

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I’m not gonna lie, I was very giddy to be in the presence of this vehicle and happy to have time to really get a detailed look at it. Having the opportunity to photograph this build is something that I’ll remember for the rest of my days…

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What an amazing opportunity…

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Endless Monoblock…

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A single Bride seat with Nobuteru Taniguchi’s name embroidered onto the seat in plain sight…

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Nardi 3-spoke steering wheel that looks like it has been through some battles in its brief time…

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Carbon switch panel filled with HKS electronics…

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You can see the carbon weave of the doors under the vinyl wrap at certain angles…

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Center-exit exhaust of the GT1000+…

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Custom Bride seat with the HKS logo front and center…

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The sequential shifter that controls the HKS billet reinforced transmission of the GT1000+…

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Battery switch-off housed inside a carbon box in the center console of the GT1000+…

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Admittedly, with the R35 GT1000+ around, along with the CT230R-NGV, we didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the HKS Racing Performer 86 RS-1…

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Still, I dedicated a small chunk of time to photograph to the D1 Grand Prix vehicle…

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Massive front-mount intercooler behind the carbon fiber front bumper which cools the HKS GT7040L supercharger…

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Two of the coolest builds in this room weren’t even cars, it was these HKS GT-Supercharged FZR competition jet skis…

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These things actually make about 600HP with the Yamaha 1800 engine and is powered by a MoTec engine management system…

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If you’ve never heard of the HKS FZR before, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. There are actually a variety of resources for you jet ski enthusiasts who want to know more about them. Just simply Google “HKS FZR”…

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Nothing against the GT1000+, but the coup de grace that day had to be the famed HKS CT230R-NGV time attack vehicle…

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We actually detailed this build in the Vlog episode we dedicated to the HKS Tour but for those who haven’t watched it yet, this is the original HKS CT230R which was at one time one of the fastest time attack vehicles in the world….

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In the last couple of years, it has been converted to a Natural Gas Vehicle, hence the “NGV” in its namesake, and bears an entirely new livery representative of its transformation…

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It looks so different now and has still yet to be fully tested with the Natural Gas set-up, but man does it look amazing still…

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We pulled off the trunk lid to check-out the Natural Gas set-up and rear suspension of the CT230R-NGV…

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The cockpit of the CT230R-NGV in all its carbon, raw, glory…

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AP Racing Brake Bias Bar Adjuster switch mounted to the custom carbon dash…

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HKS AFK (Air/Fuel Knock Amp.), analog gauges that monitor various engine temps, and HKS Circuit Attack Counter….

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Floor-mounted pedal set-up and air jacks inside the CT230R-NGV…

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Check out this custom metal box that holds up the carbon dash panel…

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Single Bride seat and TRS Motorsport harness…

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Endless brakes in their signature blue finish…

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From chatting with HKS tuner Keisuke Morita, they actually believe the Natural Gas set-up will result in more efficient power. I guess we will find out when they finally decide to get the car running competitively again…

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Again, an incredible honor to be able to photograph this vehicle and spend time with it in the private confines of HKS Japan…

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I guess when you are presented with an opportunity like this, you can’t help but smile and try to take it all in…

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That’s a wrap on that. Below is the Vlog that we put together from our visit to HKS Japan. Watch it if you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet… Thanks for looking…

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3 thoughts

  1. I’m a long time lurker on your site and I just wanted to let you know this is fucking awesome. I can only imagine what the graveyard looks like based upon what you saw just outside. </3 Poor cars. Thank you Joey!!!

  2. Its a shame that you couldnt get a shot of the graveyard, ever since someone spoiled me a picture of the forgotten R33 T-002, i want to see more pictures of the top speed R33. In hindsight, will the GT1000+ suffer the same fate of the abandoned demo cars, 4 HKS Zero-R and the T-002?

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