Friday, February 8, 2013

A Day's Journey - HKS Japan Headquarters

When you think of tuning industry innovators, there are a few specific names that come to mind. Surely HKS - the big kahuna of them all - is one of those names. Seeing what goes on behind it's secretive doors is a gearhead's dream, one which a rare furtunate few get to realize. It's hard for me to truly express how I felt that day, how special it was, and how just outright lucky I was to be able to see in detail everything that goes on in HKS' impressive operation.

5:00am Tokyo time, I wake up, still way to early to get ready - so I decide to kill sometime by taking in what was one of the most beautiful sunrises I've ever seen.

Shortly after it was time to head down to the madness that is Shinagawa train station, where no matter the time of day it's halls seem to house an endless supply of people...'s rare in occurrence but there are times where you can actually count the amount of people in the halls, furthermore you can actually stop to grab a shot or two without being trampled over. Ok... I'm probably exaggerating... You probably wouldn't get trampled, but it surely seems like you could.

I really had no idea what this said besides the obvious, all I knew was that I was about to experience the Shinkansen bullet train for the first time....

.... and there it was - the Shinkansen Bullet Train. It's shape alone screamed speed even while sitting still. At this point I really began to wonder what it would be like. To my surprise, you really couldn't feel how fast you where traveling, if you sat there with your eyes closed. That's how smooth it was! It was only when you looked out the window and the topography of Japan blurred by you at dizzying rates that you realized this train was moving at speeds nearing 200 mph!

As we approached our final destination, Mt. Fuji became a sight you could not easily overlook. And why in the world would you... I honestly think I must have taken a few hundred shots of it... and that's being modest!

This was one of HKS' many buildings, with this particular one being part of their old complex still in use. Here they house their exhaust manufacturing department as well as a very special building home to some iconic HKS race cars - like the Hipermax EVO, and D1 Drift IS, as well as a few retired GTR Drag cars. Access to that particular building is usually never granted, but surprisingly we where actually allowed in with the condition of no pictures. Darn...

When we arrived at the new part of their complex we where greeted by this beautiful R34.... of the most iconic cars to ever come out of Japan and a personal favorite of mine, which in my opinion has lost none of it's appeal.

Honestly,  I nearly lost my marbles when I first laid eyes on this thing - despite not being able to see it, I'm sure I had the goofiest smile on my face.

It seems that everything - and I mean EVERYTHING - in Japan is sporting a set of Endless brakes and Advan wheels!

Can you blame them though? I think not!

Perfect balance of form and function.

Parked next to the R34 was this rather mild looking EVO X packing close to 600 whp....

....and this really mean sounding CRZ.

After, we headed up to their car museum - a place where you can really see just how vast and diverse the history of this company truly is.

This 1990's JTCC Opel Vectra was one of my favorite cars in here...

...sporting a dual front caliper setup - something I'd never seen before.

One of the three open wheel cars on display, my personal favorite...

...just look at that intake!!

One of the many engines on display, this one being an F1 spec V12  developed in-house.
They've even ventured into motorcycle tuning as well as (not pictured) marine aplications such as jet skis.

2002 JGTC Mercedes CLK.

After our tour of the Museum and the majority of the complex, it was time for a much needed break. We headed down to the vending machines which sparked a very entertaining conversation. You see... we didn't know that in Japan, you can get either cold or hot drinks at vending machines. You would think that the red and blue price labels would be enough clue... But, uhhh no, we didn't pick up on that.

This is HKS' test track, one which is apparently unusable due to an overwhelming chicken problem!

Throughout the day, we where chauffeured around in this really cool HKS tuned van which was not only aesthetically pleasing on the outside, but was packing some serious punch under the hood...

....provided by an HKS supercharger kit, boosting power to around 300whp! 

Before we left, I noticed Taniguchi's D1 86 being prepped for HKS premium day in one of the bays so I ran over to grab a few photos.

Sadly, even though invited to the event, we where unable to attend since our flight back to the states was a week before. Hopefully next year we can stick around long enough to go!