It’s no secret Japan has some of the flashiest supercar owners in the world. We’ve all seen the photos and videos of those bright Lamborghinis with the crazy body kits, fire-spitting exhausts, and a more generous serving of LEDs than New York at Christmas time. It might not be your cup of tea, but these guys show a whole other side of the supercar scene in Japan, away from the traditional owners’ clubs and zero-mile collectors.
A lot of these guys are self-made. They started from nothing and worked their way to a position to buy cars they’ve longed for in their youth. That’s why a lot of them have gone for Diablos, Testarossas, and Murcielagos.
These aren’t guys who can throw away money at a brand new Aventador with the latest mods. For most, the cars you see here are their only supercars. That’s why they take any opportunity they can to drive them. Unlike other supercar owners, these guys don’t mind putting several hundred miles on them in a day.
Team Anija started when Katsuhisa Yamada founded the tuning shop. He started playing around with his own cars until his distinct style started getting noticed by other likeminded owners. People started bringing their cars to his shop for him to work on and the “A-Team” crew grew from there. Now, they have members spread throughout Japan representing their own unique style with Yamada-san’s vision. Whenever Yamada-san gets a new customer, he spends time getting to know the person and his/her spouse to get a sense of what kind of modifications and style would suit them best.
Maybe it’s chrome wheels or bedazzled headlights, perhaps a loud central exhaust or an obnoxious rear wing, perhaps a completely one-off body kit – the sky is the limit for Yamada-san’s imagination. That’s what draws people to him, only he would be crazy enough to completely rebody and modify a Pagani Zonda. Unfortunately the Zonda was out of service at the time of this drive so he had to make do with his Aventador Roadster. After seeing his bravery with the Zonda, he’s gotten requests to work on various exotics such as multiple Ferrari F50s, a Ferrari F40, and even a Porsche Carrera GT.
Anija and Yamada-san’s work speak for themselves, he’s made a kit turning a regular Ferrari 599 GTB into the closest thing to a road-legal 599 XX Evo, though amusingly called the 589 XX.
Earlier this year at the Tokyo Motor Show, he debuted one of the craziest modified Lamborghini Aventadors yet with a mishmash of various Lamborghini designs such as a front inspired by the Terzo Millenio Concept and the rear from a Centenario.
The best part about his creations is that they get driven regularly. Be it for impromptu meets at the usual spots such as Daikoku Parking Area and Tatsumi Parking Area or on one of their regularly scheduled drives out to the countryside. Earlier this month, I was able to join them on a random Sunday morning drive two hours north of Tokyo to the popular tourist area of Nasu in Tochigi Prefecture. Known for its farming produce, natural beauty, and hot springs, Nasu is a popular destination for local tourists to spend their summer holidays in.
As summer was coming to an end what a perfect way than for a casual drive with some friends and supercars. After publicizing on their social media platform, the invitation was extended not just to members of the A-Team crew but to any and all enthusiasts and supercar owners. The meeting point was at Hanyu Parking Area, a sort of mid-point between Tokyo and Nasu where the various members of the A-Team and other supercar owners could catch up and group together to drive in convoy on the way up to their lunch spot.
This gave us a chance to get a sneak preview of some of the cars that we’d get to see more of today. From a new Lamborghini Aventador SVJ already equipped with a Power Craft exhaust to the usual suspects from the A-Team crew, it was a melting pot of some of Japan’s craziest modified supercars coming together on a random Sunday morning. There were around 50 cars expected to turn up, with maybe a couple more late entries at the lunch stop.
The cars that stopped at Hanyu didn’t wait around long. After an hour, they slowly made their way up north for the hour or so drive to Nasu. Being a long weekend, there was slightly heavier traffic than usual; and with a convoy of around 50 or so thirsty supercars, they needed regular fuel stops. This allowed me in a kei car (smallest highway-legal passenger car) to bypass them and get to Nasu before the main group allowing me to get some photos of them coming in.
Once the cars had arrived at their lunch stop, nothing particular eventful happened. They just parked and everyone went in for lunch. However, the locals must’ve gotten word they were coming as there were plenty of keen-eyed enthusiasts with cameras snapping up pics of the cars. As often as Nasu gets tourists from all around Japan, rarely do they come in such extravagant and flashy cars, so it was a treat to see such crazy machines in their picturesque part of the country. Then again, seeing a convoy of 50 or so supercars is hard to miss.
Most of the cars would be familiar to those from Tokyo, but the northern location also meant cars from neighboring areas that don’t normally go to Tokyo made a special appearance, such as the Novitec F12 N-Largo from Sendai. Some of the other highlights included the white F50 which rarely comes out during the summer as the owner says “it’s too hot for him to drive”, a relatively mildly modified F40, and a whole raft of uniquely modified Diablos. Because who modifies Diablos these days except these guys? What’s great is they’re not shy to put on a show for spectators.
As wild and flashy as their cars are, and some are very wild and flashy (holographic wrap on a Murcielago anyone?), these guys are enthusiasts too and love sharing their cars with everyone else. They know their cars aren’t to everyone’s taste, but if we all had the same tastes it’d be a much more boring world.
The guys like the A-Team are the anti-collectors, they’re everything old fashioned supercar owner’s aren’t and are on a mission to show everyone supercars don’t need to babied. Rain or shine, they don’t mind driving 200 miles roundtrip to have lunch with friends. That’s how the A-Team does Sunday lunch.
Ken Saito is a Guest Writer specializing in Automobiles who resides in Japan. With a B.A. majoring in Media Studies with minors in Asian Studies and History from Victoria University in New Zealand, Ken has contributed to motoring websites like DriveLive New Zealand, CarsOfTokyo (Japan), Jalopnik (USA) and Petrolicious (USA), as well as magazines like Lords Magazine (France) and Automobile (USA).
Ken may be one of the few people to have been ‘canyon carving’ in a Cadillac SUV against a Ferrari F40…