At each and every Tokyo Auto Salon, we make a point of trying to uncover what the next big thing in the JDM aftermarket tuning and styling world is going to be. By studying the cars that vendors transform into demo machines, you can begin to connect the dots and see trends develop right before your eyes.

Last year at TAS, Honda’s S660 was the hottest property by a long shot. Being lightweight and agile, stylish, a kei car (meaning cheaper insurance and running costs), and having high tuning potential, it was an obvious choice for the Japanese aftermarket to get their hands on and modify. I currently have Spoon’s S660 sitting in my parking lot, and I must say, it’s one of the better cars I have ever driven.

For whatever reason, it wasn’t until Liberty Walk revealed their LB-Works widebody kit for the Lexus LC 500 at Makuhari Messe last week, that it dawned on me – there were a lot of these cars at the show.

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From that point on, I needed to confirm a hunch that this year’s trending car was indeed the LC 500. My search through the halls began once again.

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With the release of the LC 500 and LC 500h early last year, the grand tourer has become a regular sight in Tokyo’s most stylish and upmarket neighborhoods.

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Of course, it takes more than style to justify a six-figure price tag, and in the case of the LC 500 it’s a naturally aspirated V8 engine and intelligent 10-speed automatic transmission, plus all the latest tech.

Oh, and that interior.

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There’s also the news of Lexus releasing the LC F this year, equipped with a bespoke bodykit that I’m sure will only add to the visual prowess of the LC. But more importantly, it will bring to the table a 600hp, twin-turbo V8 under the hood. Perhaps this is a pre-emptive test to see how the market would react to customized LC Fs?

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I suppose only time will tell, but if shops are already preparing for the release of the LC F, it only makes sense to see what styling ideas they have in mind.

Besides white being the color of choice, most shops opted to keep things clean and simple with their LC 500s. Front splitters, side skirts, rear diffusers, suspension tuning and different wheels ranging in sizes from 20-inch to 22-inch were the order of the TAS weekend.

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One of my favorites was Advan Racing’s carbon fiber accented machine.

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Its 21-inch Advan Racing GT wheels in Machine Hyper Black suit the car perfectly.

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I’m also a big fan of how the HKS titanium muffler tips protrude slightly out the rear diffuser. I wish I could have heard how the exhaust system altered the growl of the V8, but that was never going to happen on the show floor. Another day, perhaps.

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While the LC 500s you’ve seen so far are quite restrained, Aimgain and Artisan Spirits stepped things up a notch with their respective demo machines. Aimgain created a panda-like effect with carbon fiber accents in the front splitter, side splitters, rear diffuser, carbon wing, and custom fenders.

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Slammed to the ground, 22-inch Aimgain GTM wheels pull the whole look together.

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Artisan Spirits’ kit, which they call the Black Label GT, includes altered fenders, similar carbon fiber accents as Aimgain, and the company’s own carbon fiber GT wing.

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20-inch OZ Altelier Forged Zeus wheels are a nice fit for the changes the GT kit brings.

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Then there was T-Demand, which did what it always does best by laying its LC 500 on the floor of the exhibition center.

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It definitely was a striking contrast to all the other LC 500s at the show, which is why I found myself taking in the details for a long time.

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Given the number of LC 500s at Tokyo Auto Salon 2018, I think it’s a pretty good contender for the unofficial ‘hottest car of the event’ title. I liked what I saw too, but I’m curious to hear everyone else’s opinion on the model. Do you think the LC 500 will be the next big thing in the JDM tuning and styling world?

Ron Celestine
Instagram: celestinephotography



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