Let’s be honest, the only reason any of us really want to visit Japanese tuning shops is for the cars. After watching them on DVD and seeing them in magazines, the cars develop a mystique. So seeing them in person is a pretty surreal experience. I couldn’t help but keep thinking to myself, “I’m in Japan, thousands of miles from home, looking at cars I never thought I’d see in the flesh.” It’s a similar feeling to the one you get when you see a professional athlete or a celebrity in person; there they are, right in front of you.
In order to get to Top Secret’s showroom, you have to walk through a small alleyway along the side of the shop. The only thing that separates the cars from the gas station next door is a thin cement wall. The alley acts as an overflow lot for cars that can’t be parked in the shop or out front. There was a scattering of old cars like the R34 GT-R and Z33 above.
Parked along the right wall of the shop were more cars like this D1 Street Legal 180SX and the R32 GT-R just behind it. The alleyway acts as both storage and additional parking for the shop’s employees.
Aside from customer cars, there was this familiar sight, Top Secret’s D1 S15. I still can’t believe a beast like this was just sitting on the side of the shop, like it was no big deal.
The S15 was still in immaculate condition. The paint looked as if it had been polished within days previous. Although Top Secret had retired the car from competition to make way for their Z33, it was nice to see it being well-maintained. It’s a car I had seen many times on Option DVD’s and in the magazines, but to see it in person was something else. There are so many characteristics to a car that photos can never show you. Being able to walk around the bodywork and see it firsthand is a much different experience. I’m also someone who believes that every car looks better in person. Photos don’t do most cars justice and the D1 S15 was no exception.
Just outside the showroom, parked next to the S15 was this; one of Top Secret’s R34 GT-R’s. Being a Skyline fanatic, I was even more excited to see this car than the S15. It’s really an amazing machine. The car was built from the ground up to be a top speed monster. The carbon rear diffuser I spotted inside the showroom earlier was fitted to the car as well as a slew of Top Secret’s other original parts. One of the things that surprised me about this car was just how big it is in person. The R34 is not a small car, it’s probably as long as my WRX sedan. It’s also a very imposing car. The Top Secret gold bling gives the GT-R a lot of presence and commands your attention. It looks fast even when it’s parked; it’s hard to get the image of it barreling down the freeway out of your mind.
That’s me mugging next to the car. I didn’t want to use this picture because looking back on myself 3-years-ago, I have no business being in it. I honestly couldn’t stop smiling while we were there. It’s one of those days where you go to bed that night and think “today was a good day” and you remember it for the rest of your life. I’d really like to visit Top Secret again, next time I’m in Japan. Enough reminiscing for now though. I’ve saved the best for last, stayed tuned for Part III.