GARAGE LIFE | TEC-ART’s Tuning Shop, Japan
Posted on February 11, 2013
A Toyota AE86, parked beside a truck, with some other cars in the background. Looks just like any other Garage or back street Tuning Shop in Japan right? Except this small, little Shop outside Tokyo is very special..Let’s take a closer look at TEC-ART’s…
Tokyo, Japan is an amazing place. Overwhelmingly busy and populated, it really is a concrete jungle with neon lights. It runs MUCH deeper though. A unique place, with a sub-culture for everyone, it also boasts some of the best tuning cars in the world. Looking at the picture above it’s hard to imagine, but they’re hiding in there somewhere and it’s my job to seek them out!
Tec-Art’s is a small tuning shop located in Saitama-Ken, in the suburbs of Tokyo. You may, or may not have heard the name, but if you have, you can guarantee it’s been followed by…’AE86′. Tec-Art’s is indeed an AE86 Tuning Specialist. They do occasionally work on other unique cars, such as Nissan and Alfa Romeo, etc, but their main customer base and passion is for the Toyota AE86 ‘Hachi-Roku’.
I first met Kamata-San and his brothers/co-workers a few years back, but had been following their work long before that. After a special visit to the Tec-Art’s shop, I was immediately hooked and became good friends, sharing many memories since. Having made their name in the AE86 Tuning scene, the Tec-Art’s crew are right up there with some of the most respected Tuner’s around.
Facilities may seem small at first, especially compared to U.S.A and Europe but this is actually a pretty good sized setup for Japan. In Japan, land and building property is very expensive, so facilities need to be adapted to make as much room as possible. It’s not uncommon to see cars stored above others on lifts, even with the Office space turning into a Parts store. Space is limited, so it’s important to try manage it as best as possible. The Japanese have mastered this, and the art of parking as many cars as possible in a very small space.
The Tec-Art’s shop is definitely big enough though, and can store plenty of cars for working on. There are many special cars to show you, but the heart and soul has to be the Tec-Art’s N2 Special AE86 Project. Kamata-San started this build back in 2001, and it has grown with serious research and development over the last 12 years. The Tec-Art’s crew have pushed the limits of the little Hachi-Roku, and things have gotten more and more extreme as the Hot-Version N2 AE86 Race gets bigger every year. Aerodynamics, tuning and chassis work have all been worked and transformed over the years, leaving us with the final product above…Well at least for now anyway!
The heart and soul of any AE86 has to be the trusty 4AGE. Tec-Art’s are specialists in tuning this engine to it’s full potential, and then some! Whether it’s the original 16 valve, later 20 valve swap, or a complete custom build such as 7AGE or Turbocharged, Tec-Art’s have done it all, and know them inside out. Kamata-San loves all the variations but deep down he is a purist and tells me everytime, “The 16v is still the best for me”. It is indeed the 16v that sits under the N2 Project’s hood. It’s not just any 4AGE 16v though, this one has been tuned to squeeze out every bit of power possible, and is still Normally Aspirated N/A. Making a very impressive 239 PS, this 4AGE revs out over 10,000 RPM, thanks to the 82mm High-Compression Piston Kit, extensive head work with 304º Cams, a JUN Auto balanced crankshaft and titanium conrods. The Tec-Art’s crew also developed a fully custom dry sump oil conversion, Type-II manifold and racing muffler, adding to the wonderful noise of the AE101 individual throttle bodies with open trumpets. As far as 4AGE engines go, this is a work of art!
Having seen the car in the metal many times, and being raced hard around Tsukuba, it’s simply awe inspiring to witness Kamata-San’s work come to life as he hammers through the 6-speed Quaife sequential transmission. He is constantly pushing and searching for more and more potential from the little 4AGE and AE86, with regular fine Tuning adjustments being made on the Motec management.
Looking around the garage some more, you will notice something very similar sitting above the N2 Project AE86. Perched on a lift is indeed a spare shell and chassis, getting more extensive work and part development for the future, or should any accidents happen! It will be very interesting to see where things go in the next 10 years of AE86 Tuning…whilst not forgetting this car is already 30 years old now!
As I said before, the Tec-Art’s crew tune the AE86 to various levels, depending on the customer’s needs and requirements. Every time I stop by the shop there’s always something new and unique being built. This time was the ‘Panda’ White/Black AE86 Levin above. What looks fairly simple and normal, was indeed just that, but with many more details on closer inspection. It’s a street car for a customer in Tokyo, who likes to drive everyday, and allowing his wife to drive the car also. This is the Tec-Art’s ‘ECO Version’ AE86. Running a fully rebuilt stock 4AGE, injectors and mild Tuning make it fresh and fun to drive. The real magic comes from Kamata-San’s incredible ECU mapping work. This AE86 is very economically mapped for everyday use on Motec Management, allowing up to 40 mpg on a long drive. For AE86 owners, this is very impressive! A custom ‘Sports Catalytic Converter’ and Jasma Muffler complete the Tuning. Uprated TRD Suspension improve the handling, and still comfortable for everyday use, while the very interesting addition of ‘Electric Power Steering’ make parking in Tokyo easy for the wife. It’s a real pleasure to drive this type of car, one that I would describe as a modern day upgrade of the AE86.
Outside of the work shop, there’s always an impressive line-up of Demo and Customer cars. The AE86 above had just arrived. It was booked in for basic maintenance and preparation for Shakken (MOT Vehicle Inspection). It also just so happens to be one of my favourite colours, Black/Grey 2-tone, looking beautiful on Work Equip wheels and Redline tail-lights.
However, something even more special was sitting inside the work shop under a cover. Kamata-San smiled as we walked towards the covered car, all the time making me guess what it could be. I’m sure many of you will know the car pictured above…If not then you certainly won’t forget it from today. This AE86 belongs to Keiichi Tsuchiya (Drift King), and is his own personal road legal car. The car also features a lot in the ‘Hot-Version’ DVD series. This time Tec-Art’s got their hands on the car for a full 7AGE engine conversion. The 7AGE consists of 4AGE Head mated to the 7AFE block. A full Tec-Art’s High Compression Piston Kit and build make it produce over 200bhp with ease and reliability. You know you’re standing in one of the best AE86 shops when Tsuchiya-San’s car is beside you!
The famous engine above! The car has since been finished, and overhauled with some bodywork restoration being done, as well as new wheels; Work Meister CR01. It’s been an AE86 legend over the years, driven by a legend and an inspiration to us all. It really is great to see these cars still being enjoyed to this extent today, 30 years since the first production.
The Tec-Art’s crew are a BIG part of the AE86 community, and respected by so many. At most events you will find the guys there with demo cars, new parts, and all things AE86. If you’re ever lucky enough to meet Kamata-San and his brothers be sure to have a quick chat. Their knowledge is gold, and they will always take time for a friendly chat and offer any advice needed.
We will finish up with some more photos of the AE86 N2 Project. These were shot at the ’86 Style’ event at Fuji Speedway, which takes place every year around 8/6 (8th month, 6th day) Hopefully you enjoyed this insight into the AE86 Tuner ‘Tec-Art’s. There’s still more to come, including a full Autolifers feature of my own personal AE86 in the near future, which just so happens to be powered by a Tec-Art’s motor. Stay Tuned! For more information visit: http://tecarts.com/
Words & Photos: Chris Gray