In the ancient days, before social media, finding a cool car trend meant venturing to foreign places. More often than not, we'd look to the far corners of Japan for inspiration. Last year, during the Offset Kings show at Fuji Speedway, we linked up with our good friend Mark Arcenal of Fatlace and created an Editor's Choice Award. After scouring the show for hidden gems, we stumbled across this Pearl green Nissan 180SX. Unfortunately, the owner was nowhere to be found and we had to get back to the track for the coinciding Formula Drift event. After the show, Mark helped us dig through the registration forms and we discovered the owner of the S13 was Riichi Shimanaka. With some luck, we eventually located him on Instagram and slipped into his DMs. Turns out he's from the Nagasaki Prefecture, which besides Hiroshima is known as the other location where the United States dropped an atomic bomb that eventually led to the end of World War 2. We tried to meet up with Riichi after Offset Kings but he had a hectic schedule and a long drive home ahead of him, so it was nearly impossible to meet up.
Fast-forward to Tokyo Auto Salon week, and we knew it was our chance to reconnect with Riichi. But there was still the problem of location. To put it into perspective, Nagasaki is more than 700 miles away from Tokyo. It's not all flat lands either, as the roads he would have to drive consist of rugged terrain and plenty of mountains. Since a trip to Osaka was already planned, we decided to meet a little more than halfway. When Riichi arrived, we were surprised to see how young he looked. We were under the impression that the youth of Japan weren't interested in such things, but we were wrong. During our shoot we had the pleasure of picking his brain to hear what he had to say about the scene as well as how he came to build such a sweet car.
SUPER STREET: Is this your first project car or have you had other cars in the past?
Riichi Shimanaka: I used to have a Toyota Altezza.
SS: What made you change to a Nissan 180SX?
RS: At first I had the idea to get an 86, but I really liked Rocket Bunny and I heard there would be a body kit for the 180SX. I sold my Altezza and bought the Nissan.
SS: How long did it take you to finish your car?
RS: Six months.
SS: What was the most difficult part in the building process?
RS: Since the car is more than 20 years old, it had rust and a lot of damage from circuit use. I had to do a lot of fi, welding, and painting. Now I want to drive this car forever!
SS: What kind of advice would you give to people trying to build cars?
RS: I see a lot of cars wearing the same Rocket Bunny kit. If you're interested, I recommend a unique paint to be different. I changed the dashboard to an S15 console because it looks better.
SS: What's your favorite part of the build?
RS: The paint! I've learned so many details and technique from my favorite shop No Limit. My rims have a lowrider look to them, and I painted the back of my seats with the Rising Sun, but in gold and candy green. The engine bay is also a different green from the exterior that I got from a Toyota bB.
SS: Tell us about the current scene in Japan.
RS: Stance is mainstreaming in Japan, but I can't understand it well. Low slung, camber, and thick wheels-that's all. Everyone could make cars like that. Just for looks. They are sports cars but won't be used for sports. It's a shame.
SS: We couldn't agree with you more!