I have to start this post out with two particular photos. The first is ROYAL MONTEGOBAY which was my first RWB photoshoot, and the second is the first photo I took inside the RWB headquarters.
RWB was meant to be a straight-forward photoshoot, a carbon copy like many I had done before. In essence it was another workshop, another tuning car, another face, another interview, leading to another deadline. Little did I know it then but my life as I knew it was about to change.
Nakai-san is a man of few words, capable of saying everything he wants to purely by just how he looks at you, his eyes as dark as the oil stains on his hands. The greatest thing about RWB for me is the unwavering kindness and genuine compassion Nakai-san (and the whole RWB family) has shown towards me, since these first two photos were taken. I will forever be indebted to Nakai-san for everything he has done for me. The fact that I went to Japan on a 1-year plan, and ended up staying for 6 years is purely down to him.
After promising a build in New Zealand, we were on the verge of that actually coming true. This was the first step for me, to be able to start paying Nakai-san back for all those years of kindness and support he has shown me. To put it into simple terms, this was a dream come true.
The location for the build was perfect. Quiet, scenic, relaxing, and out of the way – much like the Japanese headquarters. It was not what you would expect it to be. For the first time my camera would also be taking a back seat too, although I couldn’t not snap off a few photos for myself.
It wasn’t long before parts of the build location resembled the RWB headquarters too. Nakai-san’s methods might appear murky and confusing to many, but the artist himself sees everything crystal clear. It was great to see his iconic metal carry-on case and signature pile of assorted nuts and bolts spread across the floor. There are little piles just like this scattered around the workshop in Japan. He personalises every space he works in, whether it is his working space, or relaxing space.
Until now 99% of the conversations I have had with Nakai-san have taken place in a ramen or syabusyabu restaurant in Japan. Stuffing our faces with fantastic Japanese food and talking about how NZ is basically an all you can eat lamb buffet, is fondly etched in my memory. I was still pinching myself that my very dear friend was finally in New Zealand.
The icing on the cake though was not only was Nakai-san here, but also a group of the RWB family from overseas.
Having Christian Coujin, and the Aussie crew here to celebrate with us made the experience an unforgettable one. RWB is all about family, and the build wouldn’t have been the same without you all. We were also lucky to have a close group of Ants and Nan’s friends as well. With every build the RWB family grows and grows. (Chern & Ray were probably busy doing sexy poses for Falgs camera, hence they aren’t in this shot).
As the cars take shape, the precision of his work is second to none. I was away from the build for two hours for RWB NZ002, and upon returning the guards were cut, and the kit had been temporarily hung on the car. Nakai-san just gets quicker and quicker, yet never is there a compromise on the workmanship. He is constantly checking, and re-checking his work to ensure it is as close to perfection as is humanly possible.
In no time at all the 964 had gone from meek and mild, to staunch and stretched. The puzzle was coming together nicely. All those years of trying to explain RWB in words, finally my close friends were able to smile and say ‘I get it now, I understand exactly what you mean’. That feeling alone was worth all the work that went into the build.
It is an incredible feat for one person to unite people from all walks of life, purely through a passion for what they do. Nakai-san has an indescribable aura and ability to bring people together, he is truly one of a kind.
On the evening of the second day, New Zealand welcomed ‘Waikato’ and Ants to the RWB family. Now we were about to do it all again with Nan, and his own beautiful 964.
To many this is a game-changer in the NZ scene, to others it is a bespoke work of art, and to some it is a ‘neck snapper’. To different people ‘Waikato’ will mean different things. As I took this final photo at the doors of the hangar, I thought of that intangible promise that I made to Nakai-san in the warm spring sun back in Kashiwa. It was now sitting right in front of me finally in a very very real tangible form. The first step in being able to pay it back was complete.