Kei Miura is a leader and leaders always get heat. They’re always going against the grain, Nakai-san takes heat, Kato-san takes heat, every great artist takes heat. Heat means they are doing something right. Anarchists have always taken the path less travelled and ultimately by listening to the voices of passion and ignoring those on social media we have bonkers creations such as the TRA-Kyoto S30Z.
What sets true trendsetters apart from the fly-by-nighters is that they can take a base that the masses claim can’t be improved on, tip it on its head and improve it. While it has gained a new lease on life the key to remember that Miura’s approach is that less is more. The Z is a platform which has been attempted by many before, with very few every really making it work. You just can’t throw new school aesthetic at an old school car, which is why Miura-san is the perfect candidate for tackling a base such as the S30.
His talent for crafting new kits on iconic old school cars isn’t born out of some fancy digital know-how and good luck with a CAD program, but rather a pure appreciation and whole-hearted involvement in the scene which many know very little about. ‘My automotive roots are all old school, and at times a little questionable, my start was out on the kanjo loop’. The king of FRP hails from a background consisting of a stripped out EF Civic with a transplanted B16A at redline with no plates out on the Osaka Kanjo highway system. ‘We used to sneak through the tollgates right behind another car to avoid the steep toll charges, then we had all night to race the loop. We wore hockey masks to cover our faces from the cameras and when we had to make a run for it we would sneak up behind another car to escape out the toll gates’. Yup, that is right folks. This man doesn’t just dress and appear badass, he truly is.
An old school pioneer in every aspect, his respect for those who have gone before him, and the scene that he remembers fondly is where he draws inspiration from for the products he produces. ‘My kits have a modern twist on them to fit into the current scene, but the roots of why they look the way they do are purely down to the glory days’.
‘Old school cars are what inspire me, and when many said the Z was an untamable platform I wanted to prove them wrong’. The kit despite being minimalistic is still aggressive, while keeping the beautiful lines of the S30 relatively intact. This was a large reason for the success of this kit on the S30s bodyline, but the ribbon that ties the whole car together is the feet that it sits on. ‘I have a strange way of designing my kits, I don’t start with the bodylines, I start with the wheels’ he laughs while exhaling on his cigarette. Miura-san has taken a set of Racing Service Watanabe R17s in a 15” 9j -13 up front and a 10j -25 in the rear. In true racing spirit, Miura-san has wrapped the aluminium shoes in Hoosier tarmac rally tyres pumped outwards courtesy of 30mm spacers to fill the short-cut fenders. The perfect ride height has been achieved courtesy of a secret aircup suspension and ‘shakochomei’ setup. ‘I have some new tricks up my sleeve for the way my classic cars sit’ Miura-san remarked.
With the perfect wheel and stance combo matched up to the platform, the kit that curves around it complements the original lines so well while infusing a touch of aggressive into the mix. From front to back the flow of the kit fits the style of Japan’s OG sports car, the front lip vents are just big enough to feature but not detract from the classic Z ‘face’ while the side skirts integrate smoothly info the original rocker panel shape. While everything from a distance works so nicely, once you get up close and personal you notice that the perfection is all in the details. A shaved bumper-less rear end coupled up with a nascar-inspired spoiler ensures that the rear doesn’t look too naked, and a cutout section in the rear fender for the door isn’t even noticeable until you go to open it.
Equally as striking as the form is the colour. This S30 has been wrapped in the same four-stage paint that you will find on the Lexus RC-. Silver paint, followed by clear coat, followed by translucent red, hit with an additional coat of clear. The final result is a mesmerisingly deep and radiant shade of red that compliments the look of the car so well.
Underneath the sloping bonnet you won’t find the L24 inline-six, but rather a 2.8-litre L-series bored and stroked out to 3.2-litre, and good for 320 horsepower. With the engine bay as clean as the rest of the car, to finish it off is a beautiful set of OER Racing Carburetors. Like many traditional kyusha the engine is tuned with the intention of cruising the highways while being equally at home revving hard up the mountain passes. With the 3.2 inline-six totally renewed internally, Miura-san turned to Greddy to create a custom one-off exhaust system for the S30, and insisting that he wanted the muffler rotated 90 degrees for a new-school spin on an old-school style.
Inside the cockpit Miura-san really has taken on a minimalistic approach. The same vibrant RC-F red is mixed up with black leather accents, and in true kanjo fashion there is no room for passengers nor much other interior trim for that matter. A single black felt Quattro Sport bucketseat nestled amongst an original custom cage fabricated by Miura-san gives a rigid race car feel to the office space. To break up the solid red, black leather covered door cards maintain the classic feel. In front of the driver is a re-trimmed leather dash complemented by a period correct Datsun steering wheel, wooden shift knob and well used leather boot that are a timely reminder of the car’s vintage pedigree. ‘You don’t need to go over the top to create a custom car, remember what is important and focus on that’ Miura-san explains.
From an age born out of simplicity and form being equally as important as function, Miura-san has continued to instill this into all his creations. ‘In the old days, car tuning was all about driving and enjoying what you had and you made your car your own too. We didn’t have phones or the internet – our cars were the only real source of fun’ Miura-san explained. With the fast pace in which automotive tuning runs at these days, it is nice to know there are some of the old school creating, and tuning with a nostalgic element in their work. Coming from an era when automotive tuning culture was born counts for a lot, losing sight of our roots is a fallacy.
This TRA-Kyoto S30 isn’t born out of modern day social media fandom, nor is it another cut and paste CAD drawing. It is a neo-bosozoku twist on the golden era of tuning. We have to remember guys like Miura-san have been an active part in creating the scene we have today, and they did it without hashtags, social media, nor viral video, and that demands respect.