Japan's Auto Salon
Up close with the world's speediest road warriors From Veilside: A souped-up Supra with an open market value of 12 million yen

JAPAN'S Auto Salon, a sportscar exhibition that rivals the Tokyo Motor Show in popularity, will make its debut in Singapore in August. Co-organised by entertainment company Simon Foo Productions and auto sports specialist Racebreed Dot-Com, the premium event is scheduled for Aug 31-Sep 6 at the Singapore Expo in Changi.

For the first time, fans of super-performance cars and motorbikes will get the chance to look at some of the world's fastest machines up close. Wealthy enthusiasts will also have the opportunity of buying the rare and obscenely powerful exhibits.

These include a one-of-its-kind 1,300-horsepower Nissan Skyline built by Japanese tuner Veilside that's capable of 346kmh. Or a 1,000-horsepower Veilside Toyota Supra that has an open market value of 12 million yen, or S$189,600 (x3 to translate to on-the-road price in Singapore). Competitor Abflug will fly in a number of tuned-up cars, including a BMW E46, Toyota Aristo and Nissan Silvia.

For bikers, the ultimate draw would be the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R, reputed to be the world's fastest street-legal motorcycle with a top speed in excess of 340kmh. Aprilla agent Ideal Motor Sport will also have a stand, and will be presenting its Challenge Trophy for its annual series of races. And Japanese racing aces Hiroaki Yabumoto and Michio Izumi will be present to sign autographs.

Not all exhibits are Japanese, though. VW agent Car & Cars, one of the few authorised distributors taking part in the show, will bring in Oettinger souped-up versions of the Beetle, Bora and Golf. The star, however, must be a 360-horsepower Audi TT-R modified by ABT. This 2.8-litre V6 twin-turbo is capable of a five-second 0-100kmh sprint and a top whack of 286kmh. Lotus agent EuroSports Auto will present a Le Mans version of the Lotus Elise, Lotus Exige, Lotus Esprit V8 and possibly even the boldly-styled Lotus 340R.

In all, the $2.5 million show will have over 100 cars spread over an exhibition area of 10,000 sq m, which has already been fully spoken for. The organisers are not charging the exhibitors, but expect to make money from ticket sales and commissions from car sales.

Tickets will be at $10 each, but the organisers are trying to tie up with an oil company to defray part or all of the cost through a customer loyalty programme. In any case, $2 million worth of door gifts await visitors, and about 30 lucky draws are held each day, with the top prize being a Lotus Elise. Other prizes include a high-end bike, tyres and TV sets.

As an added attraction for the mainly male audience, a bevy of "campaign girls" will be specially flown in from Japan. Participant Veilside, for instance, will bring in four top models who each command up to 100,000 yen for a day's work. There will also be a "race queen" contest, with some 30 contestants.

The organisers expect 500,000 visitors to the seven-day show, including some regional royalties. In the tradition of Auto Salons in Japan, enthusiasts, including a large convoy from Malaysia, are expected to display their cars in the carpark for an informal exhibition outdoors.

Although an unknown event here, the Singapore Auto Salon promises to be a hit; and the organisers are already working on next year's event.