Japfest was easily the biggest modified car show of the year so far - that's not some sort of hyperbole, it's just a fact. With over 20000 through the gate, the jewel in the crown of Fast Car Entertainment literally took over every part of Silverstone this season for an epic Sunday of show cars, track action, club displays and of course, more than a little detailing.
We've been supporters and sponsers of Japfest for years now, and we have to say that this was the most ram-packed edition of the show that we've ever seen, proving once and for all that the Jap scene is still as strong as ever here in the UK. In fact, even the cost of old Japanese motors nowadays - not to mention the fact that you need to re-mortgage your house for half a litre of super unleaded - hasn't done anything to kill off the love of these imports. If anything, the hike in prices has made these cars even more desirable investments. What were once cheap performance cars, hooligan skidders or even family runabouts, have evolved to become some of the coolest builds out there anywhere. Japfest of course, is the Mecca for all of these and, as always, we were in attendance to soak up all the action as the Official Detailing Sponsor.
Here's how the mighty Jap scene came, saw and conquered on this sunny spring Sunday at Silverstone…
What with half the crew away in Belgium stocking up the AirStream mobile store at GR8 (you can see the report on that one here - GR8 International 2022), you would think that we'd scale down the operation for Silverstone this year, but nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, we rolled-in heavy with a couple of fully-loaded Sprinters, one of our stacked-out detailing vans and our track-prepped Yaris GR in tow. Oh yes, and there was the small matter of the 30-odd AF sponsor cars and invited guests rolling in for 6am to get parked up and prepped on our stand. Luckily, we've got this setup down to a fine art nowadays, the crew had the pop-up shop popped and fully stocked in next to no time, and we even had a little left over to break out the finishing products and have a wander around helping people give their cars those all-important touches before the gates opened.
So, what was happening on our stand during the day? A blur of excitement would be the best description. Not only did we have some of the best cars of the whole event on display, taking over the entire scrutineering section at the end of Britain's most famous pit lane (you can scroll through our special gallery to see them all), but we also had our product experts and pro detailers on hand to offer advice on the finer intricacies of detailing, and even lay on a few safe-wash and polishing demos. Suffice to say that the shop was packed all day long, too.
Dare we say it? You'll probably find the biggest overall variety of cars and styles in the Japanese car community nowadays, but what's perhaps most surprising is that the build standards and refinement are rising all the time to match, if not exceed, many in the wider car scene. This mentalist attention to quality and detail of course used to come exclusively from the German camp, but long gone are the days of zip-ties and questionable kits from the Japanese car fans… okay, there's still a few but these all add to the flavour and the variety of this, arguably the most hardcore niche in the whole car scene. The truth is that Japfest brings it all together - from rare retro offerings and racers to full-on balls-to-the-wall performance builds and just about everything in between. And that's just the one that you'd call the "show cars' - you'll see a whole lot more more when it comes to the car clubs…
And, let's not forget that one of the most attractive things about Silverstone is the big tarmac bit in the middle. Whether it was watching the thrills and spills of the public track time or getting over there for the drifting sessions and Drift Kings Competition throughout the day, there was plenty of tyre smoking action to keep the crowds entertained. Unfortunately, we were all a little flat out to sneak out onto the track for a few laps in the bosses' Yaris GR this time around… but maybe next year, eh?
A huge part of what makes Japfest so mind bogglingly massive is the club attendance. Here in the UK at least there's still a strong car club community in the scene, and here that directly translates to over 4000 different cars on display. From single marque clubs to those that offer membership to anything and everything from Japan, as we said, you can pretty much see the lot here… if of course it's even possible to actually get all the way around and see everything!
But even so, we always love a wander around the clubs to see what's happening with the cars that actually get driven the most, it's here you'll also find plenty of touches and good (or not-so good) ideas, and a world that shows many different influences. Nice one to the guys at Club Irrelevant for winning the best stand trophy, along with Cult 86 for lifting the trophy for Best One Make Club and SEF Lawrence Swift Port OC for bagging the Club Hero Award.
Here's a just a few our favourites showing the sort of diversity that keeps the UK Jap scene strong…
Speaking of trophies, one other job for us was helping to judge the top three cars in the Japfest Select Competition. We've had a long relationship supporting the official Show and Shine Comps at Japfest over the years so, in addition to laying on a huge stand of our own, we were more than happy to sponsor the all-new Japfest Select display.
Basically, the organisers had hand-picked and invited their top 50 cars, showing a wide variety of ages and modification styles. All we had to do was jump in with the guys from Fast Car and pick the top three, easy eh? Well, no actually, the standard here was higher than ever before, both in the quality of builds and the concours level cleaning and detailing. It took a good while, but tough decisions had to be made and, in the end, we chose Benjamin Hoswell's awesome supercharged Honda S2000. Perfectly stanced and dripping in carbon this highly-polished beauty was anything but subtle, and well deserving of an AF Detailer's Kit Bag stuffed with products along with the Japfest Select Gold Spanner.
Honourable mentions go to the runners up - Ashley Ellis and his super-clean, and supercharged, Civic EP3 Type R who was presented with the Silver Spanner and a whole load of Auto Finesse goodies. Along with Lewis Brown and his wild Pandem kitted Toyota GT86, who took the bronze and - you guessed it - a whole load of AF goodies. Happy days all-round!
It goes without saying that, although we're all pretty much broken from the experience, Team AF had a great, albeit rather busy time at Japfest. Thanks to all of our sponsors and guest builds, well done to the winners of Japfest Selects, and of course, thanks to absolutely everyone who popped along to the stand to check out the cars, and pick up a few of those detailing essentials.
Keep an eye on www.fastcar.co.uk for the official announcement on next year's date, and we'll see you there.