Tommykaira

Last updated
Tommykaira
Tomita Yume Hanbai
TypePublic
IndustrySpecialty Car tuning and Automobile manufacturing
FoundedTomita Auto Inc (1968–1973)
Tomita Auto Co Ltd (1973–1996)
Tomita Yume Koujou (1996–2002)
Tomita Yume Hanbai (2001–2007)
M-Direction (2007–2009)
TOMMYKAIRA (2009–2013)
Tommykaira (2013–present)
Headquarters Minami-ku, Kyoto, Japan
Products Sports cars
Car tuning services
High-performance automobile parts
High-performance automobile accessories
Website www.tommykaira.club(English only) (Tommykaira Club International's website)

Tommykaira (トミーカイラ), originally founded as Tomita Yume Koujou (トミタ夢工場タ株式会社), is a Japanese car tuning and manufacturing company founded in 1986 and headquartered in Minami-ku, Kyoto, Japan. [1] The company was named after its two founders, Yoshikazu Tomita and Kikuo Kaira. [2] Its parent company was founded in 1968 as Tomita Auto Inc. (トミタオート株式会社). Several of its Tommykaira's custom cars have appeared in both the Gran Turismo [3] [4] [5] and Forza Motorsport [6] racing simulation video game series.

Contents

Car tuning

The Tommykaira signature, which identifies the cars tuned by the company Tommy Kaira.JPG
The Tommykaira signature, which identifies the cars tuned by the company

In 1987, Tommykaira unveiled a tuned Mercedes-Benz 190E which was renamed as the "Tommykaira M19". The company subsequently released the M30E, which was based on the Mercedes-Benz 300E. However, from 1988 onwards Tommykaira began to exclusively work on automobiles made in Japan, establishing successful contracts with manufacturers Nissan and Subaru. In 1988, the company tuned for the first time a Nissan Skyline R31 (rebranded as Tommykaira M30), in 1993 the turn was for the Subaru Impreza (M20b) and the Nissan March (m13) and, finally, in 1994 the first Subaru Legacy Wagon (M20tb) received attention from the Kyoto-based company. The company focused most of its efforts on mechanical and aesthetic modifications to four cars- the Nissan Skyline, Nissan March, Subaru Impreza and Subaru Legacy.

Other models modified have included the Nissan 300ZX, Nissan Silvia, Nissan GTR R35, Toyota Vitz, Nissan 350Z and several kei cars from various manufacturers. Tommykaira has consistently rebranded the cars as if they were completely manufactured by the company itself, with the consent of the parent manufacturers: for example, a Subaru Impreza is rebranded as Tommykaira M20b or a Nissan 350Z as a Tommykaira Z. This phenomenon is not unusual around the world as German manufacturers such as Ruf and Gemballa operate in a similar way with Porsche automobiles.

On the other hand, the rebranding process carried out by Tommykaira has evoked some controversy directly related to the status of the company as a car manufacturer. According to the information spot provided by the PlayStation video game Gran Turismo 2 about the Kyoto-based company, "in 1988 [Tommykaira] succeeded in introducing Tommy Kaira M30, Japan's first fully modified high performance car [...][while] in 1997, [it] manufactured and marketed its original sports car, the ZZ". In general terms, the 1988 M30 model is regarded as the first integrally tuned Japanese automobile, an integral tuning that implied rebranding of the original model.[ clarification needed ] This fact acknowledged the capability of Tommykaira as an important aftermarket manufacturer and prepared the way for the launch of the company as a consolidated car manufacturer with the self-conceived 1996 ZZ model.

A Tommykaira ZZ Tomweb.jpg
A Tommykaira ZZ

ZZ Car manufacturing and economic crisis

The Tommykaira M25, based on the R33 Skyline GTS-t Tommy Kaira M25.jpg
The Tommykaira M25, based on the R33 Skyline GTS-t

By 1996, Tommykaira had solely modified pre-existing models manufactured by Nissan and Subaru; nonetheless, the heavy improvements worked out by the company on the cars made it gain recognition as a brand in its own right.

The company decided to develop its own original design, the ZZ. The ZZ was produced in Norfolk, England, but the factory that manufactured the ZZ collapsed due to the majority of sales being in Japan. In 2002, the car was relaunched as the Leading Edge 190 RT built by Breckland Technologies. [7]

Rowen collaboration

At the height of the economic crisis in 2008, Tommykaira agreed on a partnership with Rowen to make parts under the Tommykaira brand. One stipulation was that all designs must be cleared by Tommykaira brand owner, Mr. Tomita, before Rowen could sell the products. From early-on, the agreement was breached when Rowen unilaterally capitalized the name "Tommykaira" as "TOMMYKAIRA". This was found to be one of many violations cited in court and led to the breakup of Tommykaira's collaboration with Rowen. Despite losing in court, Rowen continued to sell and produce Tommykaira branded products well beyond the court decision leading to an abundance of unauthorized Tommykaira products with the logo being in all-caps.

Regaining independence

By around 2015, the dispute with Rowen had ended and the Tommykaira brand (managed by then, Threeek's CEO Mr. Tokitake) was once again independent. In a chance meeting with Japan Auction Parts co-founder, Mike Wyckoff, Tommykaira once again began selling and producing products for both domestic and overseas markets.

Tommykaira brand license holder, Threeek, rebranded to GTS (Genuine Tommykaira Studio) in 2017 and sells Tommykaira brand products in Japan. JDM Parts Ninja (formerly Japan Auction Parts) is the exclusive distributor of the Tommykaira brand abroad.

Club international launch

In 2020, at the height of the Corona Virus pandemic, with a dwindling number of Tommykaira car owners in Japan, local chapters were disbanded in favour of a global subscription club called, "Tommykaira Club International". The club also known as TKCI celebrated its launch in fall of 2020 and official first-year membership is 2021. The cost of a yearly membership starts at $88.

Models

(please take note that for almost all models engine tuning was offered only as an optional and that some models also had more tuning stages available; shown here are the maximum performances available for each car)

Prototypes and production figures

The Tommykaira ZZ, EV model. Tommykaira ZZ by GreenLoadMotors front.jpg
The Tommykaira ZZ, EV model.
The ZZ II was a $90,000 sportcar 2 door coupe production car with a mid mounted tuned RB26DETT (Nissan Skyline GT-R engine) rated at 550 PS (542 hp) with 6pot front and 4pot rear brakes. It also featured front and rear aero diffusers, and a fully built roll cage.[ citation needed ]

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References

  1. "会社案内". トミタ夢販売. Archived from the original on 2006-11-11. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
  2. Tate, James. "Tommy Kaira R33 Skyline GT-R V-Spec". Sport Compact Car. Archived from the original on 2006-12-16. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
  3. "Gran Turismo 2: Car List". GTPlanet. Archived from the original on 2006-12-13. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
  4. "Tommy Kaira's GT3 Lineup" . Retrieved 2006-12-13.
  5. "Gran Turismo 4: Car List". GTPlanet. Archived from the original on 2006-12-13. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
  6. "Forza Motorsport - Full Car List". IGN. Retrieved 2016-05-13.
  7. Evo May 2002 Archived 2012-02-11 at the Wayback Machine