Meeting Miura-san at TRA Kyoto

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The Carland feature I shared earlier deals exclusively with the popular Toyota AE86 in Japan. There’s another kind of 86 in this city that once blew every car fans’ mind with its outrageous widebody treatment – TRA Kyoto’s Rocket Bunny 86. When I was around in Kyoto, I thought I should pay a short visit to see the real thing myself. :)

The workshop is situated in the outskirts of Kyoto City and the nearest stations are Okubo Station (Kintetsu Kyoto Line) and Shinden Station (JR Nara Line). Walking 3.5km from the Okubo Station didn't seem to be a viable choice (plus it was night), therefore I turned to the reliable taxi service to get me there.

TRA Kyoto which stands for 'Tops Racing Arts Kyoto' is no fancy tuner house with roomy workshop, because it is simply a company responsible in designing aero parts. I knew about its presence when the world’s first widebody GT-R was on display at TAS 2012. The car was a collaboration work between Japan tuner Bensopra and TRA Kyoto, but its name didn't reach the world ...

... until TRA Kyoto unveiled the unique Rocket Bunny kit on the new-gen 86. But what separates TRA Kyoto from the rest of the aero parts companies is the modern CAD design implementation rather than conventional clay sculpturing.

Over 20 companies within Japan including Liberty Walk are employing TRA Kyoto's professional service. Not to forget, the new 6666 Customs (four-six Customs) and Rocket Bunny brand line the small company introduces from time to time.

Meet Mr Miura Kei (44), the owner of TRA Kyoto, Rocket Bunny designer and modern hero of 3D CAD aero parts design. Honestly, I was anxious at that time being a total stranger talking to Miura-san, but as the conversation progressed I realised his humble and willingness to share personality.

The small office filled with vintage awesomeness is where his clients came to him for requests and meetings in the morning, and works on the designs by night time.

Miura-san demonstrated how he can easily alter the 3D renderings of the Rocket Bunny Lexus RCF in the Rhino 3D modelling software. But before any design could begin, he has to laser scan the actual car in order to obtain its 3D rendering that he and his friend had developed.

He also shared that he was in the midst of making four new designs (Z33, S14, Huracan & Gallardo) which I think they are out in the market by now.

 

Once the design is ready, Miura-san will proceed to this CNC machine isolated back in the office to carve out a mould onto the polystyrene block, based on the XYZ data from the software. Not only this modern approach saves time but accurately produces the mould the way Miura-san wanted.

This workplace on the 1st floor was where his small team works on the sculpted polystyrene mould. There is a series of procedures to follow in order to achieve the final product.

I’m not really sure on the steps applied in making FRP (Fiber-reinforced polymer) parts, but one thing’s for sure it is tedious!

 

It involves correct mixture of coat, catalyst and resin with layers of FRP strands (Left) laminated before leaving it several hours to solidify. Its process is similar to CF (carbon fiber) construction but FRP is less expensive and yet still durable as an aero part.

 

These parts are the different stages in the completion of the final product. According to Miura-san, depending on the requirements of the companies, they can choose to retrieve the master mould or let TRA Kyoto complete the FRP aero build in-house. The black piece below the white one is the finished product.

Then the finished aero parts were bubble wrapped and shipped to their respective customers for the following development stage where the real fun begins. So, the cycle repeats whenever new design requests come in at TRA Kyoto office.

Right after Miura-san's comprehensive explanation on his daily work, he took me out for a ride in his infamous red Rocket Bunny 86. Conveniently, the mighty Toyota is also TRA Kyoto's demo car which Miura-san can exploit for experimental purpose.

Left hand drive Toyota 86? Yes, that is actually an imported model called Scion FR-S sold only in the US and Canada. Surprisingly, he got the car for free from Toyota America for lending them a hand in an event some time ago. It was fun to sit inside the Bunny because Miura-san hits the pedal pretty hard whenever there's an opening in front of him.

Miura-san suggested that we should visit the nearby tuner house and it was Phoenix's Power, one of the reputable members of RH9 (Record Holder 9) club. :D

Miura-san introduced to me Nakatsuji-san, his good friend and also Phoenix's Power Kyoto branch Shop Manager. Fortunately, the demo cars prepared for TAS 2015 the week before were still around for me to admire once more.

 

This is Fujiwara R35 GT-R Max Speed Spec tuned by Phoenix's Power. The VR38DETT engine under the hood had been stroked to 4.1L with bigger turbo kit boosting around 980hp and 1102.3Nm of torque. This GT-R even participated in the speed challenge at Nardo Ring, Italy reaching a crazy top speed of 357km/h!

Before calling it a day, we went for a quick drink at Doutor Coffee inside a gas station and the lighting and environment there was a perfect moment to shoot his FR-S. I pulled my camera out and started clicking comfortably.

Some car guys don't fancy the idea of 'cutting' the car to make way for the heavy and fat wheels hidden under the ridiculous bolted-on fenders as it portrays the unpopular 'yankii' style (Japanese slang for delinquent).

As for me TRA Kyoto Rocket Bunny is more than just the aesthetics, it inspires and shows the world what small additions can turn a normal daily car into. Furthermore, Miura-san is a genius in blending the essence of classic and modern styles together as shown in many of his works on GT-R, NSX, RCF & 180SX.

Miura-san’s Rocket Bunny FR-S sits pretty low on the ground with the help of KW suspensions. Those 17” 6666 Custom mesh wheels are specially made in collaboration with Enkei, and they are wrapped in Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R tyres measuring front 235/40 and rear 255/40.

When Miura-san revealed the engine bay, I was rather surprise by the light modification done on it because it sounded like his Bunny possesses a substantial amount of power. As it turned out, twin straight pipe coupled to the turbocharged 2.0L 4U-GSE boxer engine was the source of the sound. Even though it has decent 300hp, Miura thinks the car is slow and needs more power.

The deep dish steering wheel is the only component replaced in the American 86 as Miura-san focuses on the exterior body kit.

The canards, duck tail, wide fender exposing tyres, and the stance really completes the whole Rocket Bunny package and provides a unique presence when this car is around. I really like the combination of classic and modern styles which make this 86 a truly Japanese beauty.

Being the first Malaysian visitor at TRA Kyoto, I felt the need to share what he had brought to the world and so, I showed him Yoong's S13 and Zee's 180SX dressed up in his trademark Rocket Bunny kit. He was glad to see his own creations over on Malaysian soil and he said "Thank you!" :)

My visit to TRA Kyoto wouldn't be perfect without a picture with the man himself. It was an unforgettable experience meeting the humble and cool Miura-san, and hitching a ride in his Rocket Bunny FR-S back to the Okubo Station.

Thank you Miura-san for your time and we all will be looking forward to your new designs in the future.

**Hayashi86.com is the first Malaysian automotive media at TRA Kyoto, Japan! :D

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