CanDo Japan put the mentalist into environmentalist with this wide-arched modified Lexus LS600H hybrid
Hybrid. This is a sensitive subject when it comes to us motoring folks because it conjures up an onslaught of negativity, as images of smugly smiling tree huggers behind the wheels of their Toyota Priuses fly through our brains. They spread condescending glances as if to say to every other driver on the road that they are better than you because they care about the environment. They use less petrol, waft along in pure electric power half of the time as the trees wave at them in gratitude.
But then again the term hybrid over the last couple of years has also gained a little respect from us enthusiasts with the higher echelons of the supercar brigade using electric power to boost and supplement their already powerful conventional engines. It leaves us all in a state of confusion, or at least that’s how I feel about it all.
Is hybrid technology the devil incarnate, here to suck the fun out of the cars we love so much, or is it the obvious “next step?” The answer to this might vary depending on how much of a purist you are, but to further understand it all we thought we’d take a look at how some people are embracing it all in the country that actually started the entire movement, Japan.
Japan is the definition of extremes. Here is a country so futuristic that spending any amount of time in its capital will truly emphasise how backward the rest of the world really is on a lot of things – but at the same time still so set in its old ways and traditions that it all mixes up to create one hell of a contradictory place.
When it comes to cars at least, that is actually a good thing as it creates variety, lots of it and of course the odd unique style. Take VIP Style Cars for example, that Japanese art of taking big domestic saloons and making them look as menacing and intimidating as possible. A style that once spanned from the Yakuza as members of organized crime families strived to instil fear on the roads, the style has grown and evolved over the last ten years to be far more accepted and wide spread with people doing far more imaginative things with cars like the Toyota Crown and Century and the Nissan Cima or President.
But now it seems, hybrids are the next big thing in the scene and what better than taking the top of the line Lexus LS600h and giving it the full treatment! And when we say full treatment, we really do mean it as Shunsuke Araki of CanDo Japan shows us. He took the massive, yet fuel-sipping, hybrid version of the LS and gave it a look that even by VIP standards is considered wild. The current Japanese overfender craze, it seems, has also made it to the VIP world and Shunsuke is already getting plenty of requests for his daring aero conversion. We met up with him for a chat in one of Tokyo’s most fashionable districts to check out his car in full detail.
“VIP is about standing out,” he tells us so when the time came to venture out into the world of VIP tuning, he wanted to make sure he was creating an impact. Shunsuke has so far concentrated on building up a business specialising in sourcing and selling all sorts of luxury cars and the idea to create his own tuning brand – CanDo Japan – was the obvious next step.
The LS600h was a car he’s always loved but he felt it could do with some aggression; proper looks to match the performance the electrically-boosted V8 motor can deliver. His kit is quite comprehensive, including a whole new front and rear bumper, a set of skirts and the addition of optional carbon detailing like the front lip spoiler and the strips of carbon running along the side of the car.
While a lot of widening in VIP is done completely out of metal work to keep things clean and smooth, Shunsuke wanted to go wilder and so ended up cutting a good portion out of the LS’s arches both front and rear and slapping on flares to inject some serious girth into what is an already pretty massive car. The result is that he can run rather large wheels and tyres, 21-inch Work Gnosis FCV03s to be precise, 10.5J wide at the front and 12.5Js at the rear with a negative offset of 27 and 29 respectively.
The wheels are finished off with anodized bronze barrels and polished 5-spoke centres which have been clear coated for extra durability. The wheels here really do make a statement, especially when the You Zealand Body air suspension is dropped to its lowest setting and the stretched tyres sit nice and tight with those screwed-on fenders.
The cabin is a modern day Yakuza’s dream, soft leather covers on the seats and all the gadgets you could possibly want at your disposal. Shunsuke tells us that he’s currently putting the finishing touches to carbon fibre trim pieces for the cabin, to further add to the exclusive feel of his LS. The V8 up front has been mated to a Loopsound exhaust system which helps make that creamy V8 soundtrack a little more audible.
It all combines to create a rather tantalizing proposition to the whole hybrid debate. We’ve all learned to blindly hate on such cars but here in front of us was something that we would pretty much all gladly rock on a daily basis. Well maybe if we lived in Tokyo we would!
OWNER: SHUNSUKE ARAKI
CAR: LEXUS LS600H
CanDo Japan Loopsound cat-back exhaust system with quad tail pipes
Work Gnosis FCV03 10.Jx21in -27 front, 12.5Jx21 -29 rear, Nankang 255/30R21 front, 285/30R21 rear, You Zealand Body air suspension with Datesystem air suspension controller
CanDo Japan full body conversion: front bumper, carbon lower lip spoiler, front Works-style overfenders, side skirts, carbon underskirts, rear Works-style overfenders, rear bumper
Ltide leather seat covers, carbon trim (coming soon)
First Class 8000
Words and photos Dino Dalle Carbonare