WSTO visits Studie Tokyo!
I had never been as excited as I was about visiting tuner shops as I was when visiting Studie. The excitement of visiting Tokyo Auto Salon had left me in daze that I had still not awaken from when I went to visit Studie. Studie has five locations; Yokohama, Tokyo, Kobe, Sendai and Kidnie. I had the honor of visiting 2 of those fine establishments, Tokyo (their latest which opened last year) and the main hub, Studie Yokohama.
Studie Tokyo did not look at all like a tuning shop. In fact, it really had the aura and the feel of an automobile museum. Upon entering, the display of miniature versions of BMW Motorsport’s finest from the past and present enables guests to submerge in the history of BMW at a single glance.
Just past the entry way, you will find 2 cars on display. The famous Super GT series Studie GLAD R@cing widebody Z4 and another icon from the past, the 1998 Super Touring Car Series champion Fina BMW E36 320, driven by Johnny Cecotto for BMW Motorsport Team Schnitzer.
The Z4 caught my attention right away, with the widebody BMW motorsport shell wrapped in the bright livery of Japanese Anime. This Z4 is an active duty race car and although I was not able to inspect it closer, the Stack instruments, full roll cage, huge “GT” wings, CF diffuser and hood (built by VRS) and BBS center-lock wheels was enough to let me know that this was one serious machine.
The Fina E36 320 may not share the exciting livery and persona of the Z4, but all BMW enthusiasts will know that this is that one car that brought BMW Motorsport back into the world of Motorsport Racing and BMW’s decision to come back to F1 in the late 90’s.
The most amazing thing about this car is that it is not a mere replica but the true shell of the actual car that made it impact in Nurburgring, in 1998.
Although, it has retired from racing duties, Studie has resurrected the spirit of racing by transforming it into an actual “Gran Turismo” Game console. Yes, this car is a game console! Patrons of Studie are able to strap into the racing bucket seats and drive the car in simulation. The illusion of reality and all motory senses are amplified when you turn the ignition of the game “on” and realize that the windshield is a special projector screen. Wow... my mouth was ajar.
For Studie, this was not merely a scheme to attract customers, but a solution for them to share their passion for BMW and motorsport with customers. This passion and vision is evident throughout every corner of the shop and in all the individuals that work at Studie.
As in any place I have gone to in Japan, I was greeted invitingly and cordially by the receptionist. The white color scheme and the bright colors of the shop are modern and very inviting. Clients of Studie are able to walk right up to the meet the Studie team and discuss matters of modification, maintenance and receive consultation from any one of the members of the Studie team. The process reflects Stuide’s motto “TDMM” which is an acronym for Tuning, Dress up, Maintenance, and Motorsports. Studie’s goal is to provide the very best service by sharing the mutual passion for BMW in order to meet the need of its clients.
I shook hands with Studie Tokyo’s manager, Aizawa-san Although, we did not speak the same language, mutual respect and knowledge about each other’s shops as well as the shared passion for BMW really allowed us quickly get acquainted and share many ideas and views on BMW tuning.
On the walls of Studie Tokyo, you will find pictures and pieces of art (valve covers) that are symbolic of BMW. The shop is filled with the latest parts and accessories from corner to corner. Well known brands like BBS, KW, Bilstein, Arqray, ARC, Hamann, ACSchnitzer to name a few were easily accessible to customers to feel and inspect.
We have all seen BBS wheels and as a dealer for BBS in the US, we have seen our share of them, but to have a wall of 9 BBS’s finest specimens was simply amazing. Not to mention that you can’t get 4 of them stateside, the RE-V, RE Mg, RE-Y and the special edition gloss black face RG-R.
It was time to walk out of the shop and inspect Studie’s many project cars and customer’s cars that they have built. The first car that caught my eye as we walked out into the parking lot was this green widebody Z4. This car belongs to the owner of Studie, “Bob” and is nicknamed “kero kero” (famous japanese frog). The black BBS RE-Mg as well as the highly sort after “Golf” ball shift knob really tells me how serious that are about the cars that they build.
The next car that caught my attention was the E82 135i with BMW Performance body. Although, you can’t tell from the seemingly stock exterior looks, this is a fully custom built car, ready for the tracks of Fuji Speedway.
The interior is full custom “Red” leather and suede on BMW performance seats, and steering wheel. Performance is boosted with a healthy dose of power from Active Autowere ECU upgrade, intercooler and blow off valve with the HKS oil cooler to help keep things in check.
The exterior is all BMW performance with custom lighting by Bellof and Hella. Chassis stiffening is by ARC and special body dampers developed by Studie and Yamaha. Although, it is currently wearing E46 Competition wheels, this car the cover model for the Advan RZ for BMW wheels.
Of course there were many other customer cars. Perhaps too many for me to list and talk about. I did make sure to do a more than my share of scrutinizing the mods on these cars, such as this very clean specimen of E60 M5 with AVS F7 wheels and the full AC Schnitzer E46 M3.
Past the parking lot, I was led to where all the work is done. Against the backdrop of Studie’s slogan “We were born 2 run”, Studie Tokyo’s pit was much like their shop; clean and well organized and simply impressive. Parts and tools were well organized and catalogued.
Two cars were up on the lifts when I visited Studie Tokyo; Black AC Schnitzer Z4 and the widebody E92 M3. I recognized, the pink widebody M3, right away. The M3 was fully built with Schubert Motorsport’s wide body with BBS FI wheels. At this point, I had only heard and seen the BBS FI wheels through the internet. The sight of seeing them totally left me in awe. And to do them in a custom “pink” paint job, was an even bigger shocker. Too many times, have I seen a widebody with generic wheels that did not match up well. With the help of KW coilovers, the stance and fitment of the wheels was close to perfect.
The amount of customization and effort that has gone to this car is simply unearthly. Arqray has developed a unique, one-of-a-kind exhaust system so that they can use the fully functional diffuser for increased downforce.
The perfect marriage of BBS FI and Brembo Racing brakes
This pink M3 belongs to Aizawa-san (manager of Studie Tokyo). He drives it on a regular basis, taking it to the tracks whenever he can, where it is most happy. Regular roads in Tokyo may allow it, but I am not too sure the car will survive the roads of Chicago.
AC Schnitzer Japan
Another unique thing about Studie Tokyo is the fact that they share the building as well as the entrance with AC Schnitzer Japan. Of course, I had to check them out. As soon as I walk in, the first thing that amazed me was the car: BMW AC SChnitzer E36 M3 CLS II.
With a 2900cc engine, it can churn out 350 BHP and has a maximum torque of 355Nm. It recorded 8:16 at the Nurburgring Nordschleife in 1997. What is equally impressive is of course its weight reduction through advanced material such as carbon Kevlar which is used in every corner of its cockpit and exterior.
Although, we are a dealer for AC SChnitzer, we have never seen this many different varieties of AC Schnitzer products in one place.
Outside, I witnessed 2 other high profile AC Schnitzer Concept cars, the ACS Profile and the ACS6 Falcon. The white and orange 2-tone was as distinct as the design of the ACS Z4. What really impressed me is the fact that I was looking that the ACS concept car, not in a show but on a parking lot in Tokyo.
After the tour of the Studie Tokyo, I wanted to live there. It was BMW heaven and I understood why so many seek the expertise and leave their prized BMW at the hands of Studie. The service and products that Studie provides is top notch in every sense.
WSTO is humbled and in many ways feel proud to share a partnership with Studie, to share tuning ideas and philosophies for BMW owners in the USA.
I had to leave Studie Tokyo and head out to the Heart and Soul of Studie in Yokohama. With anticipation building up and not knowing what to expect or even comprehend how it can be any better than this, I bid farewell to the crew at Studie Tokyo.
Hope you enjoyed this episode of WSTO Japan Shop Tour: Studie Tokyo. Stay tuned for more...