It is with much sadness that one of Japan’s tuning world has passed due to complications from cancer at the age of 76.
It was announced that Junichi Tanaka, the found of Jun Auto Mechanic died on the morning of the 05th of March after building an empire where numerous world speed records were held by the bright yellow cars that emerged from their walls.
Tanaka San was born into a family of metal-smiths with the family owning Tanaka Industrial Co. founded when he was just three years old. By 1955 the company had begun manufacturing two-stroke engine & body parts for motorcycles & a decade later the firm began to make engine & body parts for automobiles as well. In March 1980 Tanaka San founded the Jun Machine Shop – a division of Tanaka Industrial – dedicated to the development of aftermarket parts & race cars located in the Nerima Ward of Tokyo. Two years later their first product was a 3.5-liter stroker kit for the Nissan L-series inline-six. Showcasing this Jun built an S30 Fairlady Z drag car which also showed Tanaka Sans love for straight-line power.
In 1985 with the turbo era under wat, Jun developed a twin-turbo kit for the L-series which was good for 500PS when paired with their 3.4L stroker kit demo’d on an S130 Z. In June of that year Tanaka San founded Jun Auto Works which was a body fabrication & paint shop allowing the company to greatly expand their capabilities. It also took their race cars to another level by building custom composite bodies, which is where they started on a unique challenge of speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Using a modified Z32 Fairlady Z, 1990 saw Jun’s team go to America & record a 228.30 mph across the lake beds. You have to remember though that as Japan had no similar landscape this feat was considered a tremendous accomplishment.
The following year Tanaka San established Jun Auto Mechanic to unite the divisions under one umbrella & to make a one-stop tuning shop that could convert any street car in to a four-digit horsepower monster. Jun returned to Bonneville that year with a more modified Z32 built with fellow Japanese tuner Blitz & completed a 260.88 mph run for an E/BMS class world record.
In 1993 Jun and Blitz came across the Pacific to El Mirage with an R32 Skyline GT-R, setting a World Record in the E/BGCC class with a 194.6 mph run. Juns exploits were covered heavily by the media in both Japan & the West adding to Tanaka’s status. By 1997 Jun had established subsidiaries in Thailand and the U.S. showing they were able to compete & succeed in all manner of motorsports as well as breaking land speed records! Many will remember Jun for their demo cars as each was very different with the list having all the 90s favourite Japanese cars. Their demo cars served two very different purposes. JUN built two GC8 Imprezas – one for the circuit & one for rally. The circuit-spec car broke the then standing lap record whilst the rally-spec car competed in the Rally New Zealand clocking a speed of 192.4 mph.
Sometimes, Jun’s builds were so transcendent that a single car could compete in multiple forms of racing. The Jun Hyper Lemon Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V was shipped to Germany to participate in both a time attack & drift challenge coming 4th & 1st respectively. It then went to Hong Kong to set the Zhuhai Circuit lap record there before going back to Japan to break the company’s own Tsukuba record! The list does go on & on!
Jun’s breadth & variety of experience was rivaled only by the biggest companies in tuning & at the height of the boom the products they created were considered one of the best whether an exhaust, engine internals or crate motors. Even today JUN remain relevant, especially in our world supplying R35 GT-Rs with billet cranks! Tanaka San’s passing is a monumental loss but his legacy lives on in the many cars & parts that Jun Auto Mechanic have created & built.
The GTROC sends its sends its deepest condolences & heartfelt respects to Tanaka San’s family, friends & colleagues at this most difficult & sad time …