I’ve never been involved in a barn find. The excitement that must come from uncovering millions of dollars’ worth of metal in a shed is not something I have ever experienced. However, I’m pretty certain the emotions I felt as I wandered around Kazuto Garage’s secret wheel warehouse came very close.
You see, I wasn’t expecting anything like what I found inside. My friend Kazuto Soon had invited me there during my trip to Malaysia back in June, just because he thought I might “find it interesting”. He didn’t say he had the most awesome wheel collection I’d probably ever see, hidden away in a completely anonymous shed in the middle of nowhere.
Yet, when I squeezed past the assorted car-related junk surrounding his KE70 Corolla, that’s pretty much what I found.
It seemed Kazuto had accumulated examples of almost every classic wheel design of the last few decades. Advan tri-spokes? Got ’em.
Nismo LM GT4’s? Yup, got those too. (Note the NSX-R wheels above as well).
TE37’s? Of course.
It wasn’t just modern designs, either. Got yourself a kyu-sha? Kazuto Garage has you sorted.
Want more variety? Too easy.
Watanabes more your style? Sure. You could choose from the classic in-house manufactured one-piece wheels below…
Or SSR-made two-piece models in varying colours.
The range was just endless. Even Mad Mike could pick up some spares!
You might have noticed by now that almost all the wheels stored here are used. Some more so than others. That’s because this warehouse is essentially a holding unit, keeping Kazuto’s enormous collection safe, until such time as customers who turn up to his main shop want items from it. Once they decide to purchase something, Kazuto ships the wheels off to a reconditioning firm before handing them over or fitting them.
The reconditioned ones sit downstairs in the Dexion rack system you saw in the opening shot. The uh, patina’d ones from before are all upstairs.
The funny thing was, though, that while all the shiny wheels below were very nice, the majority of the interesting stuff (to me, at least) was upstairs. Those old classic SSR’s and Watanabes you saw earlier, the Nismo LM’s, it was all fantastic. And so numerous, too.
What really made this treasure trove for me, though, wasn’t just the wheels. It was the little knick-knacks scattered around the place.
Take, for example, the nondescript pieces of plastic resting on the wheels above. They’re actually part of a full original N2 kit for an AE86.
I also stumbled across examples of Kazuto’s racing past. (He still races, but not as much as he used to). This kart was a relatively early example of his exploits…
While these seats were likely leftovers from past racers/drifters he’s built.
Being a wheel seller, Kazuto has also ended up with quite a few wheel caps over the years.
And I mean quite a few. Most were of the more modern variety, but Kazuto also had a box of rare classics from Uniroyal (I’m guessing the Japanese division, judging by the English) and Watanabe as well.
He also had a collection of random wheel spacers, just hanging around.
This obviously Japanese snow chain box made me laugh. I dunno about you, but I’ve never felt mighty joyful putting chains on. Maybe I’m doing it wrong?
Of course, while some of the best bits and pieces were upstairs, there were plenty of nice little items downstairs, too. Momo wheels, Volk Racing wheel nuts, stereo head units, fresh seats, you name it.
Meanwhile, larger items resided closer to the entrance. Evo dash, anyone?
It wasn’t all car stuff, either. As with so many petrolheads, Kazuto is a pretty handy rider, too, and while this project is more style than racy substance, that didn’t stop it from being cool.
And of course, being the manager for the GT Radial Formula Drift Asia team, Kazuto also has a few spares just lying about.
For me, though, it wasn’t just the number of classic wheels on display, nor the rare and very cool curios that made this place so very special. It was the feeling of exploration. The idea you’d stumbled across something unique and amazing. Being shocked at each turn by the wonders you find within. In short, it made me feel like a kid again.