I first met Hioki at the circuit a few years ago, briefly, during one of the times he brought his A90 out to Tsukuba. Not knowing him personally at the time, I recognized that, through his shop name, he was involved with many of the high profile builds that compete in Attack; most notably Suzuki Under and his S15.
Auto Garage HKY is a custom body and repair shop located in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa. After working extensively in the automotive body work field for years, Hioki decided he had accumulated enough knowledge to branch out on his own and in 2006, over 17 years ago now, Hioki founded Auto Garage HKY. Having taught himself the art of automotive painting for the past 14 years while working at a frame correction shop in Chiba, he initially ran HKY as a frame repair and paint shop. Eventually, once the amount of customers requesting frame repair diminished, he pivoted the garage to begin taking on more custom fabrication requests. After accumulating many clients from his good standing and his unmatched talent for sculpting sheet metal, his one man operation grew to handle almost every facet of custom automotive body work; from full custom builds with one-off sheet metal parts, to typical body repair, install and paint. It wasn’t long until he also started working with composites and carbon fiber, adding to his skill set.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however. Like many small businesses, Hioki had his fair share of setbacks. In addition to the countless nuances of running your own business, one winter, several years ago, the entire garage was physically destroyed by a heavy snow. The weight of the snow eventually became too much for the roof to hold and the building collapsed, destroying both the structure, and the cars and equipment inside; most hardest hitting being a race car from Bando Shokai (Racing Team Bando Super GT team). He struggled to receive insurance money from the incident, and was unable to work for about half a year. However, Hioki’s work ethic didn’t allow him to sit idly by. He used the empty lot to start a second-hand car shop, including tuned cars, to pay bills while the shop was being repaired. Once the garage was rebuilt, he attempted to keep that part of the business going, but after spending 12 hours a day building the cars, he just didn’t have the time to keep it up.
Over his career, Auto Garage HKY has worked on some very notable project cars alongside high profile clients like Yokohama/Advan, TCP Magic, Work Wheels, Max Orido (both Orido’s red MK4 Supra and green S30 had the HKY treatment), and as previously mentioned, Under Suzuki. In fact, the very first version of Under’s carbon S15 was built in house by Hioki. Much of Hioki’s success he credits to Orido, as the former Super GT driver does much to promote the body shop. This year, many of the new project cars unveiled at Tokyo Auto Salon had been passed through HKY for paint, body work, and custom processing.
Needless to say, Hioki’s skill was surpassed by few, and despite the work being strenuous and difficult, he loved what he did.
In February this year, at the young age of 47, Hioki unexpectedly passed away from heart complications. He is survived by his wife and 14 year old son.
The following quote was taken from an interview on Cars Takumi, a website that interviews professional craftsmen in the Japanese automotive industry.
“I want to make things requested by customers, and I also want to make our own original parts. Both. When it comes to original parts, it’s completely a hobby, and there’s something about making memories, but without that kind of thing, it wouldn’t be fun. I want to take care of both. After all, you have to enjoy yourself. I used to play around with SIlvia in between work, but now it’s gone. In June of last year, a full-time female staff member came in, and it became a little busier. Up until then, I had always been alone, so it’s more fun to have people around.”
I can only hope that the current employees at Auto Garage HKY are able to eventually see to it that Hioki’s vision of the future comes to life, and carry on the image of HKY.
I first learned of Hioki’s passing in conversation with Suzuki. In discussing possible dates to visit Scorch Racing and photograph the S15 before it went on display at Attack, he mentioned that his work was delayed slightly because of his good friend passing. He told me about Hioki, and asked if I would be willing to write a brief article on Hioki, the shop, and feature his Varis A90 in his memory. Suzuki and Hioki were best friends, it was the very least I could do.
Scorch Racing and Auto Garage HKY happen to be within a 5 minute drive of one another. After meeting Under and Hashi and Scorch, we hopped in a car and headed down the street to HKY. When we arrived, Under introduced me to the woman that was taking care of HKY in Hioki’s absence, Yuuko Wada, as well as a few of the other staff.
Under and Yuuko looking into Hioki’s old office, no doubt reminiscing on the memories shared here.
Under had told me that Yuuko is very skilled at painting, and that she is the only person that truly inherited the spirit of Hioki. She has plans to continue Auto Garage HKY in the direction that Hioki had set it towards.
Inside the office were personal items that told of Hioki’s friendships and work life. Many items from Orido, including signed steering wheels and an old Super GT helmet. He and Orido had become good friends with over the years.
An omamori for success in business sat atop his desk.
Inside the shop it was business as usual. While the air was noticeably more somber, there was still work to be done.
The paint mixing station, which has no doubt been commandeered by Yuuko over the years, shows signs of heavy use.
After walking around the shop, and learning a bit more about Hioki and HKY, we set out to pull the Supra out of the lot and situate it where I could take a few photos.
The first thing I noticed on the A90 were the 2-piece Work Back Label Zeast BST2 wheels wrapped in thin 275/30/20 tires. They were installed for a recent Work Wheels catalog shoot for the newer lineup of wheels from Work. It’s not typically the size or type of wheel that was found on the car, as Hioki enjoyed tracking the Supra as often as he could (as seen in the photo taken last year at Attack).
The wheels are a Brushed Trans Grey and Bronze Alumite color that seem to provide a meaningful contrast to the exposed carbon of the Varis Supreme widebody kit.
Hioki installed and painted the full Varis kit in house at HKY.
There are some noteable custom pieces on the car as well, including the 1800mm GT wing end plates that were installed for the Work shoot. Hioki also modified the Varis rear diffuser by adding color matched strakes.
A carbon roof helps reduce weight and add to the overall look of the A90’s aggressive street style.
The engine of the Supra remains relatively untouched, allowing him to maintain reliability in the car.
Runduce 6-pot front brakes replace the factory GR units.
The car itself is a fairly simple build that showcases some of Hioki’s work on a personal level. It’s nice that he was able to enjoy the car on track and on the street. I think the team at HKY will use the A90, and his MK4 as test beds to develop their own line of parts in house. I feel like that is what Hioki would want.
If you attended Attack Tsukuba, or watched the online coverage, you may have noticed the HKY decal on Under’s S15, paying tribute to his friend Hioki.