Japanese Porsche tuner RAUH-Welt Begriff brings its creations to the U.S.Tue, 29 Nov 2011 00:00:00 -0800
When Akira Nakai started tuning cars more than 15 years ago, it was to have something different than everyone else. He had a global vision, and it was RAUH-Welt, which is “rough world” in German.
“[I] had this vision in my mind,” Nakai said through his interpreter Ichiraku Toshiya. “[I[ wanted it to be branded around the world, not just Japan.”
RAUH-Welt Begriff is a Porsche tuner that began in Japan. Nakai started working on his own cars to separate himself from the crowd. And as he found his passion and niche, others soon followed.
RAUH-Welt has achieved cult status with Porsche and tuner fans alike, and it continues to grow. At the 2011 SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nakai premiered the first two RWB Porsches to be built in the United States, one at each the Falken Tire and Mobil 1 booths.
SEMA, however, was just the latest in many stops for Nakai. Recently, RWB opened shops in Europe, Thailand, the United Kingdom and now the United States.
At the Falken Tires booth sat the first RWB car for the States, a bright green RWB Porsche 964 named “Pandora One.” The owner, U.S.A. brand director for RWB Mark Arcenal, was introduced to Nakai and Toshiya through a popular import-motorsports Web site.
“We met Mark through Speedhunters and decided to go through him for the U.S.,” Nakai said.
Arcenal, no stranger to cutting-edge trends in automobiles, is founder and creative director for Fatlace/Illist, a lifestyle boutique in downtown Los Angeles with a recently opened second location in San Francisco. Fatlace was tasked with transforming a brand-new Sonic for the Chevrolet booth at SEMA. Look closely and you'll see Illist details throughout the Porsche which Arcenal helped design.
The signature wide fenders on the Porsche were handcrafted by Nakai, as it is with every RWB car built. The body kit is all cut by hand and built without renderings or predetermined plans. “Nakai made it with the body kit from Japan,” Toshiya said. “He did the bodywork and put it on, setting up the wheels and suspension to match the fenders.”
And while many globally influential tuners carry large pocketbooks and the staff to accommodate, RAUH-Welt is all of three people.
“The bodywork is built and done only by myself,” Nakai said. “While many tuning companies help in other areas, RAUH-Welt is me, a painter and Toshiya, as he's been helping with international business.”
According to Toshiya, his role in helping develop RAUH-Welt has been in the technology and international sides.
“Nakai doesn't have a computer or Web site, so I've been helping with that, to help grow.”
Toshiya and Nakai were once fierce competitors on the racetrack, and out of that competitiveness grew a friendship and respect that has filtered into the life and work styles that is RAUH-Welt.
“It's a lifestyle for him,” said Toshiya, speaking of Nakai. “He likes to have something different, a very nice car by himself. It's his passion.”
“But it's also work,” he continued. “So it's business as well, but his work is fun. He enjoys making nice cars for other people to enjoy.”
A RWB transformation takes about two to three months per car, depending on requests and budgets. It was rumored at one time that RAUH-Welt built only one car per person, but Nakai quickly dismissed that.
“It's not just one car per person,” he said. “It's OK to build two, three, four or five cars per person. I'll go wherever they need, any place to build for a customer.”
The process and attention to detail Nakai commits to each car speaks to his dedication and passion for creating. While not every RWB-built car is his favorite, Nakai did reveal what is.
“Sometimes a customer brings a Porsche and wants a car from me where I can use all of my creativity,” he said, “and they just give it to me to transform. Those are my favorites because they are from my ideas.”
By David Arnouts