His phone is pink. His favorite beer is Stella Artois. And his Porsches are among the most controversial on the planet. This is the story of Akira Nakai and his tuning company - Rauh Welt Begriff (RWB).
Now known for his outrageous Porsches, Akira Nakai got his start in a very different scene. A member of the Rough World drift crew in Japan, Nakai started out modifying and drifting the iconic AE86. It was during this time that he began to make a name for himself in the tuning world.
It wasn't until later in the 1990s that Nakai got his first real exposure to Porsches. This introduction came in the form of a damaged 911 while working in a body shop. Hooked by his encounter with the flat-6-wielding German, Nakai bought his first Porsche - a 930 - at the age of 28. That 930 would go on to become his first and perhaps most famous convert.
Modern RWB fans know that most all of RWB's cars receive personal names from Nakai. A reflection of both owner and car, these names range from "Targa" to "Super Musashi." Nakai's first 930 was no exception and is affectionately known as Stella Artois.
Six years after purchasing a then stock Stella Artois, Nakai officially founded Rauh Welt Begriff. The rest is history.
According to literal German translations, "rauh" means rough, "welt" means world, and "begriff" means concept. RWB, or Rough-World Concept, pays homage to Nakai's drift roots, his driving style, and build mentality - some might call RWB's riveted bodywork imperfect, but Nakai thinks of it as giving a car character and soul.
Each build features new front and rear bumpers, side skirts, and fenders. Customers have options when it comes to fenders - wide (either street or track) or the almost comical narrow. I am by no means complaining, but it is safe to say that Nakai and I differ in our definitions of "narrow." Most builds feature some form of wing ranging from the multi-level monsters to the poised ducktails. RWB also offers suspension packages, wheels, and further aero bits like canards and fender wings.
Nakai interviews each RWB customer to get a sense of the build that will compliment a client's style and the vehicle's intended purpose. Then, the build components are shipped to customers (assuming international conversion) who have the pieces painted prior to Nakai's arrival. Finally, when Nakai and his bag of tools arrive at a customer's garage, the process begins.
Nobody dares question Nakai's work ethic. Work begins immediately upon arriving at a customer's garage. He is known to work through the nights and complete conversions in a matter of days. The Energizer Bunny runs on Energizer Max. Nakai runs on cigarettes and the occasional Stella.
It goes without saying that Nakai must cut body panels before fitting his new aero bits. In his seemingly sleep-deprived state, he still makes cuts strictly by eye. I recall reading about one US customer worrying as he added a tow hook mid-build. He held his breath as Nakai cut the front bumper freehand only to find the cut to be flawless, the gap around the hook to be perfectly equidistant.
Each RWB creation is built with form and function. Nakai admittedly builds his Porsches mainly for the way they look. The added functionality of a wide-tire Porsche, though, is welcomed. He is no stranger to the track, and he and his Japan-based customers often assemble for RWB-only track events on circuits like Tsukuba. In fact, many customer cars are purpose-built track toys.
It was the track-oriented race 993s that initially drew me to RWB. It is the comparatively tamer narrow 930s and 964s, however, that keep me coming back. You just can't beat a narrow 930 sporting a ducktail or Nakai's new 964 inspired by the IROC race cars of the 1970s.
Search the Internet and you will come across some scathing opinions of Nakai and his Porsches. "Hide your aircooled Porsches," they say, but I disagree. Modifying cars is and always will be hugely debated, but it's hard to disagree with Nakai's logic. According to Nakai, "Basically, tuning a car is freedom. It is in your own way. There are no rules and regulations. You can do whatever you like." Nakai isn't fazed in the least by his critics, and for that, I admire him and his creations even more. I look forward to the future of RWB and wish Nakai the best of luck in his pursuit of the wildest Porsches on the planet.