Co-Founder, President: Akio (Aki for short) Tsuchida is the epitome of the American dream. He’s been working on Toyotas since high school where he attended Jidosha Seibikunrensha, in his native Ishikawa, Japan. Literally translated means school for the automotive trade. Upon graduating he went to work for Ishikawa Toyopet where he met his boss and mentor, Osamu Fujimura, who sold him on the American Dream. After seven years working for him, he saved enough to buy his plane ticket to America. In an era when the Yen’s value, 360 Yen was a dollar, young Aki soon found that his hard earned Yen was only worth $500. The $500 didn’t last long as he was soon hustled out of it from a smooth talking stranger. Tired, hungry, and broke Aki went to work for an independent garage in Gardena, which ended up being a slave driver boss. The years at Japan Auto wouldn’t be in vein though, this is where he met his future partner Mas Masuda. Enduring two years of hard labor, friends came to his aide and connected him people at Toyota Corporate, who promptly gave him a job at Carson Toyota. While working at Carson Aki and Mas would work nights and weekends on friend’s cars in Aki’s back yard, finally scrounging up enough to open Tokyo Automotive in 1978; the Buena Park Location that still stands today.
VP of operations: Tatsunori (Tatsu for short) Tsuchida, son of Aki. Some say that Tatsu was doomed from the start, to love cars and to be in the car industry. But a lot of things had to happen in order for him to become a true heir to the legacy that Aki leaves in his wake. Tatsu spent his teenage years always questioning his love of cars and at some points even hated it. But on his 19th birthday Aki buys his son a 1994 Honda Accord Coupe. It was 1996, and the Sport Compact Car craze was in full swing. Soon Tatsu found himself putting many “enhancements” onto his beloved car, fully engulfing himself into the tuner car culture that was prevalent in the late nineties. In 1998, he meets Victor Bernabe, a former high school classmate, future best friend, and future employee at Tokyo Auto. Vic, with the help of many others helped Tatsu get his love of cars to a fever pitch. The two were often found after hours at Tokyo Auto “Souping Up” their rides. A few more years and a chance meeting at a coffee house would occur. That chance meeting was with an automotive journalist named Jared Holestein. Jared would often employ Tatsu on magazine jobs because of his knowledge of cars and Japanese. From Jared, Tatsu would learn that the love of cars is beyond wrenching, and Tatsu’s love of his father’s garage grew beyond being a wrench. One could say that Vic and Jared both inspired something within Tatsu.
Technician: Art came to us from the tow industry. He didn't actually tow, but was one of the mechanics that would often fix vehicles that the tow company would have for sale or fix the tow trucks themselves. Art is the go to guy for getting a tough job done right, he has the ability to solve a complicated problem while keeping a smile on his face. He figures out stuff with relative ease, and better than that he does everything with a zeal rarely found in technicians. His main motivation is his son who he likes to take out on outings and adventures. It's hard to find people that attack life with such a smile on their face.
Technician: They say that sometimes your best advice comes from people that used to know you. Steve left our shop many years ago to pursue better opportunities, but came back recently for part time supplemental income. He left on good terms, so Tatsu and Steve have remained friends. From a business stand-point Steve has been to a few shops, so his advice is much welcomed. As a technician he is a Ford/Mazda master technician and he particularly excels at electrical diagnostics. For hobbies Steve is an avid hockey player and a "tuner car" nut. His 450hp EG ('92-95) civic was once featured in Import Tuner.
Shop Mom: It’d be hard to imagine a Tokyo Automotive without its matriarch Kimiko Tsuchida. Mom can be found doing paperwork, book-keeping, bringing lunch for “the boys”, or cleaning the office area. Jack of all trades, she is the glue that holds Tokyo Automotive together.
Shop Dog: Malo Tsuchida is Tatsu and his wife, Miwako’s dog. As shiba-inus go black and tan is a rare color. You can often find Malo chasing after a tennis ball thrown by one of our staffers. Like most Shibas 95% of the time Malo is a happy-go-lucky dog. Sometimes he’s grumpy. So let him sniff you first; make sure he likes you and that he’s in a good mood.