When Quality & Quantity Meet in Harmony | Osaka Auto Messe 2020 Part #2

Let’s get straight back into this Messe, kickin’ it off with a bunch of Hondas – this is the true reason we carboys come to Osaka, isn’t it? In the UK, and I’m guessing its the same in the US and elsewhere in Europe, Civics in particular get a bit of a bad rap. In Japan, Osaka in particular, the chassis is revered. I can’t help but respect that, because the treatment this legendary, pre-2000’s hatchback receives by cult followers, both mechanically and cosmetically, is so original and outright cool.

Valencia Red (originally found on the latest Honda NSX) is the colour of X-POINT’s EK Civic, which I have done no justice to, by editing in a warmer tone to these photos. Anyway, the car looks brilliant with the all-new Mode Parfume aero kit. Luke made a remark about how the front bumper didn’t look like the typical aftermarket pieces you see fitted to these Honda, which is a testament to the ‘OEM-plusness’ of this build.

Over on the Exceed EK9, which was also red but of a different shade, something I couldn’t put my finger on was the distinct unusual look of its Desmond Regamasters. It was due to the fact that the lip had been profile machined and left bare, whilst the face of the wheel was still coated in gloss grey. If I heard correctly watching The Chronicles (Joey Lee) Osaka Auto Messe vlog, the wheels were actually pre-production specials, not yet available to the consumer market. Noteworthy, of course, was the high-sheen polish on the aluminium parts found in the exposed engine bay of the turbocharged B-series machine.

Built to look good at a show, and run hard on the streets.

It was difficult to get many clean photos of the NO GOOD RACING display with my 50mm prime lens, as it was just rammed with visitors taking interest in the four Civics that the crew brought to show.

The airbrushed floral pattern on these Zees were a cool touch to a vehicle that’s often regarded as ‘Japanese Muscle’. It actually kinda flowed with the Rocket Bunny kit fitted to this deep red/maroon car.

The GT300 class gives birth to some really well put together racemobiles. Take this BRZ, for example. Also, quite funny/odd is how there’s a Mitsubishi decal placed between the grille and headlight. They must be mates now, after the Subaru rival gave up manufacturing cars that excite.

The Omori Factory strut brace sure does make the engine room of the R34 GT-R look confined and tightly packed. A whole load of money at this booth, as there were three of these hero Skylines, all equipped with a host of carbon aero and Nismo body panels.

My pick would of course have to be this Millenium Jade example, with one of the greatest wheels of all time selected to fill the arches.

I reckon this angle is the one.

Trial, the shop that created that red supercharged Celica with scissor-doors featuring on an early Gran Turismo game, also had a busy booth at the show. The Osaka-based company parked up a very cool 86/BRZ wearing a pretty street-runnable aero pack.

Luke was hungry so he got some food and then we took a breather and sat out in the foyer area. Whilst he yammed up some fried chicken, I did a little browsing at this vendor selling all sorts of memorabilia from the good ol’ days. Even an old episode of Top Gear with Japanese subtitles was on telly.

A tuning house I’ve come across and heard of here and there, but not known much about, is ENDLESS who craft & assemble some hardcore GTRs, one of which (not photographed here) pumping out 1300bhp and is street-driven.

Super racing drivers in conversation on stage. Time-attacker Hiroyuki Iiri, who piloted RE-Amemiya’s Asparadrink FD RX-7 back in the 2000s, was sat off to the side on his own. Did he have bad breath or something? Must be why he’s the only one with a mask.

JUN is a performance-tuning heavyweight that has been known famously for their mental ‘Hyper Lemon’ builds, so it was a surprise to see a street-spec BRZ put on show at their booth. Full-ish interior, with the steering wheel even sporting an aftermarket infotainment controls module to allow the driver to bump up the vol when going for it on the touge.

I think most people had enough of the highly popular Supra. This was good for me though, cos I managed to capture a full view of the ings+1 demo car with their new aerokit. It is, in my eyes, the best looking treatment for the new Toyota.

Nakamura-san’s D1GP-championing JZ-swapped S15 on display infront of the N-style booth. So much style and substance rolled into one.

Temple Racing were situated right next to the drift machines, showcasing their grippy Attack builds, one of which is the K24-swapped EG6 driven by Horiton, an Osaka native, one of the fastest NA FF cars on the circuit.

If I am not mistaken, this is Ken Nomura’s a.k.a. Nomuken (meaning ‘Monkey Magic’) R34 Skyline with a blistery URAS widebody – now utilising a GT-R face? – giving way to that tyre-track and steering angle which are both highly necessary if you wanna go sideways fast.

Phoenix’s Power, another high profile speedshop located in the country’s Kansai region, pulled out what I would class as ‘the Build of the Show’. Okay, maybe the ‘FR Build of the Show’, since there were plenty of Civics I was really into. As for this Supra though, it pressed all the right buttons, from the ings+1 body dress-up items, down to the gold-faced BBS LM wheels. Great lighting set-up on their display as well.

Some more souvenirs I couldn’t bring myself to buy.

OEMs were of course in attendance, most of whom happened to be designated in a hall all to themselves. Mazda were of course who I sped over to first, in hopes of seeing something amazing like their old RX-792P IMSA GTP car or maybe the RX-Vision concept. Even though both of those weren’t anywhere to be seen that day, they had a couple cool racing machines: a Super Taikyu Demio, and a Roadster put together by Murakami Motors for the same endurance series that won its class back in 2018’s 24hrs of Fuji event. They also teased the fans with their latest-gen Mazda3 with an aero kit and ZE40 wheels by RAYS. I say teased, because when I asked the rep whether or not Mazda would release a model like this, say an MPS, he negatively and apologetically replied with an answer I didn’t want to hear. Maybe someday, after they sell a load of those electric crossover things with that nifty rotary range-extender, the automaker will bring back a high performance machine in either hatchback or coupe form. I’m praying for the latter.

After checking out Mazda’s pop-up shop that was built into a stack of shipping containers (best display at the show, absolutely no bias whatsoever), we went over to Honda to see what they were showing off. Their all-carbon NSX GT500 car is a sight to behold. Wish they had fired it up.

Max Orido’s achieved perfection with his Advan Supra and its wheel fitment.
That kei-van pictured above is totally unrelated, but it was both visually and aurally loud, so it gets a spot.

Kato-san of Liberty Walk was in attendance, and boyyy did he deliver the goods. The pure carbon LBWK Silhouette GT-R R35 is the only way to modify Nissan’s Godzilla if you’re thinking about going widebody. Its radical angles make it an ideal match for the personality of the beast, and makes the 13 year-old car look like it belongs in another dimension, nevermind another century.

The star of the show at Liberty Walk’s stand was of course their Silhouette Racer R34, built in respect to the KDR30 Super Silhouette, with its Tomica red-on-black livery and wild boxiness. Shame it didn’t have the gold mesh wheels, or even those crazy SSR turbofans, to finish off the complete look of the classic racer. One photo was caught on my DSLR, as I got a bit impatient with the crowd going bananas pointing their phone cameras at either the car or the model in front of it.

I’m gonna close this coverage out with a photo of my daft face next to the face of the real-deal, someone I thought I’d never meet in person! I found out Dorikin-san has a cool signature, too.

Thanks for checking out the final part to this Osaka Auto Messe 2020 piece. Be sure to follow my Instagram and/or Facebook, because I’ll be loading up a lot of extra Japan sights and scenes on those!

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Ko-Op Tour of Deutschland | Going Around the Benz

As someone who is not all that into the Euro scene of car kulture, I will honestly admit that Mercedes-Benz have produced some machines that surpass other makers, even before they can put up a fight. It is fair to say Mercs have been pioneers from the get go.

The place is pretty sizeable, made obvious by the fact that upon entering the lobby you start the tour by elevating to the uppermost level of the museum’s nine planes, at some lofty height enough to make Luke a bit squeamish.

I found it amusing how the roof resembled the profile of an epitrochoid, the same shape as a rotor in a Wankel engine…

The floorplan of the Benz building is pretty cool, it flows down through the timeline of Mercedes and every significant model in their lineage can be found on each floor which signifies a decade.

Check out the gills on the side of the 300SL Gullwing! Back then, Merc’s design department were in the zone and produced some kutting edge automotive art. My favourite element has got to be the side-exit cannons coming out of the quarter-panel of that 300 SLR.

The section of the museum that was worth more than admission has got to be where I saw the 190E Evolution II. I wouldn’t change a thing on that machine.

Then we walked down a floor, and there it sat on a sloped bank stage amongst a plethora of Mercedes’ racing legends, the #3 Sonax 190E 2.6-16 Evo II DTM car of 1992. I vividly remember clocking some nuts laptime on Nurburgring (virtually) when it first appeared in Gran Turismo 4. I must have been 10 years old back then, getting giddy about my first sub-8 minute PB; that car has burnt a scar in my memory. It is the ultimate sleeper that is not sleeper at all in Evo form.

Ignore what I said about not altering the pure, elegant physique of the Merc; I would most definitely style it in the fashion of that touring car in two-tone. Maybe change the ‘BOSS HUGO BOSS’ livery to ‘BOSS COFFEE’ next to a silhouette of Tommy Lee Jones…

Once I found out Mercedes gave the rotary engine a chance, they shifted up in my rankings. The C111, although only went as so far as a design concept, is without a doubt one of the most interesting cars I saw and yeah, it’s probably because of the Wankelmotor. It was a decent attempt at defying convention, so I can’t fault Mercedes for trying back in the late 60’s when Mazda were doing the same, but disappointingly the German autogiants flipped off the possibility of a 3 or 4-rotor and developed the diesel lump that found its way into the 240D 3.0. Bit of a shame the C111 remained a development mule, since customers sent blank cheques to the company in hope that they would churn out production-models; would have been a success by the sounds of it…

Thats all for now, it was a quick one, but I feel I need to bust these posts out as I am lagging behind on the Germany content. Plus, I don’t really care for Mercedes-Benz at this point in time. I feel like the newer cars are lacking soul nowadays, and that goes for the majority of car manufacturers. I reckon Mercedes should pump out more krazy koncepts like they used to, and then find a way to go absolutely bananas on the drawing board for a flagship model…

Anyway, the real good bits are yet to come, so keep an eye or two out!

Ko-Op Tour of Deutschland | Stuttgart Stronghold of Pure Performance

Day 5 into the journey across Germany, we left the towns and villages of Nurburg behind for the city of Stuttgart. Home to two of the automotive powerhouses, the metropolis is the rightful birthplace to both Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. Their museums are within 6 miles of each other so we hit them both up in a day.

This will be part one, where we started the morning off with breakfast at the local Siegel cafe. This was right around the corner from both, the Porsche complex situated on the Schwieberdinger Strasse, and our hotel from which we could see Porsche’s mega-dealer. We visited that before entering the museum, and it was the first time I saw a Porsche Carrera GT and TWO 918 Spyders.

If I am not mistaken, this 992 Cabriolet parked up outside the museum entrance was due to be kollected by its new owner.

I had good fun goofing around to Luke everytime I spotted a Mazda Familia/323, as they seemed to be so kommonplace in every part of Germany we visited. Reckon I saw more of these than any other of Mazda’s outgoing models.

I can’t say I have ever felt an affinity towards the marque, I mean, the earlier nat-asp flat sixes sound the dogs bollocks, but apart from that, I could never understand the appeal. But after spending time at the museum and taking in the history and heritage on display, I kind of get it now. Its their motorsport efforts that pave the way and make the brand what it is.

Their livery designs are some of the best of all time. Porsche definitely knew how to make fast cars look the part.

Everything about the Martini RSR was just right in all possible ways. I am a sucker for cars done in the ikonic blue & red lace striping; oddly, it looks like a kind tribal warpaint seen on the faces of mandrill monkeys. This No. 8 car did not have its rear cover plate, making it easy to view its mechanikals including the KKK turbo assembly and its fire-breathing external wastegate. I’m unsure what section those rear tyres were, but I bet they were plentiful of traction when it came to stomping all 400 ftlbs of torque down.

I struggled to find a badly designed racecar in Porsche’s inventory. The 935 “Moby Dick” blew my flippin’ mind, so many people crowded around it making it difficult to get many photos.

A group of sketch artists gathered around this special edition 911S, the millionth to be produced, and done so in Irish Green which apparently was the colour of Mr. Ferdinand Porsche’s own Carrera back in 1964.

The museum wasn’t massive when compared with Mercedes’, but the quality makes up for the quantity, there’s no doubt about that. I’m sure if you live and breath Porsche, you’ll walk out of this place with a stupidly big grin on.

I’ll leave you with a few snaps of this beast of a 997. Come back for part two, where we sped off to see some of Benz’ brilliance…

Ko-Op Tour of Deutschland | Korner Skouts

I admit I have been way too lax with the output on this blog site. My reasons consist of both productivity, mixed with procrastination, as we are all the more victim to in this day and age. I am not making an excuse, I am simply telling you the truth.

Maybe this second post will redeem me and my absence, as I have a pretty bulky gallery from the first full day at the Nordschleife.

The timing of our arrival was nigh on perfect with us landing on the weekend of the VLN4 (Veranstaltergemeinschaft Langstreckenpokal Nürburgring – a.k.a. Association of Nurburgring Cup Organisers if that was too many letters in a word for you). It’s a racing series with a crazily diverse range of entrants; amateur drivers in road-legal Civics and Clios, all the way through the spectrum to full-fledged pros piloting factory GT3-spec BMW M6 and Porsche 911 GT3 chassis.

Doing absolutely no research on the event, I approached trackside as a mere spectator, trying to take it all in. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, but something about the atmosphere at the Nurburgring makes you super-aware that Germany’s motorsport following and culture is one that is held in very high regard.

Hatzenbach is the corner we started the morning off with, which for the drivers is the initial point of no return into Green Hell as they enter the Nordschleife crossing over from the GP portion of the circuit.

We made our way down alongside the section of 4km-worth of treacherous, narrow tarmac, up until reaching the Arembergkurve, at which point in the qualifying session a yellow flag was waved causing the 60/120kph (can’t remember which of the two velocities) speed limit to be strictly adhered to by all cars. Made it easier for me to grab some pan-shots before we trekked back up the ascent towards the parking area at Hatzenbach.

We didn’t stay long whilst the VLN race was ongoing, so Luke took me on a little tour of Adenau and the surrounding villages. We did stop off at Apex Nuerburg, the firm that have some of the most insanely fast and ridiculous “taxis”.

To finish off the day, we hopped on over to the “Youtube Corner” – Brunnchen – to watch the normies run what they brung during Touristenfahrten (Tourist Rides), and the odd ‘Ring Taxi fly by with some brutal force indefinitely giving the passengers the ride of their life.

That’s that for now, but there’s a little more content from our time in Nurburg, so be sure to come back for more, and then some! I’m gonna try and hurry this Germany series out on to the site because for one, lagging is a bad habit I am trying to shake, and two, scrolling through these photos is making me miss doing car stuff 😦

UK Time Attack Championship Rd.1 | So[u]lo Kampaign

So, here we go, my first visit to the ‘mini-Nurburgring’, where I got to be on the other side of the fence as a spectator of the first round of the UK Time Attack Championship.

As a “genre” of motorsport, time attack is without a doubt my favourite. I have always been the type of person who would rather spend countless numbers of laps making virtual rounds on Tsukuba Circuit in Gran Turismo’s Time Trial mode, as opposed to battling the blind AI on Single Player campaign. The sport is literally self-improvement & development in the most definitive sense. The ego is made to take a back seat, okay even if you are technically competing against other drivers, the primary challenge is yourself and bettering your own abilities. Don’t get me wrong, I can see the desire for wheel-to-wheel racing, and watching drivers chase the lead like there’s no tomorrow can be as exciting and dramatic, but something does lack when I see F1 or Touring Cars on televsion. Maybe its the fact the cars look and drive very similarly due to the strict regulations; then again that could be a fundamental aspect of motorsport where its all about the man/woman behind the wheel and less about the vehicle. Time Attack, to me, exhibits the ultimate balance between “man and machine”. Self-expression is just as important as exercising your physical and mental strength and prowess over the opponents.

For the most part of my life as a car enthusiast, I have been pretty much oblivious of the UK’s series, even though it has been running since 2006. Maybe it was just me being bias towards the scene out in Japan, and neglecting any interest of the motorsport right here in my country of residence. In order to get myself out of that prejudiced rut, I decided to head out to the Cadwell Park the first May Day Monday of this month and give Time Attack here in the UK a fair chance.

Keep scrolling for the snaps I kaptured with my new Sigma tele-lens. This post is going to have more structure than previous in terms of gallery layout, so enjoy!

I arrived slightly later than I should have, mid-morning was when the 20 minute practice sessions started for the top tier classes (Clubman/Pocket Rocket – Club – GT3/Pro, in that sequential order) so I shot over to trackside straightaway, starting with the Hall Bends section and then working my way to Gooseneck and Mansfield. It did rain on and off throughout the day, which wasn’t nice and I didn’t fancy getting my new-to-me used lens ruined so I cut the day short whilst ensuring I got some worthwhile photos.

This deep teal EF9 Civic caught my eye in an instant, wearing a custom splitter and sideskirt combination and boot-mounted wing, it certainly looked the part. To top it off it had a set of the undisputedly greatest Japanese wheel set of all time: RAYS Volk Racing TE37. Passenger windscreen-wiper delete hints at the seriousness of this car, shedding any weight where possible. It is a good job Chris (the owner/driver, who journeyed from his home in North Wales to compete) kept his side’s wiper fitted for the showers later in the day.

An uncommon sight for time-attack is the middle-child of the “2nd-gen” Nissan Skyline trio. The R33, particularly in stock form, was always the odd-looker out of the bunch, even the GT-R model with its aggressive perhaps messy front bumper. Recently, however, it is growing on me, and when done right (which is a rarity) the R33 Skyline is a tough-looking car. Need inspiration? Go ahead and Google Nismo’s 400R which in my view is how the standard GT-R ought to have been specced from Nissan’s factory. Failing that, search ‘R33 GTR LM’ and feast your eyes on that.

This rear-wheel-drive Skyline you see here actually finished 3rd in the Club 2WD class with a best lap done in 1:39:030, faster than Porsche’s 997 GT3 RS!

A wild roadster appears. I will never know how Honda pulled this timeless look off with the S2000 back in 1999. This even wilder J’s Racing-widebody donning car with a turbocharged F20C under the bonnet shooting out well over 400bhp, was worth the entry price in my opinion.

Continuing on with the Honda theme, this FK8 from Dream Automotive will hopefully inspire future generations of time-attackers. I do wonder how far Honda will go with the Type-R moniker and concept; will they venture into new hybrid territory with the current NSX? Personally, I want to see the next NSX-R without all that unnecesscary weight of the battery and motors, something along the lines of a Super GT racer for the road. Are you listening, Honda?…

With a lot of Lancer Evolutions dominating in time attack all over the globe, it makes sense to opt for the chassis with strong reputation. My favourite of the ones I saw on the day has got to be the AKB Racing Evo IX recording a 1:33:264 ending up 2nd in class, but 1st in my book for styling, no doubt. Although, the HKS livery on the white Evo V competing in Clubman class was nicely executed, both visually and competitively as it came out on top with a time of 1:39:842. Rally machines reign supreme wherever they go I suppose.

Interestingly styled R32 GTR was pacing around Cadwell. I like the centre-mounted single wiper, symmetry in the rear aswell with the dual exhaust tailpipes.

Unfortunately, I failed to get any shots of the front of this EK Civic, but I can reassure you, it was just as aggressive as the rear. I reckon you can’t not see this chassis doing rounds at any given track event where road cars are running. It’s like the front wheel drive MX5!

Not only are these rare on the roads here in the UK, but this has got to be the first Lexus ISF I have seen on a track! It didn’t smash any records but I’m sure the driver was having a ball (in comfort) sending it.

This super saloon was almost Japan-turned-Germany, as the premium marque attempted to send a counter manoeuvre to all Euro and USA 4-door blitzers. I remember when it was launched in 2007 and subsequntly featured on GT5 Prologue on the Playstation 3, and as I was flying around the Nordschleife I shifted into 6th, then 7th… and then 8th gear, my mind was blown! 8-speed automatic transmission?! I am sure it was only the E60 M5 that came out around the same time with 7 gears, but now its pretty casual to see 9 or even 10-speed auto-transmissions in production cars. Lexus claim to have done this to successively bypass the U.S. market’s Gas Guzzler tax by squeezing every possible drop of fuel efficiency.

A fairly serious Nissan 350Z was able to lap 1:37 flat around the track that day which is impressive with all its weight. It is definitely a capable machine when set up correctly.

A Bentley Continental GT3 car stormed the track with all its mighty V8 grunt.

I don’t like to toot my own trumpet, but I will say that I took my MX5 around Cadwell faster than this NA did. So yeah, I am race driver… Note: it was wet so I guess my boasting doesn’t matter since my lap was on a dry, hot summer’s day.

This Ford Escort Cosworth stopped a few metres away; if it didn’t I would have been flattened. For some these cars are crowd-pleasers; must have been a Mustang driver HAHA.

Here are some shots of the non-Japanese motors that I didn’t want to discard because they turned out quite good after editing.

A few carpark finds…

… and thats your lot for an intro to UK Time Attack from my perspective. Apart from the naff British weather it was enjoyable to be able to get out and experience the event and see it for what it is; drivers pushing the envelope and setting out to wring the potential out of their cars and pour it out on the tarmac.

The race was paired up with the Modified Live car show on the same day at Cadwell Park which I have more of in the pipeline. For now, I will leave you with a couple of shots of this Rocket Bunny FD3S.