How Hondas Get Down Up North | Mimms Honda Day 2020

Hondas. Generally speaking, they’ve always been the butt of the joke when it comes to banter within both non-car people circles and even those “enthusiasts” who have probably never even driven a good* Honda chassis. (*Up until only recently in 2017 with the introduction of the FK8, the last best thing Honda had going for their contemporary market was the late & great S2000).

Let me say, though, that the only Honda I have ever owned was the FN1 Civic Type S. It was heavy, lethargic beyond belief, and its not a car I’d go back to nor recommend to anybody. It looked cool, and the interior was like no other car in its class, oh, and Honda know how to engineer a gearbox. Originally, I had intended to get into the ownership of a H-badge car via an EK/EJ 6th-gen hatchback Civic. But thanks to my brother warning me of how rust-prone they are (surprise, surprise, its Japanese and from the ’90s), it probably would have been a headache to deal with the aftermath of running it through UK winters. A B18-powered EK will always remain one of my bucket list cars to own.

Thankfully, the largest Honda gathering in England that goes by the heading “Mimms” managed to proceed with their “North” meet up at Three Sisters, not far from Wigan. I’ve never been to a Honda-only event, so this was a good opportunity to have a good look at what the top half of England can bring out on this unusually dry and sunny day. Due to the main event down on Santa Pod Raceway being postponed to next year, thanks to viral hysteria, this was the team’s first show of the year. Better late than not at all.

With the event being put on at a track, this allowed attendees to slap down some quality seat-time. With it being a purpose-built go-kart track, it offers very little for cars such as those with big weight and intrusional electronics – perfect for lightweight FFs and a few S2000S then. The majority of what turned up was of course from the 1990s-2000s, and these cars are fairly analog compared to current-era vehicles. Having driven a DC5, I can testify that the chassis from 15-20 years ago with “only” 220bhp is plenty to keep you on your toes for sure. Compared to say, a BMW M135i, which is only involving to drive during the moments where you remember to brake hard after jamming the throttle pedal down and letting the car’s traction control take care of the rest. If you happen to be one of those anti-FF driver, go and test drive a Honda with a red badge, then try convince yourself not to repent.

Civics are the bread and butter, so it was expected to see a fair few at the show. I was surprised at the lack of S2000s though. Or maybe it was the fact most were stock and didn’t intrigue me as much as something like that Prelude in Ficus Green Pearl!

TDI North are go-to guys for anything Honda related, specifically K-series engine building and tuning. I’d say 80% of the Hondas I have read about in magazines have had some link with this tuning garage, so they’re obviously doing something right.

This bang-on example of an EJ hatch done proper was definitely a highlight for me. Colour coded mouldings, EK9 Type R lip pieces, tidy ride height, half-caged, finished off in a very uncommon blue paint that [IIRC] the owner said was original!

Boot panel cut out lined with rubber edgetrim. Details like this make me smile.

A very all-round EP3 build that was posted up on the show & shine stand. The theme was very much business up front, party out back.

EP3 Civics are a very popular chassis here in the UK. After all, the 7th gen was built in Swindon’s Honda plant. Plenty turned up on the day. Funnily enough however, three friends I walked the show with, each have an EP3 Type R – none of which were brought out though, due to maintenance work keeping them off-road.

Latest Type R looking louder than ever. Swept-down, burnt exhaust tips were a nice touch to the already ballistic rear end.

Uncertain as to whether this FK2 was an actual race car. It must be with the amount of kit fitted to it, outside and within. Cool livery as well, something I rarely say or think when I see racecars here in the UK. Sometimes, less is better when it comes to sponsor decals.

Lowboi S2000 parked hard in the paddock. Brown interior pairs nicely with the bronze wheels. That should more than make up for the duct-taped bumper, haha!

OEM-plus is optimum aesthetic for that road-spec look. This New Formula Red S2000 demonstrates how to fulfil that styling immaculately. Colour-matching Recaro buckets, Nardi Personal small-diameter wheel, CE28s in Bronze, with Invidia’s titanium-tip exhaust system peeping out the original Honda rear clip.

These things are gonna find it damn hard to become a classic when they look as modern as they still do. Clap-clap, Honda, clap-clap!

If anything, I was bordeline astonished at how many imports were in sight, the crowd was well littered with DC5 Integras and FD Civics, along with a few oddities here and there, which you will spot further down.

As soon as one of the lads mentioned the three letters, I got a bit frantic blurting out “where?!”. Perched on some Gloss White Regamaster Marquis Promada by Japanese/Russian wheel maker Desmond, sat there in all its glory, was solid black NA1 NSX. Worth the price of admission? I’d say so. Would have been cool to listen to it sing. Ryan, a friend from my old workplace, taught me that a decal/sticker arrangement like that seen on the rear screen of the NSX is known as a spine. Keen carboys will recognise a couple or more of the brands’ slaps featured in the photo above.

Old is gold. If I were 5 years younger, you wouldn’t see me taking photos of cars like these. Mainly, due to the fact I wouldn’t be able to relate to them, but nowadays, I see the appeal in pre 1980s cars.

Like, how can you think wing mirrors mounted on the actual WING aren’t cool?

Back in the days, before my time, where you could buy a kei car in Japan, and option it to come with a fold-up, 2.5bhp motorbike. And people, nowadays, think Honda are nuts making the Civic Type-R look the way it does. They’ve toned it down if anything, haha.

If you’ve seen the latest EV from Honda, design elements on the City such as the round front headlights will look familiar. Pretty certain I’d opt for the keys to this little pocket rocket from the ’80s though, to be honest. Does the Honda E even have a key to start it? Probably not.

A Honda Justy. I’ve never seen one of these kei-trucks before, even on my trips to Japan. Thing was mint, even had a feature in a Japanese publication after being imported into UK!

Sweet like chocolate.

Blue NT03+M surprisingly work well mounted against a DC5 body wrapped in yellow. Okay, maybe the colour is a bit loud, especially on a stock bodied Teg, but then again it is supercharged so the owner has go to back the show.

Ridiculously immaculate late-gen CRX.

If I’m not wrong, I think it won something in the show & shine contest.

A cross between a family-carrier and an estate car.

Odysseys are pretty nifty things. Dunno why I didn’t get a shot of the front, but the funky rear end with its semi single piece taillight should be enough for you to look sideways at. This one was an “Absolute” model, whatever that means.

A Honda SMX I remembers reading about in Jap Performance / Banzai mag.

A four-door hatch means one less door on the driver’s side = style for miles.

This CR-X seemed more serious looking than the purple one above. I can imagine these things handle like their glued to the tarmac with sub 900kg weight and an extremely low centre of gravity.

Did not expect to see an 86 in the queue that morning. I went crazy with the camera when I got a chance to get up close to it in the paddock.

As they said in the anime, this old Toyota has a strong aura.

A modern Accord on TE37s, something I’d never thought to be attracted to. I just looked nice, which isn’t common when it comes to Japanese four-door saloons.

A popular chassis to K-swap now that their cheap-ish, probably don’t rust as much as EG/EK Civics, and have a chassis designed with so much rigidity, you might just get away with a bolt-in cage for it to be capable of being sent round a course in respectable time.

For a granny-mobile, they don’t look half-bad with a lip-kit. Come to think of it, almost resembles an EP Civic.

A few random visitors, like that R33 GT-R turning up late to the party.

I first read that banner as Tint Init. I’m from Bradford; it shows.

Two Toyotas. One was NOT K-powered (I know, gasp) and running around the track like he owned the circuit; the other parked nearby my car, donned in black and bronze because there is no other better colourway.

All in all, a nice do. If you enjoyed the read, let me know. Or don’t, we’re all trying to keep busy I suppose. Thanks for checking the blog out. I would say there’s more to come, but as for when, no idea. Show season is long gone now, what next year bring is anyone’s guess. Just keep an eye out, Instagram is the best place (@soulfokus) for updates.

First Visit to Japan; Another World

It was bound to happen, but this journey out to the ‘land of the rising sun’ came to manifest unexpectedly for me. I can say it was destined, you could say it was just coincidence. My father’s childhood friend who lived in the same village when they were both growing up in India, had travelled further east, and ended up working and settling in Japan. My dad kept in contact with him, I think, on and off meeting up to reminisce whenever their trips to India coincided, or the one time he and his Japanese family visited England years before I can properly remember.

Fast-forward to 2016, almost as if it was at random, my parents had booked flights to Japan and I can remember not being particularly excited at the time. Maybe I was just stunned and could not grasp the fact that it was actually happening.

Anyhow, you will now view the gallery of photos I snapped when I was out there. 59 is the image count, so commentary will be dialled down to the minimum and the pictures will paint the scene. Enjoy…

On the drive from the Narita International Airport, I was armed ready with my camera. The journey to my Uncle’s home was mainly through rural settings, occasionally passing through small parts of town. This was a Mazda I had never laid eyes on before, in all its basic-looking blandness.
Traditional Japanese buildings are a thing of beauty, so much so, it feels blasphemous referring to them as things. More like pieces of art.
Wakaba means ‘young leaf’ in Japanese. It is also the word used to describe the yellow and green symbol found on all these “JDM as f*ck” cars that you see and used as a symbol with an alternative meaning. In Japan, its originally intended purpose was for inexperienced/new drivers to be made known to others on the road, analogous to the ‘L/P’ plates in the UK.
Welcome to Autobacs, the Japanese version of Halfords (kinda). And yes, they sell SSR alloys. This is scratching the surface, but unfortunately I did not manage to get many good photos of the other items for sale, mainly due to the crazily extensive options. You name it, they got it. Then there’s the ‘Super Autobacs’ stores. I never paid one a visit, but from what I have seen online; whole other level.

Literally a minute walk around the corner from where we were staying, this gem of a find which goes by the name ‘Body Make Kazu’ stopped me in my tracks gobsmacked, and this was only Day 2 of the holiday! It was what seemed like three separate buildings in close proximity, perhaps owned by one guy or family run. It comprised of two small garages, a medium-sized storage unit, and then a little single story office/reception building across the road. Very odd, but outside on the yard was a plethora of all sorts. The Liberty Walk GTR obviously caught my attention, but not as much as the cold stock silver RX7 FD. All this wickedness in some random, remote village in Kamagaya about 25 miles away from the airport.

These boxy beaters are ace and look like fun to chuck about on the touge.
Enroute to Hakone, near Mt. Fuji

The highlight of the trip without a doubt. I rented an FD from a small but growing business called ‘Fun2Drive’. Without going into too much detail, the RX7 was a machine that did everything right. The perfect sports car, front to back. Oh yeah, the roads in Japan’s mountainous areas are sublime.

This red legend will be revisited in a future post.

The first R34 GTR I saw on Japanese roads. I went bananas, the people on the bus must have been weirded out.

I almost didn’t get the chance to experience 7’s day that year. But thanks to the typical friendliness of the Japanese, a scenario played out that was written in the stars, for real. Long story short, I was young and dumb, I failed to plan, realised at the wrong time that Daikoku Parking Area is access-only via vehicle, a bystander who had just finished work in the evening offered to take my parents and I into the service station. For me, even that very short 15 minutes, felt like complete heaven.

The Land-Jet…
Tokyo’s tree in the sky
I found that the Japanese are really enthusiastic when it comes to cars. A big surprise to me, was the amount of non-Japanese marques, like this Mini. Very cool to see.
Roll on chrome… back to the early 00’s

Another tuner/service garage a few streets down from my uncle’s house. This place, ‘Seed Racing Car Engineering’, seemed like it was serious. I am regretting not taking enough photos, being overwhelmed by it all. What a place…

My last day in Japan on that trip. I went for a walk around the neighbourhood’s surrounding area and these final three images conclude this post well. That stall was selling fresh blueberries I think. Unmanned, the CCTV camera caught anybody trying to ‘do the dirty’ and not pay the 300 yen (~£2) in exchange for a box. Also, for some reason, I took a liking to the houses out there. The design of their residential buildings are cool and each house had character. I used to play Pokemon on the GameBoy Colour, and weirdly enough, it felt like I was venturing through one of the fictional towns and villages from the game. Odd, I know…

Cadwell Park TrackDay – The Orange Peeled Off

Last summer on a visit to Cadwell Park, I joined Luke who, at the time, owned a homebuilt kit car. Now, I have never been keen on kit cars, especially the Lotus 7/Caterham “style” variety. It must be something to do with my awkward feeling towards replicated designs. This topic is something I could write on and on about, so I am going to stay on course for this one.

This particular machine Luke built in his garage is an MNR Vortx, space-frame tube chassis, fibreglass lightweight body, driven by a 1.8 BPZE engine from a Mazda MX-5 NB/MK2. The basic concept is excellent though, as I experienced in the passenger seat that day at Cadwell Park, which nestles in Lincolnshire, UK.

This blog post won’t revolve around his car however, as I did not get the best of shots in retrospect, but other cars were out there blasting around the 2.18 mile course which is actually designed for motorcycle racing; picture narrow track width and grassy runoff areas.

Waiting game…
Okay, I am going to have to open with this beauty. The FD RX-7 you see in front of you is a full RE-Amemiya GT kitted spec. The highlight of the car was the colour and unfortunately my photos do not do its aesthetic quality any justice in my opinion.
It was well put together and style like this is rare to come by, definitely in the UK anyway. But it sure is a treat when you witness something as wild, but simultaneously disciplined in the way it stands. I chatted to the owner briefly, I can remember him having some teething issues with a new single-turbo setup, which is a shame but I manage to catch a glimpse of the rotary ripping out on the field.
I do wonder what the status/condition the car is in at the moment…
Good luck trying to find a trackday where an MX-5 isn’t present. I mean, how could you NOT want to drive one of the purest sports cars ever created, on a racetrack?!
Future historic legend; flipped the FF (front-engine front-wheeled-drive) game on it’s head.
There were two EP3 Civic Type-Rs out that day, both equipped with this hatch mounted GT wing. Part of me sees the appeal in it, part of me realises it kind of looks out of place…
Maybe here, with the trimmed rear bumper, the spoiler’s toned down wing-stands suit the chassis more so. Downforce times call for downforce measures I suppose.
Luke getting a feel for the track more than the car, as he had already made some familiarity with it at a previous shakedown which did not go quite as he planned. Good to see him stretching its legs with confidence, albeit the day cut short because of an electrical gremlin…
The highlight of the car’s performance was most definitely its ability to change direction almost immediately. The G-forces you experience are atmospheric, and made me wonder what on earth F1, or even entry-level Formula cars for that matter, feel like.
One off incident occurred that day, which luckily was not too serious, driver was intact and physically sound after bouncing his Ariel Atom off the tyres midway through the day.
Taking a wander in the paddock area where both drivers and cars take a breather, I took a closer look at some of the motors attending. This K20 swapped EK9 was very nice and cleanly done. What is most impressive though, is the fact that the driver had one prosthetic leg, so the car was kitted to enable the driver to operate the clutch by hand control! Incredible.
This ‘RWB’ styled Porsche was cool. I know very little about these German powerhouses, but I have always felt that they have been held with high regard and respect as sportscars, so there must be something to them…
It did/does look good out there though, and it sounded even better.
One-make duel. For French cars, these hot hatches are not all that bad.
This Starlet Glanza is a very uncommon sight, so it was a breath of fresh air seeing it being thrown about. The deep turquoise colour suits it perfectly.
Track check up; the safety/pace-car M235i BMW for the grounds made its rounds.

I hope to return to Cadwell Park in the near future. The entire place has a cool vibe about it. That wraps up this “throwback” post. Getting out there and shooting more track events is one of my aims this year, so, until next time…

DriftCup UK 2018

Never really grew up with much, if any at all, drift culture involved in my car life. My initial exposure to the artform was probably as cliche as it gets: Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift. My brother introduced me to Best Motoring as early as I can remember, Japanese guys sending cars sideways, in both factory and tuned forms. It’s almost as if it was in their DNA, without sounding cheesy.

Nowadays, especially because of the Internet, the passion for drifting, as both a sport and an automotive ‘scene’, has spread to all pockets around the world. Even managing to worm its way into Wigan, UK. This was my first time attending a dedicated drift competition event, which appeared to have more focus on the drivers and cars, instead of acting as an all-in-one festival type of event as can be seen with the more commercially popular shows. Less circus, more circuit…

Low Supra; such a graceful silhouette
Sileighty chassis S13 will always be my all time favourite from the Silvia selection. This Vertex kitted example caught my eye.
Very unusual sight. A Porsche 944 is definitely something I did not imagine encountering when I was picturing all the machines that would be competing before arriving at Three Sisters Race Circuit. No idea why the ‘PORSCHE’ decal is out of line on the door, but I’m feeling the mismatched wheels.
One of the more serious-looking entrants I spotted that day with the tailpipe looking like a bazooka.
Back to front. Hardcore boyz don’t need rear bumpers. And check out that front camber; nuts!
The format of the race was a basic lead-and-chase run. The classes of cars were separated so that similar power and tune cars were pitched against each other to keep things fair. Judging drifting is subjective but only to an extent, as clipping points and proximity act as measurable markers for high skill and precision, which win you points.
The drift section was short as only the first 3 corners of the track are used from the pit-exit, but this allowed for higher frequency in runs and gives chance, to those who need it, for seat time in a competitive environment.
I loved seeing the less powerful machines, particularly those in NA tune, being pushed to the absolute boundaries. This Corolla was cool-looking.
If I remember correctly, that S14 rocked a R35 powertrain, so it sang some beautiful songs as you can imagine.
Here comes trouble. This RB26DETT-powered non-GTR R34 Skyline was dominating every session, it just goes to show how capable the chassis is, even in FR layout. To be honest though, this was far from stock so my comment is near enough irrelevant with this machine.
Coming in hot. I liked this take on the E36 coupe BMW, makes me wonder what it would look like with those headlights in combination with a full front face… The front and rear quarters don’t really flow, but that adds to its quirky character.
ACCIDENTS DO HAPPEN – DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME (ON THE STREET…)
Very well styled. The S13 coupe Silvia does grow on me from time to time, this is a great looking model if done right

‘Lancaster Insurance’ Classic Motor Show 2017

Me and my cousin made it out to the NEC in Birmingham to attend the Classic Motor Show in one of the biggest venues in the UK. This was also exposure for me to cars I would not usually be interested in so I thought why not venture into the unknown. I think it was my narrow mindset that led me to presume all I would see is a bunch of Minis, Jaguars, and Fords. But, the photos you are about to view completely dissolved that idea, and I was pleasantly surprised!

As soon as I saw this Lancia Delta Integrale HF I was that excited, I forgot I had my DSLR, so unfortunately for you, this picture shot using my Samsung Galaxy A3 camera will have to suffice; fortunately for me the momentary chance of sitting in this mint example is forever burnt into my mind.
I think if I remember correctly, the seats and door cards had plastic wrap protecting them, which is no surprise since this was an import from Japan. Everything was built to be used as I could tell from the Recaro recliners and MOMO steering wheel w/o an airbag, but at the same time, the tan/beige interior softened the feel of the car. There’s more to the “Evolution” nameplate besides Mitsubishi Lancers you know…
I bet you can’t guess what this Mazda 20B rotary was planted in…
Impressive indeed. Pipey McGraw from Muttley Racing built this E-Type inheriting a very unorthodox power unit. I guess it was a good job I went to the show, as this kind of Jag was not one I had expected to witness! As amazing as it was, the car now runs off of a BMW E9X M3 V8, which isn’t a bad substitute to be honest.
Brap-o-clock.
European manufacturers know/knew how to put together a road-going hatchback that could teach a few higher-price-tag machines a thing or two when it comes to tackling a back country road. This 106 Rallye is no exception, damn, I would even openly admit that it is my favourite Peugeot!
The DeTomaso Pantera is a car with very niche appeal. Something about the silhouette of these mid-engined monsters, combined with their classic Italian flair is something to be admired.
A proper rallying legend on display. Easily the one of the best looking liveries of all time. It is a shame that this photo was the best I got.
Modern metal, BMW switched up the vibe with this F90 M5
My pick of the show was this gem. I know pretty much nothing about Mini Marcos except that I won one on Gran Turismo back in the day, but this GT is very quirky and looks like it would drive well. The concept of the car: hyper-lightweight, minimal body overhang, a seemingly appropriate width-to-length ratio, and a simple naturally-aspirated engine. I say, that is the winning formula.
This Morgan Aero8 caught me off guard, with its elegant color co-ordination along with those OZ magnesium centre-lock wheels. And they are factory-fitted of all things?!