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 | 5 REASONS WHY YOU NEED TO DO A RING TRIP

Instead of leaving you the residuals of the ‘Ring gallery without much commentary, I might just shake it up abit and do a list, 1 to 5, of valid excuses for you to use to make the journey out into the Forbidden Forest of Nurburg.

Eins! The Nurburgring is the best testing ground for those who want to improve on their driving in an environment that does nothing but demand of your complete 100% fokus. Whether it be your own personal vehicle, a ‘Ring rental, or one you’ve borrowed from SixT (naughty), the not-so-smooth ride you’ll be faced to endure for 11.9 miles of the ‘TF’ bridge-to-gantry course will put both man and machine to the ultimate test. A lot of cars that manufacturers plan on producing are tested on the circuit, and for good reason. The varying conditions that the collective orchestra of components of a car are forced through simulate the very tough and rigorously spent life of use/abuse the vehicle will most likely go through when put on sale. This process brings near enough every flaw to light. I suppose, for the everyday driver, driving the Nurburgring will be more of a challenge for the driver and less so for the car. But, if you reckon your “lowering-springs-with-wheels-and-tyres” mod recipe is enough to keep pace, the Nurburgring might just devour you and spit you out into the oblivion. It is a track that demands total respect, so you better be serious if you’re wanting to set that BTG lap record.

Zwei! What you will immediately notice when you arrive in Nurburg, is the pure dominance of the Porsche marque, the 911 GT3 and GT3 RS model in particular. It gets to a point where you are on a hunt for all the 9 colour options that they are available in. But, whilst me and Luke were patiently waiting in the Suzuki Swift for the red flag to be dismissed, this friggin’ 991 GT2 RS rolls up and I managed to snap this one clean photo before the beautiful British Racing Green stunner got horded by Snapchatters. It didn’t stay for long, since the parking spot was for Ring Taxis only, and the marshal told him to scram. Its not all just rare Porsches though. You will stumble across a handful of extraordinary pieces of automotive art, with such an eclectic assortment, there’s bound to be something to make your gob drop…

…Just like that BMW 2002 did to me.

Drei! Enough’s enough, quit playing pretend on Playstation, get off your gaming chair and into the hot seat on track for real! If taking your own pride and joy is too much risk, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to hiring a purpose-built motor to blitz around the Nordschleife in. That purple Swift Sport was what we borrowed for a few laps, costing us about £150 for the day including fuel and lap tickets. You might snigger at its meager 125bhp turbo-less output, but if you find enjoyment in driving cars to the limit, this is a sensible option when you’re concerned about damage excess if something does go wrong. Besides, the car we got was fully caged, bucket seats with harnesses hold you in, Endless brake pads literally felt neverending in terms of stopping power, and sticky (when dry) Advan AD08R tyres; a proper ‘Ring spek Swift in all aspects.

Vier! Okay, so it might be your first time or perhaps the weather turned to shit on arrival, so you don’t have it in you to risk a remortgage back home if you write-off a rented GT86 all because you wanted to become Takumi Fujiwara coming off Karussell in 2nd gear. If thats the case, jump into the passenger and ride shotgun with a taxi driver. As long as that taxi is a Mclaren or better yet, a 550bhp F80 M3 with 4 Recaro bucket seats so its fun for the whole family! I wanted to get round the ‘Ring with a view from the passenger seat (which would be the driver’s side in normal countries), so I luckily got chance to hop in a 720S piloted by Moritz Kranz, some guy who can drive cars fast and win races, basically. The Mclaren was beyond ballistic, its twin-turbo V8 powerplant is phenonmenal with its delivery, but Moritz made it look like a Sunday drive whilst simultaneously passing everything, of course.

Fünf! The final reason I can give for visiting the Nurburgring, is simply this. Whether you love driving cars, watching cars be driven to the edge, or just enjoy generally enjoy the kulture, this is the place for you to experience at least once. There is so much passion and enthusiasm, not only in and around the Nurburgring facility, but also in the villages that are dotted in that region have a strong affinity to motorsport. Germans, in fact, just like the Japanese make a tremendous effort when it comes to car life. They share a lot of similarities, which is what I tended to note frequently during my stay. The way in which they do things (cars, specifically) is probably the greatest difference. Germany brings functionality to the forefront; Japan highlights delicate form in very unique ways (which is why it can be misunderstood most of the time).

To be quite honest, I didn’t need to give much justification for my reasons. In fact, why the hell do I need to persuade anyone to visit the world’s most notorious automotive holiday destination? Its one of those things that has got to be done.

Probably gassed enough on this one, so I’m out of here.

Thanks for checking my stuff out, if you can be bothered, share it with your fam or your mate. I appreciate your time. Keep your eyes peeled for the next one in this Germany saga…

Ko-Op Tour of Deutschland | First Stop: The Ring

Just after coming back from Japan in June, returning to work wasn’t gruelling, but there’s always the helpless reminiscing about the great country no matter how many times I go back, its always an unforgettable experience.

I felt, however, I needed to do the trip that has always been within arms’ reach; the one any car “enthusiast” must fulfil as a rite of passage. Germany. Nurburgring in particular, but I wanted to ensure I got to see as much of the country as possible within a short span of time. Fortunately, I have a buddy who has featured on the site in previous posts (Luke) who has ventured twice before, so he had the Ring experience under his belt and was pretty keen on getting back out there this summer just gone. We planned the trip for about 6 nights, cramming a decent amount of highly car-related activities in. Not gonna spoile whats to come, but Nurburgring was just the beginning…

We picked the hire car up from the airport in Cologne, and made the drive down to Nurburg, home to the infamous Green Hell. It was really odd seeing the circuit, initially, as we were just rolling along the country road that lines up parallel to the Dottinger Hohe (the longest straight on the track, where we have all gone off at the end of on Gran Turismo). Luke was like, “See where that Audi gantry board is, that’s the home stretch”, and at first all I could do is replay memories in my head of watching replays of the virtual version of the Nordschleife, trying to work grasp my bearings. It was pretty nuts at first. Then it just kept getting nuttier, as the villages you drive through are littered with so much serious metal, you don’t know where to look.

A quick walk through the ‘ring`Boulevard’ where there’s a few manufacturer dealership/showrooms, a go-kart track, ‘ringwerk’ museum, a handful of giftshops, and a tattoo parlour. We then made our way back to the hero-hirecar which we spent hours debating over whether it was the update 184-bhp model or not. Turns out, it was, according to the VIN plate. Bit disappointing to be honest as I expected a bit more out of the tune-up Mazda made. Not complaining though; its boot was big enough for my camera backpack, a duffel, and a mini suitcase. Oh yeah, and it drove spektakularly.

On the Thursday we landed, practice for the VLN 4 hour endurance race was already in progress, so we headed to a couple corners where you can park up and spectate till your heart’s content, watching the beast-mimicking GT4 & GT3 cars blitz by, before we drove to our airbnb.

Took this just before I got shouted at by the giftshop saleswoman for pointing my camera at basically everything…

Suited & Booted, Kitted & … | Fitted UK 2019

Late July just gone, I decided to head over to Manchester and see what the north can offer when its time for the gladrags to be donned. Fitted UK is, from what I can tell, a pretty well established automotive outlet, and I have always been intrigued by the online content I have seen in the past: vehicles set up on 2-foot high stage platforms dotted about the main hall.

So, since I have been a bit slack on the blogfront, here is a image-heavy post for your viewing pleasure.

I chuckled to myself when I saw the reg on this R34 GT-R, as it spells out my initials. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the owner about to be able to tell him I want the keys back now, haha. As we all know, the Bayside Blue bombshell is a timeless klassik, so not much modification is needed to be honest. Tastefully executed, this V-Spec model had a few touches that made it stand out, like the inlet hardpiping, polished & engraved fusebox cover, and well-fitted black TE37s.

A hard combination to beat: Millenium Jade on an R32 GT-R equipped with a TRA-Kyoto Pandem widebody. I’m a sucker for this generation of Skyline just in stock form, but this tough-looking machine by JapSalon blew me away.

One of two “Midnight Purple” tinged R32s, this one wearing a set of Work CR2Ps under what seemed like a stock body sans the front and rear bumper add-ons. I found the assymetric headlight-intake unit quite kool, as was the purple underglow.

Yet another Pandem R32 Skyline that was getting a shedload of attention from the crowd gathering around it. It must be that metallic shade of purple doing justice to those body lines. That widebody conversion is incredibly well done; designer Kei Miura knows how to sculpt automotive art.

A few R35 GT-Rs made an appearance, of course, being the most popular and relatively more accessible of the “godzilla” selection. My top ranker was this all-carbon, Overtake-bodied model, with some TE37s in a colour rarely specced on the legendary wheel. This bodykit is featured on GTRs around the world, particularly those that destroy literally everything on a dragstrip, so rest assured its not just all for the sake of showing of that new weave.

The Pandem kraze was spreading like wildfire it seems, as this striking R32 in red was in attendance, with a set of wide Work VSXX 3-piece barrels shrouded by those girthy widearches.

Interesting take on this 4-door 4th Gen Civic, and it properly suits it. A style I wouldn’t mind seeing more of to be honest.

Back to basic and clean bodylines with this white-on-blue EK Civic.

I currently am unsure how I feel about this ‘Kanjozoku’ look being replicated outside of Japan. It is almost sacred, and the origin of the tribal car culture has deep roots, which I think is best left to those who run the real loop in Osaka. At the same time, there were a few decent builds that actually pulled off the street-runner look quite nicely.
That grey and white EJ Civic with its cut-up rear bumper was a kool thing.

Slightly left-field was this EF Civic with some pretty negatively cambered stance using Work Equip 40 wheels with chrome lips to polish off the look of this hatchback.

My fave Civic of the day has got to be this EG in two-tone, with its heavy duty rollcage (bolt-on or welded, I don’t know) and aggresive poise.

I love that look reminiscent of the Japanese 80s, with the top-bottom two-tone exterior paint.

Front and centre of the main stage sat this Phoenix Yellow DC5 Integra Type-R, a paint option never offered by Honda for the final generation fast FF coupe. Not only was it wearing an unusual colour code, the rare Mugen kit was a bit of a blast from the past. Saying that, the ‘Teg’ still looks fresh and modern till this day. Klap klap Honda, designers of timeless machines.

Very loud looking NA MX-5 hunkered down on some sprawly wheel fitment…

At first I thought the rollers under this NB MX-5 were Weds Bazreia, but I misjudged, as I soon found the centre caps read Euroline. Never come across these two-piece wheels by the one and only Work, which impressed me and proved how this this build is not your average low roadster. Would be mint to see this turbocharged Mazda moving swift out on the road. The touches of exposed carbon break the mould also, not to mention a bodykit I’ve never come across. A lot of cool details on this that some would overlook.

Emoji horn button doing a great job mirroring the driver’s reaction when they katch a full send in a roadster. Ahh, I do miss mine…

Its hard to make an S2000 look terrible. Some interesting choice wheels on that red one; orange Honda was cool playing the safe set-up.

Some more sick roadsters outside in the overflow.

My first car was a Toyota Aygo, not as radical as this LHD model from Finland (if I remember correctly, probably totally wrong).

First time seeing one of Khyzyl Saleem’s lifelike renderings come to, well, LIFE. This 86 he created sporting a Rocket Bunny widebody, was definitely a eye-katching machine, from its striking livery to the sharp trio of canards mounted low at both corners of the rear bumper. I kept going back for more, as the numerous photos exemplify.

Refreshing to see something other that panda white on a Hachiroku. Why I didn’t take more pics, I’ll never know…

Some dude was revving the arse off of some car, but I couldn’t stop gawping at this 86 and its wastegate/screamer pipe setup plumbed back from a BorgWarner turbo mated to, yep you guessed it, a 2JZ-GTE in place of that measly four-pot boxer lump.

Pretty sinister styling on this BRZ. Bit of fresh air from the typical look you find these cars built with. Very meaty wheel and tyre combo, paired with the edgy semi-paint, semi-carbon bodywork. And that rear diffuser looks like its ready to tear up a rally stage.

Silvias apleny at Fitted, but one in particular was my pick of the bunch…

The S13 has a charm in factory form, that cannot be paralleled with the other S-chassis. But this modified example has got the perfekt balance between aggression and elegance. I saw this car online months, even years back, and it struck me instantly. The ‘Miyabi’ bodykit produced by Spirit Rei really does flow with the S13 body, and those incredibly colour-coordinated Work Meister M1s crammed into the wheel arches do the entire ordeal justice.

The Z33 350Z is a nice all-rounder of a Japanese sporty gran-tourer. I really do hope Nissan bring the Fairlady back into production, with the same grunt and purity as the current and previous iterations…

A “Japanese Mercedes”?…

Or would you rather have the native original?

Plenty of klassic Bimmers, this E9 3.0 CS stood out with ease. Pillarless coupes will be missed, a design feat unfortunately left in the decades long gone.

Loved every bit of this E30. So neat and tidy, but at the same time going against the grain.

Regal 190E, looking even more dapper with a two-tone paint job. Cars from the 80s are getting better and better with age.

Pleasant surprise seeing a Cayman, of all things, with Work CRs mated to its hubs! That tartan and tan interior was found in the Porsche 924 next to it by the way, I was just feelin’ that helmet matchup.

Thats all I got for you here in this episode. Bit late in the day, but atleast you got to see some of what I thought camera-worthy at Fitted 2019. The quality of standards is pretty high for a UK car show, and it obviously shows in some of the entrants. Its a nice and diverse show, which will always attract the people from all backgrounds and interests, which is a positive I guess, bringing various walks of carlife together.

Thanks for stopping by, I’ve gotta dive into the Germany stuff on the next post, but I might switch it up in and amongst those posts just to keep you on your toes, and showcase some of what I find interesting – call them spotlight features or something of that nature…

IG: @soulfokus

Japanaholik’s Journal | Idler’s Games 2019 @ Tsukuba Circuit

Boy oh boy, we’re finally here. This is the coverage I have been the most hyped about sharing with you. My trip to Japan this time round happened to land right around the time the Idler’s Games event at the Tsukuba Circuit was to be held.

I reckon it was on the Speedhunters website where I first came across this race series and – gonna sound like a broken record – it looked like Gran Turismo brought to life. The most iconic short circuit of Japan, and every flavour of motor you can imagine. I could not pass up the opportunity to go and witness this for real.

I did not do much research on the event prior to making it there. I kinda wanted to just get a full, immersive experience and work it out as I went. Thing is, its been nearly 8 weeks since, so all I can remember was watching some very good-looking cars being properly used. The format was ‘Sprint’ so all the cars in a class/category are let loose in unison, and the fastest lap recorded in that session gets the top step on the podium.

From what I can gather, thanks to the internet, Idlers Club spawned thanks to a guy called Atsushi Seike, who works as editor of both a popular Porsche magazine in Japan (The 911&Porsche Magazine) and the Idlers magazine. I get the feeling he is very much into the classic European sportcar genre, but the diversity of cars that attended made it a dynamic, grassroots motorsport event. Various Idlers Games are held at Fuji Speedway as well as Tsukuba, along with an annual 12 hour endurance race over on Motegi’s Twin Ring.

We got there around mid-morning, and from the sounds of multiple rev-limiters being utilised, and from the smell of scorching rubber, it was easy to work out I had come just in time for a drift demo. Parked up right at the end of car-park, so not only did we have to pace past the underbelly of the grandstand where you could peep through the fence and see more smoke than car, it meant also that I got way too distracted by some of the machines sat in the car park (some of which you saw above).

I could not believe I was there. After watching an unhealthy amount of ‘Best Motoring’ videos on YouTube, and driving countless laps around the track on Gran Turismo & Forza Motorsport (mostly the former, because there’s only one King of Driving Simulators, and that ‘s the “real” one), I was finally IN the place IN Japan, not on my sofa in Bradford.

This circuit really does play a subtantial role in benchmarking cars’ performance. It’s short and flat enough to not put unnecesscary strain on a vehicle but it is also technical enough to put both man and machine to the test; hence it is the home to many Time Attack events in Japan.

For a car to be fast around Tsukuba, it has to have ultimate balance, not maximum-power or ultra-lightweightedness, and that is in essence what has always charmed me when it comes to the Japanese tuning philosophy and car-enthusiast culture.

Whilst tyres and clutches were being abused out on track, this bunch of Fairlady Zs were ready and waiting to storm the course. The ‘Super Z’ class consisted entirely of modern Fairlady Nissans, i.e. the 350Z & the 370Z. That is in no way a bad thing, because the sound these machines make is like no other production car, and they revved to the limitless sky.

I wish I spent more time going over this FB RX-7. It did look good out there though, even if a little battered and bruised.

This Honda S800 was a cool looking thing, its weird how dimensionally it appears so similar to the Lotus 7/Caterham chassis.

The last thing you expect to see at a sprint event is some muscle from the USofA. This Camaro took me by surprise and it was borderline comedy to watch it chase/be chased by Minis and 600cc kei-cars! Despite its heft it came out with a mid-pack position, but got outdone by an S30Z/240Z, that FB RX-7 you saw, and a couple of VW Beetles. I unfortunately did not snap any photos of the interior of the Chevy, but it was covered in red leather and custom dash, and looked totally out of place at a Tsukuba track event!

I would have been severely disappointed if I left the event without seeing an FD RX-7. Luckily, I found three in attendance, all running in the same GT class, which excited both the eyes and the ears. But, oddly enough, the loudest of the rotary-screamers was a little roadster…

When I spotted this, I did not even know what was under its vented, carbon-fibre bonnet. The Garage Vary Type-N aerokit, the swan-neck GT wing doubled up with an OEM bootlip spoiler, and those gunmetal Advan RZ wheels; I was just too overwhelmed.

When I had an NB, I remember seeing the Tomei Power white democar online, and that was what was the catalyst for me to go ahead with buying one. My car never got anywhere near that stage, but it was a big inspiration, nonetheless. This car echoes a bit of that Tomei car, but with much more aggression and function. When it was go-time, I was mesmerized by the noise, and was repeatedly confused everytime it went past. It sounded Wankel, and went like a rocket flying past GTRs both new and old. I ran back to the paddock area once their race was over, and seeing that 13B in the engine bay just made my day. The MX-5 came out 3rd overall, only to be beaten by an R35 and an R32 GTR, with a mere 0.8 seconds in deficit.

I think Idlers Games has garnered most of its attention thanks to the RWB empire. To not only make old Porsche 911s cool and relevant, but then to go out and drive the hell out of them is impressive. It is very rare that you see classic sports/supercars being taken to the maximum potential, especially those of the Euro type. The main event for all RWB crew members is the 12 hour endurance battle, so this stint at Tsukuba was probably just a little practice for them.

Nakai-san who is basically the mastermind behind the “movement”, was of course out their ripping his iconic 993 named Rotana. The machine has so much character I don’t know where to start. It looks so raw, but its flat purple paintjob softens the edge, and makes it look elegant. Still, Nakai-san put down a 58.725 second fast-lap, so neither car or driver is a slowpoke.

There were of course other Porsches and a Ferrari competing, but I know zilch about them, they just look amazing.

Here were some contenders that caught my eye whilst wandering the infield.