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 | 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…

Cyco Racing Civic | Time Attack UK 2019

The end of last month was a heated weekend – both literally and figuratively – down on the ‘mac of Donington Park, Leicestershire. With the previous Time Attack UK round I attended being a bit damp, I was looking much more forward to this trip (as were my camera and lenses). Again, to reel visitors in, the against-the-clock race event was running parallel with ‘Tunerfest Midlands’ which was a variety car show with a drift demo stage set up in overspill car park. I did get a few photos of the static display, but I want to fokus on motors that move, in this article in particular.

Case in point: enter Chris Williams and his ED7 Civic. He kindly allowed me to point the lens at his weapon of choice for the day, and for that I am highly thankful, because this duo is one a kind.

Chris got hold of this Civic back in September of 2003, so he should be in the vicinity of their anniversary at present moment. When it caught my eye at the Cadwell round earlier this year, I was slightly surprised how it made very little noise when it glided past in comparison to both the competitors, and your typical 1980s-90s VTEC Honda. No B-series buzz. No nat-asp rasp. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t disappoint, it just struck me with its unusual aura.

If you know Chris and his Civic, you know what’s coming. If not, let me put your quandary to rest. Long gone is the car’s original D-series running gear; this seriously fast, under-the-radar Civic build is animated by the famed K20 engine, stolen (not literally) from an Acura RSX Type S. Because Chris is a native Canadian, what us Brits know as the Integra is regarded as the “premium” version of the FF coupe that was sold as the RSX over in the States. Whilst the Land of the Rising Sun exclusively was treated to the DC5 Type R, US and Canadian markets got a decent compromise with the ‘Type-S’ model, equipped with a K20 rated to 200-210bhp depending on the trim level. Specifically, a home-built (the man assembled the powerplant together in front of his telly in his living room during the cold winter months) K20A2 rests under Chris’ bonnet, which is not riding solo, since its paired up with a pretty beefily-sized Rotrex C38-91 centrifugal-type supercharger. The results are astonishing on paper: circa 400bhp on demand via the [not so]loud pedal. Forced induction is always the go-to for more power, especially when its relatively more efficient and safer than going all-motor, to get high numbers on the dyno. The ponies are released through a 6-speed transmission, with a K20A3 4.7 final-drive, and sent to the Pirelli semi-slicks thanks to a limited-slip diff borrowed from a B-series Type-R.

Key items on the car consist of the following: Yellowspeed 2-way adjustable coilovers with external reservoirs, custom front splitter made from good-ol’ plywood, boot-mounted adjustable rear GT-wing, full-welded in rollcage courtesy of JBDR Fabrication, half-size radiator with custom ducting, a decent dose of gold heat-reflective tape, and a bespoke stainless 3″ exhaust system. The sum of all these parts make for a highly capable sub-900kg teal time-attack tool.

Ending the day on an excellent vibe, Chris put down a speedy lap of 1:17:498 in the timed final session, only to be bested by 0.117 seconds on the 1.979-mile National layout of the circuit. On the day, however, Chris managed to put down a solid 1:16.879 when the climate was sub-30 degrees. Goes to show how you are contending not only with your mind and the machine, but the earthly elements can throw everything at both cars and drivers, making this category of motorsport an intense one.

Did I mention that this was the very first time Chris has put rubber to road at Donington? Along with all the other circuits in this season’s rounds!

I am sure Chris is always striving to develop his own skill behind the wheel, exploiting the modern advancement in home-entertainment technology by spending hours going around virtual circuits on a VR simulator, and then applying incremental enhancements to his machine without upsetting any of the chassis’ balance.

Until next time, thanks for coming by…

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 | Spoon Sports’ TYPE-ONE

The morning after our first day in Tokyo, we awoke early welcomed by the scorching sun at around 8:00am, and it was only going to get warmer. A lot of people dislike the muggy climate, but it really doesn’t bother me. Anything above 20 degrees should be bliss for us Brits.

A combination of bus and train travel landed us drop dead centre in Shinjuku Station: the world’s busiest with about a billion commuters and travellers passing through annually. Managing the maze the train stopped at, then finding out Type-One was not open yet, I figured we might aswell hang around near the station and check out the shops in the vicinity.

I found a camera equipment store – a few were dotted about the area outside the station, actually – but it wasn’t open for an hour, so I killed a bit of time in an arcade. (Some of the following photos were taken with my new Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8 – 4 lens I bought for a steal of a price).

These places are nuts, you will see full-blown RPG-adventure game stations being button-bashed to death by teens and salarymen alike. I suppose its an escape from bitter reality for some people, thats why gaming is so addictive. I clocked one race on Wangan Midnight and saved the rest of my change for the countless train tickets I’d have to buy during the rest of the trip.

After strolling through the hustle and bustle of central Tokyo at peak-hours (which is pretty much all day and night) we hopped back on a train to Suginami, heading west out of the capital.

Spoon Sports, for those who may not know, is the holy grail when it comes to tuned and modified Hondas. If I were to give my ranking of the Japanese automakers, Honda would easily occupy one of top three positions. I used to own one, albeit a very lukewarm, slow model of the FN / 8th generation Civic (Type-S).

Here is a photo of it pre engine failure due to me driving through a “puddle” (flooded waste water drain) with a cold-feed air intake kit that sounded the dogs bollocks, up until it snorted the sewer system up, bent a rod and then proceeded to spit it out through the block.

Okay, it wasn’t from the glory days of Hondas such as the DC2 or EK9 Integra and Civic, but the chassis was very sharp and made you work that 1.8L engine; a proper momentum car. It was decent and for a decade year-old model, it still looks modern today.

Anyway, as we all know, the aftermarket sector of the automotive industry is huge when it comes to anything with a ‘H’ badge. But Spoon Sports springs to mind, often when a VTEC addict wants to get a move on. Spoon is known for the highest in precision and durability when it comes to their performance parts. Tatsuru Ichishima, the founder of the company, started up racing Civics and testing out his bespoke suspension and engine components live on the battlefield, so you can be guaranteed said parts will take plenty of use and abuse.

Spoon Sports Type-One isn’t just a typical tuning centre with over the counter parts available to the public, but they also offer their customers education on how specific components will affect the overall feel of the car. I don’t know if they still do, but the company did deliver ‘Engine Lectures’ to those who wanted to brush up on their skills and understanding of engine and suspension tuning.

The S2000 you see above was Team Spoon’s weapon of choice when entering the Super Taikyu endurance race series in Japan during the year 2000’s campaign. Fast forward from then, the No. 95 car has progressed and now sits as shown. It features an assortment of visible parts, including the fastback hardtop made by Mugen (if I am not mistaken), Spoon aero-mirrors, Spoon V2 front bumper, and Spoon S-Tai(kyu) bonnet and rear bumper, Spoon Monoblock brake calipers, and wheels by Prodrive (which suit the car well, maybe its coated in bronze) just to name a few.

There were two technicians tending to a customer’s EK9 Civic Type-R, I didn’t want to distract them as they were working so I just snapped away and they seemed fine with it. They are probably used to seeing a lot of visitors, particularly foreigners, so its just another day in the office for them.

Honda’s new sportscar, that is not the mental NSX, is the S660. These things are so sick, I regret not hiring one out when I was there. Mid-engine kei cars are the shit for real, and I can imagine them being a bit lairy at first when set up with track-ready suspension and tyres due to its short wheelbase, but I would 100% daily drive one.

The ground floor is the where the clean room is situated and can be very blatantly seen through the front glass screen as you approach the shopfront. Technicians are busy working away meticulously with the world passing by in front of them. Interesting how this area of the garage isn’t tucked away in a corner in the back, I could imagine this would really test your fokus and concentration skills.

Not much was occurring downstairs. A couple of S2000s and a demo FK7 Civic resided on the shopfloor not being worked on, so we decided to dip out of there and quit being a nuisance haha. I reckon I took enough decent photos whilst there, but Spoon Type-One is definitely a shop I would return to, on the off-chance they would have the NA2 NSX there for me to shoot!

I’m done here, so keep an eye out for the next entry in this Japan series. Hope you enjoyed, as always, I appreciate your time.