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.

Modified Live 2019 | Showstoppers

The idea of a dual-purpose automotive event makes complete sense to me. On-track action and off-track works-of-art (for the most part) go hand in hand, and where better to put on this kind of event than Cadwell Park during UK Time Attack’s season opener. Seeing cars in motion induces a different kind of feeling that is difficult to describe. When you encounter a car parked up, a machine of your dreams for example, if you’re like me you whip the phone out for some quick pics before someone spots you and looks at you awkwardly. Then, there are some moments when you are out and about, either on foot or driving, and you hear or catch a glimpse of ‘x’ car passing you by going the opposite direction. You just gawp, or if its moving slow enough you try video it and share it on social media because the internet is the world nowadays. I usually do the former if I see something special, ‘cos the cars I am into are fast, and that’s why I HAD to make it out to this year’s Modified Live when its a 2-for-1 deal as good as this.

The small-scale show is a mix-up, with car clubs of all types putting their pride and joy on display. This post is more of a gallery, so skim through and thanks for viewing.

Nissan’s S13 chassis was out in full force with a few here and there which was pleasant, since the S14 was more prevalent since they sold better to the UK market.

Who do you think wins this “Silvia face-off”? Both are well put together examples, but I am going to have to side with the deep-grey model sporting the polished and purple SSR Professor SP1 rollers. Could be the Japanese number plate that did it for me aswell if I am honest.

This Red Pearl Metallic R32 GTR didn’t have trouble standing out from the crowd, sometimes I need to do a double-take when I find one at an event especially if its near enough factory-spec. These cars are the ultimate sleeper coupe, and I remain loyal to this iteration of Nissan’s AWD supercar destroyer lineup.

Its rare you find one in this gorgeous colour, and then the owner went a step further and enhanced the looks with a set of Mag Blue Volk Racing TE37s.

Everyone’s favourite made an appearance: the Gran Turismo/Fast and Furious hero. Wherever you witnessed this machine for the first time, the Bayside Blue R34 GTR will be the icon for centuries. Not many words are needed for this one wearing the holy grail of multi-spoke split-rim wheels.

The rest of the Nissan selection. That dreamy Sileighty was amazing. Only in Japan during the 1990’s would Nissan be bonkers enough to merge two cars together, and damn me if you think I’m wrong but the result is perfection. This automotive synergy wasn’t even the manufacturer’s idea; Kid’s Heart (a tuning company who specialise in slidey cars e.g. Silvias, Chasers etc) put this style together since a lot of street runners found it cheaper to swap the pop-up headlight front end for the fixed headlight face found on PS13 models. The cars went on sale in official Nissan dealerships, with approximately 400 sold in the year 1998. The industry will probably never be the same…

Evos and Imprezas were plentiful at the show, here I some of the highlights I managed to catch whilst zipping about the field in the rain.

Mazda mania. Not as much as I would have liked but quality comes before quantity, and these few were pretty nice. The Rocket Bunny FD3S RX7 was well executed, sporting those Work L1 three-piece wheels, the first set I have ever seen on this chassis in person.

Hope you liked what you saw, I try to get as much detailed shots as I can, but its difficult to stay fokused on one car long enough to soak it in, especially when there are enticing builds all over the show.

Next in store for this site is going to be something you do not want to miss…

Follow the Instagram @soulfokus if you aren’t already.

Harewood Hillclimb 2018

Last year’s warm-ish spring season was when I attended the hillclimb event over in Harewood, Leeds. The course is lay out on a portion of a farm, which made for some picturesque shots. This was the first time I had ever ventured out to an event of this kind, as it has that ‘grassroots’ air about it, which was what I reckon pulled me in. Saying that, the day that I went, it seemed that all categories were competing so there was the whole spectrum of machines as you are about to see…

A basic black DC2 Inte Type-R sat out on the lawn, in what appeared to be JDM specification if you go by the square reg plate and ‘better-looking’ front end.

Simple styling on this NA MX-5. Reg plate says UK model, ‘EUNOS’ side stripe decal says Japanese domestic. Whatever the case may be, this car had a FRP replacement bonnet, as if the aluminium factory fitted part isn’t light enough! Well, I suppose when running the hill you’re gonna go for gold!
My all-time favourite BMW. This Phoenix Yellow example definitely matches the coupe body perfectly; the flared arches are accentuated when the light beams off the paint.
Another surprising Japanese import. Hailing from Toyota’s golden era, this SW20 turbo-equipped version was parked up but I did not see it run. This one seems to be a Harewood regular from looking at that rear bumper sticker.
Appears to be used as a daily run around, as the OEM seats are retained but Willans harnesses have been bolted in for the driver. Stable seating position is crucial when having to manage corners at the limit.
Interior reminds me of the NB MX-5, especially the centre console. Although, the MR2’s flows into the gauge cluster hood, making for a more driver orientated design.
Another Bavarian bruiser…
This rare-to-come-by 1M coupe sat out in the visitors car park and caught my eye immediately. It has so much presence.
This Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio was also in attendance. This is such a breath of fresh air amongst all the typical German high-performance saloons I get use to seeing in the UK.
Oh yes. What were the odds on this boxy beast rocking up to the show!? Even this model had plastic wrap on the driver’s seat, which makes me wonder whether it was the same car I encountered at the Classic Car Show (NEC Arena). These WRC derived weapons are legendary. You can barely tell that it is a 5-door hatch, because the rear box flare sits so proud, it makes the overall length of the car seem shorter.
Now, for those who are thinking I am a Lancia fanboy, you’re mistaken. But to have two Lancias in one day only makes sense for me to capture both of them and show you. This Lancia Beta coupe wasn’t too far away in the grassy field. I admit they look cool, must be those twin dual headlamps. That crooked tailpipe is quirky, I wonder if that is standard or someone decided to add some character to a slightly – dare I say – bland rear end.
If I remember correctly, a Ferrari owners group made it out to run the hillclimb, believe it or not some Ferrari drivers like to DRIVE their prancing horses.
This Ferrari 355 coupe is more than you can afford pal. Okay, that ‘The Fast and The Furious’ reference is not completely fitting, since this was not a convertible. That MR2 would have definitely given it a run for its money.
No idea what this was. Somebody, enlighten me.
This LanEvo was all belts and braces.
Boxer brute. I quite like the look of the latest WRX offering from Subaru. Has more style than some of its predecessors such as the ‘bugeye’ and the GR model hatchback.
For the initial duration of the day, these single seaters were at the front line. Very ‘Formula-1’ based design, but due to their inherent lightweight, most of these were running motorbike engines with reasonable power, and even more potent power-to-weight ratio.
Soaking in the scenery was nice. However, I do recall it being warm as the sun’s core that day, so I was also soaking in sweat…
Most of whom were driving these, I am sure, were young teenagers which was bonkers considering how swiftly these were moving up the hill!
The Italian V8 monster is tough to tame, as this F430 twitched its rear on exit more than once. Still, I commend those owners for trying, albeit in a poorly suited environment. I guess the risk is low driving up a bendy hill and barely having the space to stretch the legs of a 480bhp luxo-sports machine.
At the other end of the scale, a modified Peugeot 106 skirted up the track with pace.
This was probably my favourite competitor of the event. These are uncommon, and probably for good reason (unreliable(?)), but all I know is that the Fiat Coupe 20V with those bronze 4-spokes is the meaning of style. Well done.
Well then, that was a brief recount of my trip to the Harewood Hillclimb last year, and I might return in 2019 who knows. It wasn’t overly crowded, the course is that short you can catch the cars fly by you from any viewpoint, and you might come across something you would never expect in the rural outskirts of Leeds.

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…