Starting Off On The Right Foot | Matty Ferguson’s Honda S2000

Finally. I get to write a feature after the 23 months consisting of Japan stuff, a load of event coverage, a brief bit about an MX-5 specialist and his R33 GT-R, some more car shows, and most recently the introduction of Civik. So yeah, alot has occurred since my last and debut feature I decided to kategorize as a ‘Fokal Point’ article, which some of you might remember involving Josh Harbour and his R32 GT-R. If not, you can catch up on that here.

One of, if not the primary, reasons for me signing up to a WordPress subsription and purchasing a web domain was that I wanted to be able to share my experiences on this planet as a carboy. But I’ve always known – even if not consciously – that the reason magazines and online blogs appealed to me so much were the inspirational glimpses of the people behind the assembly of metal, glass, rubber and plastic.

Yeah, the cars are cool and all that, but the journey people go through alongside their personalised mode of transport is what always captured and captivated my attention. At the end of the day, our vehicles are just the medium through which we convey our feelings brought on by how the car drives or what the vehicle represents.

So when Hamza and I were taking a stroll along the paddock of Croft Circuit during Mimms Honda Day in July of this year, I nearly twisted my vertebrae beyond repair when my eyes were magnetically drawn to Matty’s Honda S2000. The way the car just sat there next to a bright red Audi R8 and managed to detract all of the German supercar’s presence, I knew instantly this roadster deserved more than a one-take glance.

The upload count of shots posted up in the threepart blog should provide clear indication of how much of my interest was piqued by this two-seat Honda from 1999. After the show was done and over with, going through the images from that day, I realised how much Matty’s S2000 stood out to me.

Why, you might be wondering?

Well, I’m gonna let the photos show you exactly why this S2000 is an up-and-coming build that’s about to get even sicker than it already is.

We’d arranged to meet in his hometown near Darlington, somewhere I’ve only been once, and that was for a company training workshop, but that’s besides the point.

I scoped out a location to shoot Matty’s car in that wasn’t too far from where he was based. Early that morning I headed straight to our agreed meeting point, where I was having a little pre-shoot scout. Matty messaged me and invited me to his house as he was still cleaning up the motor since he didn’t find the time to the night before.

I drove over to his, parked my car up and we chit-chatted as he went over his favourite points on the car.

Turns out the evening before that morning was a bit of a episode involving Matty’s friend’s seized brake caliper off of his Mini Cooper S. He almost thought his bone was broken/fractured in his ankle, due to a caliper piston rewind tool going haywire from being used in conjunction with an impact drill (not recommended).

It is what it is though, shit does and will happen. We weren’t working to a strict schedule or nothing, it was a Saturday after all, and I think 8am on a weekend is like 6am on a weekday, so early enough as is.

An S2000 is a highly-versatile chassis, and that is mostly down its outright good-looks. You don’t have to do much to the car in the cosmetics department, since Honda’s designers did a grand job on perfecting the exterior of the car to a point where there isn’t an angle from which you’ll grow tired from looking at it.

Matty informed me of the date he took ownership of his 2005 model-year, hardtop S2000, and I was kinda taken aback by how recent I’d thought it was: June 2020. For some reason, I felt as if the car had been carefully crafted over a longer period of time, going through a couple phases before this one. But, no. Matty bought the Honda in factory trim, still wearing its original coats of Silverstone Metallic, with the only visible modification being a K&N Cone Air Filter.

The S2000 has always appeared cartoonish when viewed from the front, head-on. It’s as if the design engineers intentionally gave the car a personable character.

Now, there’s not much to say about Matty’s car, and that’s in no way me being dismissive, of course. The fact I don’t need to say much about the car, theres’s no need for me to be throwing all these fancy adjectives up just for you to take more notice of the details, so that in and of itself speaks more volume than I ever could. I mean, if you can’t appreciate this awfully simplistic method of modifying, then maybe you’re expecting too much.

Understandably so, with the amount of things we’re bombarding ourselves with via social media, you can’t help but be desensitized to anything that’s truly relatable. Until, perhaps, you stumble across something like this car for the first time ever, IRL, no filter, no bullshit promo, no hashtags. Just a real enthusiast showing how he likes his cars by putting together an example that is undeniably well-finished.

Obviously, I don’t mean finished in the literal sense, as whilst I was snapping away with my DSLR on this random research building’s carpark, Matty told me of his vision and this is most definitely not that, yet.

But let’s stick with what we have in the present.

What exactly are we all looking at here?

The “elephant in the room”, for me anyways, certainly has to be the non-Honda body colour. Initially, I’d assumed the “Tahitian Green Pearl” paint code was nabbed from the CR-Xs and EF/EG Civics, and pasted all over the S2000’s panels, but that colour is much more vibrant in retrospect. This shade of blue-green remains quite deep and subdued under direct sunlight, and frankly, the Honda pulls off Emerald Green miles better than the sourced-from Citroen C4 Cactus ever could.

By the way, the colour change was the very first alteration Matty chose to make to his car once he became its rightful owner. Although, from what he told me, it was a bit of a nightmare back-and-forth scenario with the bodyshop not completing the job to a standard you’d expect for the respray of a modern classic sports-roadster. Putting the past aside, the car’s bodywork was of course refinished properly and retrieved back to the hands of its owner for further tweaks to be made.

Fortunately, the low-hanging fog that morning muted all but our immediate surroundings, and the photos came out better than I’d imagined they would. I’m going to come across as arrogrant, but I have to admit that this is the best work I’ve produced thus far in my life as a person with a camera.

Back to the subject in fokus…

Once Matty got his whip back in the home garage, the tone was set for him to begin riffing off and enhance what was already at that point a great-looking car in its new lick of paint.

S2000s weren’t all that tip-toey off the showroom floor with their factory-spec suspension and ride height. Most definitely not as bad as a standard MX-5, but still, there’s always far too much tyre-to-arch clearance with standard cars, unless you’re buying a 911 GT3 or similar.

Matty selected a set of coilovers made by MeisterR, a company that has bases in the UK & USA. The choice Zeta CRDs have brought the ride height to a very acceptable distance to the ground, and tightened up the existing well-balanced chassis giving the driver just enough tactile feedback without compromising usability on the road, helped by the 9kg(F) & 7kg(R) spring rates.

By the way, the owner isn’t some up-and-coming YouTube sensation or a Forex trader’s prodigy. Yeah he’s a young guy in his early 20’s, but he’s still studying part-time whilst working a full-time job in the civil engineering sector. And he hasn’t rolled his car into a garage, tossed them the keys and demand for them to turn it into some kind of Insta-famous riceboi machine. Matty and his pals have all chipped in and carried out the work themselves, that includes fine tuning the suspension to get it cock-on without the tyre chafing against the inner arches and busting a tyre.

So, as you can see, not much is “going on” under the bonnet where the F20C engine resides. Time and resource will eventually come around for the owner to invest some of his attention to the powertrain, but all in good time. As it sits currently, the only alterations made to the engine are its Invidia Q300 catback stainless exhaust system allowing the F-series to emit it’s waste gases freely, but keeping the neighbours happy(ish) with a high-flow catalytic converter made by Berk Technology / Magnaflow.

Oh yeah, and if you didn’t spot it, an oil cap from Spoon Sports keeps a lid on things.

As Matty propped up the vented OEM bonnet, immediately grasping my attention was this piece sitting right on top of the Koyorad “Half-Size” aluminium thick-core radiator. If you’ve followed my Civik blog series, you’ll know that I was a bit miffed how my J’s Racing pressure cap wouldn’t fit onto my Koyorad rad. I was baffled as to how Matty’s fits and why I don’t have the same luck as him, haha 😦

15+ year old rubber most likely were not in the best of condition, so Matty went and chucked on some Spoon Sports polymer hoses for piece of mind.

I can imagine those of you who happen to be S2000 owners too, are interested in Matty’s choice of wheel and their fitment.

And if you happen not to show intrigue, are you okay? The flow-formed RG-D2 wheels by Yokohama Advan are a difficult option to discount when configuring your dream build, regardless of the chassis, they look great on everything! Matty chose to fit up a set of staggered 17″ wheels, 8J at the front, with 9J in the back, offsets measuring ET44 and ET45 respectively.

And I can’t not mention one of the greatest tread patterns of all time, courtesy of the Yokohama Rubber Company. AD08RS compound has been equipped to deal with everything input by the hands and feet of the driver, matching up to the staggered wheel sizing with 225/45 and 245/40 tyre specifications.

The Advan wheels’s polished lips gleam as they offset the Racing Hyper Black spoke faces.

Efforts have been made by Matty to ensure that the car appears as low as possible, without giving off that “stancey wanker” vibe. He’s done a damn good job if you ask me.

How is this car still relevant as ever? Honda, bring back an affordable high-performance FR two-seat sportscar, please, before you go all “Greenpeace” on us petrol-junkies.

Back onto the subject of the aero trim applied to the exterior of the car. A carbon fibre ducktail partly left bare to exposed the weave when viewed from the rear, carbon fibre sideskirt extensions made for an FD3S RX-7, and the smoothed OEM “AP2” front bumper & original lip spolier. A Voltex rear diffuser made of CFRP wasn’t in the best of shape so Matty chose to remove it from the car in case the damage went any further, but you can see it photographed here, if you so please.

Without sounding cliche, sitting passenger whilst Matty directed the S2000 through fast and slow B-road bends, I could sense a link between man and machine where both were in harmony as G-forces pulled the ~1270kg mass dynamically whilst the four tyres maintained grip throughout.

I jumped out the car to take a few panning shots as Matty zipped past me on a country lane. Thought I’d get some practice shots in with the local wildlife behind me.

The car isn’t crazily loud, but it sings a tune you wouldn’t want any other way.

When something looks as good as it goes, a sense of temporary bliss comes into effect. This was one of those moments.

Before we called it quits, Matty suggested a cool photo-opp spot not too far out in the countryside.

We drove up to a pair of electric gates that opened automatically, rolled right through all the way down this long-ass driveway, realising that we may or may not have been trespassing, haha.

We weren’t doing no one any harm, so I got Matty to position the roadster in the middle of this random household’s driveway, and let the shutter release.

Next thing we know, a lady in a new Land Rover Defender enters the premises and I’m thinking we’re about to get booted out or maybe worse! But Matty must have done some sweet-talking as I heard her compliment the Honda that was on her private property. She was 100% cool with us being there, we kept off the grass, and that was that, she just carried on for another 5-miles (exagerrating lol) to her doorstep.

Buddyclub LED Sequential Tailights complete the rear-end without over-doing it. To be honest, it’s probably not far off a “modern-day” interpretation of the S2000, similar to what we saw at TAS 2020 with Honda’s 20th Anniversary Concept, only this has nicer wheels…

That’s all I have to say about Matty’s S2000 right now. It doesn’t “break the internet” (yet) nor does it need to (yet). I’m positively sure that the evolution of this vehicle is in its infancy under the careful and particular owner.

Keep an eye out, is all I need to say, both right here on soulfokus.net and Matty’s IG @mattyfer5.

| B O N U S G A L L E R Y |

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.

Japanaholik’s Journal | The Kansai Chapter (1)

Japan’s system of addressing locales is not as straightforward to us Westerners as we’d probably like, with the island being divided into geographical regions, then a cumulative 47 prefectures within those, then subdivisions of cities and districts, and then villages and towns identified within in and amongst them, and then the building numbers aren’t ordered like they are in the neighbourhoods in the UK, because they are based on WHEN the building was constructed as opposed to odds and evens on either side of the road ascending/descending in numerical order.

Wow, that was a major, unnecesscary veer-off, but I don’t care, I’m gonna leave it in. It might act as a heads-up for someone who wants to go out to Japan, although there’s probably full-on guides if you give Google a quick ask.

Osaka and Kyoto are the Kansai region’s largest prefectures after Tokyo and its greater area. Back in the day, there was a East-West rivalry between Edo (what is now Tokyo) and Osaka. If you want to know more about the history of Japan in a nutshell, check out a well-delivered video created in MS Paint and Windows Movie Maker, titled ‘history of japan’ by Bill Wurtz. I thought it would be interesting to see what the contrast was like between both major cities, and whether their characters are distinct enough to make me notice. To be honest, wandering around in Osaka centre is not THAT much different from Tokyo, except that its a bit more “down-to-earth” and not as pristine as the country’s capital.

Anyway, day#10 of the trip, I wanted to start the morning off in nature. Cities are overrated, I prefer towns, but I can’t pin down why exactly I am attracted to places with a good balance of liveliness and tranquility. We decided to grab a cheap, runabout rental car, so we booked out a Toyota Passo (that white thing below). Why are modern Toyotas so drab to drive? It didn’t help that it was an automatic, however, atleast it sipped on fuel even when I wound that CVT ‘box out from every set of traffic lights.

Minoo Park was not too far according to Google Maps, and it was a decent size for us to spend the first half of the day. I parked up at the nearest multi-storey, and its the same old story: Japan Love Cars. Walking down each level towards the exit, there was something lurking in the bays around the sides of the parking floor. Most, as you can see, had dustcovers on, which made for a good game of ‘guess the car’. I have both naff-all knowledge and not much interest in ‘supercars’, but I am glad the ones that laid bare were some of the koolest of klassics.

So, yeah, having a holiday in Japan that’s completely sterile of automotive lures is near enough impossible.

The forested valley is situated at the top of a hill, so it was a bit of a strenuous uphill walk to reach. It was worth it though; not that busy and you can just relax on one of the benches at the foot of the 33-metre waterfall.

Looking at trees for too long can get mundane, and I resisted the urge to whip out the Instagram feed that morning (well, there was no phone reception up in the forest anyhow), so I thought we might aswell head out back in the direction of Osaka centre to visit a couple “Car Meccas”.

The first was GT Net, a used-car dealership with some very fine pieces of kit. Its awkward going to a car-dealer with no intention of buying anything (me and a friend are guilty of doing this after school, years ago, just to check out manufacturers latest and greatest).

We got there and outside they had not one, but three, kouki FD RX-7s, so you can already imagine me frothing at the mouth. To top it off they had a Millenium Jade R34 GT-R, which is another beautiful paint colour offered by Nissan, which needs to make its deserved comeback.

Okay, now onto the hottest Honda tuner in my opinion, and that’s due to their #FIRE #LIT livery designs. I remember watching ‘Hot Version’ and seeing the J’s Racing S2000 tear up the touge for the first time. Its a phenomenal car, in both practice and on paper: 345 horsepower from its naturally-aspirated, stroked F20C 2.7 litre belter, and a kerbweight of around 1100kg with interior still in place, the streetable Honda roadster is a strong contender. Get yourself on YouTube and see for yourself. But check out the rest of my pics first…

The garage wasn’t even supposed to be open on the day I was there, but luckily some of the staff were in the office, and president, Murakami-san, kindly let me in and have a look around. The place is small, but like everywhere in Japan, given space is used to the maximum in terms of efficiency.

These guys know how to make Hondas look great, so even if all you have is a Jazz/Fit, I would recommend reaching out to this shop if you haven’t already. I could tell from the customer’s cars on the lifts, that these lot know what to do and how to do it.

After a jam-packed day of driving and walking, we headed back to our accommodation and called it a night. Looking at the content I have remaining on my desktop for my ‘Japanaholik’s Journal’ series, I reckon the next will be the LAST instalment, but definitely not the LEAST, so keep an eye on the Feed…

Thanks for swooping by!

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few carpark finds…

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

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