The plan after the Lowstars Meeting in Nikko was to bolt over to Tochigi City, where a private kollection of incredible automobiles are nestled away under the roof of an old train JR (Japan Railway) station.
The ‘Mahoujin Supercar Museum’ is deceiving on first encounter; it seems like an old, unused building that has been preserved for the local community or something of that nature. But step past the ticket barriers (after you pay for admission) and what welcomes you is pretty astonishing.
The cars you are about to see are what I believe to be the pinnacle of supercar history. The 90’s machines have that perfect balance between technology and rawness, and the cars that predate that decade are pure analogue bliss.
I am sure you will spot some of your all-time favourites in this assortment…
… ‘cos I know I did when I caught this red Delta HF Integrale Evo 2 sitting in the corner of the gallery.
The dudes you see gathering around that Porsche 959 arrived at the museum in a convoy, one had some kind of Mercedes 2-door coupe which didn’t peak as much of my interest as the FD2 Civic Type-R (which I probably should have chosen to rent out instead of the Integra) and the two Alfa Romeo saloons. Dare I say, the Italian 4-doors beat the heck out of the Honda with their sharp looks.
Upon exit, the owners of these cars followed behind and they got chatting after they caught me taking photos of that black 159. I vented my frustration with the rental car, so they offered to phone the company and give them a very polite, Japanese earful. Nothing came out of it really, but at least they tried. A couple of them reckoned it was a faulty crank/cam angle sensor, which I also speculated, but that wouldn’t explain the nasty throttle pedal feel.
Thats all I have for this one, the visit was more of a bucket list check-off than anything, and since it happened to be along the route to our stop in Tsukuba, I thought I’d might aswell pay it a visit.
The post to follow is gonna be exciting, as you might have guessed by the aforementioned destination…
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.
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…
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.
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…
Never really grew up with much, if any at all, drift culture involved in my car life. My initial exposure to the artform was probably as cliche as it gets: Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift. My brother introduced me to Best Motoring as early as I can remember, Japanese guys sending cars sideways, in both factory and tuned forms. It’s almost as if it was in their DNA, without sounding cheesy.
Nowadays, especially because of the Internet, the passion for drifting, as both a sport and an automotive ‘scene’, has spread to all pockets around the world. Even managing to worm its way into Wigan, UK. This was my first time attending a dedicated drift competition event, which appeared to have more focus on the drivers and cars, instead of acting as an all-in-one festival type of event as can be seen with the more commercially popular shows. Less circus, more circuit…