Ichihara is located in the western part of the Bōsō Peninsula, and geographically is the largest of Chiba Prefecture’s cities and towns. The highly industrialized northern part of the city sits on Tokyo Bay, while the southern part of the city is primarily mountainous. Ichihara, dense in housing developments, serves as a satellite town of Tokyo and Chiba City.
That’s right, I took that straight from Wikipedia. Ichihara is a cool city, and not just because it’s in Chiba, it’s very relaxed; somewhat detached from the hustle of the Neo Metropolis of Tokyo. It also happens to be the city in which Garage Work is located. What a great lead-in to the second part of our Garage Work feature, where we depart from the circuit to see just where the magic happens.
To be honest, when Iwata-san invited Sekinei and I over to the shop I really didn’t intend to take any pictures. My real intent was to pick his brain and discover the reasoning behind some of his modifications, as well as discover some of his methods and maybe find out some new information as there is much more than meets the eye with his car. So, if these pictures look seemingly haphazard, it’s because they are.
We arrived at Garage Work about midday the weekend after the Evome event we attended at Tsukuba. However, when we got there, Iwata-san had stepped out to run a few errands and Kubo-kun (Iwata’s mechanic and sole employee), was the only one there. He said we were free to rest inside the shop or go look at the cars that were around the shop; so we did just that.
Chiba is a bit different than Tokyo, or even Yokohama, in the fact that it’s a bit more rural. While Ichihara may be the largest city, so to speak, in Chiba, it’s still quite country like in some areas. This is why you see open lots and such, as parking is quite cheap out here.
This EK was in one of the lots they rented out beside the shop. That little sign in the first picture says ‘Iwata – Garage Work’ to indicate the space is reserved for their use. The EK seems very mild here, but get’s transformed very easily into the aero heavy attack cars that Iwata is famous for.
Years of CASHEW decals decay away in the bright sun.
Funnily enough, we saw Kubo’s car in the same lot. If you follow us on Facebook, you’ll recognize this car very easily as the ‘red version’ of Iwata’s EG6. Kubo takes the same approach and while he doesn’t have as much experience on track as Iwata does, he’s slowly gaining speed. Read that as he’s fucking fast.
Actually, during the Direzza Challenge at the end of last year at Sodegaura, he took second place only to the Yellow Factory EG. In these pictures, the car is in it’s non-circuit state, where the front wheels are not what is used on track. The fenders are spaced like crazy because of what wheels he runs – which we’ll see later. That wire sticking out is for the HKS Circuit Attack Counter; which most grassroots drivers use as means of time management. I actually bought one a while back which I reluctantly learned will not be able to use at US circuits…I’ll still mount it though.
You can see that the rear rotors got the same treatment that Iwata’s did. Save pounds wherever you can right?
After walking around a bit and grabbing a drink, we headed back to the shop. Out in front were old relics that once graced the pages of Japanese magazines in the 90’s, serve as parts cars now.
This EK that was in the driveway caught my eye as it looked like one of the only driveable cars in the area.
What looked like a First Molding lip was attached the stock bumper, along with some mild canards.
Everywhere I looked I saw cars that I’ve seen in magazines before.
It also had a rear GT wing that was attached to the OEM via some mounts they had made.
I later found that this was a customer car.
As we waited for Iwata to return, which seemed like a good hour now, I began to browse around the shop. Strewn across shelves and tables were transmissions and bell housings all bearing a different label for various tracks and ratios. It gives you an idea about how much thought goes into gearing of the car.
This DC2 was being built for an upcoming Attack event with the concept of keeping it as ‘streetable’ as possible. You can clearly see what streetable is to them…carbon doors, no interior. Perfect.
When Iwata arrived, I had asked him about the DC2 thinking it was a different car that I had seen on Minkara quite some time ago. It is in fact a different car (new build), and the reason I had asked was these blue doors here. Floating around on Minkara is a DC2 that often uses these same doors. Come to find out that Iwata lends these gutted and lexan fitted doors to customers who are competing in attack events to shave a little extra weight off.
I actually managed to track down the owner of the black DC2 (not the one pictured) to see if I could photograph his car, but he had been going through some trouble getting it to pass Shaken, and wasn’t sure if he was going to keep it. So I didn’t push the matter – but the DC2 I am referring to was the reason I began to follow Garage Work in the first place.
While I looked around, Kubo was installing some Tein Mono Sports on this white EK.
He also had wrapped up work on this very clean DC2, although I’m not sure what he was doing to it…
Resting after a long days work was the shops flagship EG6. Not much to say about this car that hasn’t already been said, but it was a bit surreal to see it in it’s home.
When Iwata arrived, he grabbed some drinks from his back office and we had a chance to sit down for a good hour and discuss various things. I wish I could express how nice it is to detach from the journalistic and photography side of me (I don’t think I’m very journalistic to begin with), and just talk for the sake of talking. I wanted to learn everything I could, so I asked questions and I listened.
This room may look like a mess, but it’s actually where a lot of the work that goes into making the EG as fast as it is takes place
Transmissions, differentials, gears, and a whole bunch of other parts were set about the small room in which we talked. We discussed the benefits of 2-way vs. 1.5 way LSD’s in FF, the different transmission ratios he uses for particular courses, how his tuning is really tailored to his specific driving style and why so many try to replicate it. We discussed his engine build and why he stayed B-series. He is very convinced that he can break into faster territory with the car as is; perhaps with some aero adjustments. I was reluctant to hear it, but he said when he feels that he cannot go any faster, he will turn to the K-series. For my personal sake I hope that day never comes haha
We paused for a moment as he tended to a phone call which gave me a chance to grab this candid.
After our talks Iwata let me start up the EG just for fun. This sort of small gesture, which means a lot to me, just goes to show you the difference in the way some Japanese tuning shops go about their business. Iwata is in the ranks with people like Sato-san from Unlimited Works, who swears that so many other shop owners are so bossy. Not the case at Garage Work, as I know for a fact that Iwata has welcomed other guests in as well.
Anyway, sitting in this car was like an awakening for me. Akin to that of a baptism. If ever I had a concept for my build of being lightweight, this just served as permanent reinforcement. Revving the TODA powered engine was just icing on the cake.
I’ll spare you the humility of posting pictures of me acting like a little kid inside the car…
Before we left Kubo wanted to show us his wheel setup.
I was intrigued at the massive stagger initially, but after he explained it I understood. It all comes down to preference and style in driving. Iwata runs a 17″ wheel up front, and either a 16″ or sometimes a square setup with a 17″ in the back. Kubo, however, has tried every possibility of stagger on circuit. From a 16f/15r, to 17f/15r, 17f/16r, and so on and so forth, but he said out of everything, he feels that an 18″ wheel up front with a 16″ wheel in the back feels the best to him.
That’s when I realized that it really does come down to personal preference. Everyone drives differently, there is (loosely speaking) no right and wrong in car setup.
He was pretty excited to show us the GTR-spec wheels he runs on the EG though.
18×10 Work CR-Kai’s wrapped in ZII’s. Both agree that the Advan A050 is the faster tire, but since Kubo competes in the Direzza Challenges, he must use a ZII for now.
It’s pretty amazing how such a small, for the most part unknown shop, can make such an impact on circuit. I’m fortunate to befriend such great people and now that I am Chiba quite often, I have the opportunity to visit more frequently.
I know this particular post wasn’t too informative, but I never really intended to post about it. Hopefully at least you get a feel of what shops like this throughout Japan look like, and how they operate. I know I will do my best to embody the spirit of this shop in my own personal build.