When I departed on my return trip to Japan this Summer, I did so with the goal of reconnecting with friends and colleagues after the two years of travel restrictions. For 5 straight weeks I travelled around the country by car, train, and plane, all with the simple objective of ‘catching up’.
Above all, I value the relationships that this website has presented me with those involved in motor sports and time attack in Japan. While I did my best to keep up to date with everyone via messaging apps, there is no real substitute for tangible interaction; being able to show and share ones life is an undeniably different experience than viewing it on a glowing screen. For this reason, the list I made was long, with almost every day spent traveling, and while I would never sort the list any other way other than efficiency and transportation costs, there was a name on my calendar that had a special emphasis on it. The owner of a secluded shop, nestled on the forested outskirts of the Izu Peninsula. A quiet hideaway built as a refuge from the hardships of work and never-ending responsibilities of daily life. A place where Yasuhiro Ando and his friends can choose to be productive on one of his many projects, or spend their time at rest, idly chatting around a fire pit, reminiscing about days past or yet to come.
Ando’s shop was one of the first stops during my extended road trip to Mie Prefecture. I’ve driven through Shizuoka often, but never really had the opportunity to hug the coastline heading down the peninsula. The crashing waves against the backdrop of rolling green hills was pretty spectacular, and a little reminiscent of Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu back home – you can catch a glimpse of it here. I can see why the Izu Peninsula is a popular vacation destination.
We had arranged to meet in the early afternoon, and as usual I had been running behind schedule, and while Ando assured me not to worry and to drive safe, I still didn’t want to have him wait unnecessarily. When I arrived though, the atmosphere was as laid back and warm as Ando himself.
“I spend more time here than I do at work!”
Ando jokingly, but sincerely, stated to me as I commented on how nice his new setup was. The self-constructed shop, which Ando and his friends built over the span of a few months in late 2019, takes on the same name as his main place of work; Auto Rescue Izu. Despite the new shop sitting just down the road from his wrecking company office, it offers the respite of a location much further away. Being the company owner affords him the flexibility to move between the two shops freely, for the most part.
I was happily surprised to also see Ogi-san was at the shop working on the motorcycle frame of his old Kawasaki 900. Ogi is a Porsche collector and enthusiast, as well as a long standing member of Mid Night. He now runs the auto detailing shop Rise Yokohama
Ando brewed some coffee with an AeroPress using some local beans grown in the area. We sat around the TV and watched a few YouTube videos, reminiscing on videos during the golden years of Mid Night and Option Video. After relaxing from the long drive, I broke out the camera and walked around the shop with Ando showing me some of the highlights of his recent and past projects.
The shop has a very comforting DIY feel to it that you don’t often get from industry financed shops. I’d say it was more akin to a large personal garage than anything.
Behind the in-progress RX8 is an entertainment area where the boys spend most of their time.
Found an old copy of 80R Volume 1 mixed in with some Options.
One of the OE RX8 seats got repurposed on the sim rig. It looks like a nice setup, although Ando says he doesn’t use it often.
The rear diffuser for the Attack FD sits atop a shelf.
The newest project is this N/A RX8 restoration. Ando stripped the car down and painted it in the same fashion as his drift RX7.
The RX8 received the full once over and all the suspension components have been replaced with new OE and Super Now arms, with all new spherical fittings. The motor remains stock.
This car is actually complete now and Ando recently took it out for its first shakedown last week.
The cars here are often posted on the website, but it was cool to see the G719 rebuild he’s doing. That car has a lot of history in the RX7 realm. For more information you can review our YouTube video from our shop visit:
Ando has fond memories from when he was younger, sharing the track with the previous owner of this car. When he picked it up a few years ago, the car had been all but abandoned with shrubbery and grass growing out of it from underneath. He’s since stripped it, repainted it himself, and has begun to reassemble it to its former glory.
A project of this scale can only be one of true passion, as the amount of work it takes for a restoration of this scale is nothing to shrug at.
The FD that gets the most use as of late is his drift RX7, as Ando has found a new joy in the motor sport. His practice in drifting has also given him an edge in car control for when he drives in Attack events, stating he has a much better grasp of how the car will react before it happens.
Also worth nothing that Ando also did everything on this car himself in this shop, down to the paint as well.
The Wisefab kit gives the FD some really crazy steering angle up front.
On the backside of the shop are a few older projects that have been all but forgotten in lieu of their replacements. I remember when Ando first picked up this 86 years ago when he first got into drifting.
And of course the more famous of his builds, the RE GT RX7. No stranger to the website, this car has seen a myriad of changes over the past decade. Most recently, however, Ando has removed the front fenders and molded in new vents to color match as a single part. We’ll get a look at those this season for sure.
After a few hours the sun began to drop below the horizon, and I said my goodbyes to continue onward to Mie. It was really nice catching up in such a relaxed environment and I’m thankful for the opportunity.
On my way to the hotel, I snapped a shot from the car of Fuji during the last bit of daylight; the McDonalds golden arches shining like a lighthouse to a lost ship at sea.
Hope you enjoyed the photos. I’ll try my best to find time to get more shop articles up from my visit in June.