Category: Close-Up

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Close-Up: Takaya’s NDF Japan SPL 180SX V.2

At the very end of last year I had posted a few photos of the build progress of this car on the website.  Since then, aside from social media and the release of 80R, I haven’t really gone over this car in detail yet because I wanted to save the main reveal for the book.  Now that the last of the books that have the feature are slated to be dispatched next week, I figure now is a good time to release some previously unseen photos of the car right after it’s completion.

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Close-Up: The Power of K – ASLAN EF9

I’d wager that ASLAN, the Osaka based Honda outfit, is one of the leading shops in the development of K-series Honda swaps in Japan.  Following in the footsteps of America, it didn’t take long for them to capitalize on the benefits of the next generation motor.  Having no adherence to a traditional form of tuning like some shops abide by, Tani-san’s approach to building cars becomes very unique to say the least; giving each a very specific, what I can only surmise as an ‘Osaka flavor’ to them.

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Close-Up: Yusuke Tokue – The Vanguard of FF

The Garage Work camp has been hard at work on several of their shop cars for the 2018 season.  Iwata has chosen to put his personal build aside in order to concentrate on the advancement of a few select customers; which is a somewhat noble, but necessary thing to do when you own your own tuning shop.  The dedication is paying off though, as all 3 of the cars they have competing have broken personal records.  One of them stands out among the rest, however, and it all started last year when he broke a very important record at Tsukuba.

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Close-Up: Takaya’s NDF Japan SPL 180SX

You may remember Takaya’s 180 from our little FRS pop-up meet at Fuji last year.  At the beginning of the year he was involved in an accident at the track that resulted in a necessary rebuilding of his front end.  Instead of going the easy route and buy OTS parts once again to replace the ones he had, he decided he wanted to do something totally different.  A one off kit, hand crafted by his good friend Masao, that would be sure to get the attention of enthusiasts on a global scale.

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Close Up: The Forgotten Samurai – Autech’s Flagship GTR

It’s been 3 years since I had the privilege of seeing ATTKD’s GTR  take on the titans of Japanese time attack at Fuji Speedway.  Witnessing the somewhat lesser known car back then clock times within seconds of the fastest at the time was something that really impressed me.  I know it’s not intentional, but when cars like the Top Secret S2000RR and HKS R35 GT1000 take center stage, their opponents seem to get put on the back burner.  When the ATTKD GTR32 hits the track though, it’s performance alone will demand the attention back from everyone in attendance.

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Close-Up: Ready Go Next – 青木FD3S

Since things have been a bit slow during the off-season, I’ve been using the time to try and design a few new products for the site and make some progress on my own car as well.  It’s been a long time coming, but just a few more things to wrap up and it’ll be ready for it’s first startup.  Although the car won’t be completely done for another few months, I’m looking forward to the first shakedown with the new motor shortly after it’s tuned.  I was browsing some shots from earlier this year to gain some inspiration for my own car and came across some shots that Matt took of Aoki’s FD.

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Close-Up: Carbon Junkie – Takumi Hayashi’s AE86

To say that Takumi Hayashi has an affinity for the Toyota AE86 would be a rather dramatic understatement.  The peppy, 130ps 4A-GE motor combined with the car’s FR drivetrain became an instant hit with not only himself, but many other tuners in the mid-80’s for that matter.  It didn’t take long for the Corolla to be a favorite worldwide, and Japan was no doubt leading the pack in motor sport development of the chassis.

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Close-Up: Step-Up Fairlady CBA-Z33

I almost didn’t recognize the Step-Up Z33 without it’s massive rear diffuser and front splitter attached to it’s exterior.  The car in this state takes on an almost street car look, aside from the chassis mounted GT wing.  It wasn’t running in the Attack event, but was there supporting other drivers.  I would have liked to see how it performed around Suzuka in the wet compared to some of the other similarly powered RWD cars. I included a video of a hot lap around Suzuka below.

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Close-Up: Back to Basics – Juan’s K20A EM1

At the last VTEC Club event I attended (which admittedly due to time constraints was quite awhile ago), Kristian and I met Juan Rodriguez, the owner of this EM1.  It was the first time we’d seen the car at any event really, and as soon as I saw it towards the back of the paddock at Buttonwillow it immediately caught my eye; for a few reasons.

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Close-Up: AG-Y Body Shop Takase GTR32

This Auto Gallery Yokohama R32, built in part by Body Shop Takase, has been a veteran of TC2000 for some time now.  In fact, not much has changed in the 2 years I’ve been following the car.  I guess you could say it’s a testament to the saying, ‘If it’s ain’t broken, don’t fix it.’  The owner, Mr. Harumichi, is by now without a doubt among the fastest around Tsukuba, throwing down consistent low 57 second lap times in the GTR.   I remember seeing this car back in 2014 at an Evome event and it solidified my love for the Yokohama based Nissan tuner.  Let’s check out what has changed over the years.

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Close-Up: Ballade Sports K-Powered S2000

The S2000’s that are backed by Ballade Sports are, no doubt, among some of the best looking in the paddock. The Southern California tuning shop has consistently chosen quality parts to adorn their shop and customer cars with.  Carving a niche out for themselves by shadowing a very Japanese style of automotive tuning, they’ve proven time and time again that often times less is more.  It should come at no surprise then, that they’re also among the best performing; their flagship S2000 is a perfect example of this.

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Close-Up: Mr. Orange’s Orange DC2

Self-proclaimed amateur time attacker ‘Orange-san’ has made quite the impact in the small world of Tsukuba time attack.  Not only because of the bright orange accent color of his DC2, or his youthful, comedic track side manner; who jokes that his main support comes from Yahoo Auction and Super Viva Home Kasukabe (think Japanese Home Depot).  While those qualities alone would make people gravitate towards the Integra in the paddock, it’s what people see up close that garners the most attention to the DC2.

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Close-Up: オートソニックFC3S – The Circuit Samurai

‘Motobei’ jokes that, back when he bought this RX-7 in December of 2007, he did so with the intent of using it as a daily commuting car.  Like so many of us have experienced, our intentions get brushed aside real quick when we start modifying our daily drivers.  As was the case with the Super Now/Auto Sonic FC3S.  A car that, ironically enough, can no longer be legally used on the street.  With a personal record at TC2000 of 56.495, motives aside, there’s no doubt that the path that the samurai has taken with this car has paid off – big time.

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Close-Up: Smoke and Fire – VTEC Club Spotlight

Before I get to processing and writing about the coverage of this past weekends VTEC Club season opener, I thought I’d try out a new idea for these events.  Covering VTEC Club when I could last year was a lot of fun for me.  The committee that puts these events together happen to be not only great people, but good friends of mine as well.  Come to think of it, photographing these events combines almost everything I enjoy in life into one location; perhaps that’s why it feels nothing like work.  Maybe that’s the feeling people get when they do what they love for a career.  Anyway, I’m getting way off topic here.

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Close-Up: Masaki Kitajo – Craft Company’s Flagship

I ran into Masaki this weekend at the second round of Battle Evome at Tsukuba Circuit.  He was not driving his shops demo car, however, but his street ‘practice’ Porsche 996.  On radials, he had hoped to get a still respectable 1’05.000 out of the German made sports car (and if I recall correctly he ended up lapping in the 1’03 range).  We made small talk about his drive to Tsukuba from Kobe, and the day’s unseasonably warm weather.  The conversation didn’t linger on the day’s drive for too long though, and I soon changed the subject to that of his flagship build; the Craft Company FD3S.

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Close-Up: Atsushi Shimaya’s Endless FD3S

Out of the thousands of cars at TAS, it’s always exciting to see, in person, a car you’ve followed online for years.  Every once in awhile a build will snowball into something so involved that it makes you wonder if the end result was ever really envisioned.  A perfect example of this is Atsushi Shimaya’s FD3S.

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Close-Up: G-Force Yamazaki CT9A

Just two short months ago, G-Force took this EVO to TC2000 to let Tanaguchi fling it around some corners during an open test day.  The car ran an impressive high 55 second lap; and I can assure you, it looked nothing like this.  The car’s exterior, then, was clad in a variety of Varis parts, and while it was a bit wider than OE, it was still relatively non-threatening in appearance.  Fast forward to TAS and the car that was displayed at their booth was a new beast entirely.

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Close-Up: 2016 APR Toyota Prius GT300

Among the various Super GT cars on display, APR was one to unveil their 2016 GT300 take on the new Prius.  We got a close look at the previous model a few years back at Fuji Speedway; however, since Toyota has released a newly remodeled production version of the hybrid chassis, it was time for it’s older counterpart to be retired.  Unlike the previous model, which utilized a mid-engine setup (as it was built to the somewhat controversial JAF GT300 rulebook), the 2016 will be using the now mandated front-engine setup, as this is the factory engine layout of the Prius.

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Close-Up: カーモディファイワンダー & ヒマワリ TAS

Car Modify Wonder had several cars on hand to introduce their somewhat new lineup of Glare aero parts, and as usual, they did not disappoint.  It’s refreshing to see a truly unique and creative offering, especially for older chassis’.  It’s a stark contrast from what we’ve recently been used to seeing; which is more or less a cookie cutter approach to exterior styling (I don’t need to say anymore than that for you to catch my drift).  Check out the shots below and let me know what you think.