Tag: 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: 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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Encounter: The Fuji Blues – Esprit’s New Look

The Kakimoto NSX wasn’t the only Honda at Fuji this month that’s received a facelift; Esprit was on hand with their NSX, now in special blue edition.  Like so many other competitors this day though, they were not to see any track time around the Speedway.  Inclement weather doesn’t bode well for fast track times, and certainly doesn’t allow opportunity for accurate testing.  So Esprit let their car rest in the paddock, devoid of canards and engine cover, while they waited for the weather to pass.  Sekinei strolled over to their garage to snap a few shots.

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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: 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: A Labor Of Love – Kou Lor’s RE Amemiya FC3S

When I had first decided that I would be attending Final Bout, to be honest, it wasn’t the event that I was actually looking forward to; it was seeing this particular car.  Don’t get me wrong, I was excited for the event, but getting to see in person, and more so getting to meet the builder, of what I perceive to be the most well executed FC in the country would become the highlight of my trip.

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Close-Up: The Father of Time – Philip Robles’ EG6

There’s something to say about the people around us who promote self-efficacy.

The capacity to unknowingly emanate a trait such as this is rare, and when you come across it you can’t help but be positively influenced.  Even a simple exchange of dialogue can have a major effect on the goals and beliefs you’re currently pursuing.  This is exactly the type of feeling I had when I had the opportunity to meet Philip Robles this past weekend.

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Close-Up: What’s Up With Yoo? – Justin’s TA S2000

Justin has been a good friend of mine for a few years now.  Towards the end of last year, he approached me with some new plans for his S2000 build.  We discussed the goals he was wanting to achieve in both the build and participation.  Wanting to get more serious in competing in events like the Redline Time Attack series, Justin expressed interest in the venture of garnering sponsors.  Much like our other team driver Kristian Wong, we agreed to partner with Justin and provide on-site media coverage of his progress.  Much of our updates come in the form of Instagram posts (@naritadogfight), which has easily surpassed Facebook in terms of social interaction.  If you don’t currently follow us, feel free to do so!  In the coming weeks, you’ll see a few updates regarding our team drivers and you’ll learn that they all share one common trait; they’re fast.

 

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Close-Up: The Circuit Scalpel – Esprit’s NSX

On many occasions, probably due to lack of my creativity, I’ve written excerpts on this site comparing certain managerial techniques to a variety of car builds.  That may or may not have something to do with my education and work background in the business sector, but I feel it’s something I can comfortably relate to.  These topics, at surface level, I would imagine to be somewhat obscure on an automotive website.  The truth of the matter is, in almost all regards, the processes discussed are very much applicable to time attack builds.  The practice of Continual Improvement is one such business practice, and in the realm of time attack, not many shops demonstrate this practice better than Esprit in the ongoing development of their NSX.

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Close-Up: The Nagano Rush – Team Garage Mak Z33

 

I wonder if it’s acceptable, in the off chance one falls victim to writer’s block, to type freely their thoughts?  I mean, this is a blog after all, and blogs are typically written in an informal or conversational style.  It would be difficult to keep it informational to the topic however, if I were to just start spouting off about a random thought.  In the case of the Garage Mak Z33, I could start typing about Nagano; the hometown of the shop.  Or perhaps about the Miyagawa brothers, the two creative powerhouses behind the brand.  I could always fall back to uncreatively (is that not a word?) listing off the modifications to the Z33.  To be honest though, I’m pretty sure I’ve covered all that basic stuff in prior articles – it seems redundant to keep typing it.  I could talk about how I was naked in a public bath again…does anyone even read this?

 

Close-Up: APR HASEPRO GT300 Toyota Prius

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Aside from the KERS outfit on a Formula 1 car, it would be a safe bet that the last thing that goes through peoples minds when discussing motor sports is the term ‘hybrid’.   So when Toyota, along with APR Racing, and Super GT announced their intentions to develop a Prius GT300 car the buzz was quite large.  Japan has always been a leader in hybrid technology and promotion of its use, so to me, it didn’t come as much of a surprise.  It was really only a matter of time until hybrids made their way into the racing scene, and Super GT seems like a great place to start.    The Super GT series is the flagship of Japanese motor sport, and with the increase of various chassis comes an increase in fan base.  Everyone who drives a Prius will now have a reason to come watch the races and cheer on their own team; which in the end is great for the sport and probably Prius sales.  Although the consumers might be a little disappointed when they can’t get the car up to 220 km/h dropping their kids off at school.  I should point out not to get me wrong when I start throwing the term ‘hybrid’ around so loosely, because this is not your average grocery getter.  I think we would all agree that it would be a little naive of us to assume that this is a stock Prius.  While it does retain the stock hybrid system, it gets a little extra help from something special mounted in the rear.  Click past the break to learn more about the first hybrid in Super GT.

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Close-Up: Mugen GT300 CR-Z

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A few weeks ago my friend over at JDM Clips made a visit to the Honda Headquarters where they had on display the new Mugen designed GT300 CR-Z that is currently competing in the Super GT series.   If the Toyota Prius GT300 car wasn’t ironic enough for you, Honda is here to fulfill your hybrid race car cliches with the new CR-Z contender.  It’s difficult to think that any hybrid car you see on the street would be holding it’s own against the likes of the BRZ, BMW Z4’s, Nismo GTR GT3’s, Porsches, Aston Martin’s, Lambos and Corvettes, but make no mistake; this is one fast hybrid.  In fact, in only it’s second outing it managed to capture pole position and continues to impress on the grid.  Granted it’s 300hp 2.8 liter twin-turbo V6, with electric motor,  isn’t offered as an option from Honda to you and I (unfortunately), but it’s still a CR-Z chassis; a capable one at that.  Click past the break to see the CR-Z up close, compliments of JDM Clips.

Close-Up: LS Powered Mazda Time Bomb

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You’ll have to admit, despite it’s growing popularity, the act of putting an American V8 engine into a Japanese car is still pretty bad ass.  As much as you hear about it, it’s still not that common either.  The swap has been gaining acceptance even from the die-hard fans of keeping a platform powered by it’s maker.  While these LS engines are filling the bays of many Nissan’s in the drift scene, there is one car in particular that seems to have been a trend setter in this field; and that is the Mazda RX-7.  This FD that was at KINOD6 is one shining example of how to turn elegance into brutality by adding 8 pistons.  Click past the break for more shots.

Close-Up: Diamond in Ogikubo – Type One Tuned S2000

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Spoon Sports: a staple of the Honda tuning community.   Any time I travel to Japan I make it a point to try and visit Spoon and Type One because, well, it’s Spoon.  Aside from Mugen, no other company works closer to Honda than Spoon and the results are amazing.  A few weeks ago my friend and I dropped by Type One to see what they had cooking.  The day before the Twin Ring race we didn’t expect much, but fortunately they had left a few employees back at the shop to take care of the weekend customers.  I’ll save the full ‘Locale’ feature for another day, but I’ve been itching to share these next few photos with you guys.  I posted a teaser on the official NDF Facebook  page a few weeks ago and you guys went ballistic over it; this is really a cool car.  Anyway, when I was walking upstairs I was so intrigued by this one white S2000 that was for sale that an employee was showing to an interested customer, that I didn’t even notice it sitting to the side of the shop.  When I finally saw it I could hardly contain myself.  The guys at Type One have always been really cool with visitors, so I wasn’t reserved at all with my picture taking.  Although it is a customer car, I was laying on the ground, getting behind lifts, and moving stuff out of the way to get better shots of it.  I even caught the guy upstairs smirking a little at me – probably thinking why the hell I cared so much about it.  Click past the break to see more of Japanese Darth Vader’s S2000.

Close-Up: Type One Toyota FT-86….?

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Yeah, that’s right – another FT-86 post.  So I posted on the NDF Facebook page a few weeks back picture of a FT-86 wheel with Spoon calipers attached.  Needless to say it baffled many people – including me when I saw it.  I still don’t have much information on the car, other than whoever owns it is affiliated with Spoon and Type One.  I’m pretty sure it’s not too difficult to fit certain brake systems onto other cars, as it can be universal in some regards; requiring little retro-fitting.  This may be the case, but it’s still wild to see a Spoon product on anything other than a Honda.  Right?  I first spotted this at Twin Ring behind the Spoon garage area at the 2nd round of Super Taikyu.  Click past the break for a few more encounters!

Close-Up: Auto Gallery Yokohama – GT-R R32 Heart Attack!

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A few years ago, if you were to have asked someone stateside if they knew what Auto Gallery Yokohama was, you’d probably get a blank stare.  Or perhaps someone would say that it’s an automotive museum in Yokohama; which, per se, wouldn’t be a bad guess.  Bottom line is that no one would know who they were or what they did.  Actually, around 3 years ago, even I wouldn’t have known much about them.  My first exposure to their now iconic battle-spec R32 was in an Option magazine a few years back.  It was a panning shot of the Skyline blazing down the straight of Fuji Speedway.  Since then, the just about every part of the car has gone through a massive amount of changes.  The bottom line remains the same though; to be the fastest.  And in many ways AG-Y has succeeded in doing so.  The car constantly breaks records at Fuji and holds respectable times around Tsukuba.  For a private company, there is no doubt it holds it’s own in a fight against the big dogs (see what I did there? – NDF!).  I recently stopped by Auto Gallery Yokohama’s garage to see for myself the car that I’ve been dreaming about for years and get an up close and personal look at it’s heart.  Click past the break for more.

Close-Up: FEEL’S FD2 Type-R

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It’s no secret that the Japanese tuning philosophy is to achieve the maximum with the minimum.  While we can see this practiced throughout all the major tuners, I wouldn’t be too far off in saying we witness it most in the Honda field.  The majority of Honda tuners in Japan are so specific to not disturb the chassis by overpowering, and work closely with what the manufacturer has already offered.  While, typically, FEEL’S would fall into that category just nicely, their FD2 Type R you see pictured above may be pushing the boundaries of that philosophy just a bit.  Aesthetically, the minimalism has vanished; the use of aftermarket aero abundant.  I would argue though, that although a bit extreme on the exterior, the car is a shining example of perfect balance.  Let’s take a closer look at this build at my first stop on my all Japan mega tuning adventure; Honda Twincam.  Click past the break for more.

Close-Up: R-Magic D1 RX7

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At the beginning of the month, Super Autobacs Chiba held the 12th annual Rotary Meeting at their facility.  JDM Clips was telling me that the Chiba store has always had strong ties with the rotary platform.  So each year, it is host to a gathering of specially built rotary machines.  This car in particular, is built by R-Magic for Takayama to drift in D1.  Don’t confuse it with the R-Magic Super Lap machine, as they are two totally different cars!  Each awesome in their own way though – I particularly like the two different colored wheels on this one.  Check out more past the break!

Close-Up: Arios X Okuyama F16° Time Attack FD3S

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There were many RX-7’s on hand the other week at Tsukuba Circuit; all in a fierce battle to claim the quickest lap around Tsukuba’s 2 mile stretch.  The battle of the tuner’s unfolded throughout the day, as various time attack builds shot their way around the 14 corners of the circuit at top speed.  Among them was the Arios Okuyama Auto Sports FD3S.  This purpose built machine was among those in the dogfight on track, and surprisingly enough, did quite well against the heavy hitters – managing a best time of 58.818.  JDM Clips was on hand to get a closer look at this build.  Click past the break to see more.

Close-Up: Craft Company Time Attack FD

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Craft Company is, among other things, just plain awesome.  Based out of Amagasaki, a city in an industrial area in the Hyogo prefecture, Craft Company toils away under the hoods of many cars.  Included in that lineup is their CCFD35 seen here – a car heavily partnered with FEED.  CC is a regular at these events, but came to Tsukuba last weekend specifically to take part in the ‘Advan Fastest Amateur Tournament’.  There were a ton of impressive cars at this event, most of them are regular time attackers we all know and love.  Despite the stiff competition though, the CCFD35 managed a 6th place time of 57.658 around the circuit.  To give you something to compare it to, Suzuki-san’s Scorch S15 posted a blistering 54.162 second lap time.  Click past the break to check out more pics of the CC built RX7.