Tag: NDF

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.

Garage Life: An Evening In Riverside

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Yesterday evening we decided to make the drive out to Riverside to visit Franklin.  His car’s been down for awhile and he hasn’t been able to come down our way for awhile.  I had been driving a lot this past week, and didn’t really feel like tacking on a drive all the way out to Riverside, so I got a ride with Allan and we both met Yuta over there.  It’s been quite awhile since I did a Garage Life post, so I brought along my camera stuff to get a few shots – nothing fancy though.  Not sure why, but I don’t really take pictures of what I do outside of events and stuff, but these types of post get good attention; so you can expect more day to day lifestyle type posts like this in the future.  Anyway, click past the break for a few more shots.

Feature: Neighborhood Watch Program – Algier Built EVO VIII

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If you were to imagine a specific car that, in your own mind, possessed the qualities of protector, or a guardian; what car would you choose?  For me, it would always be the Mitsubishi EVO.  Something about it just gives off a ‘sentry’ feel.  Perhaps it’s the bold, boxy lines, it’s potential for great power or even it’s masculine stature.  There is quite obviously a good amount of guardian like character in any EVO, but this one in particular, has more than most.  I’ve never seen where Algier lives, but I bet I would feel pretty safe with his EVO standing watch over the neighborhood.  Right, I’ll admit that the theme to this feature is a little far-fetched; but it’s still a bit amusing if you think about it.  Modified cars coming to life to protect…the…people…oh my god I’m describing Transformers…damn.  I knew I had heard of that concept somewhere.  Anyway, all that aside, Algier has put together an extremely quality build that I’ve really taken a liking too.  This past weekend I flew up to the bay area and made the short trip over to San Jose the next morning to meet up with Algier.  He had just spent the entire previous day at HIN so I was thankful that he was able to make it out for a few hours the next morning.  Click past the break to see more of this insanely clean 8.

Locale: Oh, Don’t Mind Me – Another Visit To Type One

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Visiting Type One never gets old for me; there is always something new there to see every time I go.  So I make it a priority of mine to stop in each time I go to Japan.  Granted, without a car, it makes for a bit of a walk; but I had access to a car this time because I was with my friend from JDM Clips.  I might add that having makes visit tuning shops so much easier.  Obviously, you go to car shops because you own a car, so it’s not a big concern for shop owners to be close to train stations.  If you’re just visiting Japan, going places not near train stations can be both difficult and expensive without an auto; especially if you’ve never been there before.  I have absolutely no problems walking a few miles to get to clutch shops, but needless to say, having a car was a giant win.  Like any typical foreign fan boy should, I like just walking around the shop and looking at all the stuff I’ve seen dozens of times already – it never gets old.  Plus, the shop gets a lot of traffic, so chances are you’ll see different rides there every time you visit.  I already featured that extremely cool matte black S2000 that I saw last time, which you can see here; but I never got around to posting up some of the other cars that were in the shop on that trip.  I know there are many sites that post up stuff from Spoon and Type One once or twice – but who else posts new shots from the shop over and over! hahaha – hopefully the viewers share the same love that I do.  Click past the break to take a stroll through the shop and check a few more of them out.

Encounter: Spoon Sports Endurance S2000

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I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “Some of the best things in life are free”.  A saying most likely referring to memories or moments in time.  For the most part I’d agree, as it’s happened to me several times.  The things in life that are the most special often happen unexpectedly and in the most obscure places – take this encounter for example.  If you want to get technical with it, this moment wasn’t technically free, but I can say that it was both unexpected and obscure; crazy any way you want to look at it.  On our way back to Tokyo from Motegi, my friend and I had decided to pull over at a rest stop for a bite to eat and a little refill of caffeine (in the form of some Emerald Mountain Blend).  The long drive back on the expressway had started taking it’s toll on us and after spending an entire day shooting an endurance race, the last thing you want to do is drive for 2 hours back home.  As we pulled into the parking area, and drove towards the back to park, we noticed a trailer with a pair of Nissan’s resting atop.  As we got closer we realized it was the two Okabe Jidosha Taikyu team’s cars.  I suppose they had the same idea as us and stopped for a little break.  Not one to miss a photo-op, I grabbed my camera and tripod and snapped a few shots before we went into the restaurant (You can see one of the shots here – I’ll post more later).  As we were eating our curry and whatever the hell else I had ordered, we kept trying to pick out who was involved in the racing team.  I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to tell just by looking at someone, but we tried anyway.  We finished up, grabbed some coffee from vending, and made our way back to the car when we saw this.  Click past the break for more – I promise you won’t see stuff like this anywhere else.

Event: Raceline Track Day at Willow Springs Raceway

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This last weekend, Super Street held the annual FF Battle at the Streets of Willow at Willow Springs International Raceway.  Where is Willow Springs? It’s in the outskirts of the city of Rosamond in Kern County; basically in the Mojave Desert.  I’m not positive, but it may be the hottest location in California.  That same day, Raceline also had an open track day for intermediate ‘Level 3’ drivers.  The week before my friend hit me up and asked if I wanted to register with him and his boss for the event.  I hadn’t tracked my car for quite awhile so I thought it’d be fun, despite my engine setup being complete garbage.  My friend Joel was nice enough to make the drive from San Diego to act as our pit crew and support vehicle.  It was a good thing too because I ended up having a some brake issues on the drive home as a result of the beat down I gave my car throughout the day.  I had a great time and as usual I got to meet some really good people, and see some familiar faces.  I apologize for the lack of pictures but I was really concentrating on the drive that day.  Not to mention I forgot my zoom lens at home.  Click past the break to see the event.

Event: Wekfest LA 2012 – Long Beach, California V.4

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It’s almost been a week since Wekfest LA, and I’ve just about wrapped up all my coverage.  I’m going to try and squeeze everything I’ve got into this final post – so it’s going to be massive.  I went ballistic on this one so, by far, you’ll see the most diversity in cars throughout this post.  I’ve also included another slideshow gallery at the bottom for the masses.  Hope you see your car!  Also, if you want some special VIP only coverage of the show, check out our friends down under at Street-Cover.  I supplied them with a few shots to help spread the Wek love over in Australia.  You should probably check the site out anyway because it’s pretty rad.  Again, special thanks goes out to all those at Weksos Industries involved in organizing such a massive tour, as well as the city of Long Beach for being cooperative.  Let’s just jump right into the coverage.  You know the drill – click the break for more.

Event: Wekfest LA 2012 – Long Beach, California V.3

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I’m running out of ways to start these posts, as usual, so I’ll just start off by saying…here is part 3 of NDF’s Wekfest LB (A) coverage.  I even had trouble coming up with that.  I think from now on, literally this second, for the rest of the show coverage, I will highlight a handful of shots and then post a slide gallery of some cookie cutter coverage of the show towards the bottom of the post.  There are really way too many cars to try and put them into this format.  This will allow you guys to see the show in a more timely manner as well.  As a side benefit, it will also allow me to concentrate my commentary on just a few memorable shots.  After previewing the new layout, I think you’ll like it as it allows you to briefly preview a lower sized picture, as opposed to loading an entire page worth of pictures.  Once you click a thumbnail, a slide feature will pop up allowing you to view each shot in the gallery in succession. Typically, towards the end of posts my comments turn from semi-informational to just blatant observations (e.g. here is a civic on Volks).  You’re probably reading that type of stuff and saying, “Well, no shit”.  I think I left off around early afternoon, just before the gates opened and the flood of show goers rushed the grounds.  I think it was right about this time I decided to break off from the guys I was hanging out with and start taking photos again.  Click past the break for continued coverage.

Event: Wekfest LA 2012 – Long Beach, California V.2

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Let’s continue the Wekfest LA 2012 coverage, shall we?  I left off somewhere around early afternoon just before the gates opened to the public.  By this time a line had formed at the entrance that wrapped around quite a ways towards the Queen Mary.  I don’t think it was as profound as the San Francisco show, but it was still pretty large.  The good thing about it being an outdoor venue was the amount of people that could come in wasn’t limited because of fire law restrictions.  Although Fort Mason is a cool location to have a show in the city, it limits the capacity in several different ways.  After I made my first round through the cars, I was getting pretty hungry.  My buddy Jon had ordered a pizza, so I took a break with him and some other guys and ate a little bit.  Sitting in the grass, under the cover of the mornings marine layer was extremely relaxing.  After a good 30 minutes though I decided it would be best to do another walk through before the crowds arrived.  Check the second round of coverage past the break.

Event: Wekfest LA 2012 – Long Beach, California V.1

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This past weekend the Queen Mary park in Long Beach played host to the second stop in the 2012 Wekfest Tour; Wekfest LA.  It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since the show stormed the grounds in 2011; and as I was expecting, the show was unreal.  Honestly, if I could choose one show to attend for the entire year, there is no doubt it would be Wekfest – LA specifically.  There really is no better venue than the Queen Mary; great weather, beautiful ocean and downtown views, off-shore breezes, shaded grassy areas to relax, and plenty of room for the 300+ cars and the thousands of attendees.  The Wek get better at organizing these shows with each event’s passing and for like minded people, their efforts don’t go unnoticed.  I’d like to give a big thanks to Kenneth Li, Adam Luong, Geoffrey Nguyen and all the other behind the scenes people at Weksos that make this tour what it is.  I had a blast checking out the builds, catching up with familiar faces, and meeting a handful of new people.  With that said, I need to work on getting more sleep before these shows.  I’ve slipped into the unconscious habit of getting a maximum of 2-3 hours of sleep before any particular Wekfest show I’ve attended.  Somehow I managed to arrive a good two hours before media was allowed in; two hours I spent sleeping in the parking lot.  With about 30 minutes to 11am, I walked towards the entrance where I saw my buddy Jon.  As we were talking Geoffrey came up to say hi.  We talked for a few minutes, got my stamp a little early, and I slipped into the fray of glossy metal that is Wekfest.  Check out the first part of coverage past the break – hope you enjoy!

Encounter: Seek and You Shall Find – A FIT

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I can’t even remember what day it was, but last month we swung by Seeker on a whim to see what they had cooking.  If you’re not familiar with Seeker, well, click the link.  They have slowly become one of Japan’s most well known Honda tuning companies, and are creators of all things orange.  The company is headed up by a younger individual and retains much of a grass roots feel to it; especially considering the shop is a little triangle shaped building on what could possibly be the tiniest piece of land in Tokyo.  With that said, you may need to do a little, ahem, ‘seeking’ to find the place somewhere around Suginami.  Once you find it though you’ll be treated to some nicely built cars, and a friendly staff.  Check out a few more shots of the Fit past the break.

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: 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.