Once I permanently moved back to Japan in 2009 I took an unwanted 5 years break from my passion for cars. Actually I am not sure if "taking a break" is the right way to put it because, while I always loved cars in video games and magazines, I never had a car of my own up to that point. Moving to Japan at the age of 21 meant that I completely missed out on the early fun that my Italian friends were having with their first rides (mostly Fiat and WW hot hatches); as a matter of fact the only car I really drove was my mom's Fiat Punto.
Now, this is a point worth mentioning because it heavily influences the type of content you will find on this blog: because I never had the chance to play around with cars and bought my first one at 30 years old, I have very limited technical knowledge. This particularly shows when I talk with friends who are working on their project cars: I just nod like an idiot and pretend I understand what they are talking about while I am actually completely lost in translation (gaskets, fuel rails, engine management - what?).
While I know the basics and enjoy learning and catching up with the technical aspects, my fascination for cars is a lot more romantic and visual: I can literally spend hours looking at shapes and drinking in all the body details and I simply love the act of driving, the man-machine bond that only driving your dream car creates. This means that, while I have a LOT planned for my BNR34, this blog will be more focused on my experience living Japan's car culture rather than tech-heavy posts about fuel management and final gear settings (hopefully they'll come too in the future).
So, back to my unwanted break: Tokyo is famous for being one of the most expensive cities in the world and owning a car is considered a luxury even by wealthy people. When I landed my first job in 2010 buying a car was something I didn't even dare thinking about, but Japan never stopped reminding me that something was missing, like this V-spec II parked every day in front of my first office.
Or this black R35 that I would see on my way back home.
And the bug finally bit me again when I went to my first Super GT race at Fuji Speedway in spring 2014: my first time at a racetrack and it was nothing short of amazing.
|Gates to motorsport heaven|
The BNR34 Clubman Race Spec: which is basically all the best bits and pieces from the Nismo catalogue, thrown into a completely rebuilt from the ground and refreshened R34 Skyline GT-R. Repainted in a super gloss dark metallic grey it looked like an absolute weapon and made the R35 sitting next to it looking almost soft and domesticated.
|7'08 at the Ring and still managed to look "soft"...|
|...compared to this!|
Later in December I also visited the Nismo Festival where I stumbled into more BNR34 goodness, including legendary historic racers like the Pennzoil GT-R that took the JGTC championship in 1999.
I also rode shotgun in a Super Taikyu Z34 (amazing experience).
It was a massive childhood throwback and, as silly as it sounds, felt like taking a walk through a real-life Gran Turismo menu. But it did it for me, as all clicked in together and finally made sense: I was going to buy a R34 Skyline GT-R.
So the hunt begins...