Sunday, April 23, 2017

Wangan Blue

"So, what's it like to drive around Tokyo?" - this, along with lots of GT-R related inquiries, is probably one of the most frequently asked questions I get. "Pretty awesome" - I usually reply - and this post is an attempt to come up with a more "visual" answer for those of you who have never experienced it. Today was one of those days where the GT-R calling was just too hard to ignore: blue skies, a nice breeze and Tokyo roads - the perfect recipe for some Wangan cruising. I jumped behind the wheel and headed straight to Tatsumi Parking Area, located on the Bayshore Route (commonly known as Wangan-sen). 

Wangan is a name that resonates with lots of Japanese cars enthusiasts: as some of you may know Tamura-san (Nissan Chief Product Specialist) wanted to name the iconic shade of blue of the BNR34, Wangan Blue, but Nissan forced him to change it to Bayside Blue (Wangan is literally traduced Bayshore/Bayside) to avoid unwanted association with the infamous Midnight Club. The picture below clearly shows where Tamura-san's inspiration came from.

Tatsumi PA is located across Tokyo Bay and connects with the C9 on the Shuto Expressway; it's a great location for car spotting and meeting other owners. Today wasn't particularly crowded, but a fellow BNR34 owner happened to have arrived just few minutes before me and, obviously, we started chatting.

Personally, I find Japanese car culture just on another level: everybody is super cool and approachable, regardless of their ride or "status". Tatsumi gets really crowded at night on weekends and, being so close to central Tokyo, lots of wealthy owner come out for a spin with their rather expensive toys. I have seen plenty of cars worthy of supercar status, from Ferrari F50 to Bugatti Veyron and everything in between and, still, the owners are friendly and always open for a chat. The level of respect is also impeccable: nobody dares touching other people rides and usually ask for permission before taking photos.

My new friend has owned his standard, zenki BNR34 for three years and has mildly tuned it to 400ps: just about right.

He also added some more personal touches, like the LED setup.

In the meantime, a third owner also joined us in his brand new Impreza.

One of the reasons why Tatsumi is so popular is that, thanks to its location, allows drivers to complete a full circle around Tokyo - commonly known as The Loop - without tolls. It's a 17km ring that stretches through Ginza, Shiodome, the famous Rainbow Bridge and all the way through Tokyo Bay. More reckless drivers try to complete the lap under 8 or 7 minutes during weekends, but whether you are going at law-breaking speeds or just cruising around it's a fantastic experience.

Enough talking: time to go for a run (but first let's get everything in temperature)!

Leaving the parking area...

The sequence of curves between Tatsumi and Ginza is one of my favorite, but, being the weekend we had to take it easy, which is easier said than done when you are chasing another BNR34!

Passing through the iconic Rainbow Bridge.

The view just after the bridge is simply breathtaking.

We did a couple of laps and eventually returned to Tatsumi PA as the sun was setting over Tokyo.

"What would it be like to drive around Tokyo?" - I have asked myself this question thousands of times all those nights spent driving around "virtual Tokyo" on the PlayStation, and if you'd told the 16 years old me that one day I would have spent my Sunday evening chasing a blue BNR34 in my own GT-R around Tokyo Bay, I would have never believed you. 

Well, my true 
personal answer is "Better than you have ever imagined. Until now".

Until next time.

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