Sunday, January 26, 2020

A Letter From Nismo

Another rainy Sunday in Tokyo, but I woke up this morning and found this in my mailbox. If you have read the post about my last visit to Omori Factory you might have guessed what it is about.

No, unfortunately it doesn’t contain coupons for free parts, but briefing details of the upcoming Circuit Lesson at Sodegaura Forest Raceway.

The first one I attended last summer was absolutely fantastic and I look forward to my second outing on track. I wonder if I have improved...

The instructor and demo car line-ups look look very interesting and the cooler winter temperatures should make life easier for the engines. Can’t wait!

Until next time.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Quiet & Coffee

This was a quiet weekend with very little driving, but after devouring thousands of kilometers over the holidays I didn’t really mind taking a break.

Today I took the GT-R out just to warm things up a bit and make sure that it doesn’t sit for too long. I then made a quick stop by Nismo Performance Center to look at some parts while on my way to meet a friend in Shimokitazawa.

I love this little town, I used to live here during my first years in Japan and have really fond memories of it. This time we tried Frankie - a new coffee shop that apparently serves authentic Melbourne coffee and pastries.

I have been here a couple of times before and really like it. I wonder how my Australian friends would rate it though; I know that coffee is a big thing down under.

Shimokitazawa is just 5 minutes away from Shibuya, it’s filled with little vintage clothing shops, small restaurants, mom and pop shops and great bars; a welcome change from the usual franchises.

Today is a lot more popular than it used to be 10 years ago, but its spirit is still intact.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Until next time.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Back on Track!

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, today I went to Omori Factory to finalize some work on my Fairlady Z Nismo Version.

The car is famous for its cheap and very easy to scratch interior plastics (some of which made their way into the zenki R35. None of the damage was my fault, but with the car being second hand I just had to have it fixed.

While I was there I ended up taking, as always, way too many photos and thought I’d put together a Part 2 of my previous B&W post about the Z-tune P001.

The car parking was generously filled with customer cars, including a very interesting BNR32.

As you can guess by the sticker on the bonnet the car had some work done by a certain tuner in Yokosuka.

Speaking of photos, a few rules have changed since November and is not possible anymore to upload shots taken from inside the workshop area.

Same with information about cars that are currently being worked on behind the glass walls, so please refer to Omori Factory own blog as they decide at their (and the owners’) discretion what to publish and what not to.

Nonetheless, the showroom is filled with all sort of incredible machinery and parts that should be more than enough to make your first trip a memorable one.

I have visited so many times, but I still enjoy getting up and close with the race cars.

Even at Nismo Festival is hard to get this close to them and you really have an opportunity to soak in the smaller details.

The 2.7 liter dry-sump RB26 from the GT500 class of the JGTC era is by far one of my favorite pieces on display.

And speaking of crowd favorites, you probably don’t need to think too hard to guess which car takes the top spot.

The Z-tune P001 is still on display and hopefully will be there for a little longer.

Omori Factory is truly a state of the art facility and the designers made sure that even the restrooms follow the motorsport theme.

As for my visit, besides finishing my parts order for the Z, I also managed to sign up for the next Circuit Lesson coming up at the end of the month. I can’t wait for it and really look forward to see how much I have improved now that I have one session under my belt and a lot more familiar with the car.

We also had a chat about the CRS and Ochiai-san proposed to send it back to fit the new parts as well as a small tenken (点検, inspection in Japanese). With the car being handbuilt it’s good to check that everything is holding up as the day it left the Factory. Love this attention to detail!

My next visit will be to have the parts fitted on the Fairlady and the R34 should follow shortly. 

Until next time.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

TAS 2020

Tokyo Auto Salon 2020 could have easily been renamed “The A90 Supra Show”. With the Toyota being the only new JDM (well, not so JDM) car of relevance released on the market in the past couple of years every single tuner, wheel, accessory or part maker had one on display.

This perhaps reflects the sad state of the automotive industry as a whole, as younger generations have progressively lost interest in cars and the dynamics of global economy have made it pretty much impossible to build affordable sports cars, albeit very few exceptions.

As much as we should consider ourselves lucky to have a new Supra I just can’t come to terms with the way the thing looks. Yes, it has some interesting design cues, but overall is pretty soulless.

And while I’m in full blown “whining mode” I might also add that I was never able to get behind the two main trends of the modern tuning industry, namely stance and wide-body kits.

Considered the above I found myself, like every year, wandering around the halls of Makuhari Messe in search for sprinkles of a JDM tuning era that is now long gone. 

Luckily I was able to find a few bits and pieces of the golden era of 90’s tuning as RE Amemiya had on display quite a few RX-7s. I just wish I could go 20 years back, when these cars were taking the center stage at shows.

But it’s not all bad news, there is definitely plenty of interesting stuff to see and going through the various booths and stands is always a good way to spend a Saturday morning.

Everybody who is anybody in the car industry is present and is cool to see how some of the more recent technology finds application on older models still in use today.

TAS is more relevant than ever and I was surprised to see high-end brands like McLaren and Aston Martin being officially represented at the event.

This is not exactly the stage where one would expect to see these names, but there were definitely some stands with some very tasty metal on display, like the Motul one.

This original Alpine looked absolutely fantastic. The bodywork, the details, the paint all belong to an era where cars could be built following unique philosophies instead of having to confirm to global standards, both in design and function.

Perhaps I haven’t, but times have really moved on, as demonstrated by one of the most iconic Japanese GT racers sitting largely ignored by the younger crowd.

The Nissan stand wasn’t particularly exciting and its outdated lineup reflects the current status of the company.

It was painful to see the 400R badge so out of place on this hideous Sprint Concept. It’s really time to move on and I want to see Nissan going back to where it deserves.

On the good news front, I managed to catch up with Andrea from Italdesign and seems that sales of the GT-R50 are going very well!

One maker that absolutely nailed it was Honda, with their Modulo division presenting an incredible restomod of the old Civic.

This is what TAS should be all about: fun, performance oriented ideas that pay homage to the past while looking at the future.

The details on this little machine were absolutely spectacular and it was my car of the show by far.

Just behind it there was an unassuming S2000 freshly restored by the factory to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the model.

Again, these are the little unexpected surprises that the Japanese are so great at.

It’s all in the details and I really hope they will release this kit and upgrades to the market. It doesn’t look too expensive and it would be a great way to refresh and update a car that is now a classic.

Toyota also stole a bit of the show with the GR Yaris: a 3-cylinders, 268-HP homologation special...that I didn’t manage to photograph as I was just too far away from the stage! However, it was good to see their new lineup of OEM parts for the older Supras, a trend that Nissan started with the Heritage Program.

Now, onto the fun stuff: I know that I just slammed wide body kits a few paragraphs above, but this homage to Super Silhouette racers by Liberty Walk was absolutely fantastic.

They also had a wide bodied Lamborghini Miura in Advan livery that I can only hope was built around a replica and not an original car. But you’ll never know...

Talking about making an impact, sometimes you just have to go all out, or so the Yokohama PR team must have thought when they decided to nonchalantly load a Jimny on the back of a Raptor.

Back at the Top Secret stand it was a very nice, fully restored Skyline that caught my attention over the 1,000ps plus R35.

Not that this car was any less mental, with a fully built NA RB30 which, according to a recent inter by Video Option, took longer to build than the engines on the recent GT-Rs.

What about our beloved BNR34? I didn’t look very hard, but I managed to find only two: one was the Kansai Service democar (a white, early chassis example) and the other was my friend’s M-spec with a S1 engine and a matte silver wrap that is a nod to the paint finish of the original GT-R Nismo launch car.

TAS is one of these events that I don’t take too seriously and just enjoy for what they offer: a nice couple of hours to enjoy some of the best and the worst that the aftermarket industry has to offer.

Off to Omori Factory tomorrow for some new parts and an upcoming event!

Until next time.