We were fortunate to be given the opportunity to film both these hugely iconic cars of the 90’s. The Subaru Impreza 22B and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Tommi Makinen. How could we resist? For those who haven’t already seen it visit our Youtube channel here. And don’t forget to subscribe!
We spotted this superb Toyota Sprinter Trueno currently being advertised with a car dealer in Japan. For anyone in the market for a top quality Ae86 we’re struggling to remember seeing one that looks as good as this super low mileage example! Just over 29,000kms covered in 32 years its nothing short of a time capsule…
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If you’ve followed us for a while there’s a good chance you’ve heard us mention Japan’s ‘Golden Era’. Broadly referring to the awesome cars that came out of Japan in the 1990’s it was in fact down to the 1980’s financial boom that allowed Japanese car manufacturers to raise the bar more than ever.
Following the successes of the ’69 – ’72 GTR the R31 Skyline GTS-R had comparably fallen well short. With the surge of money flowing through Japan, Nissan decided to capitalise and develop a racing GT-R model from the outset.
Although the first six were made in 1989 the NISMO edition was officially introduced to the public on 22 February 1990 at a premium of ¥235,500 over the standard car. Only 560 were made to comply with Group A ‘Evo’ regulations, 60 of which were turned into race cars.
It was so well received that sales figures far exceeded Nissan’s expectations with over 43,000 R32 GTRs produced between 1989 and 1994.
At around 320bhp in standard guise, 600 horses were squeezed out of the RB26 in race spec. To cope with the power, Nissan’s engineers developed an advanced all-wheel-drive system called ATTESSA E-TS, apparently inspired from the Porsche 959.
Much like the 959, the GT-R split torque between the front and the rear axles, but where the Porsche split torque based on the car’s weight distribution whilst driven the GT-R remained rear wheel drive until the rear wheels lost traction. Ultimately it was this cutting edge technology that paved the way for the numerous Motorsport accolades achieved by the NISMO over the following years.
Unsurprisingly, the GT-R made an instant impact emerging as a dominant force in Group A racing, winning 29 out of the 29 races in the Japanese Touring Car Championship and taking victory at the 1991 Spa 24 Hour race. Arguably the biggest waves were made in Australia where it took three Group A Championships between 1990-1992 and 1st place at the Bathurst 1000 in 1991 and 1992. The local press fittingly dubbed the GT-R “Godzilla.” A name that’s stuck for almost 30 years!
The GT-Rs dominance In Australia was such that the Touring Car Championship’s governing body forced the series into a two make championship, consisting of GM-Holden and Ford which ended the GT-R’s Australian reign, as turbocharging and all-wheel-drive was no longer allowed in the series.
Richard Meaden from EVO magazine was quoted saying… “It’s the turn-in agility followed by the ability to put all its power down on the way out of corners that made the GT-R such a formidable weapon,”… ”A Group A [Ford] Sierra RS500 was lighter and had 500-550bhp, but with rear-wheel-drive it couldn’t match the traction, especially over longer runs. To be fair to Ford, nothing else could.”
How to Spot a NISMO
The easiest way to distinguish a NISMO from all other models of GT-Rs is the chassis number. Only the 560 NISMOs start with a 1, so their chassis numbers start from BNR32-100001 all the way to 100560. They can also be identified by the model code prefix “RA”.
There may seem little visible difference between the standard GTR and NISMO edition but there are a number of subtle aerodynamic changes that help distinguish one from the other. Further to the two additional ducts in the front bumper and the absence of the protective mesh to improve airflow to the intercooler, a bonnet lip spoiler is fitted to help direct more air into the engine bay. Along with deeper rear spats an additional low level lip spoiler provides greater downforce.
The NISMO spec deletes ABS, which is required for entry into Group A. To save weight Nissan opted for an aluminium bonnet and front bumpers rather than the standard steel and discarded the rear wiper. Overall the NISMO sheds 30kg from the 1430 kg standard GTR.
It’s without question Godzilla’s dominance in motorsport that turned it into the automotive icon it is today. Unsurprisingly values are rising Worldwide with the likes of Europe, Australasia, the United States and Japan fighting over the best examples before they become far out of reach. Where values will end up in 5 years time is difficult to predict but if there was ever a case for an iconic car with serious motorsport credentials it would be wise to consider the Nissan Skyline R32 GTR NISMO.
Seeing either of these cars alone would be enough to send any of us into a frothy-mouthed fit. But about the only time you’ll see them together is when you’re staring at your TV with a PlayStation controller in your hands. Short of being tossed the keys to McRae or Makinen’s actual rally cars, this is about as good as it gets for Evo and Impreza fans…
Chances are you’re already well aware why it’s so unusual to see these cars pounding the same stretch of road. Subaru built just 424 examples of the 22B to celebrate its 40th year in the car business, taking the already fabulous STi Type R and fortifying it with muscular blistered arches covering bigger wheels, and opening up the flat four to 2.2-litres.
And while the Evo Tommi Makinen’s spec wasn’t as radically altered from the base car as the 22B was, there were some key mods, including a faster steering rack from the Evo RS, and the legendary titanium turbo.
Plus, since the 2500 TMEs built also came in white, blue, silver and black, a red car with the optional (but must-have) stripes like this one, is actually rarer than a 22B.
It’s been a while since I’ve driven a TME, or a plain 6 for that matter, but the memories came flooding back. Lexus engineers wouldn’t lose any sleep over the dashboard plastics but those monogrammed Tommi seats are perfectly sited and the changes from the five-speed ‘box so much sweeter than the later six. Above all that though, the handling is so playful you can’t help but drive like you’ve just torn your L-plates in half.
But what about the 22B? Having not driven one before, but heard stories about its stiff-legged, crashy ride, I was amazed how well suited it seemed to tough British A and B roads, and how much feel there was through the gorgeous thin-rimmed Nardi wheel.
But it’s hard to drive a 22B and not get fixated by that engine. Subaru might have quoted the same nominal 280hp (276bhp) for the 2.0-litre STis, but dip your toe in at low revs, feel the kick in the back and you know this is an Impreza like no other.
Which is best? Love for these cars, these marques, is so tribal you’ve probably already made your own mind up about that. Few cars look as cool as a TME-liveried Evo, but even Mitsubishi fans would have to admit there’s something very special about the 22B.
As there should be, given you’re now looking at around £100k to put one in your garage…
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When you think of a Japanese-specific car show, what images pop into your head? Modern, turbocharged JDM monsters shredding rubber and making noise in the hands of pro drifters, perhaps? Or track day-addicts preparing for another white-knuckle ride in their heavily tuned weapons, maybe?
Hosted at the end of July each year, Simply Japanese, held in the stunning grounds of Beaulieu Motor Museum in the heart of the New Forest, acts as a more peaceful way to enjoy Japanese cars in some stunning scenery. The beautiful backdrop and rather sophisticated atmosphere means that there’s often a decent ratio of retro JDM metal at this event, too, with 2017 being no exception to this rule. We scoured the grounds to find our favourite blasts from the past to share with you…
’88 Mitsubishi Sapporo
The European moniker for what was known as the fifth-generation Galant in the JDM market, this four-door tin-top saloon may have had its reputation slightly dampened from the fact it was the first in its bloodline to be powered by its front wheels, but it did carry some cool quirks if you looked close enough.
Those rear lights look like they’ve been pinched straight from the iconic Starion coupé, for example, and while Europe was stuck with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, other markets benefited from an Evo-esque turbocharged 4G63 option.
’85 Toyota Celica Supra
Toyota stormed into the Eighties with this timeless stunner, boasting the all-important pop-up headlights and angular lines to die for.
This slightly later European-spec model houses the top-spec, 2.8-litre 5M straight-six motor under that long bonnet, which translates to 161bhp and a 0-60mph time of 8.4 seconds.
’85 Nissan Laurel
Representing the fifth generation of Nissan’s trusty Laurel (and the last to officially be sold outside of Japan), this olive green UKDM beauty can’t exactly be described as ‘beautiful’, but did boast some futuristic tech under its brick-like bodywork, such as a fuel-injected version of Nissan’s legendary straight-six ‘L’ engine. Fun fact: you could spec this car with an RB20DET motor in Japan!
Mugen Accord SiR-T
A Gran Turismo legend, the Mugen Accord SiR-T is based on the JDM CF4 Accord which boasts an extremely rare blue-top F20B VTEC engine. The Mugen upgrades appear to only be aesthetic, comprising a new grille, front and rear under-spoilers, side skirts and a new rear wing. These exterior modifications come together to create something truly unique, though, we think you’ll agree…
’86 Nissan Silvia
Everyone’s heard of the drift-friendly S13, S14 and S15 Silvia models, but look a bit further back in the history books and you’ll stumble upon this good-looking variant – the S12.
Sold in limited numbers in the UK in this hatchback shape only, all cars sported a SOHC, turbocharged CA18ET motor, good for around 130bhp.
This one sits great on those period six-spoke split rims, we think you’ll agree.
’85 Honda Civic
We love the Kanjo style the owner of this baby blue, third-generation Civic has added to their rare hatchback. The deep front splitter, drag-spec roof spoiler and racing door numbers help to make this 1400cc, triple-barrel-carburettor-powered pocket rocket look just as fun as we imagine it feels to drive it!
’76 Datsun 200L
Carrying a used-and-enjoyed patina, this four-door 200L caught everyone’s attention with its genuine SSR Starshark split rims, lowered ride height and bosozoku-inspired front splitter. We chatted to the owner who explained this is very much a work-in-progress, with plenty of big plans in store once this year’s show season is over.
’79 Toyota Celica
The round headlights used in the early second-generation Celica models (as seen here) were soon replaced with more Eighties-friendly square items during the car’s mid-life face-lift, making this particular coupé an even rarer sight nowadays.
This 1.4-litre example seems to benefit from a host of TRD (Toyota Racing Development) upgrades to bring out more of a racing character in the aesthetic.
’83 Toyota Corolla Trueno
The AE86 variants of the Toyota Corolla may be some of the most well-known retro JDM cars ever made, but we just had to share Sam Spanswick’s incredibly clean Trueno hatchback that we stumbled upon on the day.
Undergoing a strenuous two-year restoration using only genuine parts where possible, this stunner also features period RAYS Volk Racing split rims, a TRD two-way LSD and the all-important Bride Graduation seats inside.
’75 Datsun 180B Wagon
Everything is cooler with a boot. A point proven with this frankly awesome-looking 180B wagon. Still rocking those now-iconic ‘Coke bottle’ rear flanks but with a longer roofline, this shape arguably represented the heyday of the Bluebird bloodline.
Words & images: Sam Preston
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A few models tend to grab all of the headlines when it comes to Japanese performance cars, with Skylines and Supras being particularly popular. But, are there some rather more inspired choices that could add a splash of JDM magic to your life? As editor of Retro Japanese magazine, I certainly think so. Here are five alternative options that I think you should consider…
1. Nissan Stagea
Sure, this may be little more than a Skyline estate, but that’s exactly what makes it a top choice. You get the same RB powerhouse, but in a vehicle that’s much more practical for daily use. Sure, you’re much more likely to find an automatic transmission, but away from the race track, that’s not necessarily such a bind. Find yourself in traffic and the two-pedal system reigns supreme.
I’m particularly fond of the Series 2, which can easily be tweaked to adopt the menacing front end of the R34 Skyline – the ultimate example of which is probably the Double Unicorn known to Mighty Car Mod fans.
Best of all, Stageas are yet to be subjected to the rapidly rising values affecting Skylines. Get some undercover Skyline thrills for a fraction of the cost.
2. Honda Civic SiR
I’ve always been a fan of the fourth-generation Honda Civic. It was completely unlike any of its rivals when new, being so low and so sporting, even in middling trim levels. You may be able to find a rust-free UK car with a bit of luck, but importing gives more options. The one to have is the SiR, which packed the CRX VTEC lump under that low, low bonnet. Factor in double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear and you get a seriously hot hatch, with fantastic period looks. Like the Stagea, you get a bit more everyday practicality, but with scintillating performance – the SiR has 158bhp, produced at a hilarious 7600rpm. Suddenly, a Ford Fiesta RS Turbo seems a bit tame.
3. Mitsubishi Evolution V
The three generations of Mitsubishi Evo from IV to VI share a lot in common, but the Evo V is the rarest of the lot, being produced for just one year between January 1998 and January 1999. It has somewhere in the region of 280bhp, so performance is going to be more than plentiful. If you somehow felt your V was not as punchy as a VI, then you could apply a few aftermarket goodies – a larger intercooler perhaps as a good start point. While collectors get giddy about the VI, especially the Tommy Makinen Edition, it leaves the V looking like a great value option.
4. Toyota Glanza
The P90 generation Starlet was a rather dreary small hatchback that failed to generate much excitement amongst British buyers. Perhaps that’s because, once again, we were denied the really exciting versions. In Japan, the Glanza V used turbocharging to create a fearsome 131bhp hot hatch, while the Glanza S had all the looks, but only 85bhp from its naturally aspirated lump. There’s now a large following for Glanzas in the UK, and when you consider those figures, it’s easy to see why. Small cars can be an awful lot of fun.
5. Mazda Eunos Cosmo
When it comes to sheer insanity, the Mazda Eunos Cosmo takes some beating. The top models used the 20B triple-rotor Wankel engine, which can create stupendous levels of power, while sounding like a cross between a Porsche 911 and a Wartburg. Truly, there is no car quite like it. Sadly, a lot have been broken for their engines and, once again, automatic was standard fare. However, manual conversions transform the car as I well know, for I tried one earlier in 2017. It’s safe to say that I’ve never driven a car quite like it.
Early morning starts can be hard work but when fuelled with the knowledge you’re going to be driven to Castle Combe in a Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R V-Spec II Nür, it seems to be effortless.
As I arrive at the M5 services for my Torque GT rendevous, breaking the early morning silence were a group of like-minded fanatics in Evo’s also making their way to JDM Combe.
Then I heard it, the rumble of my Millennium Jade taxi arriving. Even in the low light it looked stunning. A quick coffee and we were on our way, my senses overwhelmed by the sound of this car; it felt as if I was sitting on the exhaust.
As we approached Castle Combe, the proportion of JDM machinery increased considerably. On arrival at the circuit the Nür was ushered to it’s home for the day where it came to a halt amongst the best of the best. It’s company didn’t disappoint.
Once media accreditation was sorted out I was faced with the question…what to do first? A bacon sarnie was fairly high on the list of priorities but suddenly I became very distracted by ‘A BEUT’. Steve the proud owner of this fantastic NSX apparently converted it from more of a track focused car to one which was more suitable for UK roads. Although this incarnation will likely split many NSX purists opinions it was a serious contender for my car of the day.
Cars within the best of the best display were a sight to behold. As well as the Nür and a very special NSX there was a weird and wonderful collection including a R33 GT-R pickup (GT-P), a yellow Datsun 260Z, an intensely pink 350Z, Mugen RR and a gorgeous Celica Liftback 2000 GT (RA28) amongst many others.
After soaking in the initial impact of sheer JDM variety it was off to Camp Corner to shoot some track action, firstly a ‘run what you brung’ session. From low to high displacement, FWD, RWD, AWD, it was great to see a real mix of metal unleashed.
For the Drifting, threatening rain clouds loomed but instead clouds of tyre smoke enveloped the crowds. Fully lit up with rubber flying they flicked out of the apex one by one, what a sight!
Following this, the bleak sky had surrendered to sunlight, enabling all the pristine vehicles on display show and shine. My eyes were hit by an array of blue wings and vents as Somerset Scooby’s were out in force. Contrasting to this, Mitsubishi Lancer Register (MLR) had a superb range of ‘Evolution’ to marvel.
Appreciating the attention to detail the owners devote to their cars presents a unique identity that tells a story of dedication. It’s a great way to present as an individual or group.
Fortunately the rain held off throughout the day. At Quarry Corner I felt much closer to the action as the Drifters rhythmically hooned past at ludicrous angles, often engulfed in smoke.
After the final drift session for the day people started to head home, leaving Castle Combe with a last hurrah of rasping and burbling combustion echoing off into the distance in true JDM style. All in all a fantastic day out!
Anyone who’s followed us over the past 16 years will be aware of our huge respect for Honda. From the lightweight EK9 to the flagship NSX, Honda have produced some cracking cars over the years and the latter is where we’re focusing our attention today.
Fast approaching 30 years since its release NSXs are arguably held in even higher regard today than all those years ago. Produced in relatively low numbers very few actually change hands which is a true testament to how enjoyable they are to own.
Honda’s brief to produce an everyday supercar was certainly met as the NSX is a car you can literally drive every day with little worry of big bills around the corner. Our good friend Mike at Minutia Detailing can attest to this with his daily Daytona yellow NA2 previously owned by Jenson Button. Now covering over 167,000 miles it still runs on the original clutch!
So how could Honda possibly improve on this superb everyday super car? Presenting the Honda NSX Type S…
For those unaware the NSX-S ever existed would be excused. Released exclusively for the Japanese domestic market in limited numbers of 248 the chances of seeing one in the flesh are really very slim. This special edition has often been described as the perfect mix between the base model and NSX-R. Blending everyday driving with a more focused driving experience, a more refined Type R if you like.
Released shortly after the displacement hike in 1997 (3000cc to 3200cc) the NSX-S also came in 45kgs lighter than the base model bringing the overall kerb weight down to 1,320 kg. This weight saving was helped in part by the Type S specific BBS lightweight aluminium wheels and beautiful carbon-kevlar RECARO half leather seats.
A 6-speed manual transmission was favoured to suit the more powerful engine helped by strengthened gaskets, crankshaft pins, and piston pins. A stainless steel exhaust manifold, dual-mass flywheel, 16 inches brake rotors, and stiffer suspension also came as standard from the factory, as did a mesh design engine cover (like the Type R) and a coloured roof.
At 10.357 million yen it was the most expensive NSX sold in Japan to date. But was it worth it? If the performance improvements haven’t convinced you then the stunning Monte Carlo blue pearl and BBS alloys on this stunner we sourced for a customer surely will. But the all important question remains… how does it drive?
Although a fabulous allrounder, occasionally I’ve felt a little disconnected with the base model NSX but also a little broken after longer outings in the uncompromising NSX-R. In contrast the Type S lives up to the hype and boasts the perfect balance between the two models. Sharper handling and improved throttle response literally transforms the driving experience from the base model. Plus the more supple suspension and increased sound deadening help create a far more comfortable ride than the NSX-R.
Does that mean I’d prefer to own a Type S over an NSX-R? The answer would have to be no. Personally I see the NSX as more of a weekend toy rather than something I’d commute in every day. There’s something so special about dropping into the same model that Senna smashed around Suzuka. For these reasons alone the NSX-R appeals to myself more. However, for anyone looking for that special ‘everyday’ NSX the NSX Type S reigns supreme…
Check our top picks for this week’s Japanese car auctions along with auction sheet translations and sold data for last week’s picks. We begin proceedings with a NISMO edition R35 GTR…
Nissan R35 GTR NISMO edition
A seemingly brand new NISMO edition GTR is heading to auction this week. With 62kms from new it appears to have been driven out the factory and straight to the auction house. The driver still managed to catch the front lip from looking at the auction sheet! Based on previous data expect it to fetch BIG money, we anticipate a hammer figure of around 16 mill JPY. Check back next week for the auction sheet translation and results…
This grade 4B Honda NSX makes a good first impression. Manual with black leather and a genuine 54,538kms from new this NSX should attract plenty of interest. The question, does it live up to the auction sheet? We’ll report back with our findings in next week’s report…
Sought after V-spec model, Grade 4.5A and a genuine 10,041kms from new are all headlines that will attract masses of interest. Such is the high demand for collectible R34 GTRs low mileage examples lead the way. We’d expect this R34 GTR V-spec to fetch in the region of 7 mill JPY at auction. We’ll report back with the exact price data next week.
This Evolution 5 caught our eye for a couple of reasons. Firstly Pyrenees black has become a very tricky colour to source in recent years and when they eventually do turn up the paintwork has usually seen better days. However after observing the corresponding auction sheet there appears to be only 2 or 3 bodywork issues that might require minor attention. But as we always insist, the importance lies with our team’s inspection. The sheer amount of times we’ve inspected grade 4 cars that should have been marked far lower is considerable. Hopefully this example is as good as it looks!
The Mazda RX7 Spirit R is a car that consistently catches our eye. Although far from the best we’ve seen this Spirit R actually looks in reasonable shape considering its age and mileage. Grade 3.5B with 152,246kms will lessen the interest but this is where a potential bargain maybe had. We still anticipate a hammer figure in excess of 2 mill JPY but for a rare model such as this it could indeed be money well spent.
Although the Toyota Celica GT4 has a strong cult following its a model that is often overlooked. Released in the same era as the Mitsubishi Evolution, Subaru Impreza and Lancia Delta Integrale the GT4 is an unsung hero in comparison. With plenty of WRC accolades under its belt it won’t be long until the US market will open up and start grabbing this Japanese rally icon and consequently pushing up prices Worldwide. This late model S205 looks like it requires some attention but overall it looks like a decent example on first glance. Full results next week!
There’s very few cars as unique as the Mazda Autozam. This Japanese KEI car is powered by a 600cc turbo charged engine and weighs just over 700kgs. Having imported a handful over the years its immensely entertaining to drive. Its impossible not to smile in this quirky little roller skate! Consequently demand is pretty strong and high grade examples such as this 4B with only 65,573kms fetch the biggest premiums. Expect a hammer of around 1 mill JPY.