JAPFEST SILVERSTONE 2018

This year Japfest Silverstone was treated to weather any great event deserves. The show was buzzing with fans from far and wide. Whether you were there to spot your dream JDM ride, show off your pride and joy, catch some drifting or indulge in your favourite brands, Japfest had it all! We always look forward to bringing along some four wheeled gems to this event from Torque GT HQ. This year included our Nissan Skyline R34 GTR V-Spec II Nur, Mazda RX7 Spirit R, Mitsubishi EVO VI TME, Honda Civic Mugen RR, Subaru Impreza Spec C RA-R and Toyota Supra TT6. To compliment these iconic Japanese cars we displayed the latest products from Fujitsubo, O.Z, RAYS Wheels and Meister R suspension.

A rather special Honda, the Mugen RR is the holy grail in the Civic world. Some Honda fanatics would go as far to say they would rather have this over an NSX-R…

You would be forgiven if you hadn’t heard of an RA-R, to passers by it could be a standard model white STi. However this 1 of 300 model is to many purists the Holy Grail of Imprezas. It truly is a rally car for the road, few things would keep up with this over a moorland road.

Customers enjoyed the chance of some shade looking around our indoor display and meeting the team.

Alex doing a fantastic job keeping our cars looking like they’ve just rolled out the showroom.

Walking around the show gave opportunity to see some stunning creations!

The Nissan Cube Club was out in force, you’ve got to love these weird and wonderful vehicles. Only in Japan!

A Japanese Car Show wouldn’t be complete without a long line of Scooby’s and BlobSquad car club were in full force this year!

A sea of Championship White…

One of the cars that really stood out was this Mazda RX7, with mad aero. Seeing it up close you could really appreciate the work that had gone into this build.

Smoking in the sun…what could be better?

Always a joy to watch drifting in tandem, a sideways art form. Showing what a car can do when balanced on the limit.

Theres not many places where you can see a line of Supra’s…with these JDM icons becoming rarer and harder to find values are most definitely on the rise!

Wherever you stand theres always something that will catch your eye.

It was great to see our Nur get so much attention throughout the day, seeing peoples reaction when they experience Millennium Jade glistening in the sun for the first time.

Being a leading performance exhaust manufacturer, we were proud to display a Hakosuka Fujitsubo system in the flesh. Such high quality, it’s like a piece of art. The precision and detailing of these exhausts is simply stunning…

Our Honda Accord Euro R with it’s Fujitsubo exhaust system was one of our most viewed cars of our display. It certainly intrigued people as they are a bit of an unknown gem in the UK. A fantastic daily, running a K20A engine and 6 Speed Manual found in the DC5 Integra Type R, plus has an LSD as standard. A real wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The TME looked fantastic in the sunshine, as far as iconic road car liveries go this car right up there!

Our Personal Import Specialist Darren is always happy to share his vast breadth of knowledge and explain the import process, plus catch up with previous Personal Import Customers.

Japfest is a great day out for all the family and giving people the opportunity to see an array of JDM Legends up close really shows the following these cars have.

We hope everyone enjoyed Japfest and our display. If you are lusting over a particular JDM car and want your dream to become reality take a look at our 5 Step Personal Import Service…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotted: Mazda RX7 Type R Bathurst R

The Mazda RX7 could be considered a marmite car, due to the well known rotary reputation. There’s no denying the rotary engine needs to be treated with respect but the same should be said about the RB26, EJ20 or in indeed any performance engine. The reality is nearly all cars will likely require a rebuild at some point and coming in at around half the cost of a piston engine from the same era the RX7 looks like great value! If we relied solely on internet hearsay the RX7 would be conceived as the most unreliable car in existence.

Thankfully for the fortunate people that have been bitten by the rotary bug and love these cars, the RX7 has a lot going for it. Even by today’s standards RX7’s handle superbly and no doubt are one of the best balanced cars of all time. With perfect 50:50 weight distribution and proper sports car feel these cars inspire the driver to push on and explore the limits. 

We spotted this very special example at a dealer in Japan, a Mazda RX7 Type R Bathurst and a quick look at the dealer’s description reveals a vehicle price of 3,590.900 yen (£23,741.14 GBP). The mileage of this vehicle is 46,000km’s (28,583 miles), so not only is this a rare RX7 but it boasts low mileage too. The Bathurst name was chosen to commemorate the Bathurst 12-hour race in Australia, where the RX-7 was victorious for three consecutive years (1992 through 1994). Sales of the RX-7 Type R Bathurst R were limited to 500 units purely for the Japanese domestic market.

This limited edition model, based on the Type R, had the highest power to weight ratio among the RX7 series. The limited edition model featured custom height-adjustable dampers which enhanced the driving experience even further.

In the cabin was a carbon theme harking back to the successful racing cars including a carbon centre panel, center console, power window switch panel small storage compartment cover on the driver’s side, shift knob and parking brake lever all manufactured by Mazda Speed. Also just to make it clear it’s not just any RX7 a smattering of custom Bathurst R decals were added, not that you would struggle to get noticed in this bright yellow example. Three body colours were available from new including this spectacular Sunburst Yellow.

Interestingly we have previously noticed this car at a recent USS Nagoya Auction. Graded as a 3.5 car it listed with one previous owner from new. It’s starting price was 1,400,000 yen (£9,249.80 GBP) but it didn’t end up selling with the last bid being 3,004,000 yen FOB (£19,808.38 GBP). RX7’s values have appreciated significantly in the past 18 months and that trend looks set to continue. Certainly a future classic in the making and arguably a great investment opportunity. Plus if it’s a limited run variant such as this Type R Bathurst R your bound to see an even greater rise in value.

 

Import your dream RX7 in 5 simple steps….

 

Under the Radar – The DB8 Integra Type R

If you often find yourself searching for the lesser known cars to come out of Japan, the DB8 Integra has superb appeal.  The ‘sensible’ four door option of the popular DC2 ITR, mechanically it was exactly the same and began production in 1995.

Just like a DC2 it’s a involving car to drive with the awesome B18C unit up front and slick close ratio five speed manual that lets the driver race through the gears in such a rewarding manner.

If back in the day you craved a DC2 but the practicality surrounding the coupe shape was stopping you the DB8 alternative was a no-brainer. Those extra two doors could of made all the difference to letting you experience what is still regarded as one of the greatest FWD handling cars ever made.

If you thought DC2’s were a rare sight on UK roads the DB8 is almost mythical with a mere 5,135 units produced exclusively for the Japanese domestic. So if you weren’t initially convinced by the four door look then the rarity aspect is something to consider if you’re wanting to import an Integra Type R as a future investment.

DB8’s were available in Championship White (Code: NH-0), like this example we sourced for a Personal import customer. Black and Silver were the alternative colour options for the DB8.

Being one of 499 DB8’s produced in 1999 this is a later model, production of the DB8 came to an end in the year 2000.

So the DB8 is a naturally aspirated, four door, high revving and involving car from Honda. Was it the 90’s version of what Japan’s Civic became in 2007 when the FD2 Type R was launched?

 

Import your dream Type R in 5 simple steps….

 

Josh’s Project EK9 – Part 2

As bad starts go, breaking down the first time you drive a new car is up there. 

Luckily, it happened on a quiet piece of road and not too far from Torque GT HQ, so the car was easily recovered and we could start investigating what had gone wrong. Everyone’s first guess was an issue with the distributor which we commonly see failing on the older B-series Honda’s. We decided to start by switching out the existing dizzy for a known good one and see if that solved the issue.

On the face of it, the one that was on the car looked to be in reasonably good condition, but upon removing the cap this definitely wasn’t the case. One of the previous owners has replaced the cap, but the dizzy itself was as old as the car, and was in a pretty sorry state.

With the old distributor removed and working one fitted along with a new battery, we fire the car up and it’s back running as it should. Relief!

My second attempt at a test drive goes far better than the first. The car pulls nicely through the gears and revs freely. The gears feel tight and mechanical, with no notches or dragging. There is a noticeable knock coming from the rear of the car which will require some further investigation. We checked all of the commonly failing bushes and drop links during appraisal, all of which appeared fine. Suspension is something I’ll be addressing soon, so I’ll put this on the back-burner for now.

Next up, bodywork appraisal.

To be blunt, this car needs a LOT of TLC. It’s spent the last 7+ years of it’s life on the roads here in the UK and whilst the previous owners have kept the interior in good condition, the exterior has been pretty neglected.

I give the car a thorough wash and decontamination to get a better idea of what condition the paintwork is in, but there’s so much ground in dirt and the paint is so flat that I’d hazard a guess it hasn’t seen any polish or wax in years, and it shows.

After a thorough polish of the exterior, it’s clear to see both the driver and passenger side are peppered in parking dents. The front bumper has a number of marks that will more than likely mean repainting the entire thing, and the rear of the car has been painted at some point in the past. As is always the case with older Honda’s, the stickers and badges have either perished or faded. The wheels are also desperately in need of some attention. Plenty to address!

The failed rocker cover gasket has coated the entire engine bay in a thin film of oil, so we give this a thorough de-grease and clean down. What’s left of the rocker covers factory paint falls away with little persuasion in the process.

The bodywork requires a significant amount of work on it’s own, so for now I decide to concentrate on getting the car’s mechanical faults rectified. It may not be show winning on the exterior, but at least it’ll be drivable!

First issue; Honda have discontinued the CV joints for the EK, so replacing these now means using either patent parts, used parts, or costly aftermarket driveshafts. I’m not keen on fitting a used joint with little to no provenance, or splashing out on a really expensive set of drive shafts, so decide to go with a non-Honda replacement part.

Another common fault that we keep seeing on B-Series Honda’s is broken engine mounts, in particular the rear mount and lower torque mounts. Yet again, this EK9 is no exception to the rule with all 3 broken and the rest not far behind. Whilst you can still get replacement parts, there are a wide variety of brands on the market offering items that are firmer than standard.

These take a lot of the movement out of the powertrain and tighten everything up. As a result, the vehicle feels sharper and more responsive, as well as gaining some additional grip, which in the already go-kart-like EK9 only helps improve what is already an exciting chassis. The main drawback to these is increased noise and vibration transmitted into the cabin. As a rule of thumb, the firmer the material used in the mounts, the worse this will be. This means choosing the right material for what you want to use the car for is key.

I’d like to use this car on the road rather than the track, so I chose not to go with firmer Polyurethane mounts and instead chose a full Hardrace kit. These utilize a hardened rubber that offers the benefits of firmer mounts, but still have some flexibility, making them a little more friendly for day to day driving. Were this EK9 destined for track work, then I’d be tempted to look more seriously at Poly mounts.

We top off the initial workshop session by tackling the failed rocker cover gasket. Replacing this, along with some Millers 5w40 and a HAMP filter takes care of matters here. As the rocker cover is coming off anyway, it would be rude not to replace it while we’re at it. After a quick exchange of messages, Paul aka Spooner Restorations kindly agrees to provide me with one of his beautifully refurbished covers.

For something relatively inexpensive and simple to change over, it’s amazing the difference that a fresh rocker cover makes to a tired engine bay. Paul offers a variety of finishes, ranging from simple single colours like this one, to complete one-off designs, all of which are finished to a really high standard. Being a bit of a purist, I choose to stick with the classic wrinkle red, which looks fantastic nestled in the the Champ white engine bay.

That just about wraps up this phase for the EK9! As the weather is still relatively poor (it’s April… where is the Sun?!), I’ve decided to hold off road testing the EK9 again until it improves. I’ll report back with a review on the Hardrace mounts, along with some news on a few other goodies I have lined up. Stay tuned!

Top Gear – Japan Special

Top Gear’s Japan Special episode shown on BBC 2 on Sunday obviously captured plenty of interest here at Torque GT featuring our very own Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Tommi Makinen Edition along with a blue 300ZX we supplied to a customer in 2016. Unfortunately what you didn’t get to see was our NSX-R that got pulled by the producers at the very last minute as they opted for a base model for the studio. Proof of which can be found in the video below…

As per the title the episode was predominantly set in Japan with Rory exploring Japan’s urban underworld car culture, ranging from Bosozoku to neon Lambos and a road legal Porsche 962 Le Mans car!

Le Blanc and Harris also went to the renowned USS Tokyo car auctions to bag themselves an iconic JDM car which they’d compete in against one another during a series of challenges. The winner would then bring their car back to the UK to sell.

The episode certainly caused a fair bit of controversy mainly surrounding the destruction of 2 iconic Japanese cars. Some describing the actions as… “stupid” and “pointless”… We have to agree that its never nice to see cars being destroyed, least of all cars we’ve been huge fans of for so many years. However, we have seen an argument the other way. First and foremost this is an entertainment show and the destruction of cars has largely been a part of Top Gear and indeed action films for decades. Whether this is fair reason is still up for debate.

There were further murmurings on social media of a disservice to Japanese car culture. We’re again split on this, for many it offered a taste of a car culture they otherwise knew nothing about but on the flip side offered a lack of depth for those more familiar with this unique and colourful culture.

For example we would have much preferred to see Rory weaving through Tokyo traffic in a Honda Beat, Mazda AZ1, Suzuki Cappuccino or even a Honda S660. And a far better spectacle to smashing up the FD and GTT would have been watching both Harris and Le Blanc attempting to hammer it around Ebisu in a properly set up drift car.

A feature that really stood out and left us wanting more was the visit to Fukishima, eye opening and heart felt this was actually really refreshing from Top Gear.

An additional piece many craved more of was the look into Japanese car culture. Bosozoku and LED clad Lamborghinis hinted at how passionate the Japanese are about their cars. As the Youtube feature below indicates there’s a deeper background surrounding this car culture.

Mistaking an EVO 8 for a 7 was probably the biggest blunder that had even the most placid JDM fan shouting at the television but don’t let this deter you from watching!

Catch it now on BBC iPlayer.

 

Want to avoid buying a colour changed yellow RX7 or a GTT that has seen better days? Check our 5 step Personal import service video…

 

 

Spotted: Nissan 180SX Type X with 155kms!

Have you ever seen a fresher looking 180SX? We’re guessing not as there’s a high chance this is the lowest mileage example remaining worldwide. With an astonishing 155km on the clock, this 180SX looks to have been driven from the showroom back in 1997 and been dry stored ever since! Priced a shade under 3 mill JPY it doesn’t come cheap but arguably worth it in many collectors eyes.

Being a 1997 Type X, it’s one of the last Type X models as production ceased in October 1997 and has many cosmetic additions such as the front lip, rear spoiler, side skirts, rear valence and 15-inch alloy wheels. The engine is the 202bhp SR20DET. Being a turbocharged model it came with the option of  Nissan’s Super HICAS four-wheel steering system.

Equipped with the more desirable 5 speed manual rather than the 4 speed auto and a limited slip differential it has to be the perfect spec. During December 1998 all production of the 180SX ended.

It would make a great addition to an enthusiasts collection however this is the sort of car that begs to be driven…

 

Check out our 5 Step Personal Import process video…

 

Josh’s Project EK9

Here’s something you won’t see every day.

A tatty looking, albeit largely original EK9 parked under the Torque GT sign. This spot is usually reserved for some of the nicest JDM cars available. Cars that we’ve meticulously searched for, inspected and prepared to ensure they’re the absolute best available. So what is an old neglected EK9 doing here?

Well, it’s now mine! Let me explain.

My name is Josh and for the last few years I’ve been running Torque GT’s parts store. I love older performance Japanese cars, in particularly the older 90’s Honda’s. I briefly owned an EK9 many years ago before swapping it for a ‘96 JDM DC2 Integra, which I still maintain to this day is the best car I’ve ever owned. The raw, high revving and unrefined nature of the older B-series engine, coupled with the agile and lightweight chassis makes them an absolute joy to drive, totally unlike anything else on the market.

The EK9 you see before you originally arrived to us in 2017 after the previous owner decided it was time to move into something turbo charged and traded it in. It was obvious when it arrived that it needed some love, but it’s been sat here ever since, largely forgotten in the corner and looking a bit sad for itself.

Just before Christmas, possibly in a moment of weakness I may yet live to regret when my girlfriend reads this and finds out what I’ve done (Sorry!) I decided the car needed saving and took the plunge.

So; what’s wrong with it?

We decided to put the EK9 through a full appraisal, akin to the sort of checks that any fresh import gets on arrival. It was immediately obvious that the rocker cover gasket was weeping. The fine film of oil all throughout the engine bay made that pretty obvious. A quick check of the dipstick showed the car was on the minimum. Off to a good start!

After just over an hour of poking and prodding, we came up with a list of parts we had identified as being in need of replacement, which included (but almost certainly isn’t limited to) a pair of engine mounts, a rack arm, CV boot, battery, track rod end and the front brake pads. Not great, but not exactly a mountain to climb. The engine bay in particular is visually unpleasant, thanks to it’s especially flaky, oil soaked rocker cover. Something we commonly see on Honda’s as they slowly age, replacing this is a straightforward job and one we can tackle when we replace the rocker cover gasket.

Despite all its flaws, the car is fundamentally good. The interior is in REALLY good condition for its age, and the car is largely unmodified, with the exception of a carbon intake and some Spoon HT leads. Even the exhaust is original… for now.

Next up, road test.

I pull out of Torque GT and hit the road. Things begin to improve. It’s been a while since I was behind the wheel of an EK9. I’d forgotten just how much being in one was like driving a go-kart.

All of a sudden the car starts hesitating under acceleration. I ease off and it seems to sort itself out.

A minute later, the hesitation is back and now getting worse. Another few minutes pass and the check engine light is on. In under 5 minutes, I’ve gone from enjoying a modern classic to being sat at the side of the road awaiting recovery.

What have I gotten myself into.

At this point I should probably tell you my long term goals for this project, although if I’m being entirely honest, I’m really not sure what they are! The purist in me just wants to fix what’s wrong with it, put some fresh badges and decals on it, and rectify its numerous mechanical problems. But then, where is the fun in that? Whatever I decide to do, I’ll be aiming to keep these posts regular so you can keep up to date on the progress we make.

 

Spotted: Honda Integra Type R (98 SPEC)

If you’re in the market for a fantastic FWD handling car with shed loads of character it’s hard to think of a better car than a DC2 Honda Integra Type R. With the reputation of being one of the best, if not THE best FWD handling road cars of all time values are now increasing, potentially making the DC2 a future investment.

This 1998 spec Championship White example is a case in point currently listed at 1.89 mill JPY (£12,600 at today’s exchange rate). Completely stock with only 69,000kms (43,000 miles) on the clock plus no accident history would explain the premium price, but with DC2’s appreciating in value maybe it’s not so foolish. Will there be a world where DC2’s are costing 30k or more? Only time can tell…

 

Check our 5 step Personal import process video…

Spotted: RB26 Supra

The controversy! Some people will look at this RB26 Supra and think WOW! Die hard fans will likely believe that an RB26 shouldn’t be residing in a Supra. Either way theres no doubt it’s unique, and for that we appreciate what has been created!

Cosmetically it looks like a Supra, with no hint that it’s had a heart transplant until you open the bonnet. The iconic 2JZ has been swapped for another icon, the RB26. Both are titans in the JDM world and I’m sure there are many split opinions on which is best…

Auction Translation:

Model Grade:
Modified

Seats Comments:
4

Sales Points:

RB26 and 6 speed manual of BNR34 reloaded
Inter cooler
HID
BBSLM18 alloys
Remote key
Strada HDD navigation

Attention:
OS,R3C triple clutch
T88-34D aftermarket LSD
ORC brake kit
RECARO seat
HKS264 high cam + spring
V PRO3.2
HKS strong oil pomp connecting rod
HKS FCON
HKS full counter clunk
Aftermarket aero and front fender
Aftermarket suspension
Rear under diffuser
APEXiREV / SPEED METER
Defi oil pressure, turbo, water meter, exhust meter
G-ready PRO fec-B
BILLION VFC 2
MOMO steering and aftermakrt shift knob
Aftermarket muffler

This Supra will definitely appeal to an individual in the modding world purely for it’s rarity. Clearly a huge amount of work has gone into this build. It’s a marmite creation and someone will love owning it for that shock factor and the surprise on peoples faces when the key is turned.

It will be interesting to see what kind of money this will make under the hammer. With good examples of standard manual twin turbo Supra’s starting north of £20,000 GBP, will the mods decrease or increase its value?

 

Spotted: Impreza S202

Part of Subarus long line of S series Impreza models ranging from the S201 in 2000 to the S208 (being released in 2018) the S202 is often considered the sweet spot of the S-series Impreza. Although the ‘bug-eye’ style wasn’t the most welcomed look upon release its popularity has grown in recent years. A limited 400 units produced only adds to the appeal, plus this example is Yellow!

With a kerb weight of 1330kg and powered by Subaru’s infamous EJ20 engine, running in this guise – 320 PS (316 bhp) and 283 ft-lb of torque giving a great power to weight ratio of 237.59 bhp per tonne. The driving experience with that classic boxer burble, six speed manual box and light kerb weight really gives that essence of a rally car for the road.

We did in fact see this particular S202 come up at auction recently where it sold for a hammer price of just over 1.2 mill JPY.

Auction sheet translation below:

Model Grade: WRX S202 STI

Mileage Comments: 108,407km (67,360 miles)

Colour Comments: 13V

Seats Comments: 5

Sales Points: STI muffler / STI 17 Alloys / serial number #181 / designated rear spoiler / user sold car / turbo meter(Genome)water spray (AOUT) / I/C WATER SPRAY / Genome boost control / 17in alloys are in the truck / instruction manual, insurance papers will be sent on a later date.

Inspector Comments: Inside lining has scratches, handle has wear, core support has crease, door mirror has scratches, has after market parts, front bumper has paint crack, bonnet has a dent.

Looking at the dealer’s description, the base vehicle price is 1,690.900 yen (£10,957.03 GBP).

 

If you would like us to inspect this vehicle or indeed any others please drop us a line.