EVENT – LOVECARS X NAVICARS MEET IN HAKONE
It was a cold and windy Sunday morning when Ellie and I took off in the E92 M3, heading for Hakone and the LOVECARS x NAVICARS drive meet up at the top of the legendary lookout. We managed to miss the threats of rain as well and despite the freezing temperatures, more than 120 cars and 140 people turned up for the event, which at 7am, is a great turnout for any gathering of enthusiasts!
**CLICK EACH SHOT FOR HI-RES GOODNESS**
The drive up to Hakone gave me a chance to put the E92 through its paces and I have to admit to being head over heels in love with it and it’s go anywhere, do anything attitude. The push of the “M” button on the wheel turning it from a bumbling kitten into something much bigger, striped and with claws and fangs bared, ready to attack any road in its path. More on the E92 in a coming post.
We were here to meet with other like minded individuals, brought together by the very well known Japanese automotive journalist, Manabu Kawaguchi. Manabu and I were introduced through Valters Boze, who was here recently and is the owner of Tune86, a Latvian based blog that really knows a thing or two about the new Toyota that is taking the tuning world by storm.
Manabu and I have similar vocations, albeit in respect to very different audiences, so it was really interesting to hear about his work in Japan and to see how he brings people together.
And what a diverse group of people they were. There was a little of everything at this meet. Cars from all over the world came together to just share company, discuss their cars, shoot other peoples cars and just enjoy themselves. There were no burnouts, no police interference, no profanity, no disrespect, no bullshit. Just admiration, mutual respect and appreciation for everyone and their rides. Organizers of auto gatherings the world over could learn a lot about how the Japanese bring the fans together for a meet.
As I wandered the carpark that sits just below the ToyoTires View Lounge, I found a lot of surprises. Take this BMW Z8! It’s hard at the best of times to even see one, let alone get close up to one. James Bond had great taste.
Such an iconic machine.
But I think the DeLorean takes the cake on that subject. I absolutely LOVE seeing this car in real life with it’s all aluminum body; the DeLorean easily one of the most one of the recognizable cars ever made. The V6 power-plant did have a little trouble starting in the cold conditions but it was definitely the real thing!
There are 4 movie cars in this shot… yes, including the Prius!
Of course, there was plenty of Japanese metal there, including this Toyota 86 in red, wearing a TRD designed bodykit.
This 86 has also had a Brembo brake upgrade, although it appeared as though there was either an issue with the rotors or pads. The wear definitely doesn’t look right to me.
Still, the 86 and BRZ are really taking off here in Japan – they are rapidly becoming what we at 7Tune have always said they will be; extremely successful with all types of people.
The TRD 86 was joined by this much more sedate looking standard BRZ. This car belongs to the Director of Marketing for Subaru Japan.
The old AE86 was represented here in classic “Panda” livery.
On the far side of the parking area where over 120 cars gathered together, was this super slammed Nissan. Too much for my tastes but each to their own as they say!
It appears as if I wasn’t the only one testing a BMW that day! Manabu came along in their new generation 328i. The outlines and proportions of the rear on both cars bear a striking resemblance though.
I’m really going to miss the outgoing E92 M3 because it is quite simply one of the most beautiful cars they’ve ever made and I’m not the biggest fan of the “face” of the new generation 3 series. Let’s see how their new M3 will look!
Then this beast showed up to rounds of applause. At first I thought it couldn’t be possible for it to be a real Stratos but curiosity got the better of me and indeed the car turned out to be a pure kit build but what a build it was!
The car belongs to GoodSmile Racing CEO, Takanori Aki and he was more than happy to talk about the creation.
It weighs 600kg’s and packs 450hp from the unlikely addition of a turbocharged SR20DET and top mount intercooler; all stuffed into the small box like tubing at the back of the car!
The interior is as serious as everything else that’s gone into the build.
As is the front of the car with its servos and fans; looking more like an open wheeler with a shell. No wonder it weighs as little as it does. Takanori san says the car is “…scary to drive quickly!” and we have no reason to doubt that one bit!
So is this a Japanese car or a European car? I’d say it is JDM clothed in European flair!
Ellie and I took another sweep of the carpark which included bumping into this classic Citroen 2CV.
Also a couple of contrasting vehicles like the Ford Focus and Renault Clio RS.
And these two Lotus’ that definitely looked set up for track and mountain work. On a side note I’m shocked about the recent developments on the Lotus front. Justing Gardiner from Caterham actually filled me in on the news recently and after some suggested digging, I uncovered the news that Lotus is in dire straights financially. There is talk of a billion dollar investment by their new handlers DRB-HICOM with a rollout of 5 new models to come throughout the next 4 years but everything appears far from stable. Let’s hope the iconic and legendary brand can be spared any further embarrassment.
By this point our trigger fingers were starting to freeze and the thought of a hot coffee was becoming very welcoming. Before heading for the Toyo Tires View Lounge, we met Testu-chan, who has his own blog on the F458 you see in these shots.
Tetsu-chan can’t resist a pretty girl and soon enough, Ellie was in the drivers seat firing the 458 up!
She seems right at home in the space aged cockpit of the latest “4-series” Ferrari.
Yep, It’s quite easy to smile when you’re sitting in a Fezza.
With our trigger fingers by this point literally frozen in place, we headed over to the cafe to thaw out and take some respite from the chilly winds. We sat down with Tetsu-Chan and listened in on his accounts of being supposedly caught for speeding in the Ferrari. He fought the accusation in court and was actually acquitted but the vagaries in Japanese law, still dictate that he’ll lose his license; despite not being guilty of the offense! In Japan there are two separate entities that handle these matters – the authorities and the licensing divisions are distinct from each other. What I like to refer to as the “Grey Area” of Japanese political and social yet again gives a surprising account for itself. Being thoughtful toward the situation, I naturally offered to drive the Italia for Tetsu-chan if he found himself unable to.
Together we decided to say goodbye to the friendly people at the meet but not before we got some awesome shots of the group together. みなさん、あいりがとございました。
Next up was to head down the hills and into the small towns that circle the 5 lakes of Hakone for some lunch. Ellie and I had toyed with the idea of going over to the HKS Premium day at Fuji Speedway but the weather was crap and getting crappier; we simply couldn’t be bothered with that option so we decided to just take a brisk touge downhill and take up Tetsu-Chan’s offer of lunch at an excellent restaurant he’s a regular at. “They also love exotic cars! I come here all the time but seeing foreigners here is very rare..“, he told us. ” He then added, “You should tell more people about this place!” So consider yourselves told!
The food was absolutely fantastic and made from the freshest local ingredients. This fish was grilled to perfection and was caught that very morning not far from where my plate was sitting. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend the LYS Cafe and Restaurant with a site that can be viewed in English.
It’s placed next door to the Lalique Museum in Hakone; a place that houses a collection of French sculptor and artist, Rene Lalique’s best glasswork. We didn’t stay for the displays but the food, surroundings and company was memorable.
There was even the surprise inclusion of this small enclosure that housed two pristine Fords, including this Model T.
Having dragged ourselves out of bed at 4am, by mid afternoon we were thoroughly buggered and looking to head back to Tokyo. Out into the carpark for the goodbyes we went and this nice sight of Tetsu-chans red 458 sitting next to my white M3 was a nice thing to part with. ( Incredibly, just 3 days ago, while out on a shoot in Kamakura, I spotted Tetsu-Chan in this car just before he peeled off the expressway! He drives it EVERYWHERE. Rumor has it, this is the highest kilometer F458 in Japan and one of the highest in the world – he’s done 37,000km’s in it, in just over 6 months!! And those kays were absolutely trouble and repair free! Ferrari, I tip my hat to you and your reliability. )
The morning had absolutely flown by so it was back onto the Tomei for the comfortable ride home in one of the most epic cars to ever come out of Germany; the E92 M3. More on the full review in the next post!
Big thanks to Manabu Kawaguchi from Love Cars, Tetsu-chan458 and Ellie Nikolova for the amazing experiences.
7Tune. The Ultimate JDM Experience Since 2005.
Words and Photos – Adam Zillin