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The Drive In Automotive

JTCars Japan Classics @ Sepang F1 Circuit

December 23, 2014

Last Sunday's outing was a bit different. Instead of bringing the modern hyper toys, this round we brought out a fleet of Japanese classics. Thanks to the invitation from ZerotoHundred, we took out a few toys from the collection to join their TimeToAttack event. Of course these were not going to race head to head with the modern sports cars that participated, but that doesn’t mean our ensemble were only show ponies back in the days...

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Presenting the 1966 Honda S800 Roadster. Predecessor of today's S2000 which with the famous 9000rpm redline. But back in the days, the S800 in race trim was already revving to 10,500rpm, for up to 12 hours.

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Next up, the Datsun 240z. Immortalized by countless Japanese comics and anime, in reality it took on the rest of the world namely in America securing many racing successes, even against names like Porsche and Ford.

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Our Toyota Celica Supra MK2 made its debut at this event. With a torquey 2.8L Inline-6 engine, this Performance version came with extended fender flares and wider wheels.

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The immaculate Celica TA22 GT makes its appearance in public for the second time now. Together with its younger sibling the Celica RA28 Liftback, both dominated street and sprint races in 70’s Japan. Mimicking the fastback models from Ford, the RA28 was popularly called the Japanese Pony Car and the name stuck through the ages.

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The RX7 Savannah SA22C represents the era of rotary dominance. With a potent small displacement engine, Mazda took on many industry giants gaining success in motor racing. As recent as 1991, Mazdaspeed took victory at the 24 hours of Lemans, which resulted in the Rotary engine’s subsequent ban from FIA racing globally.

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The JDM Celica GT-Four RC also known as Carlos Sainz Limited Edition for export models, represents Japan’s effectiveness in WRC series. The ST185 from 1992 to 1994 dominated the field winning 16 full WRC series, 3 Overall Championship Winners in W2L, 3 WRC Driver Tittles from 1992-1994.

To commemorate this stunning achievement, the Celica GT-Four RC was bestowed with a water to air intercooler, more effective hood to redirect air out of the engine, intake cooling for the cam belt, a lighter bumper with more air intakes, shorter gear shift and clutch travel, triple cone synchro for 2nd and 3rd gears, all inspired from the rally campaigns.

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The final car to come along this journey was the AutoZam AZ-1. Representing the end of the Kei Car era, this most complex and expensive variant pushed the envelope of turbo charging small capacity engines to keep the genre alive and competitive.

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So this motley crew took up the challenge and journeyed 80kms to Sepang F1 Circuit. The smaller engines cheekily enjoyed on the transporter service while the 240Z, Supra and GT-Four RC when on all fours.

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Though they may have been around for a few decades, thanks to their mechanical state, all of them drove like a dream as if just leaving the showroom floor. The 240Z was very talented covering ground at pace. Its steering feel was sublime. So was the Supra, with its wide stance keeping planted at high speeds. The GT-Four RC was hungry, eager to sprint at a moment’s notice.

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picture credits- hayashi86.com

Safely at the track, the tinies were unloaded and all went basking for a few hours. Some talented pictures were taken, and we credit them here. Looks like the company handphone camera maybe seeing an end to its reign. Any sponsors are most welcome.

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picture credit - hayashi86.com

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picture credits - Bee Horng Jian

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picture credits - Hussein

Late afternoon, we were given a special treat. To parade these heritages in front of the aspiring track fleet present. One by one all fired up like clockwork and we headed on to track. One thing is very clear, Sepang looks much wider in them classic as opposed to the frequent GT3s and Scuderias.

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picture credits - Hussein

Another achievement, being able to do 4 runs in front of the main straight. Of course we were not going all that “fast”, but our expendables could complete a lap of the 5.7kms circuit too… probably.

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It was a beautiful feeling none the less. Imagining the elder legends at our helm, unbeknownst to us, them keeping their racing adventures a secret. By bringing them back on the track, maybe their glorious past could be rekindled.

And if they were humans now, tears would shed, thinking of the yesteryears. An ode to the past, present and future, it was our pleasure to pilot you.

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