Over the years Japanese manufacturers have produced some fantastic cars ranging from tiny 600cc “Kei” cars designed to fit into the tiny spaces of congested cites like Tokyo to powerful continent crossing GT cars and four wheel drive saloons that have been written into legend in the pages of rallying history. The modification and culture surrounding these cars is just as diverse; from period correct restomods to track cars that produce obscene horsepower figures for their displacement from massive turbochargers. Japfest was, and continues to be, a celebration of that culture.
Now, before we get started I must confess that a lot of my knowledge of Japanese cars has been replaced with pre-war machines and old Mercedes, so I apologise for any mistakes I may make and please feel free to correct me!
I’ve not been able to get up to Donington Park for the show for a few years now. 2012 was in fact the last time I went. Logistically Donington is super easy to get to and since East Midlands Airport is literally just up the road there are plenty of hotels nearby too. If you’re mad and go by train like I did, the East Midlands Parkway station sits in the foot print of a nuclear power plant. You are literally in stones throw of the massive cooling towers! It’s not an opportunity you get too often.
As I stated above Japfest plays host to a huge range of cars ranging from things like this Time Attack styled hatchback Impreza:
To things like this humble K11 Micra:
The K11 is actually a really underrated little car! The perception is that you have to be either 17 or 170 to own one of these but they in my eyes are a Japanese Rover Mini. They are tiny, weigh nothing, are very easy to maintain and with a drop and a nice set of wheels look really good too! Most of these little things are scrapped or have simply rotted into the ground. I doubt it, but they might be collectable sometime in the future!
Another tiny Japanese car that has my heart is the Starlet Glanza V. From factory these were powered by a 1.3 litre turbo charged inline 4 making 130hp, more than quick enough in something that weighs as much as a packet of crisps. People have modified them to make upwards of 250hp which is just insane!
Most of the cars I seemed to capture were Imprezas and Evos. You might not know this but I used to be a huge Scooby fan boy lol! I’d still have one today but finding a clean, unmodified, turbo, 4WD, manual car seems to be nearly impossible!
There was also an Evo present with Assassin’s Creed artwork airbrushed down the flanks! Beautiful work! Does anyone know if this car is still about?
Somebody had also built a Vauxhall Nova with a Subaru STI running gear! I bet this was so much fun to drive! Novas, for some reason, a worth a fortune now! It would be fun to do something similar to an early Corsa B though!
Talking of unusual and probably difficult to fabricate swaps Steve Baggsy was there giving passenger rides and doing demos in the Japspeed 2JZ powered Impreza drift car!
He wasn’t the only one from BDC doing demos, Mark Lappage was there.
As was Matt Carter
And Marc Huxley who always makes amazing drift cars from unusual and classic chassis’. This was his KE70 Corolla but he has also made a Volvo 240 and a mid 1970s Toyota Celica (RA29?)
This Acorn Insurance S13 drift car was also there on display.
Now, the car is powered by an SR20 which looks to be in the factory mounting location yet the shifter is really far ahead of the factory cut out. Does anyone have any further info? What gearbox might this be?
Japfest isn’t all about modified cars though. There are some stock examples of classic Japanese machines to be seen. This R34 Skyline for instance and this NSX. Two amazing cars in their standard form.
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