Go Japan! is a celebration of Japanese automotive culture held at Brands Hatch in Kent.
2021 was the second running of the event, the first you can read about here: https://motorsportformentalhealth.com/2020/09/14/go-japan-2020/
One of the sponsors for Go Japan! is Kent Models. If you’ve been following this blog for my Instagram you’ll know that I make models of all sorts of things. It’s a hobby that really kept me going through the Covid-19 pandemic whilst I haven’t been able to travel. It was great to see so people taking an interest in their stand and so many kits being brought. I hope that if anyone reading this brought their first kit at the show, I hope you enjoy the build and please feel free to get in touch if you think I can help with anything!
This years celebration focused on Honda’s Civic, which is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary.
Whilst Honda had exported cars to markets outside of Japan, the Civic was the first to really successfully make an impact on other markets. In Europe the car would compete with the Mk1 Fiesta, the Mk1 Golf and the Renault 5, but in the U.S the car would really shine. The 1973 oil crisis made fuel efficient, small cars really attractive to the American buyer. Boasting just shy of 30mpg the little Civic was the most fuel efficient car available to that market, and they sold really well!
In 1970 the ‘Clean Air Act’ was passed by Congress which would require a 90% reduction in vehicle emissions by 1975 and Richard Nixon set up the EPA, which would implement this reduction. Domestic manufacturers were battling to lower their emissions by developing expensive systems which drove up the price of new cars. However, Honda’s CVCC series of engines naturally met the EPA’s requirements; which was good for both the environmentally friendly customer and those watching their budget.
Moving forward, the Civic has become the sixth best selling car of all time with over 18 million vehicles sold.
In terms of motorsport they’ve always been campaigned by Honda in a number of different championships, but as time has passed they have really become popular in both grass roots motorsport and modified culture, with loads of off the shelf upgrades and parts interchangability that makes putting higher performing engines from other Hondas into the Civic platform fairly straight forward.
Go Japan! had two series, each running two races each at the event; the Tegiwa Type R Trophy and the Miltek Sport Civic Cup.
Of course there were plenty of Civics in the show and shine area as well. From the original all the way up the current model.
There were a fair number of Honda’s other cars on display too. There was a nice display of NSXs which was really popular all day, so much so I couldn’t get an opportunity to photograph the cars, along with Preludes, Accords, CRXs and a number of S2000s.
The BTCC Halfords Honda Integra was also at the show, which was really cool to see in person.
There were of course cars from all sorts of Japanese brands at the show. There were even a couple of Suzukis. The tiny Cappuccino sports car and a first generation Ignis.
Speaking of tiny sports cars, there was an Autozam AZ-1. This is the first time I’ve seen one in person and it is really small! Its roughly the same size as an MG Midget, if not slightly smaller.
There were a number of rotary Mazdas. It was nice to see a pair of the early FB RX7s. There aren’t too many of them about.
There were of course a huge amount of Nissans on display.
I knew the 350Z and V35 Skylines were related but I didn’t know they were both built on Nissan’s FM platform. Which would you prefer? I’m more of a fan of the V35, it’s a little more unusual.
A Chevrolet V8 in a Nissan chassis is a very popular swap in the States. It’s nice to see one over here.
Of course there were lots of S-Chassis’. The S13-S15 is massively popular for modification and motorsport, most notably drifting.
This S13 was my favourite of them. It’s been so tastefully done.
The Nissan Pao. These are basically a K10 Micra with a more interesting body. I genuinely want one, they’re so unusual!
I’m not actually sure what this is, but it’s kinda cool!
There were a couple of really nice original Skylines. I know that they’re a fantastic platform to modify, but it’s nice to see some being preserved. The R34 four door would make a lovely everyday classic car.
Finally for the Nissans, and I’m saving the best for last, was this stunning Datsun Bluebird 1600SSS coupe.
The other manufacturer with a large presence was Toyota. There were a number of the new GR Yaris. These are a bit of a phenomenon; over 250bhp and four wheel drive in a car that weighs just 1280KG makes for an entertaining package. Supply can’t keep up with demand at the moment and there are examples up for sale for more than what Toyota will charge to build you one.
We won’t focus on modern cars for too long I promise, but it was nice to finally see a Mk5 Supra here in the UK! I saw plenty at SEMA 2019, which you can read about here: https://motorsportformentalhealth.com/2019/11/19/the-supras-of-sema-2019/
There were several Mk4s and a Mk3 on show.
The Soarer was never as popular as the Supra, which is a shame as it’s a fantastic grand tourer. I’d still love to own one, but prices are going up.
The lovely little MR2 speedster from last year also returned. I’m a big fan of this little car.
Back on track there was the UK Time Attack Championship.
Time Attack is basically a competition for the fastest lap time. There are a number of classes which means that just about everything can compete from standard production cars all the way up to purpose built cars with crazy aero and lots of horsepower.
It’s not wheel to wheel racing, but it’s still a lot of fun to watch, and to see the pro cars at full chat is very impressive!
The cars were split into 3 groups. The first two were mixed classes and the third was a ‘Pro 4WD’ class.
Of the first two groups, the Gizfab Micra and the Ford Fusion were my favourites. Two really unusual cars to see on a track. I will be a bit of a scroll to the Pro 4WD cars I’m afraid!
Finally the Pro 4WD cars.
Julian Smith’s BLITZ R34 (It’s hard to believe I saw that car in person for the first time over 10 years ago! I’m old!) and the HKS Hiper Genki S15 were a part of the ‘JDM Legends’ line up and were doing drift demos along with a number of cars from the UK Drift Championship. Here are all the cars parked up.
And on the move! Seeing drift cars going round Druids is pretty spectacular!
All in all it was a really nice, chilled day. There was a nice variety of cars and things going on. Looking forward to next year already!
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By Richard Francis