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Tetsus Tales August 2013

Straight Outta J-Pan. Engrish From Our Man In Japan. Read If You Dare.

Oct 5, 2013

There are key people behind the Japanese famous sport car scene. They are not pro-race car drivers; they work for Japanese car companies. They know what sport cars are and have strong beliefs. That’s why sometimes executives of car companies don’t like them but sport car market support their beliefs and now their sport cars are still popular in Japan and USA. Japanese car magazines and Japanese business magazines sometimes make story about them, and that’s why they are famous for Japanese car guys. Mr. Ken Hashimoto and Mr. Shigeru Uehara were engineers for Honda. They developed new test track in Hokkaido (North of Japan) for developing sport cars and then Honda started to developed Type R cars. Ken Hashimoto developed NSX, Formula One and NSX GT race cars for taking part in 24 hours of Le Mans (Keiichi Tsuchiya drove it in 1995) and got win in GT2 class in 1995. Shigeru Uehara developed NSX/Type R, Integra Type R and S2000 CR. Mr.Hashimoto and Mr. Uehara’s beliefs for developing sport cars is correct that’s why NSX Type R cars and S2K are still popular in sports car market. Both of them made the style of Honda’s sport cars but they retired and Honda doesn’t sell NSX/Type-R cars and S2000 anymore. Honda will sell new NSX and new Civic Type R in two years. Will Mr. Hashimoto and Mr. Uehara like them?

Mr. Hirotaka Tachibana and Mr. Takao Kijima were engineers for Mazda and they developed RX-7 and Miata. They like Miata very much and think the concept of sports car should be fun to drive, not expensive, not making fastest lap time and not big horsepower. Key word of Miata is “oneness between horse and rider”. Both of them retired Mazda but their ideas are still alive. Some Japanese car magazines say next Miata will have 1.5 liter motor, FR layout and that Mazda will make Alfa Romeo’s next sports car, which base model is new Miata. Some Japanese car magazine says new Alfa Romeo sport car have 1.8-liter or 2.0-liter turbo motor. I like small sport cars; that’s why I am looking forward to seeing new Miata.

Mr. Hiromu Naruse was master test driver of Toyota but he died when he drove Lexus LF-A for testing in traffic accident in Germany in 2010. Toyota’s engineer and Mr. Akio Toyoda (CEO of Toyota) follow Mr. Naruse’s belief that’s why Toyota sell Lexus LF-A and Toyota 86 (Scion FR-S). Toyota built one concept car which was compact hatchback car, which had FR layout with 1.5-liter motor. That looked like new KP61 Starlet which was Mr. Naruse’s favorite car. Some Japanese car magazines say Toyota will sell 1.5-liter FR sports car. I think Mr. Naruse would have liked it and I am looking forward to seeing it.

Mr. Kazutoshi Mizuno is the chief vehicle engineer of R35 GT-R. He developed 350Z in 2002 and retired Nissan in March 2013. Many people were surprised but he did it to make way for younger people to advance in the company. Mr. Mizuno has future plan for GT-R, which means developing is never-ending, Mr. Mizuno says he would work for any car company that have same funds and same technical skills as Lexus. GM, Ford, Chrysler or Hyundai will make sport car that is faster than GT-R? Maybe if they hire him!

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