Around 1970, racing events were becoming popular in Japan. Hakosuka GT-R race cars were very popular and many young Japanese people longed to be an owner of Hakosuka but new/used GT-R was so expensive at that time; that’s why K-cars were very popular for young Japanese people because one new K-car was about Y3700 ($1=81yen) for a Toyota Celica (A20, 1970 model) was $10,860USD (new car). Ford Mustang (Mach One) was $38,000USD. (If you want to know the present value for each price, multiply each price by 4.) Gas was 50yen/liter (125yen/liter now); McDonald’s hamburger was 80yen then, 100yen now. I think many people think the present price is almost same as in 70 but that’s wrong. The average of monthly income was 75000yen; now it’s 310000yen/month. In 70’s, monthly income is 1/4 of present income. If 70’s McDonald would come in 2011, hamburger would be 320yen. About $4US? Hamburger was expensive in 1970s Japan.
Honda 360 (1967-1972) was very popular K-car for young people in Japan at that time because another K-cars could make 20ps and max speed was 100km/h but Honda N360 could make 31ps and max speed was 115km/h. Spec of Honda N360 has 360cc two cylinder motor, SOHC,air-cooled motor, front engine/front drive, 4 seats; Sport model (Honda N360 Touring) has two carburetors (regular model has one carburetor). Tuning car culture was not popular in Japan. They knew race spec or stock; there was no tuning cars magazine, and only motorsport magazine talked about how to customize or tuning parts but they said these parts were race spec and expensive. But 70s young Japanese people tried to customize 360cc K-car which looked like race cars. Now, first step for tuning/customizing is put something on: coilover, body kit, aluminum wheel but 70s owner of K-car’s first step for customizing was taking off front and rear bumper.
Present car’s bumper is unify the body; 70s car’s bumper was silver color and put the body. 70s race car style was no bumper that’s why the owner of 360cc K-car like race cars and try to take off bumper. Second step for customizing for 70s 360 cc K-car owners was to put stickers. Racing Mate sticker and Vans sticker were very popular at that time. Racing Mate was very famous race car parts company at that time. Vans is famous clothes company. In 70s, American Ivy League style, which is popular fashion style for students in USA at that time was very popular for Japanese young people too. But most of American products were still expensive. Vans was selling American Ivy league fashion style clothes that’s why Vans was so popular in Japan. Many pro-race car driver’s got sponsorship from Racing Mate and Vans, and their racing suit had the emblem of Racing Mate and Vans, that’s why the stickers of Racing Mate and Vans were popular for 360cc K-car owner. I think take off bumper and put stickers is customizing, and it is very low price tuning and that’s good but I think also next step is very high for 70s 360cc K-car owner. Next step is put racing shock absorber, exhaust system and engine bore-up but they are expensive and that was illegal for public streets.
I read 1970 motorsport magazine and I found many race car parts for 360cc K-car. There are many bore up kit for Honda N360. 450cc kit, 500cc kit, 600cc kit and 1200cc kit! Honda N360’s engine is look like motorcyle engine. That sounds like easy for putting the tuning parts and develop tuning parts for Honda N360. I think that customizing Honda N360 is same feeling for customizing motorcycle. You can see Honda N360 in USA but not 360. Honda shipped N600,600cc motor to USA at that time and some people enjoy to customize Honda N600. One of customer of N600 put Suzuki Hayabusa motor (maybe not N600; that is Honda Z600 coupe) and enjoy to take part in Gymkhana racing. I know speed and horsepower is very important for sport cars. I like NSX, GT-R, Lexus LF-A, but I want the car, which is easy to customize in the garage and is low price. I think many people want the same things; that’s why Japanese K-car race and tuning is becoming more popular in Japan.