They say some of the most influential people are also the most modest. These are the individuals whose great work is recognized long before they are; the unsung heroes if you will. Whether you’re a newb or veteran, mention the name TRD and HKS USA to another enthusiasts and immediately thoughts of world-class tuners come to mind. You probably wouldn’t believe us if we told you Luckey Dodge of Hose Techniques, a soft-spoken old skool gearhead was responsible for bringing both to the US. And you probably wouldn’t believe us if we told you he’s a partner in GruppeM and the inventor of the “first” open-element intake on the market. Then again, you probably wouldn’t listen if we told you this humble hod-rodder helped shape the industry into what it is today. So instead, we’ll let him tell his story…
1 Please explain to our readers who you are and what you do.
I have been in the Import High Performance Industry since the 1960’s when I built 4-cylinder Healeys and Chevy Powered Healeys. I had Harvey Crane of Crane Cams in Hallandale, Florida, grind my 4-cyl Healey cams in those days. Since there weren’t many parts available for the Healey, we had to custom-make most every part. However Chevy parts were readily available. Those were in the early days of American Hot Rodding.
In 1966, I joined the USAF and was sent to Tokyo as a Tech Controller in Communications. Somewhat bored with the Air Force daily job, I went to the base hobby shop and spent most of my free time modifying my daily drivers. I had a range of cars from Datsuns, Toyotas, Hinos as well as a few Yamaha and Kawasaki bikes.
In 1968, I found a 1965 Toyopet Corona RT40 2-Door Hard Top that was rear-ended and was in need of a rear cap. It took me only 5 minutes to search out the insurance company and bid on that car. Results were that I then owned the RT40 and now what to do? Another 5 minutes while remembering my Chev-Healey days in Fort Lauderdale and I decided to find a small block 289 Ford V-8 to drop-in. A week later I found a 289 in the Motor Pool at Camp Zama. A couple of bottles of Johnny Walker to the Motor Pool’s manager landed me the 289 (which had been headed to the scrapyard anyway, so he was happy!) In its next life, the 289 would have been perhaps recycled into a Toyota! So there was now one less Toyota, which would have probably been built from the Ford Scrap Iron!
Over the next few years, towards the end of 1969, the Mustang Corona took on life. At that time, the streets of Tokyo were awakening to the sounds of my Dual Thrushes and several of the Prince C10’s (2000GT engine) took a chance to challenge me on Koshi Kaido (Route 20). Need I say more? I believe that my Mustang Corona was the first Hot Rod in Japan. During those days, the Bosozoko motorcycles and outlaw car clubs were prevalent in Japan and I was able to show them a foreigner’s idea of a hot rod. Of course the bikes could be much faster than the car, but I could not refuse a suitable challenger of the 4-wheel variety.
In 1970, I was accepted to Sophia University in Tokyo and spent the next few years acquiring a Double Major (Business and Economics) Degree. I was able to upgrade to a newer car, a Toyota Celica GT (2TG engine).
During my education at the University, I spent a lot of time with Tosco (now TRD) and HKS Japan. The export manager of Tosco, Mr. Charlie Hasegawa introduced me to the Hasegawa family of HKS in 1972. (Those 2 Hasegawa’s are not related.) So I spent my free time between Tsunashima (Tosco) and Fuji (HKS) building my Celica GT (TA22MQ) with the help from Crane Cams who supplied a Switzer 3LD Turbocharger.
Somewhere during the 70’s, probably 1975, I made a proposal to Tosco to let them know that I was finishing my studies in the next few years, and suggested to them that they consider opening a branch in USA, obviously inferring that I would like to be the one to open a new office in USA for Toyota performance products. They said they had no plans for that. Okay.
Fast-forwarding to 1979, I was preparing to return to USA, when Mr. Ishizuka, the Chief of Tosco called me to a Japanese luncheon in Ginza. I love Japanese food so I was excited by his request. To my surprise, when I arrived at the restaurant, I saw several managers from Tosco already there. I still did not yet know what was in store, but it soon became apparent! Mr. Ishizuka announced to everyone that he intended to open a new Tosco branch in Gardena, California. Another announcement was that he would like for me to be the first employee and I would be working with Mr. Ichiro (Charlie) Hasegawa! What a nice surprise!
In December of 1979, I traveled to Gardena and met with Mr. Charlie Hasegawa to open the new office of Tosco. We soon found out from the lawyers that the name “Tosco” was already taken by an oil company, so Toyota Racing Development (TRD) was selected as the new name.
Two years passed, TRD was growing and their products were becoming popular. I moved on, wanting to continue my career with more options.
HKS USA was an idea that was timely since turbo charging and other high performance products were getting popular.
About this time (1982), I was talking to the HKS brothers (the Hasegawa brothers in Fuji) about starting a company in USA dedicated to higher performance. Their idea was to use a company name of Japan Motor Sports to begin importing HKS turbo kits for the 280Z and other cars. So along with them, I started Japan Motor Sports to promote their products. As expected, I soon found out that HKS products were well- accepted in the market place. After a few more meetings with the HKS brothers it was agreed that I should start a new company with the HKS name. I called my lawyer and had him draw up the incorporation for me with the name HKS USA with me as part owner.
HKS USA was an idea that was timely since turbo charging and other high performance products were getting popular.
In 1985, I left HKS USA and formed my own company, Turbo Accessories. During this time, I used my experience from TRD and HKS to design and market high performance products to sell to Japan as well as in USA. One popular item was the design and manufacture of a high performance air filter system for the 1977-1/2 Toyota Supra turbo. This car performed well from a turbo- charging standpoint, but needed better breathing. That same year, I designed the “first” open-air filter system in the market place. Initially, I designed an aluminum die-cast adapter that fit perfectly to the Supra Air Flow meter. I found that by eliminating the restrictive Toyota air filter assembly, the engine picked up HP easily and then was able to breath at high boost.
In 1988, my company Turbo Accessories, introduced this new air filter system as the “Racing-1000” Supra Turbo Air Filter (p/n T-87-082), which used a 6.0” open-air filter (p/n RU-2960) from K&N. Soon after, my Japanese customers identified new applications and I designed and manufactured 13 different applications which I sold in Japan and USA all using die-cast adapters the standard 6.0” ID K&N Air Filter (p/n RU-2960).
These Racing-1000 Air Filter Kits were selling so well that my customer (Autolook Ltd., Japan) wanted me to re-label the die-cast adapters with the M’s logo. I also changed the filter logo to M’s K&N, so the Racing-1000 name was changed to M’s Power Filter that only sold in Japan.
In 1992, K&N USA contracted me to sell my die-cast tooling to them and allow K&N to take over the manufacturing of my Racing-1000/ M’s adapters, and sell a USA version now using the K&N name. K&N also contracted to me to CARB-certify approximately 12 or 13 filter applications that I turned over to them.
Then at the same time, my company and my partner in Japan (now called GruppeM) were given the sole rights for selling the K&N automotive filter line in Japan. It was a good trade. I guess.
During the 90’s, Autolook requested that I export silicone hoses since they needed silicone hoses to complete their air filter kits. This is when I decided to make my own silicone hoses instead of purchasing from silicone companies in the Southern California area. So about 12 years ago I started my own company called HoseTechniques.
2 What is Hose Techniques and how long has it been established?
HoseTechniques is a company that reflects its name in that we design and manufacture a vast variety of silicone hoses using the best of techniques for hoses. As well we apply our concepts to Nitrile hoses. We are dedicated to design and manufacture proper hoses for the automotive aftermarket. Careful evaluation of the application is the first step. Then certain specifications are decided on before any kind of manufacturing is started. In the case of “very high-performance” we can design extra plies of Nomex and add more silicone wall thickness as necessary. One of main goals is to provide our customers with Quality, Performance and Style as well as great customer service.
3 Is Luckey your real name?
(If not how did it come about?)
Luckey is my real name and was the surname of my grandmother. Notice it is spelled with an “e”. It has served me well!
4 How long have you been involved in the aftermarket automotive industry?
Formally since 1980 – thus 28 years professionally.
5 Are the hose technique parts easy to install?
All HoseTechniques’ hoses are easy to install since they are designed to fit industry standard pipes. Therefore HoseTechniques hoses can be used universally; it just depends on the application. Now, we understand that not everyone can know what they need without a bit of hose application education, so we are always addressing that point and provide a lot of information on our website (www.hosetechniques.com). We at HoseTechniques are always available to discuss with the customer his particular application.
6 Can I have some silicone hoses for my car?
If we have the application. If we do not, then we can design one for your application.
7 What advice do you have for our readers that want to get into the auto industry?
First, have the interest in the auto-motive world, take entry level jobs in this industry, read all of the magazines, practice on your own car, join car clubs. In short, learn, learn, learn. Get involved. Plan your career. Be productive for yourself and those around you.
We are living in a great time. Opportunity is what you make of it. Just always be prepared, think ahead, continue to learn and enjoy what you do.
8 What upcoming trends do you see that are getting popular now?
Radiator hose and upgrade turbo hoses are popular in the hose business, but stay tuned.
9 Are you working on any special projects right now?
Yes, the R35 hoses for the new GT-R. I am also making turbo hoses and water hoses for an upscale Audi tuner.
10 What are some memorable projects that you have had or worked on?
Chevy-powered Austin Healeys in Fort Lauderdale; in Tokyo my Mustang Corona; and in California, pioneering the design of the hi-performance air filter system.
11 What were you doing when you lived in Japan?
12 What was your involvement with HKS USA and TRD USA?
13 What is your role in K&N Japan?
14 Can I have a Gruppe M Filter, Supercharger and Exhaust for my NSX?
GruppeM sells through other importers; we are a true silicone hosemaker and are not involved in importing from GruppeM.
15 What is the difference between your T-bolt clamps and others?
Our T-bolt clamps are 100% stainless steel clamps, including the bolt, trunnion and nut. It is interesting to point out that the stainless nut is silver-plated for lubricity; it helps to prevent galling between the stainless nut and stainless bolt. Purposely, all edges of the stainless band are rounded at the factory, to prevent the band from cutting into the silicone hose. Rounded edges protect your silicone hose investment. Beware of sharp-edged clamps.
16 What are some of the perks of your job?
Designing hoses and traveling to Japan and meeting very interesting people with similar interests.
17 Do you carry any other items besides silicone hoses?
18 What changes would you like to see in our industry?
More young people, well actually people of all ages, getting involved in designing new things for the ever-changing automotive world
19 How will the economy and the gas prices affect our market?
It will definitely have a sobering affect across the board, but also will present challenges that we as a people can rise up to. My hope is for people to take an interest in the economy and take action to help overcome any limitations presented to us. I think right now we are being presented with great opportunities to improve the way we live and move about.
20 Any last words you would like to say to our readers?
We are living in a great time. Opportunity is what you make of it. Just always be prepared, think ahead, continue to learn and enjoy what you do. Also, go for quality, learn the economics of quality: it may cost more initially but provide you better service, longer product life and you’ll be better in the long run by not compromising in quality for low cost.
21 Can you sponsor my NSX?
Perhaps. How big of a sticker will you put on your car?