Beyond Drifting: Notes From The East


Why is Japanese car culture so appealing? Is it because the Japanese take things, copy them, create them for themselves with a higher quality and more creative twist? Is it that they make art out of the tiny details that non-Japanese might not even notice? Is it that they value simplicity over everything? Whatever it is, whenever we delve into the things Japanese folks have created with cars, we find a fistful of things we enjoy immensely. Here’s our latest digest of cool Japanese stuff.

Honda City Turbo

Honda City Turbo

The Honda City Turbo was a pint-sized hooligan the essential 1980s edition of a Group B inspired everyman car. We can even forgive that it morphed into the Jazz. The car was introduced in September 1982. It was powered by a turbocharged version of the 1.2 Honda engine. Pininfarina designed a drop-top Cabriolet utilised the wider fenders and bigger bumpers of the Turbo II “Bulldog”, but was only available with the naturally aspirated 67 PS (49 kW) engine. Rare as hen’s teeth these days. And wonderful.

Initial D Motor Oil

Takumi Motor Oil has released a branding partnership with Shuichi Shigeno – the creator of legendary Manga character Initial D. Any drift obsessives out there – and many of us with a general obsession with Japanese popular culture – will know how the Initial D franchise spread the drift aesthetic around the world. We personally would love to get hold of some tins of this bad boy.

An image of Datto San


Makoto Komori is a Japanese children’s author who incorporates classic Japanese cars as characters, who find themselves on brilliantly drawn adventures. One of his most popular titles is the Datto-San series, which centres around a bright red SR311 Datsun Sports roadster. Datto-san has a couple of companions who join him on his adventures — a yellow Honda S800 named Esuhachi and a green Honda N360 named Enukoro. In the first book the trio rescue a red Toyota Sports 800 named Yotahachi that’s been kidnapped by car thieves. The book was so popular that Komori then wrote a sequel, in which the cars are equipped with turbines that let them travel across the sea.

Overhead view of lots of Toyota Land Cruisers

70 years of the Land Cruiser

The first Toyota Land Cruiser went on sale on August 1, 1951. That’s 70 years of the bulletproof beast. Toyota celebrated by launching the mind-blowing C300 Edition of the totemic workhorse and also announced that FJ40 would be the first Land Cruiser to join the company’s programme of reproduction parts. Everyone has their favourite Cruiser. We dig the boxy 60 Series the most – and apparently the new edition takes much of its magic proportionality from the 80 series. This is the car you would want to take you through the zombie apocalypse. We love them. We’ll take ours in beige, please. With black steel wheels.

The original Silvia as an electric vehicle concept

Original Silvia reimagined as an Electric Car

As if to take us right to the start of it all, Nissan design have re-imagined the original Silvia as an EV. You can see the sculpted inspiration here – and the general raked three box stance and the gorgeously curved glass work. Who knows whether this will ever emerge into production – but it’s clear that Nissan as a company have never been afraid to refer to their past design strategies.