I’ve had a thick envelope sitting on my desk for a week now. A quick peek inside revealed three freshly printed copies of the latest issue of Motor Head, but after realizing what they were I put the package down and to one side. I do this often with good magazines; unless I have time, I don’t even start to go through the pages, and that is especially the case with this particular publication. In its close to two years, every single issue has amazed me…
… from its layout, quality of print, choice of stories and photography, I have never faulted it in any way. Like you would for a hand-rolled cigar or a glass of aged whiskey, you take the time to savour it – which is exactly what I did on Saturday morning. Issue 08 certainly didn’t let me down, so let’s take a quick look through its pages.
After yet an incredible experience at Gatebil this year, I couldn’t help but dedicate my column to this bonkers event in the hope that Motor Head‘s Japanese readers will begin to understand what it’s all about. I doubt I’m not the only one that is thinking this, but how cool would it be to have Japanese tuners or drifters participate in one of these gatherings in the future? I know which cars and drivers I’d like to see there!
As always next to my page you can find an ad for our Speedhunters Collection.
Takada-san, Motor Head‘s editor, is one of the most focused people I’ve come to know in this industry. His knack for coming up with unique stories and angles never ceases to amaze me, and this Jota SVR (yes it’s a replica) versus a Wolf Countach comparison was one I kept going back to for another look.
The photography, courtesy of Koichi Shinohara, was of course breathtaking. To get a shot like this in central Tokyo you need to shoot at between 3.00am and 4.00am, and that’s precisely what the team did to get this on-ramp image of their two cover cars entering the C1.
As the cover suggests there are many legendary cars in this issue.I can’t believe they managed to hunt down an authentic F40LM – one part of what can only be described as an insane collection.
A long drive across the country down to Hiroshima allowed Motor Head to immortalize yet another very special car from history – one of only 53 Jaguar XJR-15 ever produced.
You can always expect to find a great mix of cars, and following the many pages of unobtainable legends there are a few features on another type of legend: the drivers themselves.
I was very happy to see that Under Suzuki made it into Motor Head. He is as much of an important personality as any famous and successful Japanese driver, even more so now that he is ‘The King of Tsukuba’ in a car that he built and maintains himself.
Here is one guy I’d love to have a sit down with myself. For close to a decade he was known as ‘Mr. GT-R,’ a key figure in the development team that spawned the R34 Skyline GT-R and the true father of the R35 GT-R. Mizuno-san has now retired from Nissan and in the story tells things as he sees them, in no way barred from discussing controversial issues that he couldn’t touch on when he was employed by the car maker.
The reason I like issue 08 more than any of the others that have come before it is because of the ‘Love the GT-R’ collection of stories starting off with a car that I will be shooting myself very soon. The ultimate R35 GTR? Motor Head certainly thinks so!
Next up we find another special R35 – the first every GT-R to set a sub-minute lap time at Tsukuba. Since Tanabe-san’s passing back in 2008, Power House Amuse has been taken over by the company’s chief mechanic, Matsui-san, who earlier in the year took the car to Nardó in Italy with Option magazine and recorded a top speed of 373 km/h.
For the third and last GT-R feature the team headed to the W-Base BMX shop in Shibuya to check out the show-oriented R34 that is owned by the company’s president. Not often you see a san-yon on 20-inch wheels!
In every issue you can expect to find some kind of well-known Japanese personality. This time around Motor Head coupled actor Hitoshi Ozama of School Wars fame with the Branew G55 AMG.
A few pages later you’ll find an interview with KW’s Oliver Scherbaum who talks about the various coilover packages the aftermarket suspension maker offers. KW’s DDC kits that we saw in detail last year, are of special interest to Japanese customer as they allow for an upgrade without sacrificing the on-the-fly adjustability everyone expects in modern cars these days.
Another cool feature is Motor Head‘s own little trip to Dubai for a look at the crazy car culture that exists out there.
It doesn’t really matter if you can read Japanese or not, Motor Head continues to impress with its broad, yet edgy coverage of all the things that make the Japanese car scene so special.
Dino Dalle Carbonare
@LouisSoon Yeah in summer. The Japanese don't believe in daylight saving time, they prefer to have complete darkness at 6 in the evening but have light when 98% of the country is still at sleep lol
@speedhunters_dino Dino is Motor Head available in English? I would love to subscribe, if that's possible
They have some incredible car magazines, and I used to know how to read a bit of Japanese, so maybe I will order a copy.
Also, I saw a Miura SV Jota - a real one - about 15 years ago. I think this is s/n 4934, which is the ex Shah of Iran, and now ex Nicholas Cage car.
if i had the money i'd be willing to fix all the XJR-15's problems, which ultimately is just that they decided that the engine really should be mounted about eight feet above the car. i'd hate to let that engine go but i'd be willing to do it if it wouldn't fit lower and that's why they stuck it so high up. plus i'd sort of like to go scandinavian and give it an engine that doesn't belong in a racing jaguar, like an enormous flat 12 from one of the later Testarossas (nobody cares about the 512M, right?)
@ComJive Well looks like Jaguar has learned from its mistakes if the C-X75 is anything to go by
@ComJive You seem to forget that the XJR-15 won Le Mans in it's XJR-9 guise and almost did the same again as a Nissan R390. Nowt wrong with the chassis or engine configuration. It was all down to the ride height that TWR set for the three race series it was built for. Stick it in the air... makes for humorous racing and lots of door banging.
@ComJive Good point Phil
Don't forget the terrible, awful Bridgestones they used, from the back of some F40s.
I take issue with the claim that the 15 was a Le mans success, though.The XJR-15 has little in common with either the XJR-9 or the R390s other than that its monocoque is a wider, taller version of the one in the 9, to allow for more interior space, and that the same monocoque was later used for the R390. The engine was vastly different, displacing a litre less than the 7.0 in the 9, and having only a group C bottom end in common with it. The suspension components were also different, being a bit softer, more suited for lumpy english roads because of TWR's firm insistence that it be a road-going racer (and also that they jacked the car to dizzying heights as you said)
Furthermore, when the car was built into the R390, it again received a new engine (a VRH35L V8 this time), and only shared the monocoque with the 15, everything else being bespoke to the Nissan
They're all brilliant cars that I like very much, but it's a bit like saying that a late '90s Mitsubishi Mirage is an excellent rally car because the Lancer Evo 6 won some rallies. They have things in common, but the important bits are different
I hope that this doesn't seem as hostile to you as it does to me, I'm not trying to have a fight here
Dino, how is your Japanese? Can you read the mag in its entirety? Just curious. Also, it is interesting to see KW getting so much attention over here recently. There was a short article in last months Revspeed that has almost the same picture as this months Motor Head.
@roryfjohnston Wish I could. I can read but not at that level unless I arm myself with an e-dictionary and take a day haha. KW is doing well in Japan, people are really appreciating the quality of their products and the undeniable results they continuously have in motorsports
Dino... wasn't Tsutchiya's the circuit record at Tsukuba?If i don't recall bad he lapped it around the 51 seconds with the 2002 ARTA NSX.
@JDM_Luca Yes but that was a race car, Suzuki drives a tuned street car (well you can hardly call it that now but you get the point)
I might buy some Motorhead issues this year. With my current level I think (I hope !) I could be able to read them. :3
If not I'll just look at the pictures and read the titles until I can actually read everything. Good for studies ! : D
@Aisakey Anything helps!
i'm going to learn japanese someday just to be able to read such things like this magazine. a mountain worth climbing
@mike or indeed just enough to understand with help from an e-dictonary. Kanji is a horror and a reward at the same time.