Late spring cruising through the mountains around Okutama in a rally car (of sorts), flowers lining the touge, forest birds singing heartily, Mt. Fuji rising up into the clouds like a stoic giant covered in ice cream.
Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? Well let me take it up a notch by joining Hidaka-san and his friends as they tour their classic Porsches through mountain passes of Kanagawa and into Yamamashi.
I was invited by Hidaka-san to join the NPSC (Narrow Porsche Sports Club) touring day a few months back, and since then I’d been counting down the days. I was instructed to meet the group at 8:00am sharp at Omugishiro Parking Area on the shore of Lake Okutama. With its proximity to Tokyo and stunning mountain scenery, Okutama has been my dream place to live, even before I’d ever been to Japan.
The vibe at Omugishiro Parking Area was super chill, and with 21 classic Porsches in the group it was hard to find a bad photo. There were plenty of other interesting cars out for a drive too, and I took a quick look around here.
After we spent a good half hour or so soaking up the morning atmosphere, Hidaka-san entered the next location into my Google Maps app and we set off in convoy. Last in the procession of these perfectly maintained air-cooled Porsches, my Impreza must have looked very sad indeed.
Some of you may be familiar with Hidaka-san’s Porsche from Blake’s feature back in 2018, but, as with any project car worth its weight, there have been plenty of updates since then. I thought it was worth catching up with Hidaka-san again and checking out the new look of the car, which I’ll get to shortly.
Once we started winding our way through the mountains, I really began to feel like part of the family. I did, after all, have a boxer engine, just like the big boys in front of me. Unfortunately, engine layout is pretty much where the similarities end between the 911s and my Impreza, although Porsche was actually quite successful in the world of rally too. Maybe we’re not so different after all…
Understandably, most of the classic drivers were distinguished gentlemen who have perhaps retired and are indulging in some well-earned driving time. But there were a couple of younger participants in the group too, including this guy who looked a proper bad-ass with his crew cut, leather jacket and cherry red 911.
At the next parking area I started mounting up my camera rig. The other drivers found this incredibly entertaining; I’m pretty certain they had never seen a foreigner strap a camera to the front of an Impreza before.
At the third parking area, I started changing positions of the rig to get some more rolling shots of Hidaka-san’s Porsche. The other guys milled around stretching their legs, drinking coffee and eating ice creams.
We got our shots, but in the process Hidaka-san and I had fallen away from the group. We packed up the camera gear and agreed that we should catch back up to the pack. Even though we knew the photos would be great, I think we both felt a sense of release to be able to relax and just enjoy some driving.
The exhaust note of Hidaka-san’s Porsche was really beautiful, but most impressive was the speed he carried through the corners.
Reaching the final parking area, the sun was out and it was lovely and warm. It wasn’t until I got out of the car that I realised we had arrived at a vineyard. The location was spectacular, and surrounded by Porches, wine and mountains it really was paradise.
Unfortunately though, wine tasting was off the table for all drivers. Japan has a zero tolerance to drink driving, which is probably why so many cars stay on the road unscathed for so long here.
For those of you who dabble in the joys of the grape, I would highly recommend trying some Japanese wine, if you can find some. While it’s no competition compared to French, Australian or Chilean makers, the Yamanashi Cabernet Sauvignon gifted to me by Hidaka-san was really very drinkable, well balanced and peppery (I’m not ashamed to show my lack of wine notes lingo). Having done plenty of wine tours in Australia and the UK, it was interesting to see some of the different growing techniques, including some vineyards with 10ft high trellises.
For those of you playing at home, how many certified Carrera RSs have you spotted? One or two? Nope, currently there are four 1973 RSs in the club. I’d give my right arm for any one of them.
While everyone headed into the winery, I took the opportunity to have a good nose around the 911s I had been tracking all morning, including Hidaka-san’s machine. Apart from the obvious decal change from the last time we saw this car, there are a few mechanical changes too, including the switch from a 915 transmission to a beefier G50 unit. The wheels have also changed from 17-inch to 16-inch and the tire size from 255 to 275.
This thing is properly wild. ‘Gulf Orange’ is definitely one of Porsche’s more vibrant colour codes and gives this car real hakuryoku – impressiveness, impact, punch. Seeing it on the road was pretty unbelievable, and over a week later I’m only just realising that the whole experience was real.
The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed something else at the rear end. Yep, that’s right, you’re looking at 100mm extra width in rear arches. Hidaka-san again entrusted the work to Bodyworks DB, the shop originally tasked with creating the Mary Stuart-style whale tail. The form of the tail has been kept, it’s just been stretched out an extra 50mm on either side.
After a fantastic day of driving it was time to say our goodbyes and head back down the mountain. The drive home was equally as exciting with views of Mt. Fuji and vineyards flanking the roads. I’m sure this is not the last time we’ll see Hidaka-san’s mad creation. It is, after all, a proper project car.