Car Life>> Izu Touring

Living in a cramped metropolis like Tokyo can be quite stressful, especially if you are into cars. I see all kinds of exotics on a regular basis around the city, all traveling at a max of 30 mph, or sitting in traffic. I don't get it. Why would you even bother? On top of the obvious show off factor, driving a sports car around built up areas in Japan is nothing short of pointless and that goes for the outskirts too, which most times are even more crowded than the heart of the city as there are far less roads available. This is precisely why I don't even bother getting my R34 out of the garage if I know it isn't going to be used in the way it deserves to be used. Dealing with a twin plate clutch and extremely low ride height makes it a pain in traffic or when you need to park, which is precisely why I have driven it very little in the last year or so. Save the monthly trip to Daikoku PA for the GT-R meeting, it has been sitting in a semi-dormant state.

But when some of my friends began talking about organizing a morning drive down to in the Izu Peninsula I knew the time had come to blow the cobwebs away and flex the "san-yon's" muscles. The meeting time was set, 5:30 am at a small Parking Area on the Atsugi-Odawara road, which would give us a very early start to avoid the packs of tourists that usually flock to the picturesque areas of Hakone and Izu. So after reluctantly managing to open my eyes at 4 am without waking up the wife, I got on the road, filled up the car with Esso's finest high octane brew and jumped on the Tomei Expressway. I met up almost straight away with Aki, the owner of the pristine Mine's tuned R33 GT-R you see above, and we proceeded to head towards Odawara to catch up with the other four cars that would join in the fun. 

Waiting for us was this stunning looking R35 and a highly tuned orange FC3S RX-7 you can just about see on the corner of the frame. I apologize for the yellow towel on the windscreen of the R34 but I was in the middle of cleaning the filthy glass when I realized I should be taking more shots! LOL

As the sun became visible over the horizon the fifth car in our group arrived, the tiny Sileighty above, passing through the toll-gates with the hazards on.

So it was then off towards Odawara to jump on the Hakone Turnpike that would take us to the top of the mountains where we could access the Izu Skyline toll road, our destination. This is the last we saw of the FC & R35 as these two guys shot away in clouds of poorly catalyzed exhaust fumes. Myself and the other two cars took it easy to conserve fuel and avoid potential sneaky undercover Police cars that continuously patrol this stretch of road.

We eventually all met up at one of the parking spots along the Izu Skyline where we gathered for a little rest and to allow the cars to cool down a little.

The parking resembled more a paddock at the local track than a rest stop on a regular mountain road! Cars kept arriving and taking off and it was still before 7 am! I especially liked that GT3 RS on black wheels, it sounded nothing short of glorious. That was one of four I saw on the day!  You got to give it to the Japanese, they know how to enjoy their cars! 

Letting the RB26 cool off. With ambient temperature already close to 30ºC and extremely high humidity it was beginning to become a scorcher of a day.

All riders had their full leathers on, and I saw a few get the knee down in the tighter bends! 

This must be the cleanest R33 GT-R in existence. Aki is nothing short of a detailing otaku and over the last year I have caught the bug too. We talk as much about racing lines and suspension settings as we do about abrasive polishes and crystal coating for our wheels. Yes, we are losers.

Finally, the blindingly fast FC was stationary, a great opportunity to grab a few shots! This thing has been fully stripped out and built up for serious action…

…and was literally killing us all on the day. At one point I was following it into a corner and it entered so fast I stupidly assumed the heavy R34 could handle the same entry speed, which of course it didn't. The brakes saved me! From then on I drove at my pace, which is always what you should do in these situations, we might have had semi-deserted mountain roads to play on but we weren't on a race track! Keep it safe I say!

Gotta love the Yokohama RG's and the big Endless 6-pots up front! 

I mean seriously, look at that! That's just not fair, LOL! Bridge-ported 13B with a big single turbo good for 500 HP (running 400 HP and low boost on the day). 

This is the view most of us got of the orange beast!

Which brings me to the R34. This is a 1999 V-spec and currently has just over 50,000 km on the clock. Only exterior mods are the Nismo Z-tune front bumper, old-school GT-R emblem and Mine's carbon mirrors. I like to keep it simple.

The bronze CE28N's were beginning to change color as the Project µ Titan HC+ pads threw out dust like no other pad I've ever seen. They also happen to be the best pads I've used on the stock Brembos and despite overheating them they still responded with enough braking force to keep things safe. I think I might have cooked the rotors too as they turned a nice shade of blue. As for the tires, the best street radial out there in my opinion, sticky Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 all the way! 

The S13 fronted RPS13 was sporting a total drifter look, with a mangled front splitter barely hanging on with a couple of zipties.

It didn't have the power to keep up with the AWD GT-Rs but I'm sure the driver was enjoying himself!

Quick flyby in front of the rest stop.

Man if only one R32 had shown up, we could have had the complete set!

The R35 that joined in the fun is fitted with a Nismo Sports Resetting ECU, which gives more power and response as well as a re-calibrated cruise control (max 140 km/h). This is the only car that could keep up with the FC! It might be heavy, but boy does it go!

Aki usually has RE30's on his R33 but thought the stock R33 seventeen's with street spec Dunlops were more suited than the Yokohama semi-slicks on the 18-inch Rays. I'm of the opinion he should change those front & side orange turn signals indicators for clear items, but his purist side disagrees with me. 

Out in action the Öhlins suspension, Nismo roll-bars and circuit links keeping the car extremely flat through the corners.

A late arrival to our group was this new-gen BMW M3, equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission.

A very fast and capable car out on the twisty roads…

…but the owner noticed that it was moving around a lot under power and braking even with the stability and traction controls on. Tricky car to drive on the limit.

A view at some of the nice places we drove through. This valley couldn't be more "Japan," with hazy mountains, thick vegetation and rice paddies.

After taking a nice long drive until the end of the Izu Skyline and then driving all the way back we returned to the rest area we were using as a base and found this beautiful Hakosuka. Nice, but we were all quickly distracted by…

…a spotless 240ZG that had rolled in for a quick break.

So there you have it. This is what "car-guys" do in Japan; they get up at 4 am, drive a few hours across beautifully smooth mountain roads and drive back home in time for lunch!

I know you guys love seeing this behind the scenes stuff from Japan, as there are no other sites that offer this kind of direct coverage. I'll be trying hard to post up more posts of this nature, giving you a deeper understanding of car culture in Japan. More to come very soon!

-Dino Dalle Carbonare



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

that 240zg looks a bit mean!


Well done Dino. You make me ashamed to not be a regular to those roads... I'd have joined you guys were it not for having to drop wife & baby to Tokyo station that morning..

Must get out more! :-)


Nice feature, Nino. It's interesting to see how the well-healed Japanese treat their hobby. Could you perhaps do a feature on Japanese homes/garages? I've always wondered how they store their cars given the huge cost of real estate.


You are the man Dino!


You are the man Dino!


Your living the life Dino.


great post Dino! keep it up!


that Z is meannn!!!


Great Article! loving that Hako and S30!

too bad no Hachi's


mmmmm...tasty last pic. Love it:)


damnn too many nice ass cars :) nice R34 and very nice M3 E92


Dino - when you drive your R34, your driving must be quite spirited :P But then again, I don't blame you :)


Getting up early to do car stuff reminds me of when I would go autoxing. It sucks getting up early, but it's fun ti be able to drive your car.


fantastic work!

a very interesting read... and great photos. :)


awesome 240ZG


I demand a feature on Dino's car!!! :P


This is awesome, thanks alot for the coverage. I seriously hope you do this another time as well, with me living in a country where it's almost forbidden to own a car, muchless a highpowered one. This gives me goosebumps!

50k on a R34.. I envy you, I really do!


beautiful pics, love the landscape over there hopefully ill visit there one day with my buddies nice R34 very clean look and loving the E92 M3 beast of a car!


Thanks once again for another fantastic article. I miss Japan and the entire auto scene, but little tastes like this keep me happy. Keep up the great work.


that really is the life.


240ZG = greatness... Dino, one word... MORE!

Good job!


Great outing. Just love as to how you can spot sweet rides around.

Btw, the rims are Yokohama Advan RS instead of RG.


Dino I have been enjoying your post since you started here at Speedhunters. Every now and then you make mistakes. For an example those wheels on the FC are Yokohama Advan RS wheels and not RG's. They discontinued the RG wheels, which are now RGII's.


Did anybody notice Lotus Europa?

Or it is not considered to be classics, like Hakosuka or 240Z? :)


Your car is almost perfect, Dino! Every time I see it on this site it makes me happy~ I think you should add a set of side skirts... it looks too unbalanced at the front!


Get up on the wrong said of bed Alex, jeez what's wrong with you, did you even read it? Nice 34 Dino I'm jealous as hell, looks as if some people can't express their jealousy in a complimentary manner!

p.S Definitely with Aki on the orange indicators, I know on lots of cars it's a must to modernize them, but that r33 is just so unbelievably clean there's just no need, keep the classic look. Same as on the front of r32s if they're in top condition Orange indicators FTW!


Keep up the good work. Awesome shots. I love that FC, must be quick and loud.


that skyline's soooo fantastic my dream car


Dino :) what's up under the hood? doesn't look like a stock RB26? you brought it to the shop lately? what did you do?


i love this shit


Great writeup Dino!

love the coverage very jdm insider hahaha, view all this things just make me wanna go to japan and work on anything!


sileighty LUV!!


Is there a place we can see better pics of the bikes? I want to see more of that Honda RVF750 Suzuka 8 Hour replica.


Haha, i totally understand where you are coming from Dino! I own an R34 and an FC, and yes, the FC is so much better at cornering.

But the Skyline is nice and practical. Spacious, comfortable, good boot space, passenger room and good fuel economy.....compared to the FC. haha!

Awesome stuff!


I love this, all of it. Thanks Dino!


desktop of that Z!


Great feture Dino! I love reading about cruses! And In Japan they seem great! I'm lucky that where i live(North East Scotland) it's not far from great twisty-mountion roads! And My AW11 MR2 Does the job! But Your R34 GT-R is Pure epic!Nice, clean and simple is the best way for R34's if you ask me! Would be great if we could have a feture on it some time soon! :D


awesome day-as-it-was writeup! so good to hear car life in the average joe way and love that FC! would love to see a desktop of it, what a beauty. nice work on that and good to see amonster but still with oem fenders, thats rare now in the press. sounds like a good day in the sun, makes me want to get outside for a drive right now!


nice coverage!


these pics look straight out of the Fast and the Furious. I wonder how Tokyo traffic compares to LA traffic, can it be any worse??


MORE!!!!!! (please?)


feature on FC?!


thats awesome... im glad you showed some Rotary love.... most people under estimate the awesome ness that is Rotary..

specially FC's.. being a FD and FC, this makes me proud. seeing some RX7 love on here...


Keep up with this beautiful blog entrys, that's what we wanna see beside all of those track/drift/show coverages.




Desktop For the FC3S Please!!!


Thanks for bringing this to us Dino, you're the man!


Hell Yeah!

The last 2 pics look great!

Nice coverage Dino.


Nice, we do a similar thing in Sydney too, but the moutain roads aren't as smooth. We'll see all kinds of cars on an early morning run from late sports cars to a pre-1925 cruise that we bumped into (almost literally with the lead car taking up the entire road to make a turn- exciting to say the least), just to make it more fun. Being home for lunch is a bonus too.

Yes, I saw the Europa, I spotted that before the GT3 and was more interested in that anyway. Such a beautiful classic car!


I wish I could have completed the set for you! Some gorgeous cars there mate, sounds like a fantastic day. I love doing cruises, it's a great way to spend the day.


any specs on what was done to the europa? that car won my heart over the first time i saw one.


Dino, any specs on that Europa? that color just rocked my world. I'd love to see if you got any rolling hi-res of it for my background.


Love this stuff and I love your R34 Dino! Thank you!


that orange fc is SO SICK

too bad there wasnt more info on suspension setup


do a shoot on the orange fc.. a video would be nice too a video not a gay ass slide show i hate slideshows unless its a SLIDE show ya know..heh.


Being a 240z owner i would most likely be distracted by the hakosuka haha


Dino, thanks for the coverage. Although when I lived there I was waaay up north, we did the exact same thing-clean the car the day/night before, wake up at some insane time, and drive wonderful mountain and valley roads so we could be back in time for the early evening. I miss Japan...


That's just amazing! We need more stuff like this around here. :)


Orange Crush-ER! What an awesome blend of Oold and New-school! 'Wish I could hear that Rotary engine whailing by!


Love these types of posts!! More! More!!


sweet writeup, im envyous about your 34, dino

but somethings bugging me about that m3

what happend with that bonnet?

on that standing-shot, it was fully closed, but on the rolling-shot abit later, its halfway opened

and yep, i agree with that sideskirt-thing

get nismo-sideskirts, and youre good to go


Thanks for sharing this! Awesome weekend drive... just bliss.


Dino, didnt your R34 go in to tomei? what were the results?


Desktop of the orange FC pleaseee, it has be heaven when you're driving that rotary


Good to see gearheads having fun halfway across the globe! You guys aren't losers man, I get up early all the time to ride before anyone else is on the roads!!!


Great feature! Thank you!


thanks for the writeup and great pictures dino, always nice to read.

re: your pads, i found my's (spec-B and HC Titan+'s) to work well but be really really dusty and squeaky. i tried endless (Na-R, Euro-X, Type-R) and found them to be even better, and a lot less dusty and noisy. though i did end up cracking my zeal slotted rotors using them..this was on my DC2R maybe try endless pads?


Thank You Dino!!!

Your posts are the best and like you said it, the Japanese are truly ones that enjoy cars to the fullest.

The dedication and commitment is 2nd to none.

That S30 is absolutely pristine !!!!!


Cant express how cool the old school GT-R badge is


It's nice to see a clean Lotus Europa over in Japan. :)


Man, you have the best job in the world...Keep these posts coming!


Living in Tokyo can take a toll on anyone; one of the most tightly packed urban areas of the world, Japan's


Endless supply of win.