Zed’s Not Dead

Modern cars are great, they really are. It really is amazing to know that when you are driving along you are protected by a myriad of acronyms that will defend you against any number of everyday motoring mishaps. There is no better feeling than turning the ignition key and knowing that your iPhone has automatically synced with the on-board computer system, connecting you with the online world.

Your ABS will stop you from rear-ending the car in front, while your ASC, AYC, EBD, TCS, VDC and XDS systems will keep you and your pride and joy on the straight and narrow whatever situation you find yourself in on your motoring day. This is a good thing! Modern safety systems have saved countless lives and I am certainly not poo-pooing them. Personally I love the ACC System on my daily driver.

But you can’t beat the feeling of really driving a car. That mechanical connection between you and the machine, Pressing your foot on the gas pedal and feeling the cable opening the throttle butterfly to let in the mixture of fuel and air. The satisfying ‘clunk’ as you shift a gear with the knowledge that you are commanding a complicated mechanical device that operates in direct relation to your exact inputs.

No matter how you look at it, modern electronic systems detract from the ultimate thrill of driving a car. That’s why I always look forward to the selection of retro cars at the Japfest show.

The statement on the duck-tail spoiler says it all. Once you have driven a classic you will never forget it.

A look around ‘Z world’ revealed some modern alternatives to the original L24 engine.

1JZ and RB26s seemed to be the weapons of choice.

They may offer more easily available power, but you just cant beat the sound of an L24 on triple Webers at full chat.

Pure S30 Heaven.

I had been looking forward to seeing a nice selection of AE86s at Japfest. Unfortunately the pickings were a little thin, with only a handful in attendance.

In Ireland you couldn’t walk five feet without tripping over one. But alas, the AE86 seems to be a rarer and rarer sight in the UK.

This track-ready, wide-arched 86 looked as mean as it gets.

The split-rim, cross-spoke rims crammed into the arches looked spot on.

This immaculate TE31 Corolla drew plenty of attention throughout the day.

It’s rare to even see one on UK roads these days, let alone an example in this sort of condition.

Lowered on 13″ rims… Perfection!

Rarer still was this Datsun Sunny Coupe, still in its period 1970s brown.

For me the gem of the show was this totally untouched A20 Celica GT.

I loved the time-warp interior. It was like stepping back into the 70s.

Japfest wasn’t all about the cars on show. As the show is held at the Castle Combe race track it would have been rude not to have a little fun on the circuit.

Track slots are highly sought after, with most spaces pre-sold before the event even began.

Strict noise regulations meant exhaust bungs and backing off a little through the noise monitored zones.

Redbrick racing were out in every session giving charity rides in a pair of ex-BTCC Civics.

Club Z bought some early track time and filled Castle Combe with the glorious howl of straight-sixes.

With so many different Japanese car clubs in attendance it was no surprise that laps were at a premium.

It was pretty impressive to watch this pair of highly-tuned Evos chasing each other round. Two of the fastest cars of the day.

Welcome to the new era in trackside media. Why bother lugging heavy, awkward camera and video equipment around with you when your smart phone can do it all for you?

The British Drift Championship ran a series of drift demos between the track slots.

Drifting may not be the most popular of motorsports in the UK, but my god does it pull a crowd at car shows.

The demos brought people out of the club areas and up to the fences to watch the drivers shred rubber around the track.

The demos weren’t limited to just BDC drivers: it was open to pro drivers from all championships. Vince Noot came along from the European Drift Championship…

…while local driver Brad Hacker came along from the Drift Allstars series. Unfortunately Brad was to have a major off in the 100mph-plus Folly section. Thankfully Brad was okay, and miraculously the damage to the RX7 was remarkably light for such a high-speed incident.

With people lining the entire track the pressure was on to put on a show, but as with all drift demos the duration was limited by the tyres. In most cases runs would only last a few laps before the cars had to get back to the pits for the hasty fitting of new rubber so they could get out before the session ended.

I hope you have enjoyed a look at Japfest 2012. I will be back at the weekend with some desktops, so if you have any requests make sure you post them in the comments.


Japfest coverage on Speedhunters.com



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Love this! I own the KE30 Corolla (the te31) Her names Lola :) Great article!


Hey Speedhunters, what happened to the feature on a fat black 240z that was posted a few days ago... and now seems to have disappeared?


On another note, the UK time attack has just had its opening round. Olly Clarke is going to be competing in a  new gobstopper 2. do you have any details yet, there is very little info on the net.


could you please do the high res shots of the third and fifth pictures?


I spot with my eye, a fly on the guy whose using a smart phone :)


it's a tough topic, the invasion of electronics... with the essence of driver feel being linked with that mechanical connection between man and machine, racked up against the passion of the engineers and designers to make the cars ever so much better, not to mention the demands of the consumers.
although having never operated a carbureted engine, I can only imagine the raw feel it must have compared to the EFI engines I've had the opportunity to experience, but the shift from conventional gear boxes to electronic automatic shifting systems is astonishing... I can't be alone in thinking it's outlandish for a "true" sports car to not have a manual gearbox. While at the same time, having tested out the 370z's syncro rev match system, it's amazing and perhaps a nice "middle ground" to switching to an automatic gearbox altogether... of course the trained driver's heel would still ache to lean over during braking and downshifting 
then of course there's the army of acronyms as mentioned in the article, attempting to attack every conceivable variable in a given driving condition
so do you stick to the classics that provide the truest of driver feel and satisfaction, but require some sacrifices from the driver (you know, things like attentiveness, practice, dedication), or do you appreciate the countless hours of R&D that have gone into the amazing machines that practically gift wrap the road for you and allow for an incredible experience with negligible effort
at the risk of downplaying technological advantages (which I respect and am amazed by), I fear I may find myself sticking with the raw input-raw delivery of the classics time and time again


Am I the only one that recognized the Pulp Fiction reference in this post title?


It's not a motorcycle baby, it's a chopper.


Really great photos, mate


This is awesome!! Im the owner of the brown Datsun B310 Coupe and am chuffed to bits to see it included in your article! :-)I also have a 1981 Toyota Corolla KE70 sitting at home waiting for some big plans to emerge :-)Thanks again and can you put my little Datty up as a Hi Res Desktop please ;-)Long Live the Old School :-)


Thanks for the shots of my n2 ae86 ross! you did miss a couple of ae86 and a carina in the fields behind quarry.. but like you say, theres very few ae86s in the uk. its always a struggle to get a large enough group together for an event. - cjau


Not that I care much but aren't you guys suppose to hide the number plates? Except for those unique ones


Hay fellas, ....does any of u guys know which bumper the first 240Z is wearing, the red and black one?


Hay fellas, ....does any of u guys know which bumper the first 240Z is wearing, the red and black one?