Hitting The Touge In Spoon’s Type R Killer

Can a tuned, base model new Civic be as fun – and as fast – as a Type R?

That’s the question Spoon wants us to ask ourselves about the FK7 Civic. Undoubtedly, the new FK8 Civic Type R has been a huge success; since launching in 2017 demand has been strong for the high-power hatch, and only very recently did the new Renault Megane steal the Nürburgring FF crown.

But those of us with a bit of grey in our hair will remember a time when Type R simply meant less weight, more RPM, stiffer everything, no variable suspension or drive modes, and certainly no turbocharger. The good ol’ days, it seems, are dead.

So where does that leave the multitude of tuners who built their business on the back of Honda’s particular performance recipe? It seems to me like the modern day boosted Honda owner might not look as quickly to names like Mugen, J’s Racing or Spoon as they once did.

I decided to visit Spoon to find out.

Although we’re talking modern turbocharged Hondas today, there are still plenty of classic hits from the big H to be enjoyed at the Type One HQ in Suginami-ku .

The simply awesome Spoon S660 I’d driven a year ago has had its development finished, and was resting on the second level storage rack.

I spent what felt like hours poring over this NSX engine, which powered the Spoon NSX-R at the Macau GP back in the day. Dino did a feature on that car in 2011. With 3.5-litre capacity and plenty of trick bits (like the Toda individual throttle bodies you can see here) it made over 400hp – Project NSX was getting serious engine envy.

It’s always a pleasure just spending time at Type One; there’s never a shortage of interesting cars and car parts to check out.

The current model Civic isn’t a car that instantly drew me in with its slightly awkward angles when I first saw it back in 2017. However, seeing this white example hunkered down over a classic Spoon wheel design did get me a bit excited.

Most of the development work for the FK7 has been led by 20-year Spoon veteran Daisuke Jomoto between racetracks in Japan and the US. This very prototype has already lapped Tsukuba faster than the current production Type R, an undoubtedly impressive feat.

Daisuke handed me the keys, apologised for the noisy diff (a prototype LSD), and I was on my way.

To put the Spoon FK7 through its paces I’d be leaving the confines of the Tokyo metropolis and heading north, passing through the city of Nikko and into the mountains that form the natural border around the Kanto region.

The scenery up here is beautiful, and the area is a popular weekend getaway for Tokyoites – in winter for the ski fields, and in spring/fall for the spectacular transitionary colours of the native flora. Summer is a bit of a dead season, which makes it the perfect time to come in search of touge.

The miles of perfect highway stretching north of Tokyo revealed very little about the Spoon FK7. Many of the creature comforts including the stereo have been deleted from this demo car, and the stock driver’s seat binned in favour of a carbon-Kevlar Spoon bucket with about as much padding as a newspaper on a church pew. I suspect some sound deadening had been removed too, as I had only my thoughts and the constant thrum of the Bridgestone Potenza RE71R’s sticky outer carcasses to listen to.

Comfortable it most definitely is not, but that’s not a parameter this car is built with any concern for.

It should rather be judged on how quickly one can get from point A to B, and how much fun the driver has extracting that performance. Thankfully, I found just the roads to make that judgement.

Continue to full article…

Old School Imports Hawaii: Everything You Need

Hawaii is not a place I associate with old school JDM cars, or really anything other than lifted 4x4s and dorky dads in convertible rentals that obviously come with any tourist territory. However, after being in Oahu just a few days, it became clear that these islands have everything you need, car culture included.

Trevor and I got a taste of this last year, so we knew that there are a number of really nice modified cars on the island of Oahu. But we didn’t know what to expect when we headed out to a meet in Pearl City last Saturday night, as organized by Tommy Dolormente.

Tommy kindly invited us out to see what the Oahu has to offer, and helped round up an extra strong group of cars for the evening. Trevor and I were pleasantly surprised when we rolled up to the outer edge of a Walmart parking lot in the center of the island and straightway spotted some of our favorite cars.

‘Old School Imports Hawaii’ was inadvertently started by Tommy and his friends when a handful of guys donated gifts to a toy drive and were required to report their ‘club’ name. In reality, Tommy says the group is not a club or a crew, so to speak, but rather a community and family of people who love old, quirky cars.

The OSIxHI crowd definitely has a long-term relationship feel to it; it was almost like we were witnessing an extended family barbeque rather than a car meet. And although there was no slow cooking of meat here, the meet was ultra-mellow and inviting in stereotypical Hawaiian fashion.

There were also no burnouts or cops getting involved, instead just a group of friends doing what they love to do most. There might not have been a row of numerous NSXs or modded RX-7s, but I felt like at least one of everything you needed showed up.

Some of my all-time favorite models made an appearance too, so allow me to take you on a quick tour of my personal picks…

Continue to full article…

2017 Ford F450- The Alpha Dually

And Then There Was ONE

Phil GordonDec 13, 2019
When the name of your vehicle starts with the word “Alpha”, you better have something unique that helps creates a trend or at least something better than most. Josh Burnett succeeded with his 2017 Ford F-450 Platinum dually in both of those categories. Josh grew up in East Texas and custom trucks were just a way of life. The first time he remembers seeing a custom truck was at the age of ten, “I remember my family friend Shawn Hickey coming by my house with his custom Ford truck,” Josh tells Truckin, “I don’t even know why, I just know he stopped by, and I was mesmerized.”
Growing up in a very low-income area, Josh couldn’t afford a truck to drive and call his own, so he learned what he could about trucks and began building them for other people to earn money. At fifteen, Josh purchased his first truck, a Dodge Ram that was a “piece of junk.” He continued learning more about custom trucks and building them for all his friends. Josh eventually went through about sixty different vehicles before walking into the dealership in Decatur, Texas, and purchasing his 2017 Ford F-450.
In the past, Josh had been commissioned to build trucks for the SEMA show, but as luck would have it, the trucks weren’t able to make it. Once he got his new Ford Platinum home, he decided to guarantee this build would make that long trip. Josh started to search around for companies to help with the build or add him to their booth. The first company to take interest was American Force Wheels out of Miami, Florida. A set of 28-inch American Force Fury were chosen out of their newest catalog by Josh to outfit the rig.
He enlisted Stephen Bayles from B&C Off-Road in Pasadena, Texas, to handle all the heavy work of lifting the brand-new F-450. Fury Off-Road Tires got on board and the tires were sent to Josh, but they didn’t work on the wheels he had purchased. This was the very first Ford F-450 that was lifted with 28-inch wheels and it came with quite a bit of trial and error. Josh used B&C Off-Road as a hub for all the parts to arrive. The hard-working crew there added every piece that arrived including the Fusion Bumpers and the Gravel Empire Grille. The process took five grueling weeks of nonstop work to get the brand-new Ford Platinum where he felt it should be. The crew turned over a finished product to Josh just hours before the transport was set to pick it up.

Crazy Style – How to become a rally driver.

So you want to rally race? You have the need for speed and excitement, where do you begin? There are tons of local rally clubs that you can join with your street vehicle to learn the ins and outs of rally. They will be there to guide you through all the challenges. Another great way to get started is to volunteer at one of the big national rally events.

Now this sounds all cute and pretty, but we are talking about rally racing! The jumps, the drifts, the near misses… the championship! How do you become a rally racing champion? We turn to “Crazy” Leo Urlichich and Tatiana Nikolaeva for some answers.

We all know fan favourite Crazy Leo from past events. He’s one to remember because of his no fear driving style. But we don’t know Tatiana, Leo’s girlfriend. It was weeks before The Rally of the Tall Pines when Leo announced that his co-driver would be Tatiana Nikolaeva, his girlfriend. And it would be a #rallydate, as Crazy Leo calls it. What makes this so special is that this would be Tatiana’s first rally! She is learning on the fly.

This is what Leo wrote on his Instagram account, giving us some insight on what it takes to learn to rally…

Do you know how important co-driving is in any rally?

Any wrong or late note can cost you everything.

Normally it takes years and years of experience to become a good co-driver.
That’s why it was such a challenge to run @rallytallpines with a newbie co-driver!

Yes, it was a #RallyDate and yes the essential goal was just to enjoy the ride.

But we both follow one of the major rules in everything we do: ‘do everything you can!.. and more!’ That’s why for almost two weeks we were studying my pacenote system, watching onboards and reading rules, regulations and a ‘A guide to rally co-driving’ book by Mark A. Williams. And by Friday evening before the race we knew that we did everything we could! The last thing which we had to do was to relax and enjoy.

Can you imagine how surprised we were when we went through the first stages with great stage times!

Anyway, it all was possible only because of determination and enjoying the moment.

If you want to feel what real rally is, but can’t afford huge investments into a rally car – make the first step and become a co-driver!

So how did this crash course work out at The Tall Pines? Tatiana guided Leo to a first place finish! This is truly an amazing accomplishment! If you want to learn from one of the best you should book some driver training from Crazy Leo’s driving school, RaceLab. Check out RaceLab.co for all the details.

It seems like Leo and Tatiana had so much fun that they didn’t want it to end. That is why they decided on #rallydate2. They made the cross country journey to Kelowna, B.C. to complete in The Big White Rally just weeks after The Tall Pines. They are going to complete for the Canadian Rally Championship. Unfortunately on the second stage they hit a ditch and broke a control arm. This means that they received just over 8 minutes in penalties and will have to “send it” on day two to make up the time!


Cover photo credit: GoFastPhotography

Can the Tesla Cybertruck Go Off-Roading?

Much will be written about the Tesla Cybertruck, but we wanted to focus like a laser here, specifically regarding its off-roading credibility. Much of what we know so far is admittedly superficial, and plenty of time will be needed behind the wheel to really know how this truck performs.
With that said, at first glance, we’re optimistic.
First off, we like that Musk has gone on record stating base price Cybertrucks will cost around $50,000. Certainly, that’s not cheap, but it could be much worse (it’s also bang-on the median transaction price for a full-size pickup). Our first look at the truck spotted there are appropriately sized 35×12.50 all-terrain tires under the fenderwells—certainly a good first step toward solid off-road capability. That puts the new truck in the same ballpark as Ford Raptor, Ram Power Wagon, and Jeep Gladiator Rubicon—all good and credible rivals.
Although we don’t know all the details and capabilities of the four-corner air suspension, we do know it has massive amounts of tire travel (possibly as much as 14 inches from full droop to full compression), with up to 6 inches of air-ride adjustability—from kneel to full 4×4 extension. Depending on how well the engine and traction control software is tuned, this could be more impressive than anything we’ve seen in a long time. In many ways, we’re reminded of the long-gone military-styled Hummer H1, with its impressive wide-body stance, heavy-duty construction, and form-over-function styling. (Still, we’d love to see the Cybertruck get a central tire inflation system.)

The Challenge Of Modifying In Japan: Project Rough Goes Through Shaken

How is it possible for Japanese car enthusiasts to get away with that? It’s a phrase I’ve heard countless times on various social media platforms. And for good reason, too – here in Japan there are no shortage of vehicles slammed mere millimeters off the ground, and with exhaust systems so loud that it makes the bosozoku seem tame.

Yes, there are times when the police do take the initiative and crackdown on modified cars, but compared to many other countries around the world, Japan really is a safe haven for tuners.

Every two years though, that safe haven is challenged as all vehicles are required to undergo an extensive shaken inspection.

I’ve just been through this with Project Rough, and brought my camera along for the ride.

Vehicle owners in Japan have three options when it comes to theshaken inspection. The first and cheapest is to simply get rid of your car. Some people would rather not deal with the headaches of returning their cars to shaken-legal status or making any necessary repairs, so simply offload them to someone else.

The second option comes with a lesser headache. As Dino has mentioned previously, a lot of shops in Japan make their living by handling the whole shaken process on behalf of their customers. But this is not cheap, and the set fees plus service starts at around ¥100,000 (US$915 at current exchange rates) depending on the shop, the car, and what’s actually required in order to pass the test.

The third option comes with the biggest headache of them all, but is significantly cheaper than option two, and that’s for an owner to do everything themselves. Just for the inspection, taxes and mandatory car insurance called jibaiseiki, you’re looking at around ¥60,000 (US$550), but if you take matters into your own hands that’s all the shaken will cost.

Given that Project Rough is a bit of a budget build, I’m sure you can guess what option I went with…

ProGrade Rally Photos of the Year! WOW

These three winning photos just absolutely sum up the spectacular sport of rally racing. Cars racing where you wouldn’t expect. The photo of the rally car in the back ground of a cafe in Turkey is perfect. A race going on through a town where racing usually isn’t a thing. Daily life goes on as turbo charged beasts rip up and around their streets! 



Go to full article…

2019 Lincoln Electric Rally of the Tall Pines

It was another spectacular day of racing at the 49th running of The Lincoln Electric Rally of the Tall Pines, Bancroft Ontario. With high speed hard packed gravel roads and above zero temperatures the drivers and spectators knew that they were in for a treat.

Crazy Leo Urlichich and Tatiana Nikolaeva jumped, cornered and accelerated their Race Lab Subaru WRX to a first place finish. With a total time of 2:00:18.1.

David Berube and Marilou LeBlanc from Quebec City had an outstanding race, finishing second. Eight minutes back of the champion.

Bancroft Brewing Co. sponsored Philippe Benoit and Eric Dube put on a show and finished first in the two wheel open class and an impressive third overall in their Mini Cooper S. These results sure put a smile on Philippe and Benoit and I’m sure the Brew Kru is ecstatic with their sponsored car.

The Vermont Sports Car driven by Conner Martell and Robbie Durant were a fan favourite. They were fighting Crazy Leo for the win, however their car did not finish due to engine problems.

Bancroft’s own Team Drake racing had great results with their Subaru and were able to spray champagne on the podium with a second place finish in their class. Driven by Benjamin and co-driven by Jeremy Drake. Jonathan Drake was not to be left out as he was the co-driver for the Mal Swann RX7.


Matthew Ballinger gets some rally air on Old Hastings Road. Along with others.

Rob Sanders and Karen Jankowski made the trip from Michigan along with a handful of other teams that came up from The States. A notable change from last year’s rally.

Plan to visit Bancroft, Ontario, next year for the 50th anniversary of the rally!


Pre Race: Lincoln Electric Rally of the Tall Pines 2019

Need plans for the weekend? You should be in Bancroft to witness The 2019 Lincoln Electric Rally of the Tall Pines. You really don’t need an excuse to hang out in Bancroft, Ontario, do you? Especially when the rally is on. The 7th event in the Canadian Rally Championship is coming up November 22 & 23 and it is far from the same old story line.

What’s the same? Well you can say the excitement, the adventure, the beautiful scenery and the fresh beer from Bancroft Brewing Co. Familiar sponsors like Lincoln Electric, Tim Hortons, M&M Esso, and Vance Motors to name a few. Race wise you can expect 120km of stage racing with 321km of transit. Challenging conditions are typical for this race, which make for some great spectator action!

What’s new this year? Well let’s start from the top, with the new race coordinator, Bruce Leonard. The Golton night stage has been eliminated and two final stages in Hastings Highlands have been added. They run on Cross Country Road and McDonald Mine Road. They are well maintained roads and run fast and could very well determine the winner of the rally.

The event has also been moved from the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend which gives American teams a better chance to attend. This year brings back Conner Martell from Vermont Racing as well as Rob Sanders with his 2018 Subaru WRX. Fan favourite Crazy Leo also makes his return!

This weekend is poised to be top notch! Make sure you post your rally experience here and find event coverage on OneRide.com. For more rally info check out TallPinesRally.com.

Baywatch: SEMA Edition

If there’s anything I’ve learned from SEMA this year, it’s that the best place to enjoy the event is from the comfort of my own home, some 5,000 miles away.

Okay, maybe I’m a little bit jealous of our own Team Brexit enjoying the Nevada sunshine, the neon lights and the general positive vibes of Sin City, but I don’t envy the mammoth effort required just to get around the show while trying to identify the cars which need to be captured and shared.

Factor in a healthy dose of jet lag, and the rain outside my window doesn’t feel so bad after all.

I do think the best way to document SEMA is to cast as large a net as possible. It’s pointless to become fixated on one or two builds at the expense of the rest, as there’s nearly always something just as, or even more exciting around the corner. SEMA rewards graft.

Mark must be of the same opinion, as this gallery of engine bays from the Las Vegas Convention Center covers pretty much every major engine layout you can think of: vees, inlines, flat-fours, turbocharged, supercharged, naturally aspirated and even spinning triangles.

By presenting such a wide variety of applications, it also allows us to gauge what you’re most interested in, so we can chase them up at a later date. I’ve definitely spent longer looking through these photographs than writing the short pieces of copy which accompany this gallery (quelle surprise I hear you say), but there’s definitely more than one in here that I want to know much, much more about.

Go to full article…