For any car enthusiast, Japan is a concentrated automotive pressure cooker that infuses flavour, class, and creativity into some of the tastiest car culture you can wrap your chops around.
Upon embarking on my overseas experience, I found myself on a little single carriageway cruising through the middle of nowhere in Chiba. Initially the lack of civilisation concerned me, but soon after a grey workshop packed with RX7s distracted my attention. I found myself to be living a stone’s throw from the workshop of RE Amemiya. Early Saturday mornings with my ranch slider open, coffee in hand, the smell of cabbage fields, and the distinct sound of a rotary on the dyno next door was my new definition of heaven.
It was to be the continuation of a long-lasting love affair with the RE Amemiya brand and the rotary. For many, the pint-sized city of Tomisato is the last place you expect to find a workshop for a major tuner, but in typical Japanese fashion expect the unexpected. The staff were friendly, and soon enough I was the annoying kid hanging around the workshop full of curiosity, and questions wanting my own slice of the Japanese automotive experience.
So fast forward the clock, and here I am back in New Zealand at Summerbash 2018. Wandering down the pitlane, I was seeking out the 767B of Hoshino-san when all of a sudden I was stopped in my tracks. Why hello old friend
It was a case of right time and right place many moons ago. I was lucky enough to see this car on my first ever trip to Japan before I even had a camera. After drooling over the JGTC machines via photos on my 56k dial-up internet, seeing one in real life was a slightly surreal moment. Now here we were all over again!
I was aware that the car now resided in New Zealand with its owner Aidan Barrett, but I had no idea it was coming to Summerbash. Life is full of surprises. I never expected to get up close and personal with a Japanese Amemiya legend back home, so to get that chance was pretty special.
There is something magical about the noise of an angry wankel and this 20b is no exception. The noise of the 90s era of JGTC machine is perfectly matched by the timeless aero, and beautiful liveries. Matsumoto Kiyoshi is merely a chain drug store where you buy panadol and shampoo, but damn they have a good marketing strategy!
At the end of the day, an opportunity arose with no cars on track, the crowds had gone home and the light was turning golden. How often do you get golden hour, a race track, and a JGTC car all at once at your disposal?
The stars had aligned for this unashamed fanboi. 20b + JGTC + RE Amemiya = fanboi bucketlist item.
I have been spoiled with amazing subjects in my time overseas, and I miss getting to snap top-shelf cars that I remember fondly from my teenage years. Aidan’s FD was a special one, it brought back memories of my time in the Japanese car scene along with all the people I have met. I could almost smell Tomisato’s cabbage fields again, but also the giddy, excited feeling I got when photographing my heroes in Japan was there too.
Times like this are a nice reminder of living for those memories that you can’t quite put into words. Sometimes it only takes one thing to bring back a hundred memories, and I wouldn’t swap the smelly cabbage fields, noisy dyno mornings and bad instant coffee for anything!