Taking the rulebook and tossing it out the window is something Nissan is very accustomed to, and when the R32 GTR was unleashed in May of 1989 it was to send ripples through the automotive world. Nissan had created a monster to ‘out-Porsche’, well…Porsche. At the time, the 959 was lapping the Nurburgring in 8’45”, so when the R32 GTR smashed that by 25 seconds the world sat up and took notice. Nissan is no stranger to the heat of competition, with the R32 finding its feet in the fire of Group A racing. Rallying however is something that Nissan has not found success in for a long time, although this R32 could fit a certain niche quite perfectly.
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What seems like light years ago (even though it was only 2012) I had the pleasure of shooting Rupz MkII. It was before any real shakotan cars had appeared in New Zealand, especially more classic-oriented ones. There was plenty of sacked 180s, but the old J-tin was still pretty rare. This MkII had all the right aspects, old school, squat, hippari-stretch, and the boso handle scraping the pavement. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was to be one of those cars that as a photographer I just couldn’t forget.
Rallying is a brutal mistress, punisher of the smallest mistakes, and a world where tenths of a second are all that is needed to propel a driver or car from ordinary to extraordinary. Toyota knows the highs and lows of rallying all too well, and they are one of a few manufacturers who found success in Group B, Group A, and WRC. I heard there were a few old Toyota rally cars sitting in a café on the edge of Tokyo that were worth a look at should I just happen to be in the neighborhood. I couldn’t resist the chance to see what historical surprises awaited so I grabbed the camera and set off.
The Japanese motherland has thrown some amazing scenes in front of my camera, but none of the images have evoked a reaction quite like the missiles that slip, slide and scrape around Ebisu Circuit. The drifting world has become strangely accustomed to the term ‘missile’, and this trending style has certainly had its time where battle scars were cool, rather than being a shameful reminder of running out of talent. Coming face to face with some of the most infamous missiles Japan has offered up, has taught me that there is always more than meets the eye with these mythical drift weapons.
If you had to associate Japan with one particular make and model of car you would be hard pressed to argue anything other than the Toyota AE86. This humble little fifth generation Corolla is Japan’s darling of drift cars, undeniably the best car for delivering tofu in, and has captured the souls of tuners and car fanatics all over the world. So when Kamata-san, his brother and their father decided to specialise in tuning one model of car it wasn’t a difficult choice to make it the humble hachiroku.
The sport of observed trials is usually done on two-wheels with somewhere around 250cc, but down here in New Zealand the sport has been adapted. We added a couple of wheels, an extra passenger, and threw another 5000 – 6000 cc into the mix. Anytime a national round of 4×4 trials comes close to where I live, I make sure to go out and watch it (well watch through the videwfinder).
New Zealand’s obsession with the rotary engine is no secret, and downunder we have some pretty cool cars hiding away in sheds, parked up in little country towns, and even threading the needle down gravel rally stages. These photos are nothing new (some have been popped up on Facebook here and there), but I came across them again recently and every time I see these pics they bring a smile to my face.
A weekend out shooting is always a good weekend (as long as it doesn’t pelt down with rain). Last weekend the 4&Rotary Promotions Jamboree was held on my doorstep literally and I was on duty covering things for NZPC & TimeattackR.
At the start of 2018, I adopted a ‘keep photography fun’ approach to this year. I got a message from a buddy of mine who had just got his new bunny all signed off. I sorted the importation of this genuine TRA-Kyoto kit from Japan so was quite keen to go for a ride in the completed product. Of course I grabbed the camera to flick off a couple of shots.
Here is what we ended up with.
Not long ago I was sitting in a rental car cruising through the French countryside when I spotted a sign adorned with ‘LeMans’. I was initially en route to another destination, but how could a petrol head like myself resist stopping in at a place as famous as the Circuit de la Sarthe!?