Great Honda Ad – Video

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Alex Butti sent me an email with this great European Honda advertisement. I thought it was really cool and wanted to share it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jQp8sfhV-8

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Headlights Today by Patrick Callahan

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Once upon a time car designers were limited to simple sealed beam headlights. These were available in two basic flavors, round and square. Eventually European companies started using a new style of headlights that offered a far greater degree of design latitude. The same basic concept of unsealed headlights with replaceable bulbs has dominated the market since their introduction in the mid-80’s.

The next step in headlight design came with the introduction of HID lights. These lights use electrical arcs to produce light instead of filaments like traditional lights. This design allowed much more freedom in headlight design and provide good lighting. BMW started using “angel eyes” which made for a very dramatic look and improved on the basic design characteristics of the lights. Infiniti further explored the design potential of HID’s with their Q45. Its lights looked more like a gattling gun than a traditional headlight. Both of these ideas have since been adapted to many different platforms in the aftermarket.

More recently though, Audi has fully explored the concept of both the projector headlight as well as LED lights. Honestly, they’re light years ahead of anyone else in this department and manufacturers are starting to realize that it’s time to catch up or they’ll simply be left behind. Enter Honda’s new Super GT contender. This to me is the first real effort by another manufacturer to apply Audi’s concept to an entirely different design language and it WORKS! This whole car’s design is simply amazing and looks and sounds just like a racing car should.

Toyota has also successfully adapted this style to the FT-86. This design language is once again very different from Audi but the headlights fit perfectly. Now, I wonder if the aftermarket can produce similar products to fit cars that are already on the road. Imagine what a well-designed modern headlight could do for a classic but aging design.

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The World Car by Patrick Callahan

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After my Lateral Thinking post, I saw several comments from people who feel very strongly about makes associated with certain countries. This is certainly easy to understand as nationalism has always been a very big part of civilized culture. However, I truly feel we’ve reached a point at which a car’s manufacturer is increasingly irrelevant and there are no longer truly Japanese cars, American cars or German cars.

Not only are actual part origins and points of assembly being scrambled internationally, but design centers and partnerships between manufacturers are increasingly blurring the lines of what country a vehicle should be associated with.

Another interesting phenomenon is perhaps best personified by Toyota. Their management style and quality control processes have revolutionized the way car companies are run and the whole industry has adopted very similar policies. In essence, this moved the entire industry in a “JDM” direction.

Now, while Toyota is certainly still considered a Japanese brand by many, it is becoming increasingly American. The Camry is now America’s best selling car and every nut bolt and washer of the Toyota Tundra was designed specifically for American consumption. Even branding wise Toyota is running carbureted, pushrod V8’s with everyone else in NASCAR and they have factory efforts in the NHRA as well. At this point, the most Japanese thing about Toyota is its risk-averse management which is honestly holding the company back.

So, what makes a car Japanese anymore? This globalization may be disappointing for the purists, but really the general buying public will only benefit from the increased competition and collaboration. What does this mean for JDM? Simply that there’s less reason than ever to restrict yourself to one make or model or even time period. We don’t have to wait for Honda to bring us Type-R’s or Nissan to bring back the 240SX. Other manufacturers are just as capable of filling those voids and I hope the industry sees and exercises all the opportunities.

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Open Wheel Cars by Patrick Callahan

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I love open wheel cars. While they may not look very similar to the cars you and I drive every day, they are remarkable in the singular purpose of their design: to race. While we replace parts and even systems of parts, every nut, washer and fastener on an open wheel car has already been optimized for speed.

I have two things to share on this topic. The first is the current crop of F1 cars. These are on many levels the baddest machines in all of racing, requiring hundreds of millions of dollars to build and run each season. The level of design complexity in the cars this year is astounding. Just look at some of the front wings! You can find pictures of all the latest models here including some exciting new teams and the return of Lotus F1.

To bring this post back around to being relevant to this blog, it’s worth higlighting how many aftermarket companies have had involvement in some form of open wheel racing. Some companies like Cosworth got their start in open wheel racing and have more recently brought their know-how to parts available to the public. Other companies like HKS with their F1 project are interested in showing off their technical abilities and building brand image.

For TODA, involvement in F3 has been an integral part of how the company is run for decades. F3 is a tightly governed and highly competitive international racing series with high-level national championships in many countries including Japan. If you can be competitive in F3, you can certainly make parts that will meet the needs of enthusiasts. To highlight one small example of the demands of F3, engines are fully stressed components and stock blocks are integrated into the chassis using gorgeous valve covers and oil pans that bolt to the carbon tub.

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Dome Magic Carbon, A Guest Blog by Alex Butti

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A while back I brought up to Ben the intention of writing something about Dome Magic Carbon because I felt that the company needed some attention.

Some of you may have heard the name Dome, some of you may have seen its work, however I believe that most people interested the the JDM scene don’t know much about Dome and what they are all about; so here is a little history:
In 1965 Minoru Hayashi was an avid street racer, and like many of us, he enjoyed fixing up his cars. Hayashi san was so driven that eventually he developed his first prototype car; the “Karasu”, based on the Honda S600:

At the time Hayashi san was not happy with the quality of aftermarket products available, so he started his own-humble business. He named his business “Dome” (child’s dream in Japanese).
His dream was to create high quality parts that people in the scene would endorse in racing and track events alike.
In 1975, ten years later, his first project born, the “Dome-Zero”:

During the same year, with the launch of the “Dome-Zero” Hayashi san’ business gained the media’s attention and Dome was officially registered as a company in Takaragaike, Kyoto.
With the “Dome-Zero” being a huge success, the second project began; named “P2″.
Hayashi san eventually partecipated in the 24 LeMans with the P2. Although I haven’t been able to find any results from the race, Hayashi san and Dome partecipated in the 24 LeMans for the following eight years, gaining tremendous acquisition of data for their R&D.
The hard work eventually payed off and Dome was soon approached by companies like Porsche, Toyota, and Honda, asking Hayashi san to help them develop their race cars for the Super Taikyu series. This was 1983.
Forward ten years, and Dome was still on top of their game help developing race chassis for motorsport companies, and strengthening their relationship with affiliated companies. They soon began working on the Formula 3000:

Story repeats itself and Dome’ success further increases by winning the All Japan F3000 championship.
In 1995 they enter the JTCC alongside with Mugen’s infamous Honda Accord:

That year was epic for Honda Mugen and Dome Teams, and the following year Dome signed a contract with Honda/ Takata to race their NSX in the JGTC, and like they say, the rest is history. Dome has been developing race chassis for Honda as well as Toyota ever since.
Today, after 14 years of racing Honda retired the GT NSX as the GT rules have changed; forcing Honda/ Dome to develop a new chassis; the HSV-10GT:

It’s amazing if we look back and stop for a moment and think about Hayashi san’s dream and his perseverance…..a child’s dream.
Here you will find more infos about the company and their victories:
http://www.dome.co.jp/e/index.html

For two previous blog posts about Dome here visit:

http://www.bespokeventures.com/blog/2008/07/27/if-i-could-marry-a-body-panel/

http://www.bespokeventures.com/blog/2008/04/30/forgotten-prophet-st205-dome-celica/

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The Most Exciting New Honda in Years by PCAL

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There are many possible paths to becoming a professional racer. In the past, one of the most popular stepping stones to a career in professional racing as a driver or engineer was Formula Ford (FF). The cars are restricted to using 1.6L Ford Kent engines that were designed back in 1959 producing a maximum of 140hp. They are also not allowed to have any downforce generating devices.

Honda FF Engine Demonstration Vehicle Swift DB-1

The specifications might not initially seem very impressive, but keep in mind this is still a thoroughbred racecar that weighs about 1000lbs with highly developed suspension, running full race tires. The car helps provide a remarkably level playing field at a reasonable cost which has been proven to help develop world champion drivers, including Jenson Button, the current F1 world champion.

Unfortunately, the Kent engines and associated parts were becoming rarer and rarer. Honda decided that it was time to show some support this legendary racing series and has developed the L15A7. Even devoted Honda buffs might not recognize this engine code. That’s okay because the engines are typically destined for the lowly Fit. The engine has been modified to endure the rigors of racing and to mimic the performance of the old Kent engines.

hondafitraceengine

So why blog about one of the least sexy (well, except when Danica was racing) race series in the world? People highly modify cars built for the street to go faster on the track. Why not start with a platform that was designed strictly for going fast on the track from day one? Throw away the rule book and get some long tube headers, ITB’s and huge race cams. Formula Fords start at under $10,000 and Fifth Gear did an interesting test where a “stock” FF easily outran the Ford GT around a track. Talk about bang for buck and just imagine what you could do with a fully built engine!

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Lego Spoon Sports by Matt Rus

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I remember looking at pictures from the famous Honda tuner Spoon Sports some time ago and was drooling over the pictures of their garage with K20A, B16B, B18C engines lying everywhere and legendary Spoon racing cars parked all over the place, stored even under the ceiling. And I was even more shocked when I saw that someone was trying to recreate the place with Lego building bricks. Although Legos are mostly in predefined shapes he manage to make cars similar to real ones! I’m very impressed with the skills and sense. Take a look at the rest of the photos on Flickr.

spoon-sports-garage

spoon-sports

spoon-sports-f22spoon-lego-garage

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