Motorsport

The popular Tomei powered Maruzen Technica Sunny coupe (KB110) on the cover of Japanese Autosport magazine, November 1974. Tomei built a perfect replica of this car which appears at various events in Japan such as the Nismo Festival. The Tomei built A12 OHV engine in this car is only 1303cc but puts out an astonishing 164ps at 8000rpm!

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eidai510a

As I mentioned in my original post about the movie ‘5000km to Glory’ there is a little bit of movie merchandising related to the film, even though it was largely forgotten until it’s recent release on DVD and Bluray.  I have seen the movie soundtrack album (on vinyl naturally!) for sale on Yahoo! Japan Auction in the past and other items such as sets of postcards but the best thing I have ever come across related to it is this lovely 1/24 scale model kit made by Eidai. To be honest, when I first found this kit, I didn’t initially realise it was related to the film. Only a little later when I noticed the style of the ‘5000’ logo on the box did it dawn on me what it was! The 510 modeled in the kit is actually that of a 1968 model which makes it a little unusual as most 510 model kits are 1969 onward versions with the larger tail light and restyled grille.

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710turbo_top

I won’t go into too much detail on the history of Nissan Motorsport’s Datsun 160J SSS Turbo race cars, I’ll save that for a future post, but for now here’s a brief outline of the story. Nissan had been dabbling a little with turbo technology from the start of the 1970’s and in 1974 they unveiled their wild 300 horsepower LZ Turbo powered Violet SSS (kp710 model). Unfortunately the timing was bad as the fuel crisis had hit hard in Japan and it wasn’t really viable for Nissan to take their fire breathing, gas guzzling Violets racing in there, so they were shipped of to Malaysia, where they were entered into the Selangor Grand Prix via Datsun importer Tan Chong and Sons. In the export markets the Nissan Violet was known as the Datsun 160J so the cars were title and liveried accordingly…

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Finally, I get to watch 5000km to Glory! I only ordered this from Japan four days ago and it’s here in the UK already… amazing! Hopefully my complete lack of Japanese language skills won’t be a problem watching this…

safari5000dvd

 

UPDATE! I’ve just finished watching it and I can honestly say it’s as good as any motor racing film I have seen. No really… it’s genuinely a really great filmI The cinematography is fantastic, the racing scenes are superbly shot and seamlessly blended with footage from the real events. The cast are good and best of all, language isn’t as big an issue as I expected as there’s actually more French and English spoken in the film than Japanese! I’ll do a full write up on the film with an outline of the plot etc soon but for now, I say go get yourself a copy!

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safari5000tnA relatively unheard of title, ‘5000km to Glory‘ or ‘Safari 5000’ as it was alternatively titled, was a movie depicting the fictional events surrounding a Japanese team entered into the East African Safari rally with the legendary Datsun 1600-SSS, a car that would go on to win the event for real in 1970. The film was directed by Koreyoshi Kurahara and starred Yûjirô Ishihara, Tatsuya Nakadai and Toshirô Mifune in the tile roles.
Despite ‘5000km to Glory’ being Japan’s highest grossing film of 1969, it remained almost impossible to see for decades after it’s release as it was apparently never released onto VHS (although I have seen a Betamax copy for sale once… for 250 euros!). But finally, after it being screened for the first time in years on Japan’s NHK BS-hi TV channel in 2012, it would seem that it was made available on DVD and Blu-ray in Japan last year. Sure, this means it’s Japanese market and therefor still hard to get hold of and lacking subtitles but it’s a start!
I first learned of this film whilst in Norway about 14 years ago, where the film was screened at it’s release back in 1969. Apparently, the National Film Archive in Oslo still has a rare copy of it. Internet research at that time revealed little and even in the years since, whilst I have found plenty of movie posters and stills from the film, any actual footage has eluded always me. Until now…

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IMGP0792Unfortunately I could only make it to one day of this excellent new two day historic motorsport event but it was still well worth the trip. There really was spectacular variety on show,  from pre-war vintage racers, historic F2 and Group C through to the legendary group B rally cars as well as a ton of rare, exotic and in many cases, extremely expensive cars.  Definitely, the highlight on the track were the historic group C cars. GT40’s, Lolas and Chrevrons etc making sweet V8 music in a 250km race finished the day perfectly. I might have some pictures of this later as I shot a couple of rolls the old school way, with a Pentax SLR and I’ve yet to get them developed. They might be hopeless though as I’m no photographer! In the meantime check out the mega gallery after the jump!

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Despite the efforts of British tuning companies in the 1970’s such as Old Woking Service Station, Janspeed and Samuri Conversions, Datsuns never really caught on with British car modifiers. Competition in the small car market was considerable and tuning favorites such as the Ford Escort and Mini ruled the roost. As any Datsun fan will know, the cars are eminently tunable and offer the potential to be highly competetive on the race track as Janspeed in particular knew. Janspeed not only raced Datsuns back in the day, they also offered a wealth of ‘hot’ Datsun parts for the public right through into the 1980’s, many of which came direct from Japan. This article from Hot Car magazine in 1981 takes a look at what was available from Janspeed for the Datsun A series engine…

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Strangely the 710 Violet is not a popular car, nor it seems, has it ever been. Introduced in 1973, it was intended to replace the outgoing 510 in the line-up. The 610 introduced in 1970, which is technically the next model on from the 510 as part of the Bluebird series, was considerably larger and the 510 remained on sale beside it until 1973. The 710 was similar in size to the 510 and the SSS variants carried the same independent rear suspension. Alas, the two biggest markets for the 510, Australia and the USA, never got the 710 in SSS form which no doubt is one of the factors in the cars negligible popularity today. In fact Australia they never got any 710’s at all so it’s all the more strange then that one of it’s greatest rally victories should come in the Australian Southern Cross rally in 1977. Nissan certainly made good use of this success in their advertising campaign from 1977 with this advert for the Violet SSS hardtop…

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I figured it might be good to write a bit about some of the cars we have owned in the past which we no longer own. Back in 2004 I’d started to stray from the path of old car righteousness and had started spending too much of my time messing with less worthy modern cars. This culminated in me coming over all fast and furious by 2005 when I took up drifting and ran in a couple of championships. I’ll admit I had a huge amount of tyre smoking fun throughout 2005 but back at home all my Datsuns sat forgotten. By the end of 2005, having spent every penny I had on hooning around sideways in a 200SX, I realised I needed to get down to some serious work and get my neglected old cars sorted. What I needed was something easy to ease me back into old car tinkering… an old car that already worked and that was on the road that i could just drive and enjoy to bring back the passion. And it so happened that my friend Jon came up with just the remedy needed to kick start my old car enthusiasm once more. A 1976 Datsun 160B (610).

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