Burning The Midnight Oil At TYPE ONE’s Kanpachi Auto And Art Salon
If you’ve ever played any of the versions of the Gran Turismo video game series, looked into modifying a Honda Civic, or watched The Fast and the Furious, I’m sure you’ve heard the name Spoon Sports. It’s one of the most well-known automotive modification companies in the world. Famous for racing cars from the Honda marque in Japan (and now the world over), the company also designs its own race-proven parts, which are sold worldwide.
To go along with the company’s racing exploits and its manufacturing facility, there is also a workshop where the team can service its racecars, work on demo cars, and most importantly modify customer cars. This workshop is located just a few blocks from the Spoon Sports headquarters on the same Kanpachi Street, and is named TYPE ONE. It is here that Spoon Sports set up its “Kanpachi Auto and Art Salon” party as a sort of makeshift Tokyo Auto Salon booth for 2018, rather than inside the bustling and stress-filled Makuhari Messe convention center. This offered the team at Spoon and TYPE ONE a chance to connect with the public on a more personal level.
The crew at DSPORT Magazine actually tied this into the Tokyo Auto Salon Tour (you can read the other articles from this trip here, here, and here). So we all piled into the bus to be dropped off outside the TYPE ONE facility two days before the official party, for a sneak preview of what the general public could expect to see inside.
Little known fact: this is actually the facility where the most famous Spoon Sports photos have been taken, and despite its perceived size in the images, it’s actually no larger than your average strip mall store in the States, except for the fact that it is two stories high.
On the ground floor we were greeted by a tenth-generation Honda Civic hatchback which had been outfitted in full Spoon Sports garb, to showcase not only the company’s reimagined SW388 wheel, but also a selection of carbon fiber exterior additions, front brake caliper upgrade, and interior accessories like a Kevlar bucket seat, Duracon shift knob, and Spoon/Momo steering wheel.
Elsewhere in the opening to the shop was an interesting setup of Gran Turismo Sport simulators, where guests could enjoy the game series from the comfort of a racing seat to add to the experience.
Hey, this car is familiar, right Dai? Fresh from its time in the States, Spoon Sports USA’s center-drive Civic time attack racer was back in its original home at TYPE ONE. Having started life in Japan, the car was shipped to America where it was turbocharged, and converted to center-drive and competed in American time attack events like Global Time Attack’s Super Lap Battle. It’s kind of funny that the car was in America for so long, yet I didn’t see it in real life until I was in Japan.
I procrastinated my ascension to the second floor with the knowledge that I would be walking into the famous scene I had witnessed on the Internet so many times. So I walked up the very tight outside stairs (which reminded me of a fire escape), and looked through the glass windows to see Honda history in all of its glory, including Tatsuru Ichishima himself—the founder of Spoon Sports/TYPE ONE.
The first car in front of me is the most important: Ichisima-san’s first foray under the Spoon moniker (technically, before). This 1985 Honda Civic was the first Civic to be entered into the Japan Touring Car Championship (JTCC) before even Honda itself had entered one. Back when this shop was still named “Tatsuru Ichishima Company,” Ichishima-san raced this car with Honda backing, eventually turning it into the car before me. The stripped interior is so inviting, and has basically brainwashed me from a young age into thinking the interior of every car should look like this. It personifies exactly what every good racecar should be: lightweight, balanced, and built to outlast the competition.
In order to carry on his admiration for not only the Honda marque, but also endurance racing, Ichishima then built this EG6-chassis specifically for the N1 Endurance Championship (now known as the Super Taikyu series), which in its first year took second place in the 1994 championship season. By utilizing the same simple ingredients of having a lightweight, durable, and rigid chassis, this car proves the formula works and looks great doing it. It was surreal to see this car in person, as it was previously a car I’d only ever witnessed in model form.
The final Civic in this row is another previous Super Taikyu Class 4 racer, but an EK9 chassis, which was built only six years ago despite the car being almost 20 years old. Spoon Sports dedicated time and effort to campaigning the older chassis, regardless of the fact that they had several other newer cars ready for that class. It is equipped with an Airwalker front bumper (notice the clever ducting inside), cast Spoon Sports CR93 wheels, and a number of other modifications to make it fit for competition in the series. Despite an entire catalog of offerings from Spoon Sports for this exact car, the majority of these aren’t present on the car due to regulations for the class.
Perched atop the second story hangs TYPE ONE’s scaffolding car storage, the company’s famous solution for the rather tight spatial restrictions Tokyo is known for. Another former Super Taikyu racer—an NSX—resided on this upper-level. Anyone who has ever seen an image of TYPE ONE before has undoubtedly drooled over this setup for car storage. In my excitement, I didn’t even grab a picture from the stereotypical location to show the cars overhead. Please excuse me.
Elsewhere on the second story, a retired S2000 S-Tai bumper, and an alternate bumper from the center-drive Civic have transformed into wall art. while various valve covers adorn the other walls.
On the premises, there were also a few examples of vintage Honda chassis which had been restored, exhibiting the capabilities of TYPE ONE’s team.
It was an incredible experience to be in the presence of one of the driving forces behind my complete obsession with Honda Civics. To meet Ichishima-san in the flesh on his own property, surrounded by some of his most famous works was inspirational and motivating. While everyone grabbed one last selfie with him, I merely walked backward, taking in the sights one last time before heading out into the darkness to get back on the bus.