The floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center is much sparser than it has been in recent years, but SEMA 2009 is still several times the size of some Central American nations. We were heartened to see more and more OEM automakers getting in touch with their roots.
A newly restored 1969 Subaru 360 Van served as the Subaru Performance Tuning shop van. You wouldn’t guess it from the sea of tricked out Imprezas, but the guys at SPT, the tuning arm of Subaru USA, are enormous fans of old school Subarus, with old BRATs and XT6s in their personal garages.
The Sambar, as it’s known in Japan, came with a 25hp, rear-mounted two-cycle engine, which isn’t exactly blazing fast, but it sipped gas through a reed, returning 66 miles per gallon!
It got a ton of attention from passers by, because really, who doesn’t love a rear-engined microvan with suicide doors? Note that this is a genuine LHD version for the US market.
In a shot with the infamous Ken Block Subaru Impreza STI, the 360 Van looks like it might get swallowed into the STI’s air intake.
After this show, the SPT vinyl wrap will be removed and the car will continue life in beige at Subaru dealerships.
As part of its ongoing 50th birthday bash, Honda USA brought out an awesome trio of old school hatchbacks, displayed in front of a mural of the automaker’s landmark accomplishments over the past half century.
A gorgeous Astral Blue 1971 Honda N600 sedan was meticulously restored by N600 guru Tim Mings of Merciless Mings for Takata‘s US headquarters, but Honda recently purchased it and put it on display at their American office building in Torrance, CA.
The 600cc motor produces all of 36 horsepower, but like most Hondas it revs like an angry demon up to a 9000rpm redline.
It even had the original sticker on the windshield, where it was revealed that in 1971 it sold for all of $1395.
Parked next to it, a 1974 Honda Civic 1200 race car built by Bob Boileau Jr., a Honda USA associate.
Boileau campaigned it for an astonishing 16 years before it was retired in 1990. During this run, it won six championships in SCCA GT5 class.
The 1200cc engine has extensive modifications allowing it to run a 12.5:1 compression ratio. At the time this project began, a modified Honda Civic was about an alien a concept as the Internet, making Boileau one of the first Honda tuners in the country.
This Bolus & Snopes Civic was known by many nicknames, including “Tokyo Joe” and “The World’s Fastest Civic.” The latter title was earned properly when it posted It earned this title by posting a 146.698 mph top speed at Talladega Speedway.
The car still wears the battle scars of a hard fought life, and its Compomotive Turbo wheels could use a shine, but this is an important piece of Honda history.
Nowadays, Boileau’s name graces a much more potent machine, a Honda S2000 CR. More information on this car can be found in this Honda Tuning article (hat tip to cesariojpn).
Lastly, we have a 1984 Honda CR-X Mugen Prototype. Old school fans can complain all they like about rice, but this is a gorgeous piece.
Since this was created back in the day as a showcase for Mugen’s products at the time, it’s all period correct modifications, from the CF-48 rims to the 4-2-1 exhaust manifold to the polished valves.
In fact, the suspension is composed of struts and dampers made for Mugen by Showa, best known for its aftermarket motorcycle shocks. This is pure 80s Tokyo street racer style.
An original Mugen steering wheel is the centerpiece of the interior. You can see from the floorpan that this car was once blue, but it now wears a beautiful skin of Championship White.
Stay tuned for more coverage tomorrow!