Tokyo Auto Salon: Honda goes retro, announces plans for used car refurbishment

Continuing the tour of Auto Salon automaker booths, we arrive at Honda. The company has its fingers in almost as many types of auto racing as Toyota, but perhaps more overall thanks to its motorcycle division. It also debuted an unusual retro design to whet the appetite of vintage Honda owners. 

Taking center stage was an Indy car, an unusual sight in Japan. However, this was the car Takuma Sato won the Indy 500 with last year, a source of great pride for the Japanese. The car sat on a stage, but the setup featured a cool dugout-like window where attendees could view the car up close from ground level.

Oddly, there is an identical looking Indy car floating around the US, so it’s not entirely clear which one is the replica. If we ran Honda, we’d bring the original to Japan, so it could go into the Honda museum at Twin Ring Motegi after it was finished with the auto show rounds, but no one asked us.

On the motorcycle side, Honda showed two of its newly updated Super Cubs. Awesomely, the bikes were painted in the racing livery of Honda’s championship RC213V MotoGP racers. The Super Cubs wore it quite well, actually, making us think they’d be excellent as pit bikes.

Honda also showcased a wild-looking RTL 300R. In fact, it was the trial bike of Tomoyuki Ogawa, who’s held the IAS class champ for the All-Japan Trial championships for five consecutive years.

Honda also showed off its Civic TCR, based on the Civic Type R and built to compete in the international Touring Car Championships. Launched in 2015, the series is akin to WTCC but specifically for C-segment cars. The wide bodywork seems to fit the aggressive look of the Type R better than in stock form, and for 2018 the Civic TCR adopts a new multi-link rear suspension and anti-roll bar system equipped with the latest FIA lifting device.

As one would expect, the NSX is still the hot ticket for Honda, and featured prominently in stock and GT3 form. The car can be bought off the shelf for $543,000, and is eligible for 25 different international racing series. Unlike the stock NSX, it has no hybrid system or AWD. It’s just a pure petrol 3.5-liter V6 feeding power through a 6-speed sequential race transmission to its rear wheels. Oh, and the entire body is carbon fiber.

The car most interesting to JNCers was perhaps the retro creation by Honda Access. The subsidiary is in charge of developing original accessories for Honda cars in Japan, serving much the same purpose as Modellista for Toyota and Autech for Nissan. This year, they showed off a rather unusual creation, the Honda Re:Z, a Honda CR-Z restyled to resemble a 1970-74 Honda Z360. The hood, fenders, hatch, and front and rear bumpers were all developed from scratch.

Recessed headlights and a protruding  trapezoidal grille reference the orignal Honda Z. The side mirrors, though mounted at the A-pillar, are also a tribute to the Z’s fender mirrors. The interior featured a nostalgic 3-spoke steering wheel and plaid upholstery — a tribute to the classic Z’s seatskins — but taken from a Honda Monkey.

Like the Z360, the C-pillar is emblazoned with a Z logo. In this case, Honda has cleverly turned the logo of its popular N-series of kei cars 90 degrees to form the Z. The original N360 and Z360 were related, making this a nice easter egg for those in the know.

When we first reported on the Re:Z last December, no rear shot had been shown yet. Now we can see that it includes the defining trademark of the original Z, the black outlined rear hatch, which earned the car the nickname suichumegane, Japanese for “swimming goggles.” The glass goggle window isn’t just for show, either; it opens independently of the hatch, which retains the CR-Z’s full hatchback opening. The CR-Z taillights have also been replaced with rectangles that resemble the rear lamps of the the original Z, taken directly from the JDM Mobilio Spike minivan.

Though in concept it reminds us of the Urban EV , Honda Access says there are no plans to release the kit. Instead, it merely wanted to drum up interest in a discontinued model because it has plans to begin refurbishments of such moddels in the the near future. No further details about were given. Whether this is as extensive as Nissan and Mazda’s restoration programs is unknown, and it’s not clear if it will target specific models. Still, it could be exciting news for owners of vintage Hondas.

To be continued…

In case you missed it, more 2018 Tokyo Auto Salon can be found with spotlights on the Endless Hino Contessa, Alaska-to-Chile Toyota Land CruiserToyota’s Gazoo Racing booth, the TOM’s KP47 StarletBanzai Sports Sunny Truck, Nissan and Mitsubishi’s boothscars of woman-run tuning shop L-TideYokohama’s reproduction tires for kyusha, and Liberty Walk’s Advan-livery Hakosuka.

For past Tokyo Auto Salon coverage, see 2017  Part 01 — Legends of RallyPart 02 — Restomods, and Part 03 — The Classics as well as coverage from the 2016201220112010 Tokyo Auto Salons.

Shota Mori is a photographer whose work can be found at @pgm_works and @pgmworks_official.

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6 Responses to Tokyo Auto Salon: Honda goes retro, announces plans for used car refurbishment

  1. Ant said:

    I’m a fan of the CR-Z but that Re:Z is a very uncomfortable-looking thing. Details aside, the weird proportions actually remind me more of the early Nissan Cherry Coupe than anything Honda has produced in the past.

  2. Daniel said:

    Refurbishments? Just make a kit to retrofit the type R engine in CR Z, or make a decent hibrid system with better batteries, maybe can use the samr electric engines from the NSX.

  3. Mark Newton-John said:

    Back in 1974, I ended up hooking up with this girl, because we were crammed in the back seat of a Z , and the only way was for me to put my arms around her shoulders. Yeah, FOUR people in a Z.

  4. Jake said:

    The Z looks like a simultaneously bloated and shrunken P1800ES Volvo. Ordinarily I would be in favor of such a thing, but I’m having serious reservations about this one.

  5. KanJyro said:

    i like the front kinda… honestly kinda reminds me of the “ugly” st204/st205 celica and the bubbly 90’s

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