GRAND TOURING: A Miura Hanto Sunday Drive

02_Honda S800 & Toyota Sports 800

For most, the term “Sunday drive” means a leisurely excursion, to no place in particular, just a way to exercise the family car. In Japan, it can include a number of things — blissfully empty touge, kohi (coffee) and kuruma (car) at one of the many PA (parking areas), exercises in regional eating (this is Japan after all), straight line expressway blasts, and scenic seaside roads. For one Sunday drive, we decided to combine a few of these Japanese pursuits, including — I was promised — the best fresh fish breakfast in all of Kanto. 

01_Honda-S800-Miura-Hanto08_Toyota Sports 800

Starting at 06:00, I took a near abandoned expressways in my own S800 to a nominated PA on the Yokosuka Toll Road. There, waiting for me were a set of Honda S600, S800, and Toyota Sports 800.

04_Subaru ff-1

Shortly after arriving, we were joined by a Subaru ff-1 G Sports, a curious machine: two door, front-wheel-drive, full independent suspension, 1300cc, in-board brakes and, like the Yotahachi, equipped with a horizontally opposed engine. This one, lowered on a set of clean Minilite wheels, was particularly quick and, unlike the rest of the cars here, a number were sold in the US. It was too Subaru’s first step into the sports sedan market.

06_Toyota Sports 800 & Honda S800

Though smaller than small, the Sports 800, or Yotahachi, is a very well-proportioned car. The mini-2000GT vibe coming through strongly with its similar headlight cowl, T-grille, low-stance, sleek lines, and inlay cloisonné badges.

29_Toyota Sports 80003_Toyota Sports 800

The red Yotahachi was in excellent condition, and the owner wasn’t scared to give it full throttle. The resulting sound of its air-cooled flat-twin, coming through loud and clear, reminded me of my old 356, which had a similar deep thrum.

20_Toyota Sports 80007_Toyota Sports 800

In keeping with its lightweight, aircraft-inspired construction techniques, the Yotahachi has an aluminum hood, trunk lid, and removable targa top. A silver example, on period Hayashi Street wheels, looked rather purposeful among the trucks at the early morning PA stop.

27_Honda S800 & Toyota Sports 800

The Honda S800 and Toyota Sports 800 were sub-1000cc racing rivals in their day, and the usual story is while the twin-cammed Honda produced more power at its often quoted 10,000 rpm, the Toyota was lighter and more aerodynamic, thus equalizing their on-track performance.

09_Toyota Sports 800_Honda S800 & Toyota Sports 800

No such racing antics were undertaken on this day though, as our destination was through some quiet suburbs to Joga-shima, an island on the tip of the Miura Hanto (hanto is Japanese for peninsula).

26_Lotus Elan+210_Honda S800 & Lotus Elan+2

Along for the day too was a recently imported four-seat Lotus Elan +2, seen here crossing the bridge to Joga-shima.

30_Honda S800 & Lotus Elan+211_Miura Hanto 12_Miura Hanto

Our destination this day was a family-run restaurant, famed for its fresh fish. Despite its reputation for one of the best breakfasts in Kanto, the building was utterly nondescript and even sort of run-down.

13_Miura Hanto

Though empty on our arrival, and barely open so early on a Sunday morning, the mama-san went about making us a pot of tea as she eagerly inquired about the cars we were driving.

14_Miura Hanto

It seems both she and her husband in the kitchen were classic car enthusiasts, and the restaurant was scattered accordingly with many automotive-themed manga. Perhaps someone can comment on this series, as I am a manga ignorant.

15_Miura Hanto

The walls of the restaurant were covered in fishing exploits of both the staff and customers. Here, an inked record of the fish, catch equipment, size and date are recorded.

16_Miura Hanto

With many cooked and raw varieties of fish to choose for breakfast, I went for my standard choice of a fresh-cut maguro-don (raw tuna on rice). To distinguish the style of fish — not sushi in this case — the technique is to hack the fish into lumps for eager consumption, as opposed to diligent slow appreciation of thin-cut sushi or sashimi.

17_Toyota Sports 800

After breakfast, the convoy of S600, S800, Sports 800, Subaru, and Lotus departed for some further driving around the coast before joining the expressway.

18_Honda S600 S800 19_Honda S600 S800

This S800M roadster on semi-slicks is regularly tracked. The M-series Honda were made for supposed US sales, with numerous safety improvements over earlier S-cars including the obvious side markers, dual brake circuits, and recessed door handles. It was, however, ultimately never sold in the US.

21_Subaru ff-1 22_Subaru ff-1

At the next PA, a closer inspection of the Subaru revealed its secret weapon — a single big-bore Weber carburetor. Coupled with some minor undisclosed engine mods, the owner advised he had significantly enhanced his FF-1’s performance.

23_Subaru ff-1

To accommodate the change in performance the original gauges had been swapped out for some Smiths.

24_Honda S600

While both the S600 and S800 have twin cams, roller-bearing modular cranks, solid connecting rods, and four carburetors, there are a number of significant differences under the skin. Notably as most S600 feature chain-driven rear ends, where trailing-arm chain cases take the final drive from the differential to the rear wheels.

25_Lotus Elan+2 & Honda S800

Only very early S800 feature chain-driven rear ends, and most like my gray Coupe here have conventional rigid axles with a Panhard rod, a much simpler configuration.

28_Honda S800 & Toyota Sports 800

The S600 is further distinguished by their lack of power bulge on the hood, needed for the S800 to accommodate the larger carburetors, different grille and front and side badging.

31_Nissan Silvia S13 32_Nissan Silvia S13 33_Nissan Silvia S13

Stopping one last time at a PA, we crossed paths with an S13 Nissan Silvia, configured to continually modify its own body work. It too was obviously out to enjoy the scenic roads in the area.

34_Toyota Sports 800

Finishing my roll of film, I tried to capture the red Yotahachi as he tore off noisily into the expressway traffic. Heading back to Tokyo for a week of work in typical Japanese fashion, we’re always looking forward to the next weekend, and the next Sunday drive.

Skorj is a photographer living in Japan, co-founder of Filmwasters, and shoots in actual film.

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27 Responses to GRAND TOURING: A Miura Hanto Sunday Drive

  1. atx says:

    ” we crossed paths with an S13 Nissan Silvia, configured to continually modify its own body work.” That is the nicest way i’ve seen that put i think. Great pics. That is a bucket list drive.

  2. Tim says:

    “Perhaps someone can comment on this series, as I am a manga ignorant.”

    Through and a little bit of work, it looks like the manga’s name is 次五郎. Google translate turns that into Riffraff times Goro, which doesn’t work, but a Google image search for “次五郎 manga” returns a bunch of covers that look right for the series, including one with romaji characters – JIGORO JIGOROU. Googling that returns a bunch of info, so I think that’s the translated title.

    • Tim says:

      From the Baka-Updates summary of this manga:

      The story begins in the first volume with how Jigorou ‘borrows’ Kusuo’s Cadillac so he can impress some girls by pretending that he’s the ‘Service Area King’. But since he’s an utter twit, he ends up crashing the car. To make it short, Kusuo arrives and beats the crap out of his younger brother, who is saved only when Isao intervenes.

      Later at his part-time job, Jigorou then somehow gets himself stuck in a mess when he agrees to challenge Hideki ‘Guillotine’ Okada in a little driving duel. He rushes off to buy a car for the duel with his savings, but finds that out of 500,000 yen, he’s only got 50,000 yen left in his account after having to pay for the repairs to Kusuo’s car. As expected, the poor boy spazzes and Kusuo takes pity on him and takes him to a junkyard, where Jigorou ends up buying a S13 Silvia.

      Thanks to the new car, Jigorou ends up impressing everyone at the duel with his ‘super playboy technique’ drifting, including one very pretty Chinatsu Honda.

  3. John M says:

    Really enjoy seeing these excursions. The pics seemed to be as crisp as that morning air. Appreciate the different angles and details. Not sure about the car manga featuring the male escort.

  4. Nils Wenzler says:

    As I seem to have the same combination of funky hobbies – old cars and film photography – would you care to comment on camera/lens/film combos you use ? I’d be really interested (Not that the camera defines the image, but well, it’s still interesting… I probably don’t have to explain this to a fellow gearhead :D).
    Nice Honda btw., it is on my list as well, exactly in this color!

  5. Scotty G says:

    Hmm.. I can’t seem to post to this story for some odd reason (but, of course, this one will probably go through)..

    • Scotty G says:

      HA, I knew it!

      My original one:

      Not to be all maudlin (again), but, this is such a fantastic website! The author’s Honda is drop-dead gorgeous. But, being a Subaru and Toyota guy in my soul, the Sports 800 and especially the FF-1 were fun to see. All but the Lotus are on my master-wish-list, in no particular order.

      So, the hacked, lumps-o-fish were sort of the equivalent of a working-person’s breakfast, not so much of a fancy, meal-as-treat dish like an elegantly-prepared sushi version would be? It was interesting to see that and it looked great. You never mentioned whether it was, in fact, as good as it was reported to be? I’m guessing that it was, and maybe even more so doe to the fact that the owners were such gracious hosts and fellow car people.

      • Skorj says:

        Correct! Same too for lunch sets in places that have more formal slow dinners. While I like a delicate sashimi plate too, there is something good about getting your teeth into something…

  6. Ryan Senensky says:

    I’ve never seen a Lotus Elan look so large in my life. haha

  7. Jay Rivers says:

    What a great read. I’m so greatly appreciative of your website ,and all its great aticles. I have been a long time member of the site. I even purchased your T-shirts and decals long ago. There is a reason I continue to invest my time in your site. It always delivers a great past time. Thanks again for you guys hard work and please continue the great work. I love that older Honda. It is on my bucket list for sure. Can’t wait for the next article.

  8. kelly says:

    sup Skorj,

    Great work as usual brother. Got a question for you, what is your process of developing your film and what format do you get them to digital format?

    • Skorj says:

      Hey Bro. Thanks! I get all my stuff lab developed, and I use C-41 films (or C-41 like films) to make that easier. I then either scan myself (Buroni stuff), or get the lab to scan to CD (35mm). As the Fuji DPE wet developers use scanning and ink-jet printing these days, the operator just hits the ‘CD’ button, and not the ‘Print’ button. Luckily disposable camera sales in Japan are relatively flat, so there’s DPE labs in most shotengai still.

      Others I know, home develop and scan their C-41…

  9. Stace says:

    Another great article by scorj that was a pleasure to read.

  10. matt says:

    pleasant post-stuffing-yourself-for-thanksgiving reading 🙂

  11. MementoMori says:

    I love this site and stories like these, thank you for the post Skorj!
    Always great to read about Yotahachis and S800s.

  12. Brett says:

    What a great way to spend a Sunday; I so want to visit Japan again, but visitors can never really access these experiences. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Randy says:

    Another great road trip by Skorj!

    Breakfast looked good, except for fish – esp. raw – for breakfast… Sorry, man, but just no on the fish… Everything else looked good, though!

  14. Ant says:

    Really enjoy these road trip pieces – great pictures, and it’s nice to have a wider narrative around the drive to give it context. I’d happily drive any of these cars too, including the Lotus (there’s something very cool about seeing an Elan+2 with a Japanese license plate). Intrigued by that Subaru too – I wasn’t aware that car existed until reading this.

  15. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    Miura Hanto was the go-to place for a weekend getaway for my parents as a kid. I could only dream to take a drive through the watermelon fields (and honeybucket wagons) in the 60’s and 70’s. A lot of fond memories of camping with my mom’s Toyopet. I learned to drive (a stick) in an abandoned Army Base in Tomioka. The Sunday night traffic jams were just as bad back then, heading back into Yokohama. I remember club drives passing us back then.

  16. Dave Spinnett says:

    Nice, thanks for sharing! I miss my Yotahachi 🙁

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