SEMA 2009: Nostalgics from Subaru and Honda


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!

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21 Responses to SEMA 2009: Nostalgics from Subaru and Honda

  1. bert says:

    That 74 Civic race car is really cool! And that’s comin from a huge Toyota fan. I can’t really stand Honda’s! (love the motorcycles, won’t touch anything else! go figure!)

    And 146mph in an old Civic with a 1200cc motor is just…………….it’s just……………….I don’t know what to say!!!

  2. Lincoln Stax says:

    All four cars are great, but I’m loving that SCCA Civic the most. That little wrong-wheel-driver is pure sex.

  3. bert says:

    Some years ago, I was cruising through Seattle with a couple friends when a guy driving one of these early Civic’s pulled up next to us and asked if we wanted a free car! He even had a ligit title with him! But it looked kinda banged up and we all said no.(It was “just” an old Civic after all.) But after seeing the old racer here, I’m having some serious regrets!

  4. leongsoon says:

    I share Bert’s sentiments! I like Honda motorbikes, but I can’t really stand the cars apart from the nostalgic Z600, Today, CRX, more modern NSX, EG Civics etc etc, but that Civic race car and CRX really got me!

  5. robakun says:

    yea I was looking at those Hondas today. I used to have a civic and crx so i was remembering how they were…

  6. Slag says:

    Any idea why that (incredible) Civic has a British number plate?

  7. bert says:

    That was a great article. Thanks cesariojpn!

  8. I love old race cars, especially when they are in original survivor state. That race patina can’t be replicated any other way.

  9. pholife says:

    old schoool moogen! love it!

  10. nostalgic hero says:

    this makes me proud to be rocking a ’77 civic.

  11. Jeff says:

    Mugen CR-X…. one of my all-time favorites. Is this owned by Honda as well? That would require a trip to Torrance at some point after the show….

  12. Ben says:

    The story on the S2000: It’s driven by Bob Boileau III!

  13. silverra23 says:

    mmmm lots of cool stuff! hurry up with more pics will you šŸ˜€

  14. Lincoln Stax says:

    @Slag: I was wondering that myself. Why a British license plate on the Boileau Civic?

  15. GEN2TWINCAM says:

    Old Hondacars are my passion!

    But I get a little pissed when Honda uses nostalgics for promos. Because, my friends, if you own one they don’t give a rat’s about your efforts to preserve or restore your car. When their dealers stop making fortunes on replacement parts, the vast majority of these parts get destroyed.

    Honda needs an Hisoric Preservation Division (I’m available)!

  16. Sr-FairladyZ says:

    RICE?? That is the most awesomest CR-X ever! Nothing gets me going like factory supported performance specialty editions!! (FSPSE)

  17. HaloZ says:

    hey I’m standing back by the Indy engines taking pictures. The dude in black with the white and black hightops in sema2009_113_honda_n600.jpg. šŸ™‚

  18. Sarcasmo says:

    I have an old Car and Driver from 86 with that same Mugen CRX in there, at the time it was either black and white or blue and white 2 tone. Love the front lip on the Civic race car.. looks like a Kamei.

  19. Al Boileau says:

    I am Al Boileau, son of Bob Boileau, JR aka: Honda Bob.
    To answer your question regarding the British plate…
    It is from Honda Bob’s first race car an early 950cc Mini.
    Dad always kept this piece of his first car as he raced over the years.
    In fact this same plate spent a few seasons on an NSU race car.

    Dad was very nostalgic like that and he cherished his Civic. Over the years there wasn’t any Honda Support as they have today and we had to invent and build items to improve the car. He was truly an innovator.

    Check out this other really cool Boileau project – The Datsun MX520

    The Boileau blood runs thick in Honda as my brother Bob just won the first major championship in an S-2000 with his victory at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs in 2009.
    My nephews, Tommy and Bobby Boileau also race and Tommy became they youngest licensed road course driver in the country at 14 yrs old and he competed in the NASA National Championships at Mid-Ohio in 2008. In 2009 Tommy and Bobby both competed in NASA driving a BMW M3 and a Spec Miata. They have already tested in an Indy Car and some older NASCARS.

    Watch out for the Boileau boys – – COMING TO A TRACK NEAR YOU SOON!!

    The new and improved Boileau Racing website is coming soon with our racing history, current schedules, photos, projects and much more.

    Take care and it is truely a pleasure reading your comments about Dad’s old Civic.

    Best Regards
    Al Boileau

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