When memories awaken: A Voyage of exploration at Spoon Sports in Japan

We continue our trip to Japan with the Hoonigans and Larry Chen: The next stop was Suginami City in Tokyo, actually at Type One, the shop, and showroom of Spoon Sports!

For those JDM enthusiasts who were infected by VTEC fever in the 1990s and early 2000s and still are, there is no other man of great merit in the JDM scene as Tatsuru Ichishima-san. The founder of Spoon Sports.

In the late 1980s, the former test driver and Honda race car driver, Tatsuru Ichishima (on the right in the image) founded his own tuning and motorsport label “Spoon Sports” with the blessing of Honda and Honda’s unofficial official external motorsport department Mugen Motorsports.

In Europe, Spoon Sports became known mainly through various Japanese magazines such as “Option Magazine”, that as a “JDM fan” you could only buy at big train stations that carried a huge amount of international magazines or have the magazines imported directly to you from Japan. There were even VHS cassettes from “Option Magazine” and later DVDs with time-attack races and drift videos of the original Drift King Keiichi Tsuchiya as well as international editions in English of the magazines that were available!

Even in Gran Turismo 2 on PlayStation, you could drive the Spoon Civics and in real life, for example, Tatsuru Ichishima and Kazunori Yamauchi Polyphony Digital CEO and inventor of the Gran Turismo game series started at the 25h Race of Thunderhill.

The special thing about Spoon was and still is that tuning is done in the old-fashioned traditional way: Instead of a hard parking stance, the Japanese Honda specialist focuses on driving dynamics and performance for road and motorsport. For many JDM enthusiasts, Tatsuru Ichishima is a kind of Japanese Colin Chapman.

Because just like the British motorsport icon Colin Chapman, Tatsuru Ichishima went and still goes with Spoon Sports and Type One in all his developments as the way to make Honda vehicles faster in a classic way: consistent lightweight construction, well-sophisticated aerodynamics, and stable engine tuning. Then as now with high-revving naturally aspirated engines or partly with turbo conversions.

In 1988 Ichishima-san started in the Japanese Touring Car Championship with his Honda Civic AT converted to a Group A racing car with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder (DOHC ZC). Spoon had tuned the naturally aspirated engine to 230 hp. These old Honda ZC engines did not have variable valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC) at that time yet, in the Japanese market the first Civics with “VTEC kicked in, yo!”-feature came in the early 1990s with the EJ1.

While the racing cars from Spoon Sports are always painted blue and yellow, the Type One road cars usually wear a timeless white. But before you start asking yourself why we visited Spoon with Larry Chen in the first place, we can finally let the cat out of the bag.

Together with Spoon Sports and Type One we will develop “Spoon Sports Coilovers” with adjustable shocks for selected Honda vehicles in the future.

The suspensions are specially designed for the spring rates, damper tuning, and suspension settings which were developed by Spoon Sports and Type One together with Keiichi “Drift King” Tsuchiya and Tatsuru Ichishima as well as our engineers.

But we have also been involved in one other motorsport project of Spoon Sports in the past. For example, our US colleagues supported Spoon Sports in their “Time Attack FWD Unlimited Civic” – one of the fastest front-wheel-drive Civics ever in this class.

The most interesting feature of the “Time Attack Spoon Civic” is the fact that the seat and steering wheel have not only been moved further back in position but that everything has been positioned in the middle of the vehicle for optimum weight distribution.

By the way, the “Center Seat Civic” was driven by Dai Yoshihara and we, from Germany, were also on-site at that time for the setup work and test drives with the Honda.

Over the past decades, Spoon Sports has earned its merits in motorsport with its Honda NSX Type R, Honda S2000, Honda Civic and Integra Type R… Racing History Highlights were class victories at the Nürburgring 24-hour race, Super Taikyu, Tokachi 24-hour race, 25 Hours of Thunderhill, Tsukuba 9-hour race and many, many more.

In the Type One Shop, Honda fans can simply get everything, from handmade exhaust systems, swaybars, coupling rods, brake systems, valve covers, throttle bodies, driveshafts, camshafts, cylinder heads, connecting rods, pistons, oil pans, ultra-light rims, and more.

Of course, Spoon Sports and Type One do not neglect the aerodynamic components either. There is simply everything that makes a Honda faster, and even differentials, gear ratio sets, gearboxes, flywheels and much more.

Currently, a completely rebuilt “150.000 US-$ Honda-Civic-SiR” is also being developed in cooperation with Spoon Sports. The project is led by the Japanese Katsu Takahashi (Instagram: builtbylegends) who wants to build a “JDM-Restomod” of the 1990s. The hand-welded titanium manifold alone is a feast for the eyes!

But now we don’t want to keep you in suspense any longer, because Katsu Takahashi and Larry Chen present the Civic, which is still under construction, and of course the Type One Spoon Sports Shop on the YouTube video…

Photos KW, Larry Chen, C. Schmidt, Videos Hoonigan Autofocus, GT Channel; Words C. Schmidt

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