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Tuesday, 6 January 2015

THE TEMPLE OF VTEC: SPOON SPORTS’ TYPE ONE

THE TEMPLE OF VTEC: SPOON SPORTS’ TYPE ONE




When I think back to the week I spent in Japan last month it seems like another lifetime in the grand scheme of things, yet I still have a few fruits of my labor left to share. Today we’ll take a look at a very impromptu visit the workshop arm of the Honda-tuning gods Spoon, better known as TYPE ONE.


These days, Spoon is a household name within the tuning industry and thanks to video games and movies, the brand has become thoroughly cemented into popular culture. In more recent years, their heavy involvement with Honda’s S2000 platform has catapulted them into a global phenomenon.


Having grown up messing about with countless Hondas myself, Spoon is a company I have a lot of experience with. In fact, I’ve even visited this very shop before – but after hearing it was recently rennovated I knew I had to make a quick stop to check out the refurbished digs. A chance to meet the legendary man behind the brand, Tatsuru Ichishima, couldn’t hurt either.


Much like many other Japanese tuning shops, TYPE ONE is fairly unassuming on the outside…


Unless of course they happen to be moving cars in and out of the shop during rush hour – then the place can become quite the spectacle! Here we see Ichi-san doing his best traffic cop impersonation.


But once you’ve made your way inside its doors, TYPE ONE has lots for the Honda enthusiast to drool over. Just a quick scan through this selection of valve covers gives a pretty good insight into the brand’s specialties.


Due to the constant struggle for space in Japan, TYPE ONE is able to fight a relatively small footprint by cleverly splitting tasks between two separate levels with an extra third-level mezzanine for car storage. It’s here on the top floor where some of the most recognizable images of the shop are captured.


This is also a place where special and rare pieces are displayed, like this Spoon formula engine. The shape of the header is completely unreal and Ichi insisted that I feel each of the runners with my hands in order to properly appreciate it.


Underneath the engine I found one of Spoon’s most rare pieces for the B-Series engine, the increased capacity cast oil pan. While very similar to the GReddy item for the SR20, I don’t believe this particular piece was ever actually sold – I’m sure there are a few Honda enthusiasts who would pay a pretty penny for one.


Spoon unquestionably carved out a niche for themselves with the surging popularity of the B-series engine in the late ’90s, but they’re definitely pumping out greater variety these days. One of the packages that seems to be on the rise in popularity is their NSX crate engines and rebuild services.


I decided to head back downstairs to have a look at the engine building room and was quite surprised to see just how many motors were in the shop! I guess Hector must have put a little too much boost through the T-66 turbos on the three Civics he took to racewars!


Fast and Furious references aside, I was pretty impressed at how seriously committed the guys at Spoon are to doing something well. I found this gentleman taking some measurements in the midst of a balance and blueprint job.


Here we see some components that were too far out of balance to be considered acceptable. If I recall correctly, one of the pistons was going to be discarded completely and replaced due to what most shops would consider a very minor variance.


Spoon’s ideology has always been to keep things simple and balanced and they’ve done a pretty good job of proving that with a little focus and a serious commitment to upholding your values, you can accomplish great feats. To Ichishima, power is nothing without balance and durability.


Because of this, Spoon has often be criticized for selling parts that don’t necessarily make a lot of power, but one thing they do well is stand the test of time. This is partially because many of their components are factory derived pieces while others are simply limited by the classes of racing that Spoon usually choose to partake in – like the Super Taikyu series.


TYPE ONE also offers similar obsessive-compulsive services for transmissions as well, although the day of my visit there wasn’t much torn apart.


In addition to the major overhauls, TYPE ONE’s main bread and butter comes from regular maintenance and repairs. Here Ichi is showing me a typical repair sheet that a customer would receive after bringing their car to Spoon for upkeep.


Once you’ve left your car in Spoon’s hands, you can rest assured that a member of TYPE ONE’s crack team of mechanics will be pampering your car. When they aren’t busy completing customer builds, the shop hands are working around the clock to button up Spoon’s demo cars like this EK9 endurance racer which we’ll take a deeper look at soon.


Aside from having meticulous Honda fanatics working on your car, it’s quite an honor for many Honda lovers to have their engine bays adorn the official TYPE ONE service stickers. Believe it or not, even these little badges alone are worth money to the right enthusiast.


I’ve already briefly mentioned Spoon’s popularity amongst the S2000 crowd, but I was blown away by the number of these cars on hand in the shop. I’m sure that on the right day you could probably walk through the doors and find nothing but Honda roadsters inside.


While there is much to be said about Spoon’s entire line of parts for the car, I would have to say it’s their unique body kit that really caught a lot of people’s attention off the bat. In addition to looking like a badass mother, the aero is also completely functional and regularly proven on the circuits by Spoon and its customers.


Yet the same kit seems just as at home on the streets. It’s really quite remarkable how little difference there is between the S-Tai racer and this clean standard example. Looks good enough to buy doesn’t it? Well, if you’re in the market, you’re in luck because it’s actually for sale.


That’s right, Spoon’s latest business ventures have been in the form of buying and reselling cars like this very S2000. They’ll pick up a car they see potential in, then make sure it’s completely up-to-snuff mechanically before reselling it in roadworthy condition. This concept first began a few years ago when the brand announced they would be creating bespoke left-hand-drive NSX Type-Rs.


But that’s not to say that Spoon has given up on selling parts! The Spoon Sports line of tuning parts are still as popular as ever with staple items like the Momo-constructed steering wheel consistently selling out in stores around the world.


Meanwhile other classics like their iconic brakes also remain best sellers as newer items like the CR93 wheels are being added all the time.


There’s no doubt that Tatsuri Ichishima is a very busy man, but also one completely filled with passion for what he does. Although I didn’t really learn anything “new” about Spoon, I must admit that meeting the man behind the company has certainly put his vision into perspective. I think it’s safe to bet this won’t be the last you hear about him.





Credit to Speed Hunters


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