HAYASHI RACING JAPAN VISIT
HAYASHI RACING JAPAN VISIT
For years I dreamt about visiting Japan. As editor of Fast Fours & Rotaries magazine, it was at the top of my bucket list. Earlier this year I finally had the opportunity to make the trip, and it surpassed all my expectations. The first city we stayed in was Osaka, home to the legendary Hayashi Racing. Vintage Japanese wheels carry a lot of significance to J-tin enthusiasts, and the Hayashi catalogue includes some of the most highly sought after.
On our second day in Osaka we hired bicycles and rode to Hayashi Racing. It wasn't too far from where we were staying, and after pre-loading the map on my phone we managed to make it there without too much trouble.
I had two mates with me, and after stumbling through a few Japanese words from our phrase book we worked out that the Hayashi office was upstairs, and the workshop downstairs was not part of Hayashi at all. We wandered up and met the owner and his colleague's wife who were shocked that were had come all the way from 'Ostorayria'. Check out that Hayashi Racing carpet!
They were only too happy to show us around their office space. It was a mixture of weird trinkets and old Japanese car parts. The walls had old posters, photos and catalogues framed up. This shelf held an unusual selection of wheels, including several 10in designs for Minis and a couple of centrelock designs for race cars.
The 'Street' is probably Hayashi's most famous wheel style, and is still available to order today, decades after it's introduction. New sets of Streets can be ordered in a few different styles, including a new six-stud version for vans and 4WDs.
One of Hayashi's other legendary creations is the Yayoi or Sakura, shown here with the pink centre. The design is based off the famous Japanese cherry blossom petals. The other wheel is a Street that's been sliced in half to show a cross section of the construction.
These particular wheels are hugely desirable in Japan and across the world. One of the company owners brought out this amazing example which shows the kind of crazy sizes you were able to order these in. The price this would sell for today would put most other wheels to shame.
Also on the shelves were other bits and pieces from all sorts of cars. Big brake calipers, old pistons, wheel centre caps and these steering wheels. There is a strong racing heritage at Hayashi and they had kept old car parts and photos on the walls celebrating their involvement in motorsport over the years.
The book shelves were loaded up with Japanese car magazines and catalogues from other manufacturers. We did our best to communicate with the staff who told us that the owner of Watanabe (another famous Japanese manufacturer) was in the same office the day before! He was playing golf with the other owner of Hayashi the day we were there.
A few days later in Nagoya I saw a car in the flesh that I'd saved a photo of back in Australia several weeks earlier.
It had a gorgeous set of Hayashi Streets on it which really set the car off.
I asked the owner about the wheels on his Toyota. He told me they were his favourite part of the car. Car enthusiasts over there are passionate about having the correct wheels, and Hayashi's finest can be found on some of the best vintage cars in Japan. Getting to see the office and meet the guys behind the brand was a fantastic experience.
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