Giving up just isn’t in the cards for some people. The old saying, “When life gives you lemons…” often comes to mind when a bad situation presents itself. For Hirosi Kayano, this situation presented itself years ago when the first Mugen RR hit sales floors across Japan. I know, this isn’t a bad thing at all, right? But things can get a little “citrusy sour” pretty quick when you find your beloved, brand-new Mugen-equipped toy virtually torn to pieces after a spirited drive around a sharp corner at the local track. I hate to say it, but this is exactly what happened to Hirosi a few years back. Now, I’m sure that anger and humiliation coursed through his head like a monsoon, but with true strength of mind, he dusted himself off, collected what was salvageable, and started building another RR right away. Four years later, we now see the fruit of his toils. And quite honestly, to use a word like “stunning” would be the gravest understatement of the year.
So what makes this RR so much better? Well, let’s see: A flawless combination of an ITB-enhanced K24, an almost completely carbon body, J’s Racing parts out the arse, and a comprehensive Toda top end stack up to equal a new level of perfection. As if the Mugen RR wasn’t awesome and rare enough already, this particular RR is modded to Hades and back! And this bad boy is no show queen, either. It gets tracked regularly and still looks good enough to perch proudly in the J’s Racing booth at the Tokyo Auto Salon every year. It’s both beauty and the beast; all manifested in one sweet sedan. So let’s dive under the bonnet to have a closer look, shall we?
Once you get past the glorious Toda Racing ITB setup that commands your attention from the moment you pop the hood, you’ll notice things like a custom oil catch can mounted on the firewall, custom racing radiator, and J’s Racing reinforced radiator hoses. Pop off the valve cover and you’ll discover things like custom-cut valves, a Toda titanium valvetrain, and a port and polish job that’s guaranteed to flow smoother than your favorite emcee. Thanks to the forged bottom end that features a one-off stroker kit and a baffled oil pan, you know that Kayano-san had zero interest in cutting corners with this build.
Now step back from the bonnet for a moment, so that we can soak up the lines of this vehicle. From the factory, the RR looks sharper than a sashimi knife, but with a few choice J’s Racing aero parts, this FD2 looks astonishing! From the J’s Racing original front end to the massive rear wing and diffuser, this car looks the part of a race car because, well, it is a race car. And for those crying foul over the massive vinyl graphics that encompass the car, just remember that sponsorship recognition is very important for all parties involved in the building/racing of a vehicle.
So let’s talk a bit about the men behind the build for a moment. Most of us Honda-heads are familiar with J’s Racing and the premium line of products it offers. If you recall the October 2011 issue of HT, I sat down to interview the president of J’s Racing to bring you the inside scoop on the company’s inimitable history and inner workings. So now I’m back, again, and this time I’ve got a fresh fleet of questions for the J’s Racing boys.
When Kayano-san crashed his old RR into a wall on that fateful day years ago, he was crushed, psychologically. But instead of being demoralized to the point of giving up altogether, Kayano-san salvaged what he could from the wrecked RR and got right back into building another. This time around he opted for the build being completely done by J’s Racing of Osaka, so he dropped in on the boys one day to pick their brains about the RR, and the mods they were willing to do to it. When J’s Racing’s president, Murakami-san, heard there were zero budget limitations and that the car needed to be as light as possible, his eyes lit up. Rarely do even the wealthiest customers say, “Sure. Go to town on it. I don’t care what it costs.” This was going to be Murakami-san’s chance to show the world what the RR could really do. But first, he needed a plan of attack.
To start with, Murakami-san ditched the K20 Mugen RR powerplant (custom cams and all) along with the custom-programmed ECU. While part of me dies inside a little bit every time I say this, I am forever elated when I think about what took its place. A reinforced K24 now sits snugly inside, filled with Toda titanium and every other imaginable upgrade a NA engine could want in its lifetime. To control everything under the bonnet, J’s Racing utilized its Hyper ECU program via a MoTeC M400 setup, which was custom tuned to 340-plus horsepower. Once the engine was under control and finally fitted with Toda ITBs, it was time to move on to other areas of the car.
A beefier 5.5 J’s Racing final gear was installed along with a 1.5-way limited slip from the same maker. From there, it was time to confront things like suspension, brakes, aero, and weight savings. Every imaginable J’s Racing aero part that would fit made its way onto the RR. This was followed by the installation of interior goods like a custom cage, 100 percent carbon rear seat-back, and J’s original steering setup. The 30-way adjustable dampers led the footwork, supported by roll center adjusters and some stiffer J’s bushings. A six-pot brake kit replaced the front Brembos, the rear rotors became oversize and slotted, and everything was fed Seidoya brake fluid via J’s stainless lines.
So here she sits today. Thanks to Kayano-san’s determination, J’s Racing’s unrelenting ingenuity, and a pocketbook deeper than the Pacific Ocean, they’ve fashioned a Mugen-made monster that is now hungry for helpless hatchbacks all across Japan. Their goal was to merge both the track racing and street-able aspects of the car into a seamless instrument of speed. But the trick was to not ditch all of the RR aspects that make the car so iconic. While some people may be disgusted that these guys chopped up something as beautiful as an RR, keep in mind that everything about this car screams “perfection.” That’s why we do what we do; we perfect the flaws that can be found in a stock car. Even one as flawless as the Mugen RR has room for improvement. If you still can’t get over the fact that they cut into a legendary car like the RR, my suggestion is that you should get over it. They built this car for themselves and for the track. Not for you!