Travel: Japanese Nostalgic Car’s First True California Touge
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Japanese Nostalgic Car’s First True California Touge

By Andrew Schneider
May 20, 2015
9 comments

Photography by Andrew Schneider

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I joined 20 drivers for 7 hours, winding through one of the most exciting routes I’ve experienced. On that day, Ben Hsu, owner and editor of Japanese Nostalgic Car, brought his dream to life: a true “Touge” rally in Southern California.

Patrick Strong, the coordinator for Santa Monica Sports Car Club, assisted Ben in putting together an extensive course that would challenge drivers in every way. Ben felt an obligation to create an event for Japanese enthusiasts, one that would truly resonate within the tight-knit community.

Historic events like the Mille Miglia inspired Ben to give the Japanese nostalgic car community a similar experience. So off he went, spending many nights carefully planning the Touge California—it took an entire year and a half to bring this event to fruition!

For those of you unfamiliar with the Japanese word touge, it means “pass”. These mountain passes are quite common in Japan and serve the purpose of decreasing elevation in the road. As these twists and turns were built into the mountain, Japanese enthusiasts took to these passes for driving pleasure—and has the entire sport of drifting, not to mention the world-renown anime franchise Initial D, as proof of the touge’s allure.

Ben Hsu & Patrick Strong went above and beyond to emulate a touge course in Southern California. The course started in Thousand Oaks, and ended in Torrance at the Toyota Museum.

At the starting point, drivers were provided with a freshly baked cookie, a pamphlet with directions, and an envelope that held routes around some of the most challenging sections of driving. If the driver chose to open the envelope, and thus not complete the full rally course, they would be denied proof of completion. I am happy to report that everyone completed safely!

The cars involved ranged from a first generation Honda Accord (with a two speed automatic transmission!) to a huge Toyota Century sedan, all the way to a C10 Nissan Skyline. Its noise was captivating, as the sounds of its sidedraft carburetors popped against the mountainside.

Ben and Japanese Nostalgic Car will hold events like this again in the future. It’s because of people like Ben and Patrick that keep wonderful nostalgia—so-called “J-tin”—on the road. These cars were built to drive, flow through corners, and provide unmatched excitement.

As the market for Japanese classics continues to flourish in the U.S., Ben and the rest of the community will be there, willing to dedicate the time and energy to unite true enthusiasts of Japanese classics.

You can see more of Andrew Schnieder’s pictures on his flickr and on instagram. 

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9 Comments on "Japanese Nostalgic Car’s First True California Touge"

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John Williams
John Williams

Douglas, You need to get yourself a Datsun 240Z. Then you will be happy.
I did this drive last Saturday in my 240Z had an absolute blast, Good cars, good food, good people, And great folks taking pic’s
Thanks Andrew. Great job on the photos.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
On one hand this sends a wave of nostalgia over me bringing a smile to my face . On the other : realizing I was driving and buying cars when these were new , another wave of nostalgia overwhelms me . Reminding me all too well of my 50 + years on this planet . Kind of like hearing a song on Retro Radio realizing you bought the LP the day it was released . As to Japanese cars becoming collectable here in the US ? Well . With some of them such as the Z’s early RX7’s Datsun 510/2000’s… Read more »
Rudolf Wesseln
Rudolf Wesseln
18 years old my first car was a Toyota Celica hatchback in blue. It was fun, it was great, it was cool. Since then I really love these sporty Japanese cars. Now I am older but not wiser, the family car has to cover a lot of functional aspects (wife, kids, dog, luggage etc.), I do have a nice US-V8 for the fun times but am still thinking about a Celica or Z from the 70s for the sunday mornings. Getting up early, starting the little car and then driving on empty streets to the Alps, having a cup of… Read more »
Stephan P
Stephan P

It’s been said Japanese car arent collectible, I think a bunch of SoCal folks proved them wrong. I love to see some of those cars.

saxon bell
saxon bell

Very cool. I spent 10years as a classic vw man but I’ve come to appreciate other european and Jap cars. The yellow datsun looks great. Those Watanabe? wheels are the Jap version of fuchs(VW), bbs rs(euro)- everywhere cos they look so good!
Great initiative this event

HSW
HSW

Took 1.5 years to plan? What are the details that goes into planning such an event?

Nar
Nar

Good stuff! Cars being driven hard regardless of age is always awesome. Great selection of JNC’s. 🙂

Douglas Anderson
Douglas Anderson
Sorry folks but this whole Japane’s car nostalgia car thing escapes me. I admit that i have owned a Toyota SR5 lift back and a Mazda RX7 convertible. The Toyota was as inspiring as a hammer and the Mazda was fun at times but used a lot of oil and petrol , had a bad case of cowl shake when pushed but still left me cold as it had no real personality. As a retired old man i work part time for a tire shop and get to drive all manner of wretched vehicles that struggle to pass inspection here… Read more »
Derelict
Derelict
You are of a different generation. Here is why I say that. 1960s muscle cars do nothing for me. Nothing at all. Why? Because I was born in the 80s. The people buying those muscle cars were those that wanted to buy them growing up but could not afford them. As generations grow older and start to have disposable money, they begin to buy the stuff that they grew up with. American cars from the 60s- 80s do nothing for me but do excite the people growing up during that era. These people enjoy their Japanese cars because that is… Read more »
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