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Five Best Japanese Racing Cars of All Time

Japanese race car manufacturers were not always leaders in the industry. But from the 1960s onward, they began to make a noticeable impact in the world of motorsports. Many cars deserve to be mentioned on the following list, but we have managed to whittle the number down to what we consider to be the top five Japanese racing cars of all time.

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5. Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500

Used by Nissan in the Japanese top-spec Super GT division since 2008, the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 has had many victories over the years. Far removed from the road version of the GT-R, the GT500 features two-wheel drive and is powered by a twin-turbo 2.0 four. That may sound a little wimpy, but it ensures close competition within Japan’s domestic races. The GT500 also kicks out a very nice 500bhp, hence the race car’s name. With on-the-road GT-R NISMOs available, you can personally experience the excitement of driving a version of this beauty. If that’s out of your budget, you may prefer to check out some of the driving slot games at Casumo casino; though obviously these won’t be quite as thrilling!

4. 1981 Mazda RX7 TWR

Mazda was relatively unknown in the late 1970s, but the manufacturer saw the opportunity to use motorsports to show the general public how revolutionary the RX-7’s rotary engine was. The car debuted in 1979, gaining a class win at the 24 Hours of Daytona. In 1981, the TWR gained an overall win at the 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps with Pierre Dieudonne and Tom Walkinshaw behind the wheel. The car paved the way for the Mazda 787B race car, which won the 1991 24 Hours of Le Mans.

3. Toyota Tacoma Pickup

If you think pickups are slow and unsophisticated, you need to think again. In 1998, racing competitor and vehicle designer Rod Millen and his team designed and built the Toyota Tacoma racing pickup truck to take part in the 76th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The Tacoma went on to take the unlimited class honours in both 1998 and 1999. The pickup was based on Millen’s previously successful vehicle, the Celica Pikes Peak car. A mid-mounted 2.1 four-pot creating 800bhp powered the Tacoma, and the car’s 4WD made the ascent of the Pikes Peak climb much more feasible. The truck was based around a space-frame and a tubular chassis, and its body panels used some of the most lightweight composite materials around, such as Kevlar and carbon fibre.

2. Honda RA272

A successor to the RA271, the Honda RA272 car was designed by Shoichi Sano and Yoshio Nakamura for the 1965 Formula One season. The design worked. The RA272 became the very first Japanese car to win in F1 when Richie Ginther stormed the Mexican Grand Prix. The race car was technically more advanced than its predecessor, with a 48-valve 1.495.28 cc V12 engine with 14.000 rpm, which was very unusual for an engine of the 1960s. The RA272 also featured a water-cooled, transversely mounted unit which was able to give 230 bhp at 13.000 rpm. When this car came out, Japanese manufacturers were not the industry leaders that they are today, so they had to fight to be taken seriously. The Honda RA272 enabled them to do that with style.

1. Toyota Corolla WRC

In 1996, Toyota’s Celica ST205 was banned from racing in the WRC because of its illegal turbo restrictors. Rather than throwing in the towel, Toyota came back fighting by developing a new car that met World Rally Car regulations. Based upon the E110 road car version of the Toyota Corolla, the car debuted at the 1997 Rally Finland, with Marcus Grönholm and Didier Auriol in the driver’s seat. The new car was far more advanced than the Celica. It was powered by a modified 3S-GTE engine, with a water-cooled turbo system that produced 223 kW, and it had a 4WD system that was used in the Celica ST205. The following year, the Toyota Corolla won the 1998 Monte Carlo Rally with the help of double Word Rally Champions Carlos Sainz and co-driver Luis Moya. After the car’s first victory, it went on to win three more races: the Rallye Catalunya and the Rally New Zealand in 1998, and the China Rally in 1999.

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