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Hi, I'm Rory Reid, and welcome to Extra Gear, the show with a triple-A
backstage pass to all things Top Gear.
Tonight, Extra Gear gets an exclusive invite to a secret stash
of cars in Japan.
I have been waiting to do this all day.
Harris takes a Nissan Nismo 370Z out for a spin.
Through the follow-through. Breathe in.
And I'll be joined on the sofa
by gamer-turned-racer Jann Mardenborough
and comedian Matt Richardson.
That's how we roll. This is Extra Gear.
Let's get our guests out. First up is a man who was so good on the
PlayStation that Nissan gave him a job as a real racing driver.
It's Jann Mardenborough.
-Take a seat.
And a man who knows all about drive-time, it's Matt Richardson.
So, Jann, thanks for joining us.
You've flown in all the way from Japan to be here, right?
Yeah, I got in yesterday, three o'clock.
-So, a bit tired.
Bags under the eyes. But make-up solved that for me.
But you hold the record now for the person who has flown the longest to
be on Extra Gear, so congratulations.
-Matt, have you been to Japan?
I've never been to Japan and I came from Zone 3, so, it's...
Never been inclined to visit?
I don't speak Japanese so I don't think my comedy would go down
that well there. And, you know,
I'm not a racing driver, so I don't get to be as rock and roll.
Jann, you actually race in Japan.
Your path into motorsport wasn't exactly traditional, was it?
I started to get into motorsport through gaming.
So, I won a competition back in 2011 called GT Academy.
So, they find the fastest people on the racing game Gran Turismo,
the main prize is a professional drive in Dubai, and Nissan said,
"OK, yeah, you did well, we'll give you a contract for 2013."
And then it's just kind of like carried on since then.
-Yeah, it's an amazing story but I want to know
-about the process.
I was in my room a minimum six hours a day, every day.
I was when I was a teenager as well, but not playing games.
So, you went to Brands Hatch and then Silverstone.
You won the big final race of GT Academy and you're on the big podium
step at Silverstone, you've got Johnny Herbert,
you've got Eddie Irvine with you.
Yeah. He announced that I was the champion but his accent,
he's from Ireland, and it's so strong and he talks so fast.
He said, "Not only Jann's the winner of the race,
"but winner of GT Academy." And then, like, I couldn't understand what he was on about.
-You were like, "Eh, what?"
-And then there was champagne from the
competitors, from, like, second and third were spraying at me and I
was like, "Oh, I won."
We actually have a clip of you telling your mum that you've won.
So, let's take a look at that.
Hello. Yeah, I've kind of won GT Academy.
All of those hours in your bedroom finally paid off and now you compete
in Super GT 500.
We'll come back and we'll talk a bit more about your racing in a minute.
But now we're going to head to Japan in search of a 1960s icon.
This is Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture.
A sleepy town about 25 miles west of Tokyo.
Home to Camp Zama military base...
..and Nissan's operations centre.
It's safe to say that Zama is not a fixture on Japan's tourist trail.
But there is more to Zama than initially meets the eye.
Here, behind tight security,
is one of the most comprehensive heritage collections in the world.
Nissan's DNA Garage is not open to the public.
You have to be invited.
Luckily, we were.
The secret stash includes cars that date back to the company's inception
Cars like Nissan's first electric vehicle, the Tama,
and more magical Nismo machinery than can ever be imagined.
But, as impressive as all of this is, I'm here for something specific.
You might remember the Nissan 240Z, the grandfather of all Z-cars.
Here in Japan, it's known as the Fairlady Z.
It was built in 1969 as a rival for the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro,
and indeed, the Jaguar E-Type.
And inside this factory, there lives and ultra-rare, high-performance
version known as the Fairlady Z432.
This is it.
They only ever made 420 of these and they only ever sold them here in
Japan. The Z432 used the same engine that you found in the
Skyline 2000 GT-R, a two-litre, six-cylinder S20 engine.
Now, that was like taking a Porsche 911 engine and stuffing it into a
Porsche Boxster. The standard Fairlady Z was no slouch,
but in this, Nissan created something truly special -
a Z-car with the heart of a GT-R.
If the Z432 was rare in 1969, it has since become a bit of a unicorn.
There are only around 100 rumoured to be in existence...
..with many in a condition most consider beyond salvage.
There is one man who has dedicated his career to hunting down the
mythical beast. A man who has become a bit of a unicorn himself -
one of only two people to still restore these cars by hand.
It's here that collectors of these rare Nissans go to bring their
Fairladys back to life.
And I've come to meet Tadashi Ando,
the man who has dedicated 30 years of his life to preserving so many
432s, to find out what makes this car so special.
Why is it so important to you that these cars are restored properly?
I know they're incredibly rare
but do you reckon maybe I could have a go in one?
I have been waiting to do this all day.
The first thing that hits you is that sound.
The noise from that straight six just resonates around the cabin,
forcing its way out through those
twin vertically-mounted pipes at the rear.
It sounds fantastic.
The basic 240Z came with a two-litre engine that made about 130
horsepower. The GT-R engine in this, the S20, makes 160.
That doesn't sound like an awful lot but the car only weighs 1,000kg,
so it does shift.
You've got to remember that in the late '60s, early '70s,
this was cutting-edge performance.
And even by today's standards, I mean, it's still fun.
Peak power comes in at 7000rpm, so it does pay to wring it out.
Be a bit of a hooligan.
Growing up, so many young men and women kind of fantasised about
owning an old Mustang, or maybe a Jaguar E-Type,
a Corvette in my case,
and probably dismissed the 240Z as a sports car that they aspired to own.
And maybe I'm a little bit guilty of that myself,
but here I am in Japan driving it for myself,
and I feel a connection to it.
I feel like I should have paid more attention to this thing,
especially in this form.
How would I sum this up? I mean, I'm kind of at a loss for words.
I can describe it for you, but it doesn't quite explain how it feels.
And the best way I can describe it to you is that it's special.
That's what it is - the 432 is special.
It's a really special car.
Amazing thing. You've been to Zama, right?
-Yeah, quite a few times.
-Have you driven anything there?
Well, yeah, at Nismo Festival they have a load of the old race cars.
They take them out from Zama and bring them to the track,
so I've raced quite a few of the race cars.
Tell us about your Super GT car.
So, the car is a Nissan GT-R.
-But the only thing that's...
-We've got a picture of it right here.
Yeah. So, the only thing that's the same as the road car and the
race car is the roof-line and the rear lights.
Everything else is completely custom -
different engine, four-cylinder, two-litre 600...
They don't actually tell us the numbers of the engine but it's
probably between 650 and 700 horsepower.
But this is serious racing, though. There are big names in this series.
Yeah, man. It's, like, this championship is properly cool.
The cars are cool, the championship is run very well and we have drivers,
ex-F1 drivers - Jenson Button's doing it this year with Honda,
Kamui Kobayashi is racing for Lexus.
-There's another one...
-Lexus as well.
-Have you come up against them already?
Yeah. So, I've raced against all of them actually last year.
I think it was at Fuji and I was sort of battling with Kovalainen,
and it's like this guy was a McLaren driver.
You know, like, this is cool.
Well, you might not remember, but I actually raced against you
at Le Mans when you were doing GT Academy.
-You didn't know who I was, but I knew who YOU were.
And we were in some go-karts and I thought... I saw you whizz by me,
and I thought, "I'm not letting him get away, I'm going to hang onto the back of him."
This guy disappeared on me.
Unbelievable. Speaking of dream cars, though,
what do you aspire to own?
So, I'd quite like, I mean, an Aston Martin would be the dream.
There's someone on my street that's got a really nice one.
And I always wanted a really nice black one.
Or, I quite like a Porsche Cayenne.
No, no, I said DREAM car.
Yeah, Porsche Cayenne, I think they're really cool.
So, tell me about your car history.
-What have you owned?
-I started out, I had a Peugeot 106 1.2 litre.
Ladies. And then I had a much sexier car.
I went for the Fiat Grande Punto.
LAUGHTER The Grande Punto?
The Grande Pun... The Grande's important.
And then... I've got a Mercedes E250 now.
So it was like not that good, not that good, and then OK.
Yeah, and that's it.
That's my car there.
-Where did you get that from?
-I bought it off my dad.
Because I decided a 56-year-old man shouldn't be driving a white
Mercedes, because that is a midlife crisis.
It's nice, I like it. It's good.
You and Jann actually have something in common, don't you?
-You're into your gaming as well.
-I'm into my gaming, yeah.
I'm not so much into car gaming.
I used to play for hours a day - Flight Simulator.
What Flight Simulator is - you're thinking, "That's exciting, fighter jets, things like that."
My dream job was a pilot so I used to play Flight Simulator and I have
like a proper yoke, like, you know, a flight...
..a flying yoke and the pedals and everything attached to my desk.
Not any more because I've just moved in with my girlfriend and she
threw it out.
You should tell her the Jann Mardenborough story -
you plug away on your console...
Yeah, but I'd be like, "One day I'll be a real pilot." I don't think BA
go, "Hey, guys, who's playing Flight Simulator? Let's get them to be a pilot now."
But I used to do the flight from London to New York in a 747
What's that, eight hours?
Eight hours, depending on what you set the weather to be.
-Because, you know, it gets pretty boring if,
halfway through, there's not a bit of turbulence.
If there is turbulence, you could click the seat belt signs to go on.
I used to put...
Right, I used to put films on and I'd pretend that they were the films
being shown on the in-flight entertainment system.
And I lost my virginity as late as you'd imagine.
But, yeah, yeah, that was my gaming history.
-You're so much cooler than me.
-That's pretty cool, you know. Like, having your own...
-It's not cool.
Thank you. Bless your heart for going, "That's very cool of you sitting in your room..."
The eight-hour thing sitting on the plane watching your own...
-You know what, but you set the weather,
so it can make it a bit interesting.
And then your foggy landing at JFK, there's nothing more thrilling.
You say that but Jann actually had a go in a slightly different simulator
-..and it was a lot more thrilling.
Let's take a look.
-A little bit cooler. A little bit cooler.
-You're living this life -
I did a gig to 25 people in Stoke two days ago,
so who's having a better career?
That's the coolest thing I've ever seen.
-A bit cooler than flying imaginary planes.
Yeah, I mean, he's in an actual helicopter driving a sports car.
Were you worried about doing that, Jann, at all?
If you crashed it, you don't die.
-That thing was fine, but the helicopter,
being in a helicopter...
-Did you not like?
It was mad. The guy was...
The pilot was really good and, you know,
he was calming me down and stuff.
But I think when I was sort of focusing on the car,
cos I'm trying to look at the car while the thing's doing these mad
turns and stuff, and it has like a glass floor.
-But sometimes he would have to cut the track and the car's like
here, and I can't see anything, I can't even see the car,
I'm meant to be controlling it, I can't see anything.
I've no sympathy.
You have the coolest life I've ever known.
Well, earlier on, Matt,
Jann and myself went head-to-head around Suzuka in our very own
GT Academy. Let's take a look.
I can't mess this up.
I've gone in too deep.
And we're off.
Oh! Straight into a wall.
That did not go well. Dab of brakes.
Dab of opposite lock.
Dab of dirt.
That's gone wrong.
That's gone wrong. Oh!
I meant that. Couple of problems here -
I don't know this track, I never play this game...
..and I'm rubbish.
I'm so bad at this.
How have I put my...? I've put my hazard lights on.
Right, now I'm in the swing of it, this is going to be good.
Oh, yeah, of course, brilliant.
I hope my insurance company aren't watching this.
I mean, that was horrific.
-Cheers. That was
OK. All right, I have the lap times here.
Who's your money on? Jann?
I'm still driving it!
OK, let's see. Jann, obviously you were the fastest by some margin.
Your best lap was lap two, at 2:23.50.
I did it in a 3:10.50.
No, I don't even want to know.
I mean, four hours and three seconds.
It's not as bad as you think. You were only four seconds behind me.
-I mean, that's a lifetime in real life,
-But in a game it's not too bad.
Although your worst lap was a 3:47, which is...
I've never been to Japan before. I just wanted to see the scenery.
You were in this room! All right, congratulations, guys.
The winner, Jann Mardenborough.
Now, we're off for another lap, but this time it's on British turf -
Chris Harris hits the track in a Nissan 370Z.
The car revs out to about 7,500, but beyond about 6,800,
it's kind of had enough. It's a bit asthmatic, this engine.
I mean, it offers about 35 horsepower more than a standard 370Z
but it doesn't feel dramatically faster if I'm being honest with you.
The main thing about the Nismo package is the handling,
so we've got better brakes, we've got better dampers, stiffer springs.
Everything's a bit different, a bit racier.
And through here...
..it feels great fun.
Power, 344, torque, 274,
top speed, 155, 0-62,
five and a bit seconds.
I mean, those are quite good numbers for back in the day, but these days,
you know, everything's got a bit stronger and a bit punchier.
So, I have to say, it doesn't feel that fast any more.
It's a nicely-balanced car.
It's quite heavy too -
it's nearly 1.5 tonnes.
What's it like through here if we give it a flick?
A lot of understeer. A lot of safety understeer.
Through the Follow Through.
I do like this track.
Braking. Braking's pretty good, but again there's a little bit
of squidge in the end of the pedal.
Everything feels like it's sort of rubber-bushed
and a little bit indirect on the car.
But the Z-cars, yeah, they need some more concentration,
some more effort.
Over the line.
Great lap, as always.
I mean, Chris, he was kind of on the fence with it.
He was saying not enough power, too much understeer.
You actually have one of these cars, though, don't you?
Yeah, it kind of hurt a little bit, some of the stuff he was saying.
Do you disagree?
There's some bits I do agree, I do agree that it's, you know, it is,
it is getting on. It's quite an old car.
But I have one and I do like the fact that it does feel kind of
old school. Like, it's heavy steering, the manual gearbox,
you have to be quite precise on it, the clutch is quite heavy.
When I drive it, it's fun, and on wet roundabouts, it's mint.
Yeah. Matt, you're no stranger to Dunsfold. I hear you've actually visited the track.
I've done, you know, where you pay to go and drive supercars
for the day. So, we paid and drove an Aston Martin DB9
and a Ferrari Spider,
which was great. I promised my dad when I started doing comedy,
I was like, "When I'm famous, I'm going to buy you an Aston Martin."
And then last year I reassessed where my career was and I went,
"How about we do a lap in an Aston Martin?"
But, yeah, I have driven that track and it's a nice track.
The lady who was in the car with me who was, like,
the professional driver,
she then took me round for a spin and I screamed because she was
really fast. Whereas I was driving very responsibly.
And on that note, it's time to wrap this up.
Thank you to our guests, Jann Mardenborough and Matt Richardson.
Round of applause, please.
I'll be back next week for more Extra Gear.
See you then. Goodnight.