Matt LeBlanc and Chris Harris buy second-hand sports cars at auction for a road trip across Honshu, and Rory has one night to discover the weirdest car culture Tokyo has to offer.
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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Hello! And welcome to Top Gear.
Tonight, we're all about one place - Japan.
A country that has brought us some of the coolest,
fastest cars of them all.
But in recent years, Japan's suffered a sort of
reverse mid-life crisis.
It's stopped being crazy and fun and got all boring and Prius-y.
But now there's a couple of signs Japan might just be getting its mojo
back, so Chris went to investigate.
First up is a new two-door rear-wheel drive coupe from Lexus.
It's called the LC500,
and while it might look as sharp as a samurai sword...
..this version is powered by an appealingly blunt instrument.
ENGINE REVS LOUDLY
Have some of that!
Seriously, who needs a stereo when you've got a soundtrack like that?
This retro anthem isn't being played by a clever, futuristic hybrid.
Underneath the bonnet is a proper, old school, electric-free V8.
O to 60, less than five seconds,
top speed, nearly 170mph.
We keep being told the fuel-gargling petrol engine is dead,
but if responsible, conscientious Lexus still thinks it has legs,
we might be good for a few years yet.
Especially when that engine is kept in check by four-wheel steering,
and has been bolted to the stiffest chassis Lexus has ever produced.
So when you get to a corner, yeah, it can handle those, too.
It turns nicely, grip builds,
good traction, but it's rear-wheel drive, so it's playful.
That engine's power and torque is perfectly matched to the amount of
grip available, so I'm getting those lovely, little delicate slides
in the exit of the corners.
It encourages you to behave like a bit of a wally.
It's so un-Lexus, it's wonderful!
But it is a Lexus, so it's not all good news.
It starts at £76,000, which is too much.
It weighs nearly two tonnes,
so on a track it doesn't stop very well,
and it is a bit...overcomplicated.
Four, five, six, seven...
Now I'm all for getting more for your money, but if you have to
deploy long division to work out what gear you're in,
that might be overkill.
But while the LC500 isn't perfect...
..I do admire it.
It stands out from the crowd.
It's not trying to be a Porsche, or a Jaguar, or a BMW
or any other European coupe.
It's Japan doing its own thing,
and it's not the only one.
..there's also this.
The new Civic Type R.
Honda's not-so-subtle antidote to all of Europe's very fast...
..very samey hot hatches.
But the question is,
does it have the trousers to back up the mouth?
Oh, yes, it does!
Yes, yes, yes!
This is a cracker of a hot hatch.
It's got a two litre turbo-charged motor, 316 horsepower,
and it weighs just under 1,400 kg.
That is potent.
Hitting 60 in 5.8 seconds,
and with a top speed of 169mph,
this will give any hot hatch a run for its money.
I just love it!
And it's got a proper manual gearbox.
Look at this stick down here with a perfect Type R aluminium gear knob,
and it has a sensible number of gears, too.
And while more and more hot hatches now turn up with sensible,
grippy four-wheel drive,
the Civic still sends all of its power to the front.
And it's all the better for it.
It's so much more fun than a four-wheel drive hot hatch,
because it's got grip when you want it,
but when you don't, it'll do this.
# One, two, three, four, five, break down. #
You get in it, and you grow horns.
What we have here, then, is a car that Japan should be truly proud of.
Except, that is, for one tiny detail.
You see, the Type R's not actually made in Japan at all.
It's made in...
And there's nothing wrong with Swindon -
you just don't really associate it with excitement, do you?
And then, of course, there's the way it looks.
Clearly, it's been designed only to appeal to children.
But here's the issue -
this thing costs over 30 grand.
So even if you were young and daft enough to think it
looked good enough to buy,
you wouldn't be able to afford to buy one.
But look at it another way,
if you're in the market for a new Japanese performance car...
..this Honda might just be a bit of a bargain.
It may have 150-something horsepower less,
but I suspect this Civic might be about as quick around this track
as that LC500.
Time, then, for a race.
Which means we need a driver for that Lexus.
No, it's not the Stig, it's the Stig's ninja cousin.
Where is he?
Yes, most impressive.
I think you're being silly now.
Get in the car.
Player One, Lexus LC500, versus
Player Two, Honda Civic Type R.
One lap, winner takes all!
Let's do this.
He's got me off the line.
Come on, Ninja Stig. Look at him, he's sideways everywhere!
I sort of want to beat him, but I sort of don't want to beat him.
What does a Ninja Stig do if he gets beaten?
Let's get up the inside of him. Oh, he's looking lively!
Now I've got to outbrake him.
I've got him, I've got him, I've got him on the brakes!
I've done him!
What fantastic brakes.
Now he's got grunt!
There he goes!
He's got traction issues.
This is so impressive for a hatchback!
I've got brakes, I've got grip, I've got turning.
Oh, he's running wide, he's running wide! This is my chance, my chance!
Come on, little Honda! Come on, little Honda!
ENGINE REVS LOUDLY
Player Two, Honda Civic Type R, wins!
Well done, little Honda!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
So the Honda beat the Lexus?
Wow! Impressive. And you really liked the Civic, right?
It's brilliant. The chassis is fantastic, and it's SO fast.
It really is the best hot hatchback you can buy.
What? Whoa, wait a minute.
We said the Ford Focus RS was the best you could buy,
so I went out and bought one.
Well, you'll have to buy one of these now.
No, I can't do that.
I mean, look at it. It's hideous.
OK, I admit it. I mean, it's disgusting.
-But it's so good to drive, I can forgive the way it looks,
and the best thing about being behind the wheel -
you don't see how it looks from the outside.
They should put that in the commercial.
OK, now, earlier today we put both cars around our test track in the
hands of the Stig. Not great conditions out there,
but the Lexus did it
in a 1:25:6,
so that goes there,
and the Civic did it
in a 1:25:6.
The exact same time, so that goes right there.
Oh... That's great work.
It goes in there.
-Or down the bottom, who gives a
I told you they were close.
-Yep, very close.
-And that time makes the Civic
the fastest front-wheel drive car,
and the fastest hot hatchback ever around our track,
-and that's got to be worth a round of applause.
Well done, you guys. OK, come on.
Let's talk about '90s Japanese sports cars,
because they were awesome.
A golden era of fast, affordable performance.
Problem is, the ones that made it to the UK have been mostly crashed or
modified, and the ones that haven't are now annoyingly expensive.
That's right. Look at this lovely Honda NSX.
A couple of years ago? 30 grand.
Today, 60 grand.
But it turns out there is a place you can pick up immaculate, old
Japanese sports cars for a fraction of the price.
That's right. It's called Japan.
We've been sent to Tokyo,
where we've been told to go and find two of Japan's finest classic
'90s sports cars.
Oh, how cool is this, huh?
Three days in Japan, and all we have to do is buy a couple of old cars.
That leaves us plenty of time to do cool Japanese stuff, like temples,
and swords, and ninjas, and sushi.
-Well, I've got a list of sights I want to see, too.
Yeah, yeah, Toyota Century.
-Honda S660, maybe even a first-generation Estima.
Yeah, OK, so hold on, these sights you're talking about,
are they all cars?
Well, technically the Estima was a minivan, but you'll see cars
here you won't see anywhere else on the planet, man.
Japan's like its own weird little car ecosystem.
Yeah, look, I know this is a car show, and I know you love cars,
and you know I love cars, but I think...
-Cars are everything...
-I think you think about them way too...
-Oh, wow, a challenge already, huh?
"Here, have one million yen each."
-Oh, wow, look at that.
-My kind of challenge.
-OK. Thank you.
OK, ready, last one, here we go.
Right, I'm done. We're done.
Oh, he got me on the way out. Did you see that?
Oh, oh-oh, oh...
OK, "With this cash you will now head to the USS Tokyo car auction
"in Chiba Ken and each buy a sports car to ship back to Britain and sell."
-"The presenter who clears the most profit on their car is the
"winner. Oh, and by the way, the auction has already started.
-"Better get a move on before all the good cars go."
-Right, subway's this way.
-But, but, all right...
Well, two things. First of all, I'm just going to pretend
I didn't see that thing you're carrying your money in,
and two, why take the subway? This is a car show, not a train show.
The most efficient public transport system on the planet
versus rush-hour in the busiest city on the planet.
OK, but if we take a taxi,
we might get to see one of your Toyota Enemas.
-It's an Estima, and the tube's faster. Bye!
So if it was a race Chris wanted, then fine,
because while he became acquainted with Tokyo's very Japanese
I discovered the city has the world's sharpest-dressed cab drivers.
Yep, this would be my most relaxing win yet.
Nice, comfortable taxi.
My man here, white hat, white gloves,
so he can never leave any fingerprints.
Yeah, that's probably just a cultural thing.
I'm sure it's no big deal.
I haven't got a clue where I am now.
Excuse me, do you speak English?
No, OK, sorry. Chiba Ken?
And while Chris was busy unnerving the locals...
Oh, sorry, sorry.
..my driver was slicing through Tokyo's sticky rush-hour traffic,
and we were getting along like a house on fire.
MATT ATTEMPTS JAPANESE
Do you like that one?
I'm just kidding, I'm not really pregnant.
Oh, just killing time in the tunnel, you know.
In fact, it wasn't so much a question of who was going to win,
but whether there'd be anything left at the auction by the time Chris got there.
Here he goes. The driver's taking his time, a nice, steady stop,
so it's smooth, and then the driver opens the doors.
That takes too long.
And then we count to, what, seven?
One, two, three...
So, unsurprisingly enough, I was first to the auction.
And it was massive.
Oh, man, there's just so much great stuff,
and it just goes on for miles.
The USS Tokyo car auction is one of the biggest in the world,
selling around 15,000 cars in a day,
including hundreds of mint condition '90s sports cars.
GTR, there's a good car right there.
But with only one hour left until closing,
I needed to start bidding.
Here, over 2,500 bidders can compete with up to 12 cars selling
every 20 seconds.
And with a million yen at stake, this was less of an auction,
and more some sort of weird casino.
Did I just buy something?
Well, well, well, better late than never,
but he still had to cross the world's most distracting car park.
Oh, Supra! Now, that... That might be right in my price range.
The Evo 7.
Oh, look at this! I mean, where do you turn?
Shall I get that one?
Hey, there you are. Where you been?
Under most of Tokyo.
-What are you bidding on?
-Ah, well, I'm not really sure.
I think this is the price going up, obviously, and that's
the lot number, and what does that say?
-Can you read that?
-That must be what the car is, right?
If I can't read that, why would I be able to read that?
Well, if you look, this is the same in all of them.
But there's only... There are fixed...
Maybe that means...
Have you got an idea of what you want to buy?
I want something fast, manual, fast,
maybe like a Skyline GTR.
That would be nice. Yeah, I'm sure you'll find one.
He wouldn't. 1 million yen is, in fact, about seven grand.
-Oh, what's this?
-That one, that one, that one, that one, that one.
Ah, missed it!
So while Matt was set for a disappointment,
at least he'd worked out his own bidding strategy.
Are you trying to buy the entire auction?
No, no, I want that one, I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it,
I want it. Come on! There we go, there we go.
I got it. I got it!
-I think I got it. Did you get one?
-What did you get?
-It's gone now. You can't see it,
but I am now the proud owner of a car.
The question was - what did he buy?
In fact, what did I buy?
It's like ordering food in a foreign restaurant when you don't speak
the language, you know what I mean?
It's like, I'm really hoping I got the grilled fillet,
and not the poached anus.
-Oh, here we go.
-Now that is my car!
And there was nothing anus-y about it.
That's the one with the twin turbo rotary engine, right?
Yep, absolutely right.
Yep, the incredibly unreliable twin turbo rotary engine?
Come on, don't buy into that. They can be a little bit temperamental,
but that's the whole point.
-What, what, what?
-When you go abroad,
you don't order a pint of John Smith's, you order the local beer.
This, here, is the local beer.
Only Japan could have made this car.
Only Japan shouldn't have made this car.
The rotary motor was junk.
They rev beautifully, they're sweet, they're lovely little things.
They wear out in ten minutes!
Nonsense. She was a minter, and, at an easy 15 grand in the UK,
I had hit the jackpot.
Question was, had Matt?
That's me, right there.
The Nissan Skyline R34 GTR, huh?
That is a classic. Everyone knows the GTR.
Everyone apart from you, Matthew.
-What do you mean?
-That's a GTT.
-I thought it was a typo!
No, no, no...
So, do you know what makes a GTT special?
-I, I don't. What?
-That it's missing a turbocharger,
it's missing the front-driven axle, so it's only two-wheel drive,
it's missing a load of power.
-It's like a GTR, but just a bit
A GTR could have fetched 40 grand in the UK, but annoyingly,
my GTT was worth about the same as Chris's RX-7.
Am I crazy about the body?
No, and even on the GTR, I wasn't crazy about the body shape.
-I think it's...
-It's not even the car you thought you'd bought!
-Well, I didn't know what I... I was surprised I got a car...
-Sorry. How are you? Thank you.
"Well done on buying some cars."
-"We've laid on the transport to get them home."
-That's nice of the producers.
-"The transport leaves in two days' time from Enbu.
-"Please drive there."
-So we have to take them on a trip now?
-It's a good thing you bought a reliable car.
-Can I trade it back in...?
-No, you can't, nope.
On the road, and our destination at Enbu
was just a couple of hundred miles to the north of Tokyo.
But with two days to reach it,
we'd been told first to make a detour towards the hills,
and that left us with plenty of time to get to know what we'd bought.
Three reasons why the RX-7 rocked.
First of all, the styling.
It must be one of the best looking Japanese cars ever.
Look at this bodywork. It's just shrunk over the shape of the car
in the most lovely shapes.
Second of all, pop-up headlights.
Everyone loves a pop-up headlight.
Thirdly, this was the first-ever sequentially turbo-charged
rotary engine production car, and it made close to 300 horsepower.
Now, it didn't exactly start a rotary engine revolution.
In fact, the unique design of the Wankel engine, as it's known,
drinks so much fuel and oil
that no other manufacturer has ever followed suit.
But, when they were working well, as this one is now,
there's nothing like them.
It just revs perfectly.
And while the RX-7 and I were getting on famously,
over in his low-spec Skyline,
Matt has had time to put a positive spin on things.
OK, so I may not have chosen the car that I thought I'd chose,
but it turns out I accidentally made a pretty good choice.
This is basically a GTR.
It's got one turbo, instead of two,
one fewer thing to go wrong,
it's got rear-wheel drive instead of four-wheel drive,
so it's the purist's choice,
and this car has four-wheel steering.
Now that's the kind of technology you really only find on your latest
Ferraris and Porsches and Mercedes.
I'm accidentally awesome.
Before long, we reached the hills.
And pulling off the main highway,
our sports cars started to feel right at home.
These are great roads.
Now it becomes quite touge-like.
Japanese for mountain pass, touge roads are legendary.
Narrow, twisting tarmac,
where Japan's sports car enthusiasts have always come to play.
Oh, what is this? There's a guy in the road, guy in the road up here.
I think he needs a little lube on his arm.
He is, um, squeaky.
All right, challenge.
"To test your car's performance before export to the UK,
"you will now race around the famous Gunsai touge road
"while each carrying a passenger."
Is that where we are now, the Gunsai touge?
-I guess so.
-I have wanted to come here all my life.
-This is where the Japanese best motoring guys used to skid
S2000s, MX-5s, sorry, Miata, for you.
Yeah. OK. All right, don't look now, but there are two very large,
mostly naked, men standing right behind you.
Yes, sumo wrestlers.
From a sport which actually bans its stars from driving,
they make ideal passenger seat ballast
to really put our sports cars to the test.
-They're never going to fit in the cars, are they?
Ahead of us lay a 1.4 mile loop of closed touge road.
Designed to test our cars' handling,
we'd be racing two laps of this fast, technical course.
Who would win in a fight between you two guys?
You. Ha-ha, that's what I'm talking about!
OK, we're a team...
We're a team?
What a start!
Come on, baby, come on!
Tuck in behind me, Le Blanc. Get used to being there.
He can't overtake us here. He can't get us here!
Wrong, Harris, very wrong.
You cheeky little...
That's what I'm talking about! Woohoo!
Oh, a little too hot...
I like that. We're through!
I'm sorry about that, he got me!
All right, come on, think light, big boy, think light!
With the road running out...
Feel that smooth, rotary power, my friend.
The RX-7 had just enough...
Come on, come on.
..to keep the GTT at bay.
It's a victory!
I would have had you if I didn't blow it in the hairpin down there.
It was close, it was close.
Do you think sumo mid-90s slightly ropey sports car racing
is a new sport?
I think absolutely, right? That's what my guy says.
With the day drawing to a close, leaving the touge roads behind,
we got back on the highway.
-Chris, why are you stopped at the toll?
Why do you think I'm stopped at the toll?
I don't know why you're stopped at the toll, that's why I'm asking you.
He's just shouting at me.
My Japanese is very weak.
It extends to... Honda.
Now, see, this is interesting.
This is where we find out how impatient Mr Harris is.
You watch what's going to happen here.
He has the patience of a gnat.
ANGRY VOICE ON TANNOY
I've got three people behind me now.
TOLL OPERATOR SHOUTS
Finally free of the toll booths, the next challenge was dinner.
And we soon discovered that, no matter how far you travel,
food from motorway services...
Let's see what we've got here...
Oh, that's not nice!
That's bad. Wow, I'm going to close that back up, OK?
That's going to get in the "wish we didn't get those" pile.
That was rank.
What about these? What are these? Some kind of egg thing.
-Is it that bad?
Suffice to say, the meal was an education.
So, after a hungry night,
the next morning we hit the road early for another day of discovery.
The Japanese are the masters of the weird car name.
Allow me to give you some examples.
The Suzuki Every Joypop Turbo - how about that one?
Or an Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard.
Or the Honda Lovely Lady Garden.
Those aren't real car names.
Yeah, you're right, I made the last one up, but the others, I promise you, are real.
But the last one was my favourite one.
We picked up the route to Enbu,
following the main highway north
and soon our journey took us into new territory.
Hey, Chris, look at this sign. What is that? Is that a Geiger counter?
That's a radiation meter. Look at that.
Oh, crikey. So we're actually quite close to, erm...
Fukushima, where they had the big disaster in 2011.
We were approaching the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
Critically damaged by a tsunami in the wake of one of the largest
earthquakes ever recorded in Japan,
a 20km exclusion zone was set up around the plant.
In one day, the entire local population
was evacuated to escape the dangers of radiation.
Experts predict the clear-up operation at Daiichi
could take up to 40 years.
For now, the area remains largely uninhabited.
An area that we were granted special permission to witness first-hand.
We're 5km from the reactor that blew here.
Are we really that close?
You read about it and you see the pictures,
but until you come here and just see the way people have abandoned
their lives involuntarily...
It doesn't really hit you until you see it, does it?
No, it doesn't.
You think about all the people that got displaced over this.
There were 160,000 people here.
That's the population of Oxford and they were just gone in one day.
Just seems that somebody saved up their pennies and bought their dream
Porsche and they've driven it home one night from work,
parked it up and then never got to see it again.
You don't own a car like this unless you love cars
and yet the dangers here were so great that they were willing
to just leave it behind and run.
Kids' shoes and...
I mean, this was probably a family lived here
and just, their whole lives were just gone.
This is awful.
It was time to move on.
That's a hard one to shake.
That's a hard one to shake.
I've got to say, that was eerie.
I mean, the size of the exclusion zone...
I don't think I'll ever forget that.
The scale of the clean-up is just absolutely immense.
It's one of the biggest engineering challenges of our time.
They're talking 30, 40 years.
I've never seen anything like it.
Yeah. Right, well, we'll pick up the rest of that road trip
a little later in the show.
-Now, while Matt and Chris were off filming that,
I was on a Japanese mission of my own.
Back in Tokyo, I'd been given just one night to delve into the more
unusual side of Japanese car culture.
And I thought I'd begin with the very USUAL Daihatsu Tanto.
If you really want to understand Japan,
this is where you need to look.
The Kei car.
Because in the world's most populated city,
Tokyo's 38 million inhabitants have long been torn between a love
of cars and a lack of space.
And for many, these are the answer.
Kei cars make up about 40% of the cars on the road over here.
There's one. There's another one.
They're all Kei cars.
And they're all built to a set of regulations
that makes the Formula 1 rule book look laid-back.
The engines are all exactly 660 cc.
They're all limited to 63 horsepower
and they're all incredibly slow.
It was introduced in 1949 as an affordable post-war alternative to
the motorcycle. And as the Japanese population boomed,
the Kei car's frugal and compact formula was future-proof.
You see, in Tokyo, because space is so tight,
you can't actually buy a car unless you can prove you actually have the
space to park it. That's why these things are so popular.
The Kei car is all about sacrificing the individual for the good of the
many. Everything in order.
Button-down. To hell with creativity.
But here's the thing about creativity.
No matter how tightly you button it down, it always finds a way out.
And the tighter you button, the weirder it comes out.
Because after dark, while the rest of the city sleeps,
Tokyo's less conventional drivers come out to play.
A small corner of automotive self-expression
that's all about extremes.
I'm not going to lie - this is a little bit intimidating.
I don't really want to say the wrong thing.
These guys come with a certain reputation.
With its origins in gang culture,
Bosozoku style today takes once stock Japanese classics
and wildly remodels them.
Look at this!
What is this, metal?
That looks dangerous, man.
Its trademarks are flamboyant exhausts,
extreme flared arches and snowplough ground clearance.
-Yeah, street racer.
This is nice.
But what are they like to drive?
Well, after a bit of negotiation, I was given the chance to find out.
I can drive? You sure?
Arigato. Arigato, arigato.
Oh, my God. Come on!
-Oh, I will enjoy, don't you worry.
This is more my style. I want one of these.
Bosozoku is everything a Kei car isn't -
anti-social and on the fringes of legality.
The story goes that in the '50s,
kamikaze pilots coming back from war kind of needed a new hobby.
So they took to modifying their motorcycles with crazy exhausts and
all kinds of ornaments, generally getting up to havoc in city centres,
creating high jinks.
Occasionally organised crime-flavoured high jinks.
Anyhow, the Bosozoku tuning style moved away from gang culture and
into cars and so many definitely law-abiding years later,
we end up with these.
I'm pretty sure this is not legal.
If you want to show off, you couldn't do much better.
Except, of course, this is Tokyo.
Oh, hello! Lambos!
Oh, that is nuts.
Loving your style, mate.
Loving your style.
I am completely out of my depth here.
Let's work, come on.
I'm pretty sure that's fine.
Wait for me, wait for me!
Oh, my lord!
In Japan's underground car scene,
even the deepest pockets are out to make a statement.
For this lot, the supercar is just the start.
And I had to blag a go.
I'll be honest, this is turning into one of the stranger nights
of my life.
Again, if you're asking why, why cover a Lambo in neon lights,
glitter and fake bullet holes?
Japan's answer is quite simply, why not?
The world is all about uniqueness these days.
You buy a brand-new mini and there are literally millions of options
for customisation. Union Jack roof, bonnet stripes.
This is the same thing.
It just takes it a little bit further.
But there's more to it than that because the people who run these
kaleidoscopic supercars say they have a grander mission.
You see, the number of under-30s with a driving licence is falling
every year in Japan, down by a third since the turn of the century.
And they reckon it's all the boring Kei cars that are the problem.
Make more stuff like this, they say,
and the kids will come flooding back to cars.
And, to be fair, they may have a point.
Yeah, go ahead - Instagram it, come on!
I know you want to.
Like them or not, you can't deny the sheer flamboyance of these cars does
make for a spectacular sight.
But the problem with neon Lambos out here is that they're just a bit...
A bit common. If you want something that's genuinely, utterly unique,
you've got to dig a little bit deeper.
This is the Porsche 962.
Three-time winner of the 24 hours of Le Mans,
it was one of the most dominant race cars of its day.
But what is really special about this 962
is that it isn't just a race car.
Here in Japan, this 962 is road legal.
And I'm going to drive it.
With my one night in Tokyo coming to an end,
it was time to leave the city sprawl behind
and head for the hills.
Because a car like this deserves -
no, demands - a proper road.
Listen to the noise!
This is nuts! This is absolutely nuts.
I'm driving a Porsche Le Mans car on the road!
The engine is a twin turbo-charged flat six
that makes about 630 horsepower.
That might not sound like an awful lot in today's crazy world,
but you've got to remember two things.
First of all, this car only weighs 800kg.
That's about as much as air weighs.
you've got to remember that the traction control system
is this guy!
This is insane.
What a day. What a day!
If, like me, you've ever worried the world's roads are becoming lost
to beige SUVs and anonymous hatchbacks,
Come to Japan.
The world of cars is alive and well
and weirder than you could ever hope.
And that is worth travelling for.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
I have to say, that did look great. A Porsche 962 on the road?
-It's proper bucket list stuff.
-I know. Honestly, it really was.
It was just the most incredible 12 hours.
What about the 13th hour?
Do you want to show what happened when you were driving the very rare,
very expensive Porsche back from the shoot?
No. No, I don't.
Well, we have some footage.
Look at this.
Yeah, I think something's broken in this.
Yeah, I've got smoke, I've got smoke.
Please don't clap that.
That looked significant.
-What was wrong?
Well, we kind of narrowed it down to the engine region.
-So what did you do?
-I legged it!
Great, so if any of you out there fancy a broken Le Mans Porsche,
head to the Hakone turnpike just outside of Odawara.
Yeah, and bring a spanner.
Right, time to get back to our big Japanese road trip.
As you'll remember, Chris and I had been tasked with buying a couple of
'90s sports cars and shipping them back to the UK
to try and turn a profit.
You rejoin us the following morning when we'd been told to head to a
local race circuit for another challenge.
The racetrack we'd been sent to was buried deep in the forest.
And as we'd come to expect from Japan,
it wasn't quite what we'd expected.
What is this? Are we in the right place?
What kind of a racetrack has large statues of monkeys?
Is it a racetrack, or a zoo?
Perhaps it was a bit of both.
Because this was Ebisu -
home to the wilder animals of Japanese motorsport.
What is that?
Yes, this is drifting.
You know that moment when you're about to crash that seems to last
forever? They've taken that moment and stretched it out
-and turned it into a motorsport.
-What could be better?
Starting out as an illegal race scene
on Japan's touge mountain roads back in the '90s,
drifting has evolved into disciplines like this.
Known as Tsuiso, drivers run in pairs,
drifting as close and as fast as possible in parallel.
And, worryingly, it was just then that our challenge arrived.
What have we got? What have we got?
Nice helmet design. "Because you've both bought rear-wheel drive Japanese sports cars,
"it's time for you to team up for a drift challenge against a
"team of Japanese aces."
-Not those guys, those guys.
Well, which guys are those guys?
Yep, these guys.
Matchbox-sized Kei car pick-ups from the shallower end of the drift pool.
So, issued with beginners' safety goggles...
..and a set of super-skinny rear tyres to help us slide,
we headed out for some practice.
This is brilliant!
And, OK, some of us needed more practice than others.
It's so tricky.
Keep going. It's going to come. I know it is!
I can't see with those stupid things on.
Oh, there's the road.
That's it, Matt. Keep it going, Matt. Keep it going, Matthew.
That's better! That's better!
But getting the hang of the drift was only half the battle.
To compete, we'd need to do it in tandem.
It's so hard to stay together.
I lost a wheel. Lost the wheel.
With no time left to practise, there was only one way to make sure
we'd nail the art of the parallel drift.
And starting at the front of the grid,
the aim of this challenge would be to stay ahead
of the Kei car drifters for two laps of sideways action.
Take it nice and smooth, instigate the transition positively,
and try and stay alive.
Three, two, one...
Now, in a stroke of genius,
lashing our cars together had turned us into a rolling road block.
-You've got to steer!
-I am steering!
So, while the other teams struggled to get past,
we were free to concentrate on our technique.
Our improvised answer to the perfect tandem drift actually worked.
That's what I'm talking about, baby!
OK, get ready.
-Yeah, we've got it.
Ready, ready, ready?
Against the odds, with the Kei cars still at bay,
we were looking good for the win.
Right, ready, ready, ready? Full power, full power.
It's going great!
But with just half a lap between us and victory...
It was working so well.
I don't understand why it went wrong.
Out of the race, we handed the Kei car pick-ups a solid one-two finish.
But frankly, we had bigger things to worry about.
-My car is shagged.
Now, is it the goal to buy these for a million yen...
-..get them back to the UK and sell them and make a profit?
Ooh, what do you think?
Well, it's often said that a racing car that's enjoyed huge success
like, win the Le Mans 24 hours,
if you leave it after the race untouched, you don't clean it,
-you leave all the patination and the life, it's worth more money.
So, what race is this?
The near the weird zoo drift place...
-That adds value.
-I think that adds value.
Now, a busy morning "adding value" does build an appetite,
so we left Ebisu behind
and this time Matt sensibly suggested we skip
the service station eggs and go for one of his favourite local dishes.
-Oh, have you ever had wanko soba?
No, I like a couple of beers first, normally.
No, no, it's a Japanese delicacy.
Honestly, I love wanko.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Mmm. That's good.
They're quite plain, aren't they?
It's customary to keep eating - eat as many bowls as you can, you know?
-And the record is held by this little skinny Japanese girl.
-She ate 700 bowls.
-A little skinny Japanese girl.
-Well, it's not a competition, is it?
We'll have a couple and then we'll move on.
I mean, it really isn't a competition, is it?
Oh, OK... I'm...
-It was good though, right?
-That is fantastic.
And... And... I know it wasn't a competition,
but if it was, I, you know...
-Yeah, you would have won.
-I would have won, yeah.
Thank you. Oh, look at that.
OK. "We forgot to mention, we only sorted the shipping for one car.
"The transport leaves in one hour from the airport in Enbu.
"Please decide between yourselves which car you're taking back to the UK."
Oh, well, obviously you'd take the RX-7.
It's a beautiful example, a special car, rotary engine, not many left.
But they're a dime a dozen.
-What do you mean a dime a dozen?
-They're all over the place.
-You don't see anywhere.
-I've never seen one.
It's the cockroach of Japanese cars.
-Why would we take the RX-7?
-Quite right, we're taking the RX-7.
-Oh, you'll want some of that. Look at that over there.
With only one car heading back to the UK...
Oh, no, no, no, no, you don't.
..and just an hour to reach the airport,
we each had our own take on how to get there first.
I don't know what Chris's plan is to get there, but my plan,
I'm going to head to the highway,
stay off these windy roads and then let it rip.
He's got a march on me, the little swine.
I'm going to save time. I'm going the windy route.
I've got an RX-7 - why wouldn't I go the windy route?
With our destination at Enbu just 20 miles to the north,
my highway route might have been slightly further,
but it was definitely faster.
The race was on.
Right, so I've got more power and, frankly, a better car,
so I should be able to carry more speed, especially since I'm taking the highway.
I should be able to get there quicker.
And I'm home free.
I still reckon I've got the faster car.
I still reckon this is the RX-7's to lose.
And, frankly, the odds were with me,
because for Matt to take advantage of his superfast highway...
Hi, can you open the gate?
Open the gate, please?
First, he'd have to get on it.
Who? Who? No, I just need you to open the gate so I can get on the highway. Highway?
Highway. Kado, kado.
No, I'm not going to Chicago.
The gate, the gate, the gate!
You need to open the gate.
Just open it. There must be a button.
Are you kidding?
This was a setback.
And annoyingly, pocket rocket Harris was flying.
There is so much to love about this car.
That rotary engine is so light,
it means the front of the car doesn't have too much weight so it doesn't understeer,
it doesn't push, it just grips and goes.
It is the perfect weapon in which to beat Matt LeBlanc.
Open the gate!
-No, no, what?
How do I get in?
SPEAKS IN JAPANESE
-I have the ETC.
Yeah, I have it. I have it somewhere. I don't know where it is.
Yeah, I have it. I don't know.
Yeah, the ETC.
What's an ETC? I don't know what that means.
But while I was still negotiating hard with the keeper
of the plastic gate...
Thankfully, Chris soon discovered that local roads means local traffic.
Get out of the way.
And while he was held up...
Here we go. Open road, open road.
I had finally overcome my language barrier.
I have no idea what that guy was talking about but, hoo, boy,
was he angry.
Yes. The Skyline and I were in the hunt.
I love this car, I really do.
It's really grown on me. I've got to win this and get it back to the UK.
With less than ten miles to go to reach the airport finish,
the gap to Harris was closing fast.
And as I left the highway behind...
Yes! That's what I'm talking about.
..it would be a straight sprint up a private road to reach the waiting
transport and, for one of us, victory.
This is GTT territory, my friend.
There is no way LeBlanc is going to get here before me. No way!
There's no way he'd beat me here.
All right, come on, come on.
Right, got to be getting near the top now.
Oh, he's there already!
-How did you get here so fast?
-I had a Mazda RX-7.
-What took you so long?
-I got hung up at a toll booth.
-I got hung up at a tollbooth.
Come on, let's chase him.
Look at him go.
All right, end of the line.
There he goes.
How did you beat me?
I mean, how did you...
What is that? What are you doing?
It's Ichiban. Lipstick for men.
You need a little more on the side there.
You're an asshole.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
That was mega. That was awesome.
That was a hell of a trip.
Japan, great country.
Weird as hell, but great.
You know what really blew my mind?
The toilets, am I right?
-Back me up.
-They were amazing.
Heated seat and that little probe thing that comes out and washes...
-Let's not use the word "probe".
-Oh, come on.
-No, no, no.
Let's call it a telescoping wash nozzle thing.
-It cleans you.
-No, no, can we get back to the point of the film here, right?
-Which was to make money on a Japanese sports car.
Let's do the maths on this. You paid, what,
Seven grand at auction, right?
-OK, and then there was the cost of flights.
-What's that, a grand?
-Little bit more.
-And then the cost of shipping the car?
-Yeah, don't forget fuel.
Then there was that night at the sake bar.
-That was a great night.
-That was mega.
So let's cut to the chase on this.
How much would you have to sell this car for to break even?
About 52 grand.
But... But I've had a couple of very strong nibbles, Rory.
-And I'm hopeful.
What's your highest bid so far?
Yeah, but I'm going to squeeze a bit more out of him. It's fine.
It's not exactly the strongest business model, is it?
Now, look, look, in Chris' defence...
No, I've got nothing. I'm sorry, no, no.
OK, look, that's all we've got time for this week.
See you next week. Goodnight.
There is a Japanese flavour to this week's show, as Matt LeBlanc and Chris Harris buy second-hand sports cars at auction for a big road trip across Honshu, while Rory has one night to discover the weirdest car culture Tokyo has to offer. Out on track, Chris compares the Honda Civic Type R and Lexus LC500.