Japanese Republic: Perth Night Fighters #blogpost
From a distance, Perth might look like a pretty boring city. It doesn’t really have the best of anything, and rides on the coattails of the other bigger, more diverse Australian cities. As with any city or culture though, the closer you look at Perth, the more differences you see. You begin to pick up on the multicultural diversity, local cuisine and unique rules and protocols that vary as you travel the city.
It’s the same with cars. The longer I’ve been exposed to car culture, the more I’ve begun to pick up on the city’s variations in motoring habits. And of all these “local flavors”, I don’t think there’s anything more distinct than Perth’s Touge culture.
Once local citizen Kaan.H (MR2maniac) expressed interest in the car culture I’m involved in, I immediately knew I wanted to do another write up about Japanese Republic. A club based on function over form, the cars within our club are built with one thing in mind - performance.
The cars are interesting, but its the stories behind them that are even more interesting. What’s more important though, is that you won’t ever see this sort of thing outside of the Eastern Hills of Perth. Not many people know about what goes down in the hills.
Before I move onto the cars, I suppose I should talk more about where we race. Our road of choice is nicknamed the “Zig Zags”, a short 2km stretch of automotive spaghetti. It features several tight hairpins as shown in the picture, huge elevation drops with cliffs on either side and it is only a one way road. The only way out is to make it to the bottom.
In this map you can see the road highlighted. It is a very tight, technical stretch of road; where agility pays off over raw power.
The craze kicked off in earnest in the early 90s, a time where the Japanese performance car market was booming. As you can see from the pictures, nearly all the cars that run the zig zags are from this era.
Since the beginning, cars within Japanese Republic have taken inspiration from track cars as opposed to show cars. Every modification done to the cars is there for a purpose; whether that be to improve braking, cornering speed, acceleration and so on.
Most of the common trends of the machines that run the zig zags is that the engine modifications are not usually drastic. Pop the hoods on these cars and you’ll find bolt ons, but not much else in terms of engine work. When it comes to suspension, brakes, aerodynamics and weight reduction however, most cars have gone all out. The reason behind this is since the zig zags is such a narrow and technical circuit, cars rarely exceed 120kmh. Instead of straight line speed, the emphasis is on braking as late as possible, maintaining speed through the corners and accelerating as hard as possible out of the hairpins.
If you were under the impression that our cars aren’t the “nicest” cars around, you’d be right. Just like lots of the worlds race cars, our cars are usually dirty, scuffed, dented and functional. Most of our interiors are stripped bare and things like engine bay presentation are no concern to us.
Our parts might not shine like show cars, but the choice of modifications is all you need to know about our intentions.
Thank you to everyone who has taken an interest in my car culture. I hope I have provided you guys with a good insight into our little world.
Also please remember this:
Function comes before form.