In the vibrant world of Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) tuning, few names shine as brightly as Spoon Sports. Renowned for its iconic blue and yellow liveries and lightning-fast Honda track cars, Spoon Sports has earned its legendary status. Today, we delve into the captivating story of how this tuning powerhouse ascended to the pinnacle of the automotive universe.
A Journey Since 1988
Spoon Sports Co., Ltd. emerged onto the scene in 1988, initially focusing on engine tuning and parts manufacturing. However, their unique love affair with vehicles from Honda Motor Company set them apart. Unlike many tuners fixated on creating race cars, Spoon aimed to blend comfort and cutting-edge technology into their creations.
The founder, Tatsuru Ichishima, began this journey as an ordinary worker with an extraordinary dream – crafting some of the best race cars. At the age of 33, he embarked on building a third-generation Honda Civic hatchback, an unconventional choice for many given its small size and economy car status. However, Tatsuru’s passion for Hondas was unwavering, as he believed the Civic’s balanced and fun-to-drive design provided the perfect foundation for a race car.
Elevating the Civic to New Heights
The Civic underwent a remarkable transformation under Spoon’s expertise:
- The interior was stripped for weight reduction.
- Showa suspension components and Nissin brakes were fitted.
- The 1.6-liter ZC engine was tuned to produce a formidable 230 HP, a 100 HP boost from the stock engine.
- A close-ratio transmission ensured the Civic stayed in the optimal powerband.
- This marked the birth of the iconic blue and yellow Spoon livery.
Tuned to compete in Group A of the Japanese Touring Car Championship, the Spoon Civic stepped onto the stage when Honda had no official entry. The collaboration between Tatsuru, Honda, and Nissin emerged as both companies sought race data to enhance their products. Little did Tatsuru know that his project would inspire a new generation of Honda enthusiasts.
Honda’s Acknowledgment and Official Partnership
Honda, impressed by Tatsuru’s success, entered into an official partnership with Spoon in 1989. This marked a pivotal moment as Spoon began experimenting on the Honda ECU. Thorough ECU tuning became the cornerstone of Spoon’s methodology, propelling them into the Japanese Grand Touring Car Series, now known as the Super GT.
Facing engine capacity restrictions in Super GT, Spoon turned to the Honda NSX, securing a remarkable third-place finish at the challenging Macau street course. Spoon-built Hondas were soon conquering racetracks globally, from the Nürburgring to the Tsukuba Circuit.
Perfecting the Civic Type-R and Beyond
Spoon’s love for Honda prompted them to outdo themselves. When the Civic Type-R entered their hands, they elevated it further:
- Stripping the interior, installing an aggressive camshaft, and balancing the engine.
- Upgrading with larger brakes, the Spoon Honda Civic Type-R reached 260 HP with an 11,000 RPM redline, weighing just 1,984 lbs.
The Honda S2000 received the Spoon treatment as well, transforming it into an endurance race contender. In 2001, Spoon expanded, establishing Speed Shop Type One, a dedicated space for the complete Spoon car experience.
Speed Shop Type One: Crafting True Spoon Cars
Speed Shop Type One, inaugurated in 2001, focuses on meticulous installation and calibration. While customers could purchase Spoon parts at the source, the ultimate Spoon experience awaited them across the street. Tatsuru emphasized the importance of parts working in harmony for a tuned car, not just components installed without consideration.
Spoon’s journey continued with a return to Macau in 2007. Despite the last NSX being produced in 2005, Spoon built a new one for the race, showcasing their commitment to pushing boundaries. The Spoon-tuned NSX became a reality for enthusiasts as Spoon announced plans to restomod existing Honda/Acura NSXs, offering components used in their race cars to the public.
In conclusion, Spoon Sports’ rise to legendary status is a testament to passion, innovation, and a deep connection with Honda. From humble beginnings tuning a Civic hatchback to competing on global stages, Spoon Sports has left an indelible mark on the automotive world, inspiring a generation of enthusiasts to pursue their own Spoon Honda dreams.