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Hakone Dreaming: Toyo Tires Turnpike 2007-2014

 

Hakone Turnpike

 

Down the Tomei Expressway, about an hour’s drive from Tokyo, sits roughly 16km of blacktop escapism: Hakone Turnpike.

In the picturesque west of Kanagawa Prefecture, overlooking Sagami Bay with panoramic views of Mount Fuji, the Turnpike operates as a private toll road running along a ridge leading to Odawara.

 

Hakone Turnpike

 

Hakone Turnpike brochure
Image by Dino Dalle Carbonare, www.speedhunters.com

 

Hakone is well known for its volcanic hot springs, but to those in the know it’s also a driver’s paradise. Built in 1962 and steeped in automotive history since, the Turnpike is a popular route to secluded mountain passes where concerned ears cannot hear screeching tyres.

The turnpike can take motivated drivers to roads far off the beaten track. Off camber switchbacks, where drifting is rumoured to have started its long journey to public notoriety, or tight and twisty tarmac, where hashiriya battled on the touge until the sunrise, away from the public and authorities.

 

Hakone Turnpike
Image from www.engineeredtoslide.com.

 

Speedhunter Dino Dalle Carbonare regularly evaluates exotic press cars by blasting them up the Turnpike, with the combination of free flowing roads, tight corners and vivid backdrop difficult to top as the ideal location for automotive photography.

 

Speedhunter Dino Dalle Carbonare at the Hakone Turnpike
Image by Dino Dalle Carbonare www.speedhunters.com

 

Immortalised by video games, videos and culture; Acts 9 and 10 of Initial D Fifth Stage saw the Toyo Tires Turnpike hosting battles between Ryousuke’s FC and Shinigami’s Skyline (you can even lease and drive replicas of Takumi’s AE86 and the Takahashi brothers RX-7s). Check out some of the cars you can drive, you can get behind the pedals of an R35 GTR for about $8/10 minutes.

 

Initial D screenshot
Initial D screenshot

 

Toyo’s long naming rights partnership with the stretch of twisting toll road began in March 2007 and ended on August 1 this year. During that time, Toyo’s signature blue signage adorned the road and led to the Toyo Tires view lounge, with an outlook that offers day trippers 270-degree vistas of Sagami Bay, Boso Peninsula,the Izu Islands and Mt. Fuji.

 

Toyo Tires lookout at Hakone Turnpike
Image from www.gazoo.com.

 

Now known as Mazda Turnpike, the automaker has added another chunk of automotive paradise to its history, which also includes Mazda Raceway (aka Laguna Seca) home of the corkscrew.

 

Hakone Turnpike
Image from www.engineeredtoslide.com.

 

Immaculately maintained, save for small sections indelibly inked by drivers bringing their tyres ‘up to temperature’, Hakone Turnpike is where spirited blasts through winding roads separate ‘drivers’ from people who just own, operate and maintain cars.

 

Mount Fuji
Image from www.engineeredtoslide.com.

 

Infamous Japanese motoring magazine Motorhead has held hillclimb races over the length of the turnpike, and many manufacturers use the road to express the capability of current model cars to journalists. 

 

hakone 35rx turnpike hillclimb

 

The perfect car for Hakone Turnpike? For us, it is a Nissan KPGC10 Hakosuka Skyline. Factory flares stuffed with charcoal Watanabe’s and fat 50 profile Proxes R1R, a track day stance and matching braking and suspension, black leather buckets and a cross-braced rear roll cage.

Windows down. Individual intake trumpets breathing crisp morning air into triple 44mm carburettors; spraying octane into the S20. Six cylinders of noise, howling into headers and down a straight exhaust pipe. The smell of fuel creeping into the car as you whip under sakura blossoms. Mount Fuji glowing as you attack apex after apex.

 

hako hakone
Image www.speedhnunters.com.

 

Or maybe a black Porsche 930…or a AE86 with a hopped up 4AGE, or maybe a busted Silvia on 15in Equip 03’s. Wait, no! a Ferrari F40! Or an E30 M3, Ayrton Senna’s NSX, no! his McLaren MP4/4! Or even a P1!

In the meantime, Google image ターンパイク or take a sedate trip up the toll road with this sunset video.

 

 

… or a spirited daytime blast to the view lounge in a modified Honda NSX.

 

 

Which dream car would you take, for this dream drive?