For three decades, SPOON has been dedicated to improving the performance of fast Hondas. From innovative aftermarket parts to engine tuning and race-car prep, it has produced some of the most spectacular and successful racing Hondas ever. This is the SPOON story, in the words of its founder, Tatsuru Ichishima.
For readers who aren’t familiar with SPOON, could you give us an introduction to the company and how it started?
SPOON started when Tatsuru Ichishima, who had participated in domestic and international races in the 1980s, developed and manufactured various racing parts for his own use. In January 1988, SPOON was established and opened along Koshu street in Tokyo as ”SPEED SHOP”, with racing and research and development functions for Honda sports models. Since then, we’ve been designing and creating some of the world's most innovative tuning parts such as carbon bonnets, big throttle bodies, stiff plates and rigid collars.
Spoon engines are renowned for their reliability and speed. Could you take us through the process of creating these masterpieces?
There's nothing special about our engine building. It’s all about visualizing, managing, and reproducing numbers. For example, with pistons, it’s about measuring ring grooves as well as the weight and diameter. We measure the width, height, and slope of the grooves and use a combination with less difference. It also reduces the weight difference between pistons and connecting rods that perform high-speed reciprocating motion. We always follow the basics of assembly methods and aim for less vibration and more durable engines by reducing and aligning differences in weight, volume, clearance, etc.
It’s easier to get more power from a turbo engine, but many of Honda’s engines are naturally aspirated. What kind of challenges do you have to overcome to get the most power possible?
This might not be the answer you’re looking for, but it doesn't change the way you think about tuning for naturally aspirated engines and turbocharged or supercharged engines. The intake is as cold as possible, reducing resistance and leading to the engine. Then, the manifold and the port are polished, the irregularities are lost, and air and fuel are efficiently guided to the combustion chamber and burned. The exhaust creates a well-balanced caliber, a layout suitable for the running stage, through flow benches and actual vehicle tests. Even with power, if the overall performance of the car, such as the body, suspension, and tyres, is low, a lot of power will be wasted, so we do not need to improve the output and seek the optimal balance.
Your company has considerable racing success. Could you tell us about some of your biggest racing achievements, and also how you’re currently involved in racing?
We can't talk about our success in the race without finishing. When the outside temperature changes greatly in one race, such as a 24-hour race, there are many things to consider, such as gasoline dilution of engine oil due to the temperature difference between day and night, and fatigue and wear due to continuous running. By overcoming these problems and successfully finishing the race, we are able to gain a lot of knowledge and a sense of accomplishment. From this racing success we have gained experience that’s hard to obtain in daily life. And we would be happy if Honda fans and users on racetracks around the world could choose the parts created from that experience and use them.
Do you have a close involvement with Honda and how does that help you?
Honda's Type-R is a world-famous sports model, but before planning the Type-R, Honda used mass-produced cars such as the Civic to test race and sports models. We are actively participating in endurance races domestically and internationally. And we are often involved with Honda's domestic testing teams in the United States and Europe. They are very friendly and share the same passion as us for Honda and racing. We and they are all motor heads, exchanging information and advice. It’s more than work: we’re all pure Honda and racing lovers.
Can you tell me about your partnership with Motul and what kind of difference that makes to your success?
The reason we respect Motul and chose it is because we feel a philosophy about the product. You can sense the high level of technology and ambition to create high-performance lubricants at reasonable prices for all types of mobility. In fact, we have been able to use Motul oil in many races in Japan and overseas to reduce the trouble caused by oils due to stable performance and quality, and to obtain good results. In addition, we are very pleased to recommend it based on our experience and track record in races. Now I don't see any reason not to use Motul.
What projects do you have in the pipeline and how is your year going?
Currently, we are developing parts mainly for the current Civic (Type-R, hatchback and sedan). In addition, future parts development is also in a state of planning while collecting information about the new car releases at Honda. We also think that races and events can continue from a domestic location where it’s easy to move around.
© Picture credits: Spoon Racing, Grand Turismo
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