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80’s Honda ‘City Turbo II’ Is The First Manual Transmission Car In My Life

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TEXT: 高桑秀典(TAKAKUWA Hidenori)  PHOTO: 高桑秀典(TAKAKUWA Hidenori)

  • 1985 Honda City Turbo II, aka 'Bulldog'
  • 1985 Honda City Turbo II, aka 'Bulldog'
  • 1985 Honda City Turbo II, aka 'Bulldog'
  • 1985 Honda City Turbo II, aka 'Bulldog'
  • 1985 Honda City Turbo II, aka 'Bulldog'
  • 1985 Honda City Turbo II, aka 'Bulldog'
  • 1985 Honda City Turbo II, aka 'Bulldog'
  • 1985 Honda City Turbo II, aka 'Bulldog'
  • 1985 Honda City Turbo II, aka 'Bulldog'
  • 1985 Honda City Turbo II, aka 'Bulldog'

The 110hp hot hatch once known as the ‘Bulldog’

The Yaho Tenmangu Shrine Old Car Festival, organized by Automobile Club Japan on 10 December 2023 at Yaho Tenmangu Shrine in Kunitachi, Tokyo, attracted around 190 classic cars, from pre-war cars to supercars. We spoke to the owner of a good-condition Honda City Turbo II, which he bought a year ago.

An old car enthusiast who organizes the Toda Classic Car Reunion added the car a year ago

At the Japan Mobility Show in the autumn of 2023, Honda showcased its four-wheeled electric mobility SUSTAINA-C Concept and two-wheeled electric mobility Pocket Concept. Automotive hobbyists of the old man generation rejoiced at the image of the first-generation City and Moto Compo, and rediscovered the coolness of the first-generation City.

Because of the freshness of their memories, old men who saw the first City for the first time in a long time at the Yaho Tenmangu Shrine Old Car Festival narrowed their eyes, while young people, on the contrary, observed the details of the small car once known as the ‘tall boy’ with a fresh mind.

“I bought this 1985 Honda City Turbo II about a year ago. It now has a total mileage of 80,000 km…I drive it when I enjoy driving on holiday and occasionally use it as a work leg.”

The owner, Masaaki Kawabe, who told us this, is the organizer of the Toda Classic Car Reunion, the second of which was held in November 2023, and while he had used various cars in the past, he added the City Turbo II, nicknamed ‘Bulldog’.

“We were told about the purchase through a miraculous connection from an acquaintance. Perhaps the car wanted to come here and I was called, or rather chosen.”

Despite a brilliant car career, this is my first MT car, and at first, it stalled out a lot!

Mr Kawabe also told us some interesting stories, such as how the Toyota Celica Convertible he once bought was a handful and impressive, while another handful was the Land Rover Freelander (first generation soft-top 3-door).

He currently owns an Isuzu ‘117 Coupe’ and a first-generation Subaru ‘Alcyone’, but to his surprise, the City Turbo II was the first MT car in his life, and he initially struggled a lot when driving it.

“It was my first MT car in the 34 years since I got my license and I stalled all the way from the City Turbo II delivery point to my home! I was terrified every time I started on a hill, and I was scared to death while driving.”

However, he is now completely used to driving the City Turbo II and spoke about its appeal in this way.

“It’s almost the same size as today’s mini cars, but with a high output of 110 hp! The key point is the lovely silhouette of the real Choro-Q itself. We are considering installing a ‘Tatamel Bike’, which could be called a modern version of a moto-compo.”

translated by DeepL

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