The Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo was unveiled at the LA Auto Show last month, and on the stage of the press conference at the GM booth, Yamauchi san celebrated the unveiling of the full scale model together with the people from GM.
The night before at a sports bar near the Chinese theater in the center of Hollywood, there was a time trial competition for GT users using Corvettes. Those attaining the top 3 laptimes were invited to the GM press conference, and was able to watch the unveiling of this car together with us. The responses on Facebook and other media from everyone afterwards was great, which made us very happy. This car will be available to drive fairly soon, so please hang on while we get it ready.
Meanwhile, did you all know about the technology behind the laser propulsion system? I had no idea that you could propel something using lasers. A high output laser is shot at a metallic cone, and the resulting heat causes an explosion, and the shockwaves produce the propulsion.
And with the driving position where you are flat on your belly, a unique exterior design that is not bound by your typical drivetrain and power unit, this car was different from all the other Vision Gran Turismo’s before it.
Seeing the news regarding the commercial sale of fuel cell cars recently, I was thinking to myself that the future is finally here; but the Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo goes way beyond that. You have to hand it to GM, they’re the manufacturer that made the world’s first automotive design studio. It’ll be interesting to watch what kinds of cars they will come up with in the real world with their sharp eye for the future.
In the November update that came almost simultaneously with the LA auto show, another very interesting Vision Gran Turismo was added. The Subaru VIZIV GT Vision Gran Turismo. Have you all driven it already?
The movie image that was released was made by the Polyphony Digital movie team. And when we met Subaru to talk about the filming, the designer who is also in the movie said: “The form of this car took a hint from Katsuobushi (a block of dried bonito fish). Its in the image of a Katsuobushi made of ultrahard metal.”
Now, there’s a lot of GT players around the world, but people outside of Japan probably didn’t know what this was all about. Katsuobushi is something that is a daily thing to Japanese people, and it’s a food (fish). So needless to say we were surprised when we heard this from the designer. We were like “huh? Katsuobushi, you’re talking about THAT Katsuobushi ?” and the designer said “Yes. I was inspired by that form.”
So I’d like to talk a little about Katsuobushi a bit more here. Katsuobushi is originally an ocean fish, Katsuo that is boiled, then dried in the sun and by slow flame. The resulting Katsuobushi is rock hard, and is shaved down with a special plane (like the one used for woodworking). Its often sold in shavings rather than the block. The time it takes to make it depends on the degree of fermentation, but it could be anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, and in the final processing a special type of mold is grown on its surface to break down the proteins, to increase flavor with amino acids, vitamins and inosinic acid. The Katsuobushi is mainly used for making soup broth, and is always used when making miso soup. Its also used very widely in Japanese food, and can be eaten as is in it shaved form. I often put it on Tofu along with some Soy sauce. It really looks like wood shavings but it’s rich in flavor, and is something that you can’t do without in all kinds of Japanese food, and is an essential part of Japanese food culture.
Yamauchi san often says that “Vision Gran Turismo is a festival of car design.”, and for the simple theme of designing a “GT Car”, car designers from around the world selected lots of different design motifs and elements for their cars. In some cases it’s a brand keyword, or a certain piece of technology that the company is known for. Even taking on its DNA from a historic car. They were things that made me think “ahh, I see”… But hearing the story of the Subaru designer, I realized that the tribe of people called designers can be inspired by many things, even things that we normally don’t really pay attention to. Now that he mentions it, you can get an image of the power behind moving a creature in water quickly from the condensed organic form of Katsuobushi (it loses 20% of its weight at the end of its processing), and its interesting.
The Subaru VIZIV GT Vision Gran Turismo has a great engine sound too. And the stability of its cornering, and that feel of all 4 wheels securely clutching the ground, really shows the sportscar feel that is particular to Subaru, who have years of experience racing the WRC and is recently active on the Nürburgring. Its really fun to drive. To check out how the torque vectoring works on the car, I’ve been driving rather short tracks like the Tsukuba Circuit, going into the same corner in many different angles.
Going off subject from Katsuobushi (or rather, inspired by it), I wanted to introduce to everyone the part of town that our office is located in.
Our movie staff who heard about the Katsuobushi from the Subaru designer researched where you could get the best Katsuobushi, only to find out that a traditional Katsuobushi store was in Nihonbashi, which is near the Polyphony Digital Tokyo studios. They purchased the Katsuobushi there, and that’s the one that appears in the movie which was filmed inside the Tokyo studio. (I realized they were doing this by the smell that was coming from the meeting room…)
The shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa who established the government in Tokyo roughly 400 years ago proceeded to make landfills of the ocean spread in front of the centrally located Edo castle, making waterways. They built a city that maximized the use of these waterways for commerce and trade, and one of those towns was Ninhonbashi. It was a location where a variety of goods from all over Japan would be gathered.
The area around the town still has traces of this. The Tsukiji market that is now also famous as a tourist spot and the biggest food market in the world, is just 15 minutes away by car from our office.
When our staff from overseas visits the Tokyo Studios, they make it a rule to all get up at 4 am to go to the fish market, where there is a sushi place that makes sushi from the freshest fish in the market.
Our office is located in a relatively new bay area in the huge city of Tokyo, but because of this historic background there are a lot of rivers and waterways nearby, with many new and old bridges crossing them. This gives the scenery of the area a certain character.
See you again!