Watching Best Motoring Is A Cheap Ticket Into High-Performance Car Culture

Remember the video of Ayrton Senna mobbing an NSX around Suzuka in loafers? Best Motoring did that.

Best Motoring, and its sister show Hot Version spawned a generation of Japanese-performance loving car enthusiasts, with wild track battles, recorded on video with a signature style: Aggressive, detailed, and hectic beyond anything else you’ve seen.

These shows invented the “pedal cam” giving us a glimpse at the footwork of Japan’s greatest racing drivers. Remember the video of Ayrton Senna mobbing the Honda NSX around Suzuka circuit in, wait for it… loafers? Best Motoring did that. It also gave us the only known glimpse in to the legendary footwork of Senna.

Growing up as a budding car enthusiast in the mid-2000s had me bridging the gaps between gaming, YouTube, and print media. Magazines didn’t capture me that much. They were a great time-killer at the dentist’s office, though. Gaming had me utterly ensnared. Interacting with, hearing, seeing my vehicular heroes kept me entertained for countless hours.

Best Motoring spawned as an automotive media house in 1987, incorporating print and DVD/video into one publication. It was unique with “non-traditional” methods of testing cars. Most famously, BM would emulate the infamous, culture shifting street racing format: Touge Battle. Best Motoring focused on new-car testing and reviews (really great ones, too.) The visual detail they went into was much appreciated by myself and surely other fans who didn’t speak Japanese, on account of the stratospheric language barrier. Just check out this McLaren F1 video at Yatabe test track, for example.

Hot Version explored everything tuned for performance in Japan. Famous tuners like Mine’s, Amuse, Spoon, Arvou, HKS, all came around just to prove that their machine was the one true touge monster. Off shoots just began to pop up in the United States, emulating the times Best Motoring came here to race the best tuners we had to offer, on Willow Springs Horse Thief Mile. I’ve actually been lucky enough to compete in two “Touge Battles” hosted by Touge2Track (even got third place!) I highly recommend living your JDM tuner dreams.

I couldn’t tell you when exactly I stumbled across Best Motoring and Hot Version on the earliest days of YouTube, before I even had fast enough internet for HD video.  It centers around a group of big-name Japanese racing drivers, with Keiichi Tsuchiya himself hosting the program. He’s known as D.K., the Drift King. The real Drift King, not the Tokyo Drift character… Though Tsuchiya does have a cameo in the movie as a random fisherman criticizing the protagonist’s drifting skills.

But Best Motoring isn’t Hollywood at all, which is what made it so great. These drivers would take cars, stock and modified, and flay them within an inch of their lives on various mythical tracks around Japan. There were hot laps, wheel-to-wheel racing, and a fair amount of crashes. It inflated the mythology of Japanese car culture so much for me, that it became a defining, tap-root event in my enthusiast journey.

They did it right, every single episode. They introduced the world to the energy, the charisma of these legendary tuner cars in action. Or, if you like, you can catch a wheel-to-wheel race between a Ruf Yellowbird, a Ferrari F40, a first-generation Dodge Viper, A80 Supra, and a random Ferrari 456 Modificato. More absurd combinations like that are strewn across the Best Motoring Official Youtube channel, for hours of incredible, characteristically Japanese high-energy entertainment. Best Motoring closed its doors in 2011, but Hot Version lives on to this very day.

If you love driving, real driving, racing, and the beacon of Japanese car culture, this stuff is a must watch. Catch them on the official YouTube channel, and buy full episodes on Amazon Prime.

Chris Rosales
Chris Rosales

Chris has owned 12 cars of questionable quality, is an experienced motorsports photographer, and a good all-around wrench. When he isn’t tinkering with his car in his home garage, you can catch Chris in the canyons around SoCal. He also hopelessly hankers for Euros, but he honestly knows he should get something Japanese, eventually. Contact the author here.