Best Motoring (officially titled as Best MOTORing, ベストモータリング (Besuto Mōtaringu)) was an automotive video magazine from Japan (published by Kodansha, the nation's largest publishing company) that released monthly issues from December 1987 until June 2011. Best known as the home of Gan san and the Drift King Keiichi Tsuchiya, Best Motoring can be described as Gran Turismo in real life. Anime fans may recognize the original narrator (1987-2005) as Akira Kamiya.
Some of the features of the series included:
- Circuit battles featuring the latest cars in the Japanese domestic market. The sports car battles during the heydays of the late 90s, featuring cars such as the Honda NSX Type S Zero, Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R, Mazda RX-7 Series 8, Lancer Evolution VI, Toyota Supra, and Subaru Impreza WRX STi are the most famous. Battles usually take place at Tsukuba Circuit in Ibaraki Prefecture, which is the closest racetrack to the Kanto area. Sometimes, battles are held at Suzuka Circuit or Fuji Speedway, or in later years at Sugo or Twin Ring Motegi. Minor battles with less powerful vehicles took place at Ebisu Circuit (which was heavily damaged in the Great East Japan Earthquake). Also, endurance battles of multiple laps (usually circuit battles are three or five laps) have taken place at the height of summer.
- Time attacks: How fast can a car lap a track?
- Winding tests, on the mountain roads of Japan.
- Gymkhana tests to analyze a car's stability and balance.
- 0~400m tests (aka 1/4 mile), sometimes extended to 1000m and max speed tests. Braking distances are also tested from time to time.
- My car challenge: A segment where viewers or fanatics challenged a host in a time attack, the driver with fastest lap wins the match.
- Akihiko Nakaya, whose education in mechanical engineering gives him a technical view of cars and racing.
- Keiichi Tsuchiya, the Drift King himself.
- Motoharu Kurosawa, or "Gan San".
- Takuya Kurosawa, Son of "Gan San".
- Naoki Hattori, who has raced in JGTC, F3000, and F3.
- Takayuki Kinoshita, an automotive critic and former JGTC racer. Nowadays Kinoshita drives an LFA for Gazoo in the 24 Hours Nürburgring and is on the selection committee for the Japan Car of the Year award.
- Juichi Wakisaka, 2002, 2006 and 2009 champion in Japan's Super GT series in the GT500 category and current team director for Team LeMans in Super GT. After many seasons with Petronas, he switched to Bandoh for the 2014 season, which has a history of racers from the Wakisaka family before retiring into team management role at the end of the 2015 season. Famous for organizing the "Save Japan" initiative, a relief fund from Japanese motorsport for 3.11 victims that has also aided victims of the Kumamoto earthquake.
- Akira Iida, 2002 Super GT series champion (along with Juichi Wakisaka) in the GT500 category. Current team director for LM Corsa in Super GT.
- Seiji Ara, 24-hour Le Mans winner in 2004, he had competed in Formula Nippon, Japanese Formula 3 & the Barber Dodge Pro Series.
- Daisuke Ito, 2007 Super GT series champion in the GT500 category.
- Yuji Ide, one of the few modern Japanese drivers to make an appearance in Formula One (He wasn't very successful). Currently drives in Super GT for EICars Bentley and in South Korea's CJ SuperRace Championship for Ecsta Racing Team.
- Satoshi Motoyama, 1999 Le Mans Fuji 1000 km winner. 1998, 2001, 2003 & 2005 Formula Nippon champion. 2003, 2004 & 2008 Super GT champion in the GT500 Category. Currently still active in Super GT, driving the #3 Craftsports NDDP Nissan GT-R in the GT500 class.
- Tatsuya Kataoka, 2009, 2014, and 2017 Super GT champion in the GT300 category. After five seasons in GT500 with Toyota based works teams (two with a Supra, one with an SC430), and two GT300 (IS350) and one GT500 (SC430) seasons with Bandoh-based teams (including winning his first Super GT title with Bandoh in 2009), Kataoka jumped ship to Good Smile Racing'snote immensely popular GT300 team in 2012, and their famous Hatsuke Miku BMW Z4 GT3.note His official blog, entitled "EXCESS POWER", can be found here.
- Takashi Ohi. Now runs a performance driving school called "D-Rights".
- Manabu "MAX" Orido. Famous drift driver. Also drives in Super GT.
- Nobuteru "NOB" Taniguchi. Another famous drift racer, and the other half of Good Smile Racing's popular GT300 team, alongside Tatsuya Kataoka. Like Kataoka, he's also a three-time GT300 champion (2011, 2014, 2017), all of them with Good Smile.
- Kazuo Shimizu, a long time automotive journalist and critic, with a subscription website called Start Your Engines. Has a Twitter account as well.
- Shinichi Katsura. Nicknamed "Kobo-chan" after the eponymous character from the manga Kobo, the Li'l Rascal.
Several other video series were released under the Best Motoring umbrella:
- Hot Version, focusing on tuner cars.
- VTEC Club, focusing on Honda cars.
- AE86 Club, focusing on the Toyota Sprinter AE86.
- Video Special/DVD Special, which goes into more depth than the regular series.
- Platinum Series, like the Video/DVD Special, turned Up to Eleven.
Best Motoring and its ancillary releases would later be dubbed as "Best Motoring International". The narrator is none other than Bill Bickard, who dubbed the original Iron Chef for Food Network. He was replaced for later releases.
Its Spiritual Successor is Best Motor TV, which has semi annual releases on BS-4, a Japanese satellite channel.
Best Motoring provides examples of the following tropes:
- Autobots, Rock Out!: Commonly used for background music.
- Badass Driver: Unsurprising in a video series featuring a multitude of current and former racing drivers, but Gan-san, Nakaya, and Tsuchiya stand out as the creme de la creme.
- Car Porn: One of the greatest examples ever seen on video. The Porsche 959, McLaren F1, Ferrari F40 and F50, Nissan R390 GT1, Porsche Carrera GT, Ford GT, and RUF CTR "Yellowbird" have all made appearances, and some of the racing versions of these road cars have also been driven. In addition, JGTC, Group A, and Super Taikyu race trims of JDM cars have made appearances in Champions Battles, as has the various GT-R models tuned by Mine's and Bee Racing.
- Cool Old Guy: Gan-san. Never giving up even in an inferior car, and never hesitating to overtake. His ballsy yet smooth driving style is even lauded by other drivers on the show, though some do become frustrated with his constant blocking, the dirty type or otherwise.
- Determinator: Gan-san has been with the series ever since its very first issue in December 1987, and despite taking a smaller role ever since the series got revamped in the middle of 2005, he was still part of the show right up to its final volume in June 2011. Averted however with Nakaya, who actually appeared much more consistently than Gan-san. Although he was also part of the series since its first volume alongside Gan-san, he left after April 2004 for unspecified reasons.
- Also applies in the racing, where Gan-san and Nakaya typically keep going for the win where other drivers begin to concede a loss. Some of the most heated races in the series are between Gan-san and Nakaya as a result, such as the 280HP JDM race in May 1999, the Evo VII debut race in April 2001, the STI Spec C debut race in March 2002, and many more.
- Digital Piracy is Evil: Rampant piracy of video releases, combined with the economic downturn from the Great East Japan Earthquake, forced Best Motoring and Hot Version to end production in 2011. But then Hot Version came back.
- Gratuitous English: Akira Kamiya would sometimes drop English words or phrases into his narration, including "exciting battle," "unbelievable," and "monster machine." The new narrator would announce circuit battles in English. ("SKOOBA SAKIT. SREE RAP BADDOW!")
- Home Field Advantage: In both Best Motoring and Best Motor TV, Japanese vehicles routinely beat much more powerful European cars such as Ferraris and Porsches. There has been criticism of "glorifying" the Honda NSX and the Nissan Skyline GT-R. In later issues of Best Motoring, and Best Motor TV, the Nissan GT-R also gets this treatment. A partial explanation may be the Confucian-based trait of "saving face"—it would be humiliating for Japanese cars to be defeated on their turf. Expect to see more "shifto miss"es than you would expect from racing drivers.
- Large Ham Announcer: Akira Kamiya, whose passionate, overexcited narration during races makes for hilarious moments. The other announcer (who replaced him in 2005) toned it down a little, but was still hammy.
- Oh Crap!: Being a show that features racing, there are inevitably times where something goes wrong.
- In the debut battle for the first Integra Type R, Takuya Kurosawa locks the brakes on his Subaru Impreza WRX STI right before the second hairpin on Tsukuba. You can hear him panic as he fruitlessly tried to steer the out of control Subaru from hitting Tsuchiya's Integra. Unfortunately, it didn't work.
- On January 1996, on the final straight at Tsukuba, Nakaya in a GT-R attempts to overtake Gan-san's 911 which had experienced gearbox issues, but at the same time, Gan-san tries to give way to Nakaya, and the 911 ends up in front of the GT-R. In an attempt to prevent the GT-R from rear-ending the 911, Nakaya performs a brilliant avoidance manoeuvre that prevented him crashing into the 911 and a guard rail to the side.
- During a pre-race run in the 1998 endurance battle at Fuji Speedway, the brakes on Tsuchiya's Ferrari F355 fails and he audibly panicked for a brief moment as he drove the car into the run off area.
- Perpetual Frowner: While the other drivers are known for smiling and laughing, both Gan-san and Nakaya are very stoic.
- Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: The Super Battles and Champions Battles. Who would win, a Ferrari F50 or a Porsche 911 GT2? A Mine's GT-R or a Group A Lancer Evolution?
- The Rival: Video Option to Hot Version which also focuses on tuning cars. Interestingly, Keiichi Tsuchiya also appeared for several times in Video Option
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Debatable, but some consider the "revamped" Best Motoring that began in 2005 to be inferior to how it used to be. The change saw the departure of several key drivers, including Gan-san and Nakaya, and in their place were drivers who were flat-out inferior in their skills. Being the only ace driver left, Tsuchiya dominated battles more often than he used to and some saw this lopsided skill level as misrepresenting car's performances.
- Translation Train Wreck: The Hong Kong VHS releases from 1999-2000 had badly butchered English subtitles.
- Rare Vehicles: Several very rare European exotics and Japanese cars have been tested .
- McLaren F1 (64 road cars made) note
- Porsche 959 (300 produced) note
- Ferrari F50 (349 produced) note
- Ferrari F40 (1100 produced for the European market) note
- Ruf CTR (29 original examples) note
- Jaguar XJR-15 (50 produced) note
- Venturi 400GT (15 produced) note
- Ferrari F355 Challenge (104 produced) note
- NISMO 400R (44 produced)