Japfest returned to Silverstone this month in style with more than 27,000 visitors and 3,700 cars on display

Despite having to take place on a truncated and fragmented site owing to flooding, as well as adverse weather in the form of 45mph winds, Japfest – Europe’s biggest Japanese car show – returned to Silverstone on April 7 in spectacular style.

With a record-breaking 27,000 people and 3700 Japanese cars from all eras in attendance, the show proved why it’s a highlight of the show season for many Japanese car fans. The dozens of car clubs included make and marque-specific groups, as well as regional clubs, with awards given to the most standout displays and collections of cars.

Batallion30Five took home the Best Club Stand award for their gather of 149 Nissan ‘R35’ GT-Rs – thought to be the largest gathering of the model ever – while the MX-5 Europe Club won Best One Make Club, and the Midlands MR2 Club won Best Regional Club.

As well as all manner of modern and modified JDM favourites – including a 2007 Honda Civic FK2 Type R, modified by our colleagues at Fast Car and displayed on event sponsor, eBay’s stand – we spotted numerous classic and retro favourites, many in pleasingly standard form.

Amongst them was a South-African import Datsun 1600, a 1975 Toyota Celica GT that boasted a Mk2 MR2 2.0-litre engine and six-speed gearbox conversion (along with Honda S2000 seats), and a Nissan Primera sporting heavily modified mechanicals and a full replica livery of the Vodafone BTCC car, as driven by Anthony Reid.

The Auto Finesse paddock showcased some beautifully presented cars, with icons such as the Datsun 240Z, an immaculate and unmodified Mitsubishi Evo VI Tommi Makinen Edition and Mazda ‘SA’ RX-7 stealing the most admiring glances and photos.

Beth Hepworth receives her prize in front of her EG-generation Honda Civic

Auto Finesse also sponsored the ‘Street Elite’ section (previously Show and Shine), encouraging visitors to present methodically detailed cars for judgement. The winner was another pleasingly retro car, a Honda Civic ‘EG’ owned by Beth Hepworth (above), who took home a sizeable Auto Finesse cleaning kit as her prize.

The opportunity to take cars on track at the event was a popular offering, with extra time slots created to allow all enthusiasts onto the Silverstone circuit. Again, amongst modern hot hatchbacks and powerful Skylines, we spied humbler Japanese favourites such as Suzuki Swifts, Nissan Micras and totally standard Mazda MX-5s being pushed to their limits. Despite strong winds prevailing throughout the day, fans could also enjoy numerous drifting, another new feature for the 2024 show.

Thankfully, concerns over weather stopping play were unfounded, with the event breaking previous attendance and car number records.

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