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Resurrecting a Tin Top Legend

Prodrive Super Tourer Out of Retirement

I had a message from Mike who owns Aston Motorsport last year with an image of a rather interesting car. They had acquired two for a customer and thought I’d be interested in checking one of the cars out before it went into storage for a while. Now it takes a lot these days for me to get excited over a car but the image in question was that of a Honda Accord super Tourer. “Of course, I’m interested” I said, “when can I come over?”. Im keen as mustard of course, the chance to look round a super tourer with no crowds around is an ideal opportunity to learn about this great era of touring cars. Mike promises me I will get the chance before it goes away for a few months. A few days pass and I get the message, the car is in the workshop, missing a few bits but im welcome to go and check it out.

Mike and his team are based near Westbury and have been specialists in restoring, preparing and racing historic cars for many years. As I enter the workshop I’m greeted by Mike and I’m instantly surrounded by jaw dropping machinery. The Accord sits almost dead center but its engulfed by muscle cars and Aston martins, all in various forms. Mike owns a Defender with a TVR V8 in it and we have trailed up Salisbury plains together before. I actually know Mike from working at a dyno that he used to use for many of the race cars he manages with his team and they use our trackdays to shakedown various race cars each season.

As I start to look around this Honda icon from the 90’s I overhear one of his mechanics asking in kinder words why the hell id come to a workshop full of classic exotica only to drool over an old Accord. Mike explained that I had said these Honda Super Tourers are like crack to Honda lovers they all had a good giggle and continued work on the Cobra that had just arrived from South Africa.

Anyone who is a motorsport fan is likely to agree that Super Tourers and 90’s BTTC were one of the best eras of motorsport of all time. Manufacturers arrived in their droves all wanting a piece of the cake, bringing the best drivers on the planet and budgets that would make F1 bosses shed a tear. The best F1 and rally companies of the time were employed to build these track weapons from scratch with the most up to date technologies. This created a cocktail of very fast racing cars and some of the closest battles motorsport has ever seen. Caution thrown to the wind by teams and drivers to fight for the championship, every manufacturer looking to win on the Sunday and sell on the Monday.

With a great rep in Japan, Prodrive had been tasked with creating Honda’s weapon of choice for this epic series. I was lucky enough to work for Prodrive in their Carbon department about 10 years ago, so post these beasts. But you can see all over the car the quality of workmanship and the cost that must have been involved in building and running these cars.

These cars run a very special Honda F20 engine with reverse head setup. Honda apparently removed the ECU’s as soon as the cars were sold privately so they now run-on aftermarket items. The car is covered in carbon with no expense spared and the intake for the engine sits meaningfully in the engine bay. The massive tubbed arches make it obvious as to why the saloons were able to run so low on track, this car is raised for transport purposes at the moment.

Opening the doors for a gander inside and you are instantly greeted by a substantial roll cage, evidently there for both the integrity of the shell and the safety of the driver, as we all know Super Touring saw its fair share of accidents. It’s not the usual FIA cage diameter which is a little odd, but the spider web of pipework makes you feel pretty safe even sat in it at a standstill. Interestingly all the doors are steel, skinned on the inside with carbon door cards, I sort of expected fiberglass.

More awesome continues inside as you sit in the seat with a digi dash in front of you sat on a carbon dash pod whilst your feet are greeted by an OBP pedal box. The passenger side is taken up by a large carbon panel section that supports a perfectly placed shifter for the Hewland sequential gearbox. A rather larger switch panel sits below some very cool in car Arb adjustment knobs, in here you feel like a pilot not a driver.

The centre lock O.Z Prodrive forged wheels hide more intricate details such as the bespoke hubs and coilover setup. I didn’t get a pic but the rear ARB is so large that a hole is cut in the rear boot floor to allow for the ride height.

Interestingly I had thought this may well be the ex-Thompson due to its livery but according to the register for these cars its actually a 98-99 ex Paula Cook car. Paula ran in BTTC in the independents for DC Cook Motorsport and had planned to be the first women in BTCC history to complete a whole season. Sadly the team ran into financial difficulty after round 16 in 1999 and Paula did not reach her dream. Mind you two independent cup wins in a very competitive field Is a great achievement in itself.

We were fortunate enough to have this motorsport legend grace a number of our trackdays in 2021 as it awoke from its slumber and long term overhaul. It caused quite a stir in the paddock and on track with many of our customers. The team found a flat spot in the power band which was solved by some mapping on the dyno and it one session they did have wheel failure. According to a number of sources it was part of the super touring regs that a car must still move under its own power with just three wheels and so each car is balanced that way. Its quite odd to see.

CTRCC have created a series for Super Tourers in 2022 and there has been much talk about who wand what will be racing. This very car took part in the first round at Silverstone recently and it was great to see images on socials of this, the Primera, Volvo S40 and together ST's racing as they sued too.

Big thanks to Aston Motorsport for letting us in on covering one of our favourite tin tops and also Chris Presley for all the on event images at Castle Combe.

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