Tommykaira ZZ | Spotted


Perhaps it's the classic design, the diminutive proportions or the agile dynamics, but the Japanese market has long-held an appreciation for the great British sportscar. From the Mazda MX-5 to the (ahem) Mitsuoka Viewt, be it in style or substance, Japanese manufacturers have sought to emulate the DNA of some of Britain's most beloved brands.

The flip side of that coin is, of course, the British love for all things JDM. Ever since the very first Imprezas, Evos and GT-Rs landed on these shores, our island has been gripped by tuner fever, a trend which continues today with the GT86, Civic Type R et al. But, despite the attention lavished on the previously obscure market segment, it was left to another cultural phenomenon to introduce fans to one of the most respected names in the game.


Yes, it was of course PlayStation's Gran Turismo racing series which brought the Tommykaira name into most UK households for the first time. The now-famed company being a tuning outfit which, since 1988, has focussed exclusively on the modification of Japanese models. Nissan's 300ZX, Silvia and Skyline, Subaru's Impreza and Legacy and even Toyota's Prius have all received its attention, along with the resulting power bumps, big body kits and (in the same vein as German tuners such as Alpina and Ruf) new names.

So what do you get when you marry the two groups' appreciation for each other? Well, this, of course: the Tommykaira ZZ. The company's first foray into independent production, the ZZ incorporated British lightweight principles and Japanese engineering in the finest tradition. So far was Tommykaira willing to go to get it right, in fact, that the whole thing was manufactured in Lotus' back yard of Norfolk, before being shipped back to its home market.

Power comes from a Nissan-sourced 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated inline-four, the 193hp and 142lb ft output of which is sufficient to whisk the 670kg car from 0-60 in just four seconds, and on to a perfectly sufficient top speed of 150mph. Add to that two seats, a detachable roof and a five-speed manual transmission, and what more could you need from a purist driver's car?


It's been a while since we've Spotted a ZZ, or rather this ZZ, in fact. A blue 1998 car with a euro price tag and just 6,000km on the clock, it seems likely that today's Spotted is in fact the exact same example we wrote about back in the summer of 2017. Since then it doesn't look to have had much use, its Β£30,000 price tag (albeit a Β£3,000 decrease versus 28 months ago) likely having something to do with that...

Still, with only around 200 believed to have been made, and such cult pedigree behind it, it'll surely find a buyer eventually. And until such a time, the rest of us can always enjoy it in virtual form.


SPECIFICATION - TOMMY KAIRA ZZ

Engine: 1,998cc, straight-four
Transmission: five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 193@6,900rpm
Torque (lb ft): 142@4,900rpm
MPG: N/A
CO2: N/A
Recorded mileage: 3,730
Year registered: 1998
Price new: N/A
Price now: €34,999 (Β£30,000)

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Comments (36) Join the discussion on the forum

  • edoverheels 06 Nov 2019

    What a great car but doesn’t seem to offer more than a tuned S1 Elise. Less practicality but much more interest. I have never seen one in the flesh but hopefully at a Goodwood Breakfast Club one day!

  • yellowstreak 06 Nov 2019

    I am sure I read a review of this in a newspaper motoring section at the time. I remember it being fed by multiple motorbike carbourettors still labelled "for motorcycle use only". Am I right?

  • sidesauce 06 Nov 2019

    edoverheels said:
    What a great car but doesn’t seem to offer more than a tuned S1 Elise. Less practicality but much more interest. I have never seen one in the flesh but hopefully at a Goodwood Breakfast Club one day!
    Actually, the ZZ offers less than an S1 - around 45kgs less weight which at this point is probably going to make a difference to overall performance and feel IMO.

  • samoht 06 Nov 2019

    edoverheels said:
    What a great car but doesn’t seem to offer more than a tuned S1 Elise. Less practicality but much more interest. I have never seen one in the flesh but hopefully at a Goodwood Breakfast Club one day!
    Yeah, it would mostly be the cool factor of having a car that everyone's seen in videogames but almost no-one's seen in real life. On a practical note however, the SR20DE is a very reliable chain-driven engine, so it has that over a K-series car.

  • thelostboy 06 Nov 2019

    Wow, good bit of nostalgia here with the Gran Turismo connection!

    I think they look great. Very curious to hear more about the chassis and if they were actually any good though?!

    Fear it might be more like a Renault Sport Spider (which I'd still love..) than an Elise to drive.

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