You’re looking at an Vemac RD320R, one of the most interesting race cars of one of the most interesting racing series in recent years. But you’ve probably not seen it before, because it was competed half a world away in Japan’s Super GT series. For some reason, though, there’s one for sale in the States.
If you go only by English-language articles, the Vemac RD320R is the first major race car from Vemac, a small Japanese team that has competed with mixed success in GT300, the kind of wild lower tier to Super GT’s top GT500 class.
It was in GT300 where one team entered a Ford GT with a 3.5-liter Formula 1 engine in it, among other things.
Going into Japanese language sources, though, and the history goes a lot farther back. The Vemac is a product of Tokyo R&D, a composite-oriented company that has been around since the early 1980s. It supposedly jointly designed with Nissan the incredible front-engine Nissan Skyline Group C prototype that Nissan probably wishes you wouldn’t remember. It wasn’t a successful car and, amazingly, Tokyo R&D doesn’t list it on its own corporate history. Nobody wants you to remember the front-engine Skyline Group C car!
In any case, in the year 2000, Tokyo R&D’s top guys paired up with a British race car driver and his son to make Vemac, an amalgamation of their names. The Brit in question was none other than Chris Craft, who made the Light Car Company Rocket with Gordon Murray. All of this is pretty well laid out on the company’s Japanese Wikipedia page, as well as on the company’s corporate timeline, showing also the retro “Cadwell” track car the company made in the mid 1990s.
The RD180 was the first Vemac, a road car with a 1.8-liter Honda B18C from the Integra SiR-G. That went on to become the RD200 with a K20A in 2004. The car looked like a modified Lotus but it had a dedicated tube frame, per this shop tour:
Weight was a mere 1,940 pounds, or 880 kilos. The Vemac website from 2004 is still up and has a bit more on it.
The first race version was done also with Tokyo R&D’s racing arm R&D Sport. Called the RD320R, it used, you guessed it, a 3.2-liter Honda racing engine. This was the C32B, a Honda Performance Development version of the NSX V6.
It looks like the Lotus GT1 car from the 1990s. It sounds very much like, uh, a race car.
Getting a clear view of the car’s racing record is a bit of a challenge, as different sources list different numbers of wins for its two big years, 2002 and 2005, while Tokyo R&D’s corporate history says that it got four wins and second in the series that first year. Either way, it was a good car, fast and reasonably successful.
And a racing car it is. The body is carbon, the chassis is aluminum and steel. The suspension uses pushrods and the rest of the drivetrain... isn’t here on this particular car listed for sale on Bring a Trailer in Maryland.
Be warned, the listing describes what sounds like true project car hell:
The right-hand drive cockpit features a carbon fiber dash retaining partial switchgear, though its digital instrument cluster, other electronics, and seat have been removed. A flat-bottomed race wheel, shifter, and pedal assembly remain mounted. The seller notes that the chassis harness, fuse and relay box are intact and will be included, and the car features a cockpit adjustable front anti-roll bar, adjustable electric power steering, and intact plumbing for the fire suppression and air jack systems.
Suspension parts remain mounted under the rear clamshell along with a sequential gearbox case, though the engine, gearset, and halfshafts were either sold off or returned to the appropriate sponsors at the end of the car’s racing career. Corrosion is visible on uncoated steel components.
Seeing this thing in America is absolutely and fantastically bizarre. How it got to Maryland with a bill of sale alone, Bring a Trailer does not say.
Low-volume specialty cars like and the wonderful Mooncraft this were apparently regulated out of Super GT competition in 2013, making this Bomex team-run car something of a historical object. It is a little piece of a boutique car company’s strange small timeline. Bidding is currently at a fiendishly low $10,500. I’d buy it.
Updated: October 31, 2018: Quickstyle Motorsports sent me an email to say that they’re the ones who brought this thing over, if you were curious!