There are some memorable fictional car designs in video games and films, but rarely are they given the opportunity to exist off-screen. Occasionally, however, someone is brave enough to bring one to life. The Yamasa Raggio is perhaps my favorite example of this.
The Yamasa Raggio hails from Ridge Racer, where it’s known as the Soldat Raggio. In Ridge Racer lore, Soldat is a French automaker that at one point acquires Italian brand Rivelta. The Franco-Italian link sort of makes Soldat Ridge Racer’s version of Bugatti, though the Raggio (Italian for “ray”) ends up resembling a weird cross between an Enzo Ferrari and a Honda NSX.
It’s appropriate, then, that the Yamasa Raggio — Yamasa being the Japanese pachinko machine company that commissioned the build — employed an NSX as its base. The car was made by the brake supplier Project Mu and appeared at the 2006 Tokyo Auto Salon; it can be driven in Ridge Racers 2 for the PlayStation Portable.
While the Yamasa Raggio repurposed the donor NSX’s 3.2-liter C32B V6, Project Mu made a number of upgrades under the heavily modified aluminum body. An Ogura Racing clutch and ARC radiator were some of the more notable enhancements (at least among those publicized), and the exhaust system and suspension were reportedly bespoke, according to a story from IGN at the time of the car’s debut. As you’d suspect, turquoise Project Mu calipers can be found on every corner.
So yes — the Yamasa Raggio did actually run, and you can see it in action in the promotional video below that was included in Ridge Racers 2. There’s also a making-of video for that video farther down, offering a peek at how the car took shape, in addition to shooting on location at a Los Angeles airfield.
I’m quite used to seeing Ridge Racer cars corner in every manner except pointed in the right direction, so watching a Raggio negotiate turns all polite-like is a bit jarring to my intuition. Nevertheless, judging from the looks of the result, the Raggio’s transition to reality went swimmingly.
Eagle-eyed Ridge Racer fans will notice a few inconsistencies with the original design. The Yamasa Raggio’s nose is a bit stubbier than it should be, the rear end is a little flat and the wheelbase seems very long, though these are certainly acceptable compromises given that this thing began life as an NSX. It helps, too, that the car is completely blanketed in sponsors like Rally-X, Tekken and Mappy, in true Ridge Racer fashion.
Where is the Yamasa Raggio now? In plumbing the depths of the internet to learn as much as I could about it, I stumbled on a Keeper Pro Shop blog post (translated) about the Raggio from July of this year. Keeper is a Japanese company that manufactures coating and maintenance products, and runs detailing shops throughout the country.
The blog briefly soothed my worry that the Raggio was in a dire state, though a closer inspection of the images in IGN’s story shows a car with far more stickers — indicating that the photos in Keeper’s post were also taken in 2005 or 2006. I haven’t been able to dig up anything on the car aside from information making the rounds at the time of its reveal, so its current condition and whereabouts remain a mystery.