From October 24 to 27, Japan’s roadways resonated with the rumble of the Alfred Dunhill Rally Nippon—a 621-mile, scenic round-trip circuit from Kyoto to Shikoku, which tracked some of the country’s quintessential cultural sites. Participation was by invite only, and only the most qualified car collectors were considered.
Limited to 70 entries, each classic car had to predate 1975—no replicas were allowed. Those competing this year ranged from a 1928 Bugatti Type 37 and a 1929 Bentley 4½ Litre Blower to a Maserati Khamsin and Ferrari Dino 246 GTS, both from 1974. As with a concours, prizewinners were based off of a number of categories, including in this case, “Most Splendid Entry.”
On Saturday the 24th, the motorists rolled out from To-ji Temple in Kyoto and meandered around Mount Ishizuchi before ending the day at 17th-century Imabari Castle. The next day’s route included Tensha-en Garden (a sanctuary for the seventh feudal lord of the Date clan, dating to 1866) and Kōchi Castle (one of the country’s few citadels that were left intact after WWII). On the 26th, drivers departed for Tokushima Prefecture before crossing over to Awaji Island, home to some of Japan’s earliest inhabitants and epicenter of the Kobe Earthquake in 1995. For the final day, the course crossed the longest suspension bridge in the world on its way back to Kyoto, finishing at the Kamigamo Shrine, a Shinto center since 678 AD.
Already in its seventh year, the rally was founded by a devotee of Dunhill, the London-based men’s clothing and accessories atelier. As the luxury label was launched selling Alfred Dunhill’s driving apparel in the 1890s, it became the sponsor as tribute. The goal of Rally Nippon is to bring awareness and support to the island nation’s natural beauty and rich heritage. (dunhill.com; rallynippon.asia)