Racing Quarterly Coniglio

Car of the Day #80: 1969 Racing Quarterly Coniglio

Racing Quarterly Coniglio
The Hama Studio Coniglio, Tokyo Racing Car Show 1970 • via the excellent automobiles japonaises

I suppose the story should start in Ebisu, an area of Tokyo where a speed shop called RQ — Racing Quarterly — was starting up. 

In the early to mid 1960s, motorsport was still in its relative infancy in Japan, with saloon car races and formula car races dominating the scene simply because there weren't many Japanese sports cars on the market to race with.

Hama Studio Coniglio • via automobiles japonaises

With the introduction of Honda's S cars—the S500, S600 and, later, S800—privateers and speed shops were overjoyed at its simple engineering and mechanicals similar to what you'd find on a motorcycle at the time. (Including chain drive, which featured on all but the later production S800s.)

This makes sense: most people already ride mopeds and motorcycles, and privateer teams often serviced both at their garages.

Why not mould some fiberglass bodywork and go racing?

• via

I love ephemera like this period brochure, above, featuring some of the parts to turn a Honda S800 into the RQ Coniglio, a 770 kg (1700 lb) race car significantly faster and lighter than its street-worthy Honda donor car.

Here’s the thing: up until this point I’ve been showing you pictures of the Hama Studio Coniglio, a coupe. Gotcha!

the Racing Quarterly Coniglio

RQ Coniglio at the 1969 Tokyo Racing Car Show • via automobiles japonaises

The RQ Coniglio, with its open spider bodywork, is an evolution of the original Hama Studio-built kit car, with some privateers later experimenting with slab-style rear appendages that may or may not have helped generate downforce.

Nevertheless, on the car’s debut at the 1969 Japanese Grand Prix, the car finished second in class, no doubt helping to sell more fiberglass kits through Racing Quarterly!

Production numbers? I've seen 10 as the number for the classic series, but I'm not sure if that also includes the Hama Studio coupe(s), one of which is in the Motorcar Museum of Japan (自動車博物館). 

Yeah, I scanned the website but unfortunately couldn’t see a mention of the car in its collection; I’ll take the L on this one and redirect my English-focused brain to something new. Guess I’ll just have to visit the museum in Japan to find out.

An RQ Coniglio being raced in 2018 • via HTCC Japan

With Racing Quarterly's staff having roots so deep in the early Japanese racing scene, translated comments on some of the articles I've read suggest that some members later went on to, among other things, Mazda's Le Mans effort, including the race-winning 787B.

RQ’s foot logo that you may see in the odd photograph or as a decal on its racing cars is said to have come from a time when the founders of the shop were traveling through Hawaii.

The speed shop would tune vehicles, as well as offer fiberglass and kit parts for formula cars. Also: “American T-Shirts” and Mooneyes hats for their Japanese customers, just like you'd see being worn in Bonneville at the time.

Regular readers will now have surely recognized that the Coniglio, and the larger Racing Quarterly story is part of a distinct varietal of weird auto: a kit car that's actually quite compelling.

Almost forgot: Coniglio is the Italian word for rabbit…

The sleek Coniglio hare logo • via automobiles japonaises

A number of sources were referenced to help verify previously researched information and to update this older Car of the Day story, including Honda Twin Cam Club Japan, Automobiles Japonaises, Rare Component Cars, and Motorpress - M


Thank you to my supporting members: Ben B., Brad B., Chris G., Daniel G., Damian S., Daniel P., Drew M., Ingrid P., Karl D., Luis O., Michael J., Michael L., Michelle S., Mike B., Mike L., Mike M., Richard W., Sam L., Wiley H.