Rally Nippon 2013 in Taiwan: Day 4— The Final Stretch

This is Part 4 of the Rally Nippon 2013 in Taiwan. For Part 3, go here.

The final day of the Rally which will complete the circumnavigation of the entire island of Taiwan actually involved the least amount of driving. Because the incredibly scenic and sensational – yet notoriously dangerous – SuHua Highway sustained damage by landslides from the recent typhoon, this stretch of road was deemed too treacherous for the old classics. The organizers had arranged for a ferry to transport the cars from the Port of Hualien to Su’ao, a town that is approximately 75 kilometers southeast of Taipei.

Although it was unfortunate that we had to miss the Suhua Highway, we also welcomed a bit of R&R after an excessively long drive the day before.


The day started with a short drive to the Taiwan Yes Deep Ocean Water research facility.


Our big cat proved very popular with young enthusiasts.


Heading towards the Port of Hualien, a crowd started to gather even though we were more than 1km from the port!


Waiting for the ferry, classics and drivers mingled and got to know one another better under the cloudless sky and scorching sun.


Ferry finally arrived, after a 1.5 hour delay.


Spectacularly sent off by the phenomenal crowd…


An army of 7 or 8 spotters help navigate each classic up the rather steep on-ramp.


All aboard! And decked out in leis.


Arriving at Su’ao Harbor, another crowd awaits…


The Miura got stuck coming down the ramp. Solution: raise the ramp to level it out, then lower it once cleared. The crowd cheered.


Our turn…


We ended up bottoming out, too. They raised the ramp and we are clear!


A white 911 pulled up alongside us… turned out it was my old car (an ’88 Carrera converted to ’73 RS-look)! Current and previous owners exchanged thumbs-up at this incredible chance encounter.


Taiwan’s northeast coastline is just stunning at dusk.


Fans lined the street for the entire stretch through Fulong port. Our hands were getting tired from the constant waving… the smiles and cheers never ceased.


Darkness falls as we passed by the seaside town of Jiufen, made famous as the location where the movie A City of Sadness was filmed.

And then finally: goal!


After a short hop on the expressway, we are back in downtown Taipei. As we near the final destination in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (where the Rally Nippon poster featuring my car was photographed), the crowd of spectators thickened, cheering us on…


The convoy arrived two hours behind schedule to a huge mob lining the plaza. We heard friends in the crowd yelling our names.


Cameras flashed in rapidfire as the cars looped through the plaza to arrive at a media photo setup where we had our victory shot taken with our stellar E-type.


What a grand finale!

Our 46 year-old Jag cruised through four days, a thousand kilometers, plus thousands more smiles, waves and thumbs-up with nary a miss (well, almost…). In fact, I think she’s purring smoother than ever. This was as close to my ultimate fantasy drive as ever. True to what they always say, it is the people we encountered that makes such journeys memorable – the passion of fellow entrants, the unerring dedication of the staff and volunteers, and the genuine sense of happiness that we saw on the spectators’ faces…

I’m more convinced than ever that cars are truly a medium that can bring together different cultures, places, and people. 

Words and images: Royce Hong

Royce Hong is an industrial designer, entrepreneur, and Motoring Con Brio contributor. He lives and works in Taipei and San Francisco.

You can follow him at urbantronic.tumblr.com.

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~ by DL on January 17, 2014.

One Response to “Rally Nippon 2013 in Taiwan: Day 4— The Final Stretch”

  1. I was lucky enough to stumble across several cars from the Rally Nippon in November 2012 in Tokyo. Came out of the hotel lobby, and there was a classic MB SL with its hood up and a rally decal on its door. Parked nearby was a Porsche 356, MG, and another car under cover. A mechanic was fiddling under the hood of the SL, so I tried to strike up a conversation but my Japanese would not suffice. Nonetheless we could understand each other well enough to connect as car guys, and that something was wonky with its idle.

    Walking down the street the next day, I saw several more of the rally cars navigating their way through the streets of Tokyo, which was just way cool to see.

    Jim

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