1968 was an important year for Keika. The standard road going car had been updated to more closely match the original designs, while the Revenge spec car was updated to become a car teams could buy as a direct race car. Keika also had ideas of racing outside of Japan, going into rally.
The 1968 changes were nothing too drastic. The engine received an extra horsepower and lb-ft of torque, while the stroke shrunk by only 0.3mm to let it rev another 100RPM higher.
Visually, the car received extra vents on the engine cover to help ventilate the engine, reducing the cooling issues, and a small hook around the exhaust for extra protection. The Keika I name was changed to Keika Katana, and new sticker showed off the new model name.
Gearing was brought slightly closer thanks to the extra room to rev, improving 0-100Km/h to 7.3 seconds. Tyres were changed to a medium compound and widened by 20mm both front and rear to bring lateral forces to 1.04g with some suspension tuning. Brakes all around were shrunk and became two piston units which, while reducing weight, also meant brake fade was more prominent.
The interior was improved greatly over the first year cars, and some basic safety features such as lap belts were added.
Keika Katana Race
The race model used an even smaller 1.8L V6, the stroke taken down to 69.5mm. Thanks to some aggressive tuning, the tiny engine managed to output 160hp and kept revving until 7400RPM. Two 4 barrel carbs were used to replace the 2 barrels used on the previous engine.
Visually, the only differences were the extra vents on the roof and behind the windows, along with the covered lights and missing bumpers. Semi slick tyres and some suspension tuning gave the car cornering forces of 1.13g, greatly improving over the other models. 0-100Km/h was done in a mere 6.1 seconds, and the car went on to a top speed of 206Km/h.
Keika Katana Rallye
Daniel Chase had always been a rally fanatic at heart. He loved taking tight public roads at the fastest speeds he could, and while the endurance racing of last year had been fun, he much prefered the faster, shorter sprints rallying gave. So it was only natural he wanted to take on the most prestigious of them all, the Monte Carlo Rally. He had already been dreaming up ideas since the first Keika’s production, and now had the budget to do it with the orders coming in.
He took the standard race model and worked on creating a single rally machine that would not only beat, but humiliate any of the works teams. First, the engine needed to be more reliable. The redline was dropped to 7000RPM and the stroke increased back to the 1.9L of the previous race model. Then an air filter was added to stop dirt from blocking up the engine. The finished product was 160hp, giving it a competitive power to weight ratio.
On the bodywork side, the car still needed to be road legal, so all lights were kept, as well as plate holders and wing mirrors. The bumpers were taken off as a weight saving measure, and several extra vents were added to help cool the engine and keep it as reliable as possible. All other chrome metal trim was changed for fiberglass. The only other visual changes were some extra lights for the night and some new wheels.
Tyres were made higher diameter, and the car ran sports compound tyres during testing. If and when snow tyres would be necessary, the car would tend towards understeer rather than fatal oversteer. The transmission got another new short ratio setup, getting the car from 0-100Km/h in 6.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 203Km/h, more than enough for the tight mountainous roads. Inside, another seat was added for a co-driver.
And then was a case of fine tuning. To help even more with the snow, the suspension was raised, and a manual locking differential and an offroad skidtray were added. The car looked the part, now all it needed to do was get shipped to Monte Carlo.
The 1968 Monte Carlo Rally
Daniel and his co-driver, an old friend of his called Jack Williams, met up only one day before the first stage. After impressing Jack with the finely tuned custom build machine, they ran through the pacenotes late into the night, certain that they would win.
The next morning they made some last preparations to the Keika. So confident in their victory, they decided to run on their road tyres instead of the snow tyres, claiming that their car would be so fast on the clear tarmac they wouldn’t need to keep up on the ice. At their sea level hotel this seemed like a sensible choice, but as they climbed the mountains to the first stage, they quickly realised that the snow was a little deeper than they anticipated.
Lined up at the start of the first stage, differential locked. On the mark of the marshal, they set off. The tyres spun, and the car struggled for grip as they headed down the tight, snowy roads.
Daniel, while experienced in loose surface driving, had little experience on snow and ice. This combined with the sport compound road tyres meant the car had very little grip, and was only a matter of time before they hit a snowbank.
Trapped in the deep snow, the mid engine Keika struggled for grip. After a few minutes of digging, they got the car free. They needed to regain time. Unfortunately, due to a patch of ice, they visited another snow bank. By the end of the stage they were seven minutes behind.
After finding this out, they needed a new plan. The next stage was only slightly later in the day, so Daniel couldn’t get the practice he needed. He would just have to drive as hard as he could.
On the next stages, the Keika was pushed to its limits. On one stage even managing to get a 30 second lead on the next car, a Porsche 911T. But individual stage victories would mean nothing if the seven minute gap couldn’t be closed.
Then came the final stage. With only twelve seconds to gain on the leading Porsche, it would be tricky. After the hours of driving on the slick conditions, Daniel had gotten to know the very limits of what his creation could do. With a strong confidence, he launched his car down the midnight final stage.
The headlights shone beams down the rapidly changing road. Scraping walls, running to the very edge of the road on every turn, the Keika was ballistic. Pushing the limits of both the tyres and the chassis, Daniel slide across the icy road while Jack held on for his life. At this point the pacenotes were too slow, and trying to read them in time was useless.
By the end of the stage the Keika was nineteen seconds ahead, giving it the overall victory.
After celebrating the victory in their hotel, and dealing with a strong hangover the following day, Daniel and Jack would set about plans to sell the car in Europe. First of all shipping to the UK by mid 1968, and then to France by late 1968. The extra income would fund their own engine building tools, which would speed up production greatly and mean cars could be produced for less money.
This was a year mostly for expansion. With Keikas taking 3 out of the top five sports in the Monte Carlo Rallye, while in Japan they dominated the production orientated classes, Daniel focused more on production. His co-driver, Jack Williams, took care of the sales in Europe, managing shipping and advertising, while he stayed in Japan to build cars himself. He hired four employees, who helped speed up production to three cars a month. By the end of 1969, there were 64 Keikas built in total, three quarters of which were racers.
Meanwhile Rachel Foust, owner of a performance car dealership in San Francisco, contacted Daniel about bringing over the Katana to the states. Despite being denied, officially, she bought and imported several anyway.
Going to the effort of sending one of them to a reviewer, she then sent the results back to Daniel, who suddenly became interested in expanding to America.
You’re free to use all my cars and engines in your lore, whether it be using the engines or tuning/rebadging them for your own company.
Keika Katana: Keika - Katana.car (32.9 KB)
Keika Katana Race: Keika - Katana Race.car (29.7 KB)
Keika Katana Rallye: Keika - Katana Rallye.car (31.7 KB)