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The racing model behind Scott Pye’s retro Hino livery

Despite it being strictly a truck manufacturer in current days, Hino did once produce car models and in the 1960s led to a brief foray into racing.

Hino holds an enviable record in the Dakar Rally’s Truck Division, but six decades ago it also sold cars before being bought by Toyota in 1967 when this ceased and it focused on commercial vehicles.

Tasting success almost immediately in the United States when the Hino Contessa 1300cc Coupe won the Times-Mirror event at California’s legendary and now long gone Riverside Raceway, with the two Brock Racing Enterprises entries finishing 1-2.

American designer and motor racing team owner Peter Brock was influential in Hino’s racing exploits as after the initial success of the Contessa, he decided the next step was to take on the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Brock designed the sleek Samurai prototype, the aluminium body was built by Troutman-Barnes over a tubular steel frame housing a 1293cc engine from the Contessa developed to Group 2 specification using an Engle camshaft and Mallory ignition, with carburettors being twin Mikuni-Solex downdraught.

Cooling was provided by two large vents behind the cockpit and the appearance was highlighted by a big aerofoil rear wing, which was adjusted using a ratchet mechanism.

The prototype was tested by various magazines to acclaim and Brock did enter the Japanese Grand Prix, but it did not meet the regulations ending in disqualification. Although it didn’t run, the Samurai was a highly publicised entry and highlighted Brock’s skills to the Japanese.

It’s planned run at Le Mans never occurred due to the death of Hino’s President and the company’s resultant sale to Toyota as it subsequently focused its newly added entity to trucks and buses.

As for the Samurai, it is owned by Satoshi Ezawa and resides in a garage located in California.

Despite the end of the Hino deal and an association with Toyota note forthcoming, Brock changed allegiance to Datsun where he represented the marque successfully in Trans Am.