Quartet of classic Porsches complete Japanese Mille Miglia

La Festa Mille Miglia is an 870-mile Japanese road race that starts in Tokyo. Among the classics taking part this year were four cars from Porsche's Stuttgart museum

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We all know the legendary Mille Miglia road race in Italy that covers a gruelling 1000 miles through countryside and cities, but what about the Japanese Mille Miglia? Called La Festa Mille Miglia, this event is an 870-mile trip that is now on its 26th instalment. Car culture is huge in Japan and there’s a big following for classic Porsche models, so the Porsche Museum sent four historic cars to take part in this year's oriental take of the Italian classic.

The Porsche Museum in Stuttgart is home to some of the most historically significant models in the brand’s now 70 year history. A quartet of classic Porsches were shipped to Japan, including a 550 RS Spyder, one of just 130, a 356 Speedster from 1955, 1962's 356 B 1600 Super 90, and a 1956 Porsche 356 A 1600. The driver teams are made up of notable Japanese journalists and key Porsche employees such as Toshiyuki Shimegi, managing director of Porsche Japan, and Alexander Klein, head of vehicle management at the Porsche Museum.

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These German registered cars have been getting the locals excited with huge crowds cheering them on at the roadside. The event begins with a traditional blessing at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. Leaving the starting line, classic participants have to battle the notorious traffic jams, which provides a great spectacle for onlookers.

This year also marks the first time the event returns to its original route since the 2011 Fukishima nuclear disaster. Mountain roads, lakes, small villages, and even the Link racetrack are all part of the journey. However, the speed limit is just 40 or 50kph on many country roads meaning that these cars aren’t going anywhere in a hurry. 'The regulations in place in Japan tend to slow down the rather sporty driving style you would see at the rally in Italy. Here, it’s more of a journey than a race.' comments Achim Stejskal, manager of the Porsche Museum.

While none of the Porsches won the Japanese Mille Miglia, the 550 RS Spyder piloted by Kazumi Araki did win a Porsche Museum Special Award for commitment. The trophy? A pretty nifty champagne cooler crafted from an air-cooled Porsche cylinder.

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