Survey: Naito Auto

17.03.28

Dissertations

内藤オート(東京・東久留米市)

60 years of restoring the charm innate in good old-fashioned classic cars.

古き良き車に込められた"情熱"を蘇らせてきた60年。

A small auto shop stands secluded within a residential area in the suburbs of Higashikurume, Tokyo. The first floor of the two-story building shows its age with its rusty railings and aluminum window frames; crammed to the brim with parts and tools along with the strong scent of oil that can be smelled when opening the door. Inside, workers ranging from young to older seasoned ones are dressed in their coveralls working tirelessly. This scene upon first glance depicts an image stereotypical of a "small factory". However that is only if you remove the rows of breathtaking classic cars parked inside.

東京・東久留米市、郊外都市の住宅街にひっそりと、小さな工房が佇んでいる。錆びた欄干とアルミサッシが年季を感じさせる木造2階建ての下階で、オイル臭漂う空間に大小のパーツや道具が所狭しと詰め込まれ、年配世代から若者までツナギ姿の工員たちが黙々と、真剣に作業に汗を流す。その光景は一見、正しくありふれた「町工場」のそれと言える。そこにズラリと並んだ、目を疑うばかりの車たちを除けば。

A 1957 Lotus Eleven Gull-wing "Le Mans" Coupe, 1964 Ferrari 250LM, 1964 Shelby Cobra 289MK2... A list of cars worthy enough to be seen in museums are found inside this quaint shop. This place known as "Naito Auto" is a shop that specializes in the restoration and sales of rare classics with a focus on sports cars. Founded in 1952 by Shinichi Naito, a skilled engineer from the dawn of the automobile age in Japan, and father of current owner Masao Naito. Today, Masao runs the company with his two sons So and Kei, along with Shigeru Naito and Koji Nakagawa, two veterans who have been with the shop since his father's time.

1957年式ロータス・イレブン・ガルウィング"ル・マン"クーペ、64年式フェラーリ250LM、64年式シェルビー・コブラ289MK2......通常は到底お目にかかれないレベルの、まさに「博物館」級と言える車ばかり。ここ『内藤オート』はこうした世界的に貴重なクラシック・スポーツカーを中心にレストアと販売を専門に行う工房だ。1952年に現オーナー内藤正夫さんの父であり、日本の自動車黎明期から活躍する腕利きのエンジニアだった眞一さんが創設。現在はその孫である慶さんと聡さん兄弟が、父、そして祖父の代から務める大ベテランの中川晃次さん、内藤滋さんらとともに工房を運営している。

It's not unusual to see some very rare cars from all over the world, some that are only produced in extremely limited numbers, being worked on inside the shop at Naito Auto. Each worker's vast amount of experience and knowledge is applied in the restoration process, however these cars are not simply brought back to be showcased in a museum. The ultimate goal is to get them back onto the road. Additionally they are bound by a principle and common interest to, "restore each car as close to its original condition when it was first delivered,"explains So Naito, "We all place a priority on originality."

世界で数台〜数十台しか生産されていない、あるいは現存していないレベルの稀少車を扱うことも珍しくない内藤オートだが、彼らがその経験と技術を注ぎ込み、手をかけているのは、ミュージアムで飾っておくためだけの車ではない。目指すのはあくまで「走らせる」こと。それも「デリバリーされた当時の姿に限りなく近い状態にまで再生させる」ことこそ、彼らの信条だ。「僕たちはやはりオリジナリティを大切にしているので」と聡さんはその理由を語る。

"Because we deal with old rare cars, manufacturers don't have replacement parts in stock and they can be very difficult to obtain sometimes, but my grandfather and father have long been associated with this work, and I also have experience participating in races throughout Europe, so I'm often able to source valuable parts thanks to the relationships that I've cultivated throughout my life. We are very grateful for the environment we are able to work in. Even if we aren't able to find the exact parts, we seek out the best methods using our very own approach while adhering to fundamentals based on sound knowledge." Having developed trust for their knowledge and experience gained over the 60 years since the company was founded, cars are delivered for restoration and orders for their purchase are received from all over the world. For the brothers So and Kei, who enhanced their experiences by studying overseas, everyday is still a learning opportunity to build upon the skills already acquired as they work with their father and the veteran engineers.

「もちろん古く稀少な車ですから、交換用のパーツをメーカーもストックしておらず、手に入りにくいこともありますが、祖父や父が永年この仕事に携わり、またヨーロッパでレースに参加してきた経験があるので、そこで培った広い人脈から貴重なパーツを入手できることもあります。それはありがたい環境ですね。もしまったく同じパーツが見つからなかったとしても、正しい知識に基づいたルールの中で、自分なりのアプローチでベストな方法を探っていきます」
そう語るとおり、創業以来60年の歴史に裏付けられた彼らの知見と技術を信頼して、世界中からレストア用の車が持ち込まれ、購入のオーダーが来る。海外留学も経験した慶さん聡さん兄弟もまた、父と先輩エンジニアの元で実践経験を積みながら「日々、勉強中」だ。

The reason why they are so committed to "originality".
"We're attracted to cars from the 1960s to the 1970s because they were made with such a high level of technique. For example, cars with aluminum bodies from this era were all molded using a "panel beating" technique by skilled craftsmen. During the 1960s, the level of gasoline engine technology was extremely high as well; one could make an argument that it was during this time the technology was perfected. Back then, automobile production technology was esteemed and was closely related to national prestige in the West and in Japan, so engineers and designers were extremely passionate about the cars they created. You can feel the quality of the assembling and fitting of the cars made during this era by the sounds that you hear when closing the doors for example. However, as the years went on and automobile manufacturers began thinking of more convenient and efficient ways to make cars, the production environments of the past were slowly lost."

彼らが"オリジナル"にこだわるのには、理由がある。
「僕たちが60〜70年代ごろの車に惹かれるのは、やはり非常に高いレベルのものづくりの技術が注ぎ込まれていたから。例えば、当時のアルミボディの車はすべて熟練の職人による"叩き出し"の技術で成形されています。また60年代はガソリンエンジンの技術が最も成熟し、完成した時代だと言えると思います。当時は欧米でも日本でも、自動車の生産技術は国家の威信に関わる重要なものでしたから、エンジニアやデザイナーが目いっぱいの情熱を傾けて車を作っていた。その頃に作られたものは、例えばドアを締めた時の音ひとつとっても、立て付けの良さが肌で感じられます。しかし、その後の時代になるにつれて、いかに楽に、便利な車を作るか、また効率的なものづくりを目指すようになり、かつての生産環境は失われていきました」

During the 1970s, safety standards, otherwise known as the "Muskie Act" were established to control air pollution (coming from exhaust) in the United States, resulting in various regulations including the positioning and design of the lights and bumpers making it difficult for manufacturers to create unique original designs. In the late 1970's, not just in the automobile industry, but other industry as well there was an expansion of highly developed capitalism through rationalization and efficiency, which flooded the market with more standardized products.

70年代に入ると、アメリカで"マスキー法"と呼ばれる排ガスなどの保安基準が定められたことにより、ライトやバンパーの位置などのデザインが規制され、各メーカーが自由にオリジナルのデザインを施すことが難しくなったという事情もある。車に限らず、高度資本主義社会が世界に広まり始めた1970年代以後、合理化・効率化の中で、画一的な商品が市場に溢れるようになったことは否めない。

Fully restored cars are lined up at the "Naito Auto" showroom located in Ogikubo. Photographs of his father Masao at racing events in Europe can be found displayed on the walls.
荻窪にある『内藤オート』ショールームには、完成車が並ぶ。壁には父・正夫さんがヨーロッパでレースに参加していた頃の写真が。

"In order to prevent the deterioration of modern automobile bodies, a clear coating is generally applied to the surface, but in the past, lacquer with weak coating film and strong volatility was applied instead. What makes lacquer so appealing is the uneven wavy feel and distinct ageing that it gives the body of the cars. Today, lacquer coating is extremely rare, but we continue to utilize this traditional method in order to preserve the authentic feel of the original vehicle. As our work environment continues to change over time and the number of engineers who possess the ability to restore old cars dwindles, we feel that it is even more important that we keep these traditional methods alive and pass them down to future generations."

「現代の車はボディの劣化を防ぐために、表面にクリアと呼ばれるコーティング剤を塗装するのが一般的ですが、かつては塗膜が弱く揮発性の強いラッカーを塗っていました。ラッカーはその表面が不均一に波打つ表情や、独特の経年変化に魅力があります。今ではラッカー塗装を行えるところはほとんどありませんが、オリジナルが持っていた魅力を可能な限り保つため、僕たちはこうしたことにも取り組んでいます。環境変化の中で、古い車をレストアできるエンジニアも減ってきているので、僕たちが引き継いでいかないといけないなと思っています」

Kei, who is an artist when he isn't working as an engineer, draws paintings based mainly on car part motifs.
アーティストでもある慶さんは、エンジニアとしての仕事の傍ら、車のパーツをモチーフにした絵を描いている。

Even while talking with them, their hands never stopped working on the machines in front of them. For example, in order to prevent the compression leakage of the engine bulbs, each bulb is individually coated with a compound while aligning them bit-by-bit. This task of filling in the tiny gaps invisible to the naked eye requires a delicateness and added time, but by striving to increase the precision of each of these elements to its maximum potential, new life is given to the cars while restoring them to their original conditions.
On the other hand, they don't believe that things should be preserved and kept in pristine condition simply because they are old or rare. What drives them is taking high quality products and restoring them back to their original condition to bring them new life so that they can once again be used today.
"Many people might have the image that old cars are prone to breakdown easily, but most of them can be used for 10, 20 years with little maintenance when correctly restoring every precise detail of the vehicle. Our goal is to restore them to a condition that allows everyday use."

会話しながらも、彼らの作業の手が休まることはない。エンジンバルブの圧縮漏れを防ぐために、バルブ一本一本にコンパウンドを塗布しながら少しずつ摺り合わせていく。目に見えない極小の隙間を埋める、繊細かつ手間のかかる作業だが、こうしたわずかな部分の精度を限界まで高めていくことで、車が息を吹き返し、その輝きを取り戻していく。
ただ古いから、稀少だから大切に保存しようというだけではない。良く作られたものを、良い状態にして、今この時代に必要なものとして蘇らせたい。
「『古い車は壊れやすい』というイメージがあると思いますが、本当に良い車を細部まできちんとレストアしさえすれば、10年、20年でも、ほとんど手がかからずしっかり走ってくれます。ぜひ毎日、使ってもらいたいですね」

Naito Auto
Official Instagram: @naitoengineering

内藤オート
Official Instagram: @naitoengineering

Survey, defined as: to examine or inspect. In these features, we will be reporting on things, people, places, or cultures that inspire us in our daily work of making products.

"Survey"とは「調査・検分」の意。〈visvim〉が日々、ものづくりをする上でインスピレーションを与えてくれる魅力的なモノ、人、場所、文化などさまざまなトピックを独自の視点で取り上げ、レポートします。

edit & text: Kosuke Ide
photo: Keisuke Fukamizu

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