PASSION

In our penultimate look at the astonishing collections of four of the marque’s most longstanding owners, we join Koichi Hoya, who fell in love with Ferrari the moment he saw a picture of a 250 GTO in junior high school…
Words: Kevin M. Buckley
Photography: James Whitlow Delano

It was in his second year of junior high school when Koichi Hoya first saw a Ferrari, in a Japanese book titled ‘Sports Cars of the World’.  “I couldn’t take my eyes off the long-nosed berlinetta,” he recalls. That was in an era when Ferrari itself was not so well known within Japan, but coming across that image of a 250 GTO prototype was the moment when he became a car lover, and, more specifically, a Ferrari lover.

Hoya alongside his Ferrari 812 GTS  

By the age of 34, his dream of owning one had come true with the purchase of his first Ferrari, a 512 BBi. That was forty years ago. “That first Ferrari was the most astonishing. The injection engine was both quiet and fast,” he recalls. “And I was surprised at how comfortable the ride was with the new brand of tyres.” 

 

He developed a particular admiration for Fioravanti designs. Without letting go of the 512 BBi, he bought a 1971 Ferrari ‘Daytona’ 365 GTB/4 and enjoyed its heavy steering wheel and clutch pedal. That front-engined 12-cylinder Ferrari had a completely different charm from the midship model.

“It’s difficult to handle at low speeds,” he says. “But once you get some speed, you’ll be captivated by the relaxed rotation feel and sound of the V12 engine. It’s truly a grand touring car,”he says, admiringly. Yet those boyhood hankerings for a 250 GTO would simply not go away, remaining with him “like a dream within a dream”.

Hoya visited Maranello as one of the few Japanese who had ordered an F40. "I sat in the passenger seat of the prototype and experienced Fiorano twice"

He acquired a 275 GTB4 to try to have something closer to that legendary model. Then his fortieth birthday proved a turning point in his Ferrari adventure. He learned that Ferrari would announce its own 40th anniversary model. Moreover, word spread that it would be a model directly connected to the world of racing, emulating the thinking that had been behind the GTO. 

 

Hoya set his heart upon it. It would be a way of celebrating his own four decades. “I will never forget,” he says, “back in May 1988, a few months before Enzo died, I visited Maranello as one of the few Japanese who had officially ordered the F40. I sat in the passenger seat of the F40 prototype and experienced Fiorano twice.” Hoya was thrilled by the extraordinary performance of that F40. 

Inside the cockpit of his beloved 365 GTB/4 'Daytona'

He realised that day that a new era of high-performance road cars directly linked to motor sports was on its way. Ever since, Hoya’s policy has been to acquire rare 12-cylinder flagship models, such as the F512 M and 550 Barchetta, both of which are rare within their respective generations.  He also bought a 599 GTB Fiorano –the only two-tail-lamp Ferrari he owns, apart from a 488 Pista which, being a V8 twin-turbo model with a direct connection to motor sports, represented for him the second coming of the F40. 

 

The latest addition to the Hoya family garage is the 812 GTS. “Technological progress is great, isn’t it?” he declares. “I’m impressed to think that this 812 GTS is the accumulation of each and every technological innovation at Maranello. I have a true love for the Ferrari brand, and I couldn’t be happier.”

The 812 GTS is, he observes, “quiet and fast”. The same impression he had 40 years ago with that 512 BBi. He calls it “the result of accumulated innovation”. He becomes philosophical when describing his own car-buying history. “A Ferrari represents a dream. But once you obtain one dream, you’ve got to expect that that will continue. There’s always a ‘continuation of dreams’ in the world of Ferrari.”