A great product has originality, it will keep its history, its heritage and will have a long life,” says Yukiyasu Hayashi. “You can experience this sense of originality and the rich heritage when you drive a classic car,” continues the president of the Osato Research Institute, a company specialising in health and ageing. Then he adds: “That is if you stay with the same brand. Only then can you feel and understand its philosophy.”
Hayashi is a passionate collector of Aston Martin motor cars — vintage, classic and modern. His impressive collection is remarkable in that it offers a comprehensive oversight of the history of the marque — a taster menu of Aston Martins from pre-war to mid-century to the present day, with every find personally selected by Hayashi with love and dedication.
The journey began in 2002, when Hayashi purchased his first Aston Martin, a DB7 Vantage Volante. He explains: “Our family has always driven British cars, mainly SUVs for camping and skiing. Then, when the kids grew up and left home, we thought it would be nice to look at owning an iconic Aston Martin.”
The flirtation with the classics came a little while later: in 2012, Hayashi sourced one of the most beautifully sculpted cars in history, the 1964 DB5, which was then restored by Aston Martin Works at the Newport Pagnell workshops and promptly displayed as the Goodwood Revival centrepiece. “The DB5 was my first experience of a classic car,” he recalls. “It is a four seater and is very elegant in a relaxed way.”
Hayashi is clearly still excited about this car. “When my DB5 arrived in Japan, it was shown at the British Premier Brands show at Mitsui Club Tokyo, which was attended by the UK ambassador.”
Hayashi knew he needed to unearth other Aston Martin classics. In 2013, a voluptuous black 1937 Aston Martin 15/98 Tourer was sourced, acquired and fully restored by specialists Ecurie Bertelli before being shipped back to Japan. “It is very elegant and completely different to the DB5,” he says of the car. “I can enjoy it as if I am at my own Concours d’Elegance! I drive it in a relaxed way as I prefer to conduct my own race.”
When you choose a certain model, you are aware that you are buying a piece of history
The car is parked at the family holiday villa in the Japanese summer resort of Karuizawa, surrounded by a beautiful grove of larch trees, a period complement to a crafted 1940 Steinway grand piano, played regularly by his wife Toshiko, a former pianist. Both are music lovers and hold concerts at this elegant villa. “For me, the car, all classic cars, need to become part of life, part of the family and must be enjoyed,” Hayashi says. “Classic cars add to how we feel and how we appreciate our families and family life.”
Hayashi sources his cars mostly by chance or through word-of-mouth from other collectors and connoisseurs he meets at racing and classic car events around the world. One of his most recent vintage finds was a light blue 1933 Aston Martin Le Mans. The car is currently in the UK for an engine rebuild and will be fully restored by the autumn. Once it’s in Japan, Hayashi will be in the possession of six Aston Martins, including the 2002 DB7 Vantage Volante, a 2007 Vanquish S and a Cygnet — “for office use”, he smiles. The Le Mans car will be parked at his company, the Osato Research Institute (ORI). “I want to drive this car in good weather in the afternoon to see the winery near the institute,” he says.
Hayashi founded ORI with the primary mission to promote what he calls “healthy ageing” — creating preventative cures to reduce the need for medical care in the elderly. “Japan has an ageing population,” he explains. “We are looking at prevention — ways of avoiding age-related diseases, dementia and so on. The idea is to reduce medical costs for the government so it can spend it instead on social infrastructure and on schools.”
The aforementioned winery, too, is designed for happy ageing. “It is a pity that people with a lot of experience don’t work after retirement,” he says, so the vineyard was created as a place for retirees to do some fun casual work and to socialise.
Hayashi sees classic cars as part of the world of art and culture, fine wine and good music: “I believe driving a classic car is like playing a grand piano.” He feels each classic car’s personal history must be recognised. “I prefer my classic cars to be standard and in their original colour and trim,” he notes. If he chooses a colour, then it usually reflects the model’s heritage. “With classic cars, you need to respect their life. When you choose a certain model, you are aware that you are buying a piece of history.”
For the DB5 he chose Scotland Blue for the exterior “as it is deep and heavy, and for me the DB5 is a man’s car”. The DB7, on the other hand, is painted in Sunrise as a symbol of Japan’s Rising Sun. “For the interior I tend to go for lighter colours like beige as they psychologically lift the spirit. You feel more optimistic,” he says with a smile. With such a rich selection of Aston Martin heritage to draw on every day, his optimism is understandable.