By Steve & Tamami Laser
The 14th annual Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) on Sept. 15 was the largest ever with an amazing array of more than 500 cars, trucks, SUVs, vans and motorcycles. Thanks to its new larger venue at Marina Green Park in Long Beach, Calif., thousands of fans came to admire the rows of vintage vehicles presented by owners, automakers and vendors.
For the fifth year in a row, JCCS kindly provided us with media passes. We made a beeline for the vehicles that we knew would be surrounded by enthusiasts shortly after the gates opened to the public, including this super rare Toyota 2000GT. Our story includes 14 videos (honoring the 14th annual JCCS) that you can watch here or on our CarNichiWa YouTube channel.
Datsun and Nissan
The long-running popularity of the Datsun 510 and Bluebird continues with an amazing array of models on display at this year’s Japanese Classic Car Show. From stock to highly modified, we captured the cars that made our hearts race in this video.
When we were in high school, the most popular 510 was the two-door. Times change and now the four-doors and wagons are also in demand with Datsun collectors. Take a look at the magnificent 510/Bluebird sedan above and below.
While the exterior of this car turns heads, the view under the hood causes plenty jaws to drop. Kudos to the owner for creating a work of art in the engine bay with incredible attention to detail, highly polished components, and magnificent choice of colors.
Datsun Z cars, called “Fairlady Z” in Japan, continue to be coveted by collectors nearly 50 years after the first model was launched in Japan (fall 1969). The owner of the yellow 240Z in our above video kept the classic stock appearance right down to the wheel covers and whitewall tires.
Meanwhile, the owner of this highly modified 1975 280Z went the other direction with big fender flares housing incredibly large wheels and tires. Signs on the car say it has “20,000” original miles, yet we wonder how much time it has spent on the racetrack?
As expected, there was a large turnout of Nissan Skylines at this year’s JCCS. While not officially imported to the U.S. by the automaker, Skyline variants, including the hot GT-R, are highly prized by collectors due to their rarity and celebrity status in movies and video games.
With more than 20 trips to Japan over the years, we’ve seen some excellent examples of the “Hakosuka” (“boxy Skyline”) at shows and events including the Tokyo Auto Salon. The car above in Long Beach beautifully represents the look that’s so popular with modified cars of this genre in Japan.
The Nissan Safari is a rare sight in the U.S. Also known as the Patrol Safari, the fourth-generation SUV was sold in global markets (not including the U.S.) in three-door, five-door, and pickup body styles. (Today’s U.S. market Nissan Armada is based on the current Japanese Patrol built by Nissan Shatai.)
The Datsun U620 pickup in our above video is the first one we’ve seen in the U.S. This video also takes a look at some of the cool Datsun roadsters at the show this year.
With Halloween just around the corner, the owners of the U620 got into the spirit of the season by tricking out their truck with a skeleton in the bed. Of course, it was wearing cool shades, an appropriate accessory for the warm and sunny Saturday at Marina Green Park.
We immediately fell in love with this 1969 Datsun S 2000 roadster with its mirror-straight body and emerald-green paint. Yet when we went to look under the hood …
… we were surprised to see a Honda engine! The owner says the car is a “rotisserie restoration” sporting a Honda F20C engine teamed with a 6-speed manual gearbox. We love it.
Toyota and Lexus
Three of the most popular collectible Toyotas are the Celica, Supra and MR2. All were well represented at this year’s show with examples from multiple generations on display. (The saga continues next year when an all-new Supra rejoins Toyota’s lineup.)
This gorgeous Celica GT liftback with magnificent orange paint was one of our favorites. It featured JDM-type front and rear styling with small bumpers and flush-mounted taillights, similar to Celicas we’ve seen at museums in Japan.
The owner of this magnificent 1997 Supra Turbo has modified it with performance-enhancing powertrain and suspension components along with an exterior body kit plus tire and wheel upgrades.
While all three generations of Toyota’s mid-engine MR2 are highly collectible, the first generation remains our favorite by virtue of its classic “origami” styling and supercharged engine that was offered later in the model run.
While we’ve seen many examples of the extremely rare Toyota 2000GT in the U.S. and Japan (including the James Bond 2000GT roadster) getting up close with any of these cars makes us swoon. Our video also includes Lexus SC coupes displayed at JCCS.
We wanted to buy a Lexus SC 400 coupe when it first came out in 1992, yet we were short on funds. Perhaps one day soon we’ll be able to realize our dream by adding a clean model like this one to our collection.
We remember when this J60-style Land Cruiser was new and adopted the then-fashionable rectangular headlights. This clean example wears the “Think Safety – Buckle Up” license plate frames that Toyota U.S.A. installed on company cars when its headquarters was in nearby Torrance.
Honda and Acura
Honda followed up the N600, its first carline in the U.S., with the sporty AZ600 “coupe.” Fun to drive, yet a bit short on cargo space, one owner built a custom matching trailer to transport additional gear. Our video also includes several examples of the Honda S-series roadsters.
This N600 at the Honda company display looks a bit rough, yet it’s a historically significant model. As American Honda’s first race car, Bill Robertson, Jr., and Dave Elkins drove it in the 1970 Baja 1000 race. Honda says the car was thought to have been lost, yet it was recently found in Seattle.
This video highlights a trio of Honda vehicles that were not originally sold in the U.S. The Beat is a small mid-engine roadster (Kei car) that was built from 1991-’96. Vamos looks like a cross between a Kei truck and a dune buggy, while the Honda Life is a small Kei van.
This is the first Honda Vamos that we’ve seen outside of Japan. Power for this 1971 model is supplied by a midship-mounted 2-cylinder air-cooled engine from the N360. The soft top can be removed for fresh-air motoring.
We were also surprised to see this 1974 Honda Life StepVan at the show. The first-generation Life was offered as a car, commercial and passenger van, and pickup. Later on, Honda found its groove with the more stylish N-Box and its variants that have sold more than 1 million units in Japan.
Cars that were popular when new continue to be savored by collectors including the two-seat Honda CRX, Civic hatchback, plus the Acura Integra and NSX sports car.
This 2019 NSX displayed by Acura is destined to become a future collectible. It features Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ delivering 573 hp, a 9-speed Dual Clutch Transmission, Integrated Dynamics System, Brembo brakes, and breathtaking styling.
The 1990 Mazda 787 shown at JCCS this year, and the 787B shown last year, are Group C sports prototype racing cars built for the World Sportscar Championship, the All Japan Sports Prototype Championship, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (that Mazda won with the quad-rotor-powered 787B in 1991). Our video also includes several of the rotary powered RX-7s at the show.
This third generation RX-7 fitted with a twin-turbo version of the 13B rotary is a sight to behold. It was beautifully detailed inside and out and finished in a gorgeous shade of red. Last year Mazda celebrated the 50th anniversary of its rotary powered cars.
In the 1970s, Mazda offered the rotary engine in nearly all of its models including the RX-2, RX-3 and RX-4 coupe, sedan and wagon, along with the rarely seen today rotary pickup.
We’ve always liked the styling of the Mazda RX-4 coupe which looks best above, without the huge U.S.-spec bumpers that were applied to most models.
Mitsubishi and Subaru
This video highlights some of the cool Mitsubishi and Subaru cars and wagons at JCCS this year. The red Mitsubishi 3000GT is fitted with a twin-turbo DOHC V6 engine.
We haven’t seen a Mitsubishi Starion in quite a while, especially one this clean that appears to be wearing its original California 2-series license plate.
One of the competitors to the Mitsubishi 3000GT is the Subaru SVX coupe with its 6-cylinder boxer engine. The unique styling by Giugiaro of ItalDesign continues to turn heads.
Back in the 1970s, Subarus like this DL wagon were known for their rugged boxer engines and quirky styling. The surfboard strapped to the roof of this clean survivor adds a dash of sport.
The 8th annual Japanese Classic Motorcycle Show, staged concurrently with JCCS, featured an array of models from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki.
From the tiny Honda Monkey to this stunning racing Yamaha, there was something for everyone at this year’s show.
Visit the Japanese Classic Car Show website for more information.
See our reviews of previous Japanese Classic Car Shows at these links:
2017 Japanese Classic Car Show – Watch Our Video Review of This Fantastic Show
2016 Japanese Classic Car Show – Our 21 Video Salute to Vintage Cars, Trucks and Bikes
2015 Japanese Classic Car Show – Collectors Yen for “Old School” Datsun, Toyota, Honda, Mazda
2014 Japanese Classic Car Show – Rare Gems Shine in the Shadow of the Queen
CarNichiWa.com thanks JCCS for providing us with media credentials
Story, photos and videos © 2018 CarNichiWa.com