By Steve & Tamami Laser
We’re often asked, “What’s your favorite collectible Japanese car?” And our answer usually goes, “We like them all!” One of the best places to see them all is at the annual Japanese Classic Car Show. While last year’s virtual show was called World Matsuri Week, this year, the 16th annual JCCS® was held at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, on Oct. 30.
The change of venue, from Marina Green Park in Long Beach, Calif., to Anaheim, welcomed exhibitors and show goers alike with ample space for everyone. In addition to rows and rows of collector cars, trucks, and bikes proudly displayed by their owners, automakers and aftermarket companies joined the action with their own special exhibits.
JCCS kindly provided us with a media pass for our event coverage, so we could make as many photo and videos as time (and our batteries) allowed. If you missed the show, or would like to revisit, our review includes 21 short videos that you can watch here, and on our CarNichiWa.com YouTube channel.
Datsun and Nissan
Once we entered the show, we made a beeline to the Nissan exhibit. Our goal was to capture the Z display, including the all-new 2023 Z, on video, before it was surrounded by enthusiasts and fans alike.
Our video offers a quick walkaround look at the new Nissan Z, including the exterior, interior, and a peek under the hood. The next generation Z is expected to go on sale in spring 2022 as a 2023 model. Design cues, like the teardrop-shaped LED headlights, and the profile of the hood, are inspired by the first generation Z.
Under the hood is a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 rated at 400 horsepower and 350 lbs.-ft. of torque. It transfers power to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox or new 9-speed automatic with paddle shifters.
We also got a first look at the all-new 2023 Nissan Ariya EV. The all-electric crossover, expected to go on sale in the U.S. in fall 2022, is said to combine Nissan’s advanced electric vehicle technology with a new level of seamless human-machine interface connectivity.
We really like the style of the new Ariya EV, with its design inspired by “Timeless Japanese Futurism.” We were surprised to see that Nissan displayed a right-hand-drive Japanese-market model at JCCS. The Ariya has already gone on sale in Japan.
Nissan also brought the next-generation 2022 Frontier to JCCS. This midsize truck sports a bold new design with styling cues channeling Nissan’s trendsetting Hardbody pickups from the 1980s and ‘90s. This good-looking 4WD model is called PRO-4X, featuring an off-road suspension and electronically locking rear differential.
Among the beautifully restored and modified Zs at this year’s JCCS was a yellow Z Sporting a “G” nose and “240 Z1” license plate, shown in our video.
This car was originally owned by Nissan Legend, Yutaka Katayama, the legendary “Mr. K.” Our video also shows a 240Z that Nissan brought to this year’s show, plus several other Z cars displayed by their owners.
When we were in high school, the Datsun 510 (and Japanese Bluebird) was extremely popular. It’s fun to see the trend continue with new generations of fans, who find the coupe, sedan, and wagon models fun to drive and easy to modify. They’re also continuing a decades-long legacy of racing on the track.
This gorgeous, incredibly clean 1970 Datsun Bluebird SSS is a right-hand-drive model that’s rarely seen in the states. The mirror-straight body, finished in glossy black, rides on a set of updated aftermarket wheels shod with low-profile performance tires.
Under the hood of the Bluebird is an 1800 SSS engine that’s beautifully detailed and a joy to behold. Additional views of this car, including the interior, can be seen in our 510/Bluebird video.
We’re always thrilled to see how popular the Nissan Skyline has become with collectors. While not officially imported into the U.S. by the automaker, Skyline variants, including vintage GT-Rs, have become highly prized by collectors thanks to their rarity and celebrity status in video games and movies.
This vintage 1959 Datsun 1000 was one of the oldest cars in the show. The owners say it’s a right-hand-drive model imported from Japan, equipped with the original 1000cc engine, and has travelled 97,000 kilometers (about 60,000 miles).
While some of our high school buddies drove Datsun 240Zs and 510s, others enjoyed the utility and versatility of Datsun trucks. Whether transporting surfboards, sports gear, or school projects, these affordable pickups remain popular with the young and young at heart.
We’re lucky to live in Southern California for many reasons. One is the close proximity to beautiful beaches, while another is the chance to see vintage Toyota cars and trucks at car shows like JCCS and the annual All Toyotafest.
We made this photo of the Toyota exhibit at JCCS in the early morning hours. It was great to see some of the exciting new Toyota models sharing the spotlight with favorite collector vehicles at JCCS.
We were excited to see that Toyota brought the new 2022 GR86 to JCCS. Like the previous 86, the new GR86 is a joint-development project with Subaru, and is built at Subaru’s plant in Japan, alongside the new Subaru BRZ®. In addition to the new name, GR86 gains a more powerful Boxer engine, improved handling, new styling, and a new interior.
As one of the world’s best-selling cars, the Toyota Corolla remains popular with fans across the globe. Rear-wheel-drive models, called GT-S, AE86, or “Hachiroku,” are highly collectible. Along with Japan-market variants, including the Sprinter, Levin, and Trueno, JCCS offered something for everyone.
We were happy to see this Celica GT-Four, ST205 WRC Edition at JCCS, following our previous encounter at the All Toyotafest. A right-hand-drive, limited-edition, Japanese market import, this car is a rare sight in the U.S.
This fantastic 1970 Toyota Crown is often displayed at JCCS and All Toyotafest. It has received a pro-touring makeover by its owners. Starting with the body shell, many components were custom-built and fabricated to give it a classy, modern look.
Under the hood is a detailed 2JZ-GE engine that was installed using custom motor mounts, while a custom driveshaft transfers power to the rear wheels. Inside, this Crown is dressed with a custom billet aluminum dash with updated gauges.
It seems like only yesterday, yet the retro-inspired Toyota FJ Cruiser, introduced nearly 20 years ago, is becoming a collectible. Like the long-running Land Cruiser, the FJ Cruiser can be enjoyed stock or modified, and driven on- and off-road.
The first Toyota van sold in the U.S. in the 1980s has many siblings. The Toyota Hiace is offered in a wide array of configurations in Japan and other markets, along with a new generation introduced last year, that retains the name.
While this SUV looks like a 4Runner, it’s actually a Japanese market right-hand-drive Toyota Hilux Surf. Yes, that’s the real name that was used in Japan, and we haven’t seen one of these trucks since our last visit to Nagoya.
While it’s not unusual to see show cars with customized gullwing doors, this 1990 Toyota Sera is a rare Japanese market model that came from the factory with butterfly doors and full glass liftgate. Our video also includes a classic Sports 800, another Toyota that was ahead of its time.
While it looks like a mini 2000GT, the Toyota Sports 800 went on sale in Japan in 1965, before its larger sibling. The targa-roof two-seater is powered by an air-cooled 2-cylinder horizontally opposed engine with dual carbs. The Sports 800 was based on Toyota’s Publica economy sedan of the era.
Acura and Honda
Cool Acura and Honda cars from the automaker’s private Collection Hall joined some of the latest models on display at this JCCS exhibit.
We were glad to see this Phoenix Yellow Integra Type R that we previously encountered during a visit to the Collection Hall. Acura has big plans for the return of the Integra nameplate next year, as a 2023 model.
While making a video of the 2001 Integra Type R, we felt like we had stepped into a time machine and traveled back 20 years. This car still looks new, from every angle. It even has a plastic wrapper on the steering wheel, and reportedly less than 5,000 miles on the odometer.
Our hearts started to beat faster when we made a video of the 2022 Acura NSX Type S. Acura says that in celebration of the final year of NSX production, just 350 NSX Type S limited-edition models will be built, with 300 units planned for U.S. customers.
This amazing, 600 horsepower sports hybrid gains distinctive front and rear styling, including a GT3-style rear diffuser. We’re wondering if Honda/Acura has a next-generation NSX in the works?
A new Honda Civic has been introduced for the 2022 model year. Our video takes a walkaround of the exterior, interior, and under the hood of a new Civic Sport Sedan. The Civic is also available as a hatchback, and we hear that a new Type R is also being developed.
Another time-capsule from Honda’s Collection Hall is this well-preserved third-generation Civic Si hatchback. From the stock 13-inch wheels and super-clean cabin, the Civic looks like it traveled to the show directly from the 1980s.
As the Civic gets closer to its 50th anniversary, it’s fun to look back at the wide array of models that have been offered over the years. We really liked this Civic wagon at JCCS, sporting a set of whitewall tires. With its unique style, the wagon was also called the Civic Shuttle and Wagovan.
Honda enthusiasts brought an exciting array of collector cars and trucks to JCCS this year. We were amazed to see a super-clean 1964 S600 roadster at the show. The owner says that this early model was “one of the first 5,000 production Honda cars.”
Honda’s first carline in the U.S. was the N600, followed by the sporty AZ600 “coupe.” The owner of this 1972 AZ600 added a custom matching trailer. The car featured an original window sticker, with an MSRP of just $1,440 (without the trailer).
Mini vehicles, also known as Kei cars and trucks, continue to sell well in Japan. The Honda Acty is a Kei truck that’s still available in Japan and other markets. We also liked the 1971 Honda Vamos on display that was dressed up for Halloween.
Our video shows this Honda Beat, a small mid-engine sporty roadster (Kei car) that was built from 1991 to ’96. The spiritual successor to the Beat is the current Japan-market Honda S660, which is going out of production soon.
Whenever we go to JCCS, we know we’re going to see some really cool Mazdas, including rotary powered sports cars, coupes and trucks. Yet this time we were surprised to behold a pair of vintage Mazdas that we rarely see.
Mazda (Toyo Kyogo) began as a cork manufacturer. In 1931, it launched the “Mazda-go” tricycle truck as its first vehicle. Later generations gained an enclosed cab, a longer bed, and more power. The T2000 at JCCS, from the Malamut Auto Museum in Thousand Oaks, Calif., is from the last generation of three-wheeled Mazdas that went out of production in the 1970s.
The T2000 was used to “tow” a 1964 Mazda R360 Coupe, also from the Malamut collection. Launched as Mazda’s first passenger car in 1960, the automaker says it was the first micro-mini car equipped with a four-stroke engine. It also has four-wheel independent suspension and a lightweight body.
Another rare model is the Mazda Autozam AZ-1, a sporty Kei car with gullwing doors. Built by Suzuki and sold by Mazda’s previous Autozam dealers in Japan, the AZ-1 features a 3-cylinder turbocharged piston engine.
The rotary engine RX-7 remains very popular with collectors. The second-generation offered both coupe and convertible body styles. We really like the style of this car, with a full body kit and aftermarket wheels.
It’s tough to believe that the MX-5 Miata made its debut more than 30 years ago. As we’ve said before, the roadster is small, light, agile, fun to look at, and a joy to drive. It’s also easy to modify, like the Miata shown above, fitted with custom aftermarket parts.
Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Subaru and Isuzu
Sporty cars like the Toyota Celica, Supra, Datsun Z, Nissan 240SX, and others offered customers a wide choice of models over the years. Yet for those seeking something different, Mitsubishi obliged with the Starion and 3000GT.
While we’ve seen modified Starions before, this was the first time we’ve seen one with gullwing-style doors. Not an easy modification, the owner of this car took it to the next level with the doors, rear wing, body kit, and more.
The Mitsubishi 3000GT is a really cool car that was offered with a twin-turbo V6 engine and VR4 all-wheel drive. We also remember the retractable hardtop Spyder VR4, plus 3000GT siblings, called “Stealth,” built for Chrysler’s Dodge brand.
The Suzuki Cappuccino is one of our favorite Kei cars. We were happy to see two at JCCS this year, including a 1993 convertible, fitted with a 660cc turbocharged three-cylinder engine. Today, Suzuki offers a variety of Kei cars in Japan, including the Wagon R, Solio, and Jimny SUV.
Subaru has become so popular that it’s tough to believe the automaker started out selling mini cars like this 360. Also on display at JCCS was a neat 360 van. Both are powered by rear-mounted, air-cooled, two-cylinder engines.
Not long ago, Isuzu built vehicles like the Impulse and Trooper. Both were on display at JCCS, plus a Japanese market Bighorn turbo-diesel version of the Trooper. Speaking of Isuzu, we still think about the VehiCROSS, one of the most distinctive SUVs we’ve ever driven.
The Japanese Classic Motorcycle Show (JCMS), held during JCCS, celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. It was great to see so many vintage bikes from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki brands.
Our video offers a quick look at some of the cool rides at JCMS, including this gorgeous 1960 Honda CB92 Benly Super. We also liked the Honda Trail 90, Yamaha XS650 chopper, and Suzuki RM125.
Thanks to JCCS, Angel Stadium, car owners, enthusiasts, automakers, and aftermarket companies for making this year’s show such a successful and memorable event.
For more show information visit the Japanese Classic Car Show
See our reviews of previous Japanese Classic Car Show events at these links:
2020 JCCS World Matsuri Week Review – Virtual Japanese Classic Car Show – We Love It!
2019 Japanese Classic Car Show – Collector Cars Are the Stars at JCCS 15th Anniversary
2018 Japanese Classic Car Show – 500 Cars, Trucks and Bikes Captured Our Hearts
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 a media pass to the show
Story, photos and videos © 2021 CarNichiWa.com