LIVIN’ THE KYU-SHA LIFE
Scenes from the 11th Annual Japanese Classic Car Show
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Fri, Sep 25, 2015
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Story and photographs by Sean Spear
The Long Beach waterfront was the perfect setting to pay homage to cars, trucks and motorcycles from the Land of the Rising Sun. Whether you’re interested in first-wave classics, recent vintage modifieds, or next-wave tuners, there’s a little something for everyone. In addition to a wide range of vendors, most of the major Japanese auto manufacturers also brought both their museum classics and their latest models soon to hit the streets. LA CAR was on-hand to collect some pictures and stories from the day.
And a Fine Fairlady She Is
Despite the diverse offerings, this show is still officially about the classics. In that vein, cars like John Baker’s 1969 Datsun 2000 Roadster still take center stage. Originally called the Fairlady in Japan, the model was a statement vehicle announcing that the country could also build a lightweight top-down road car to match anything being offered out of England at the time. Like many of us, John’s first look at the car in his youth compelled him to seek it out in adulthood. “When I was growing up, my Dad got the Fords and my Mom got the Datsuns, so I have lots of memories of being in these cars. I saw this particular car online with pictures that were probably 10-15 years old. When I went to see it, I immediately realized that it had not aged well.” John went on to say, “Though it had been in the seller’s family for 25 years, none of the kids wanted it. The car had a lot of issues, but everything was there. Still, I made my wife and kids followed me home to make sure I got there in one piece.”
Sourcing most of the parts himself, John has been able to completely bring the car back to life. “This was a real basket case. When I started, I figured that since Nissan was still around and doing well I wouldn’t have a hard time finding OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts. Turned out the only thing I was able to get were the rear light reflectors for 25 bucks. Everything else has been word of mouth and cruising eBay three times a day.” While John does have a few more improvements in the works, the stunning car did present well enough to take Best in Show later on in the day.
Taking It All In
While the classically restored vehicles get their just-due this day, many of the more than 350 vehicles present were very personalized examples of what can be done with a little imagination and a good metric wrench. Common themes seemed to fall along the lines of racing-inspired modifications, subtle under-the-hood improvements, or just taking the original body design cues to the next level. Cars from the ‘80s and ‘90s seemed to dominate, in alignment with the explosion in sales these models experienced when new. Many a car enthusiast will tell you that the creative energy of the hot-rodder from previous generations lives on in the Japanese car tuner of today. This show puts an exclamation point on that theory.
John Baker summed up this show perfectly when he said, “I like the Mustangs and Camaros out there as much as the next guy, but there is something special about rolling up and being the only car like this at an event. And I love coming to this one because there is so much energy and enthusiasm here for these cars. It’s the appreciation of them that makes this (show) so special.” * * * Formed by a group of enthusiasts more than ten years ago, The Japanese Classic Car Show states that it remains America’s first and original Japanese car show. Dedicated to “Old School Japanese Cars,” the show usually takes place in early September. Got something to say? Add your Facebook comment regarding this article here. For more information, visit japaneseclassiccarshow.com.