SHOP LIFE: Standards, Part 01

482_Toyota Corona Mark II

Standards is a little known shop hiding up in Gifu Prefecture. We would have never been aware of had it not been for some internet digging by a friend in a desperate bid to find some rare Mazda Carol 360 parts. Not only did the shop have the elusive bits in stock, but physically going there to pick them up was an experience we wouldn’t soon forget. 

From our base just outside of Nagoya we headed through the Tomei-Miyoshi toll gate and hopped onto the Meishin Expressway headed for Kyoto. While on the highway we spotted a very clean second-generation Mazda Cosmo AP. It was a rare opportunity to see one moving along at highway speeds, and it was a good omen of things to come.

After exiting at Sekigahara, we worked our way out past the small town and into the sea of green that is Gifu. It is an absolutely beautiful area with rolling mountains providing the perfect backdrop. You’d never know it, but hidden somewhere among all the wonderful beauty lies a little shop that perfectly captures the Showa spirit.

Yokoyama-san, the kind gentleman that runs Standards, operates on a very small scale, namely himself as the only employee. The shop is tiny any way you look at it, but that doesn’t stop him from stuffing as many cars as he can in and around it.

Stock rotates out pretty regularly. During our visit he had an utterly beautiful Isuzu 117 Coupe sitting pretty right up front.

Next to it was a little Mitsubishi Minicab Van. How can you not love a face like that? It currently had the seat out and was getting some work done to the ME24, two-stroke, air-cooled, 2-cylinder engine that is stuffed under the driver’s bottom. I’m not usually a fan of roof racks, but the rack on this Minicab fit the boxy character of the van perfectly. Utilizing some serious Tetris skills one could probably fit a colossal amount of luggage in this tiny 360cc kei.

Behind the Minicab Yokoyama-san has a little corner carved away for his desk and then beside that two more keis buried under stuff. One is a two-door Mazda Carol 360 and the other is a personal favorite, the Mazda B360.

The real party piece of Standards isn’t in the cars, though. It’s the heaps of stuff that fills up the space between the cars. Yokoyama-san has one of the best collections of Showa Era stuff outside of a museum. He’s got a staggering amount of treasures scattered around the shop, from vintage radios to wheels to electric fans. Old medicine boxes have been repurposed to hold parts. There’s even an old Mitsubishi dealer sign hiding behind some cookware advertising the Colt, Minica and Mitsubishi 360.

Out back there were a few more cars as well, including another Mazda B360 picked up as a parts car. This particular example car had “Jikayou Murata Takeshige” written on the door in some very stylish cursive. Murata Takeshige is someone’s name and “Jikayou” translates to “for private use.” The opposite of that would be “Jigyouyou,” or “for business use.”

The Daihatsu Hijet van belongs to a friend of Yokoyama-san’s and is slowly being brought back to life. The engine of the Hijet was actually in the process of getting put back together when we arrived.

There was also another Subaru R-2 donating parts and another two door Mazda Carol 360. Around the corner he had an old Nissan Gloria being used as a parts car as well. Just as we were about to go into convulsions from the Showa overload, Yokoyama-san smiled and asked, “I have another lot of cars, want to go see?”

Stay tuned for Part 02.

David Lovett works at Classic Car Nagoya and is a frequent contributor at JNC.

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13 Responses to SHOP LIFE: Standards, Part 01

  1. www.JDMjunkies.ch said:

    Everytime i see some rare japanese classics rotting away makes me sad, but then on the other hand you see guys like these spending their lifes to preserve som other classics. great post. can’t wait for part two :)

  2. Nigel said:

    Awesome, seeing this is good. Because here right now it is minus 22C.
    (It is almost dangerous to go outside). But now I am thinking of road trips
    to find cool car stuff…and spring.

  3. longlivekel said:

    It amazes me how tough it is to track down these diamond in the rough places. I found a carol trunk lid with the name standards on it. Took me several days to hunt down their location. I wish I could thank the owner of this business for helping Dave and I out on my Carol 360. Maybe some day!!

    Keep the posts comin Dave!!!

    Cheers
    Kel

  4. Bart said:

    Great story, great stuff, great pics. Can’t wait for Part 2.

  5. John M said:

    Not sure if those Yokohama tire racks are common or rare, but I want one. I like these stories on the hard-to-find stuff that go off the beaten path. Nice job David!

  6. wantyerknobby said:

    only thing this blog entry is missing music to go with it. what are the names of those girl singers on the rca vinyl? and we can youtube them…

    girls

    • Jin said:

      left: Yukari/ Deluxe (ゆかり・デラックス)
      right: Takeuchi Maria/ University Street (竹内まりや・ユニヴァーシティー・ストリ-ト)

  7. Wagoneer said:

    If we get a second life and that life can be spent in a different generation and country, I want to be this guy, working on those cars. And there’s a part two!? Where’s my heart medicine, my pulse is racing already!

  8. Randy said:

    I wouldn’t mind working there… Language barrier would certainly make the days more interesting. :-)

    Questions:

    1.) What’s that white car in the first pic?

    2.) So there’s NOBODY who’s making restoration parts for these cars?

    The hood for that Publica would be a breeze to stamp out. Amazing that the companies who advertise here wouldn’t take some interest in a consortium (Ooooohhh, big word!) to make resto parts to keep their own primary market alive – would make great rolling advertisements, too… I’ve been mentally redoing them. (Hot Rod parts, y’all!) Would a Justy drivetrain be doable in the R-2? Maybe a Metro 3-cyl. Fleetside bed on the HiJet (Just not seein’ a stepside on there.)

    Waiting for more pix of the town(s). So far it looks like someplace I could live.

  9. Dave said:

    Oh my gosh! This place looks awesome! I love those little Mazda Carol coupes, especially the rusty one =P That 117 wheel sure looks pretty. Sweet little shop, looking forward to part 2.

  10. LoRollinLS said:

    Wow! Man, what a great little shop out in the middle of nowhere. Amazing pics too David! Thanks for this. Like everyone else I can’t wait till part 2 for sure.

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