Have chrome-bumpered bullies been making you feel bad that your urethane-capped car isn’t truly a classic? Tell them to take a chill pill. Now that 1990 is the 25-year cutoff, everything that was built in the Eighties is officially a classic.
Could this lineup be any more Eighties? You have a lipstick red convertible Celica and two cocaine-white T-Top 300ZXes. For some reason, not having an enclosed roof was huge back then. Roger Powell got another trophy to display in front of his ASC-chopped Celica thanks to a second place win in the Best Celica & Supra class.
Meanwhile, Saro Fagerian swept the top two spots in Best 80s Nissan with his two matching, all-original Z31s. First place was awarded to his 1988 Shiro Special that still wears original Bridgestone Potenzas, while second place went to his 1986 Z31 Turbo with just 35,000 miles on the clock.
Each year there seems to be a new model that reaches a tipping point. Suddenly, a car that was represented with just one or two examples in past years appears in large numbers. The Z31 was one of them this year.
Of course, die-hard Z31 fans have been around for ages, but we’re seeing more of them becoming blank canvases for younger customizers. Roy Quintana’s white ’86 (center) goes for a more VIP look with painted SSR Viennas, while Tom Pollinger’s gold ’88 reminds us of a 70s street machine.
Peeking inside, we see a custom two-tone brown interior and an automatic transmission. Normally a slushbox is cause for consternation but if you’re going to stance your car it makes total sense. The Nardi wood steering wheel gives it a touch of class as well.
A second of the 1,002 Shiro Specials built in 1988 made an appearance at the NISMO Shop booth. It also remains bone stock and is owned by Mike Sage, proprietor of the Sage Auto Group that owns West Covina Nissan and Universal City Nissan.
Over at the Mazda booth, a 323 GTX was on display from the Mazda North America basement. The rally-ready, turbocharged, AWD hot hatch is one of only 1,243 sold in the US. Mazda recently acquired this example, a rare purplish-silver specimen, from Texas.
When I bought my own 1986 Cressida in 2007, old-lady owned examples that had remained untouched for years were cheap and plentiful on the used car market. These days, you can’t find any on Craigslist that aren’t slammed, engine-swapped or commanding a four-digit premium on the price. Since Soarers, Skylines and Laurels were never sold in the US, the Cressida has become the go-to platform for bosozoku style builds. Builds range from more extreme examples with US flavor, like Casey Schneider’s MX73, to straightforward Japanese style ones, like Astrid Vergara’s MX32, to subtle shakotan setups like Abraham Janssen’s dark teal MX73 (above).
Bosozoku stylings were not limited to the Cressidas. A small contingent of A60 Celica owners went insanely all-out on the zokusha theme, like Oscar Salazar and his RA65 hatch.
Ron Sino-Cruz went all Fukuoka style with his 1985 Celica coupe, decking it out in bubble flares and a Minolta livery inspired by 1987 JTCC TOM’s Supra Turbo A. Going one better than the Supra, though, was a Lexus 1UZ-FE V8 stuffed under the hood so well it looked like a factory installation.
Purists need not fret, however. Sebastian Scopellite rebuilt his RA64 coupe as a father-daughter project, performing a 5-speed swap along the way.
Daniel Felix’s 1985 Celica GT is an all-original survivor with just under 78,000 miles on the odometer and all the goodies — power windows, sunroof, 5-speed and beautiful two-tone paint. Beside it, Cynthia Villalobos showed off her lowered but otherwise stock 1985 Celica. She has great taste in rims too, exemplified by a set of gold SSR Star Sharks.
There was no shortage of AE86s, starting with Nestor Rabanal’s super-clean two-tone zenki. These days, keeping the USDM bumpers is more en vogue, as the idea of keeping the car mostly original gains respect.
Of course, Levin conversions are still around, but most of them were high-dollar show cars from when the JDM tuner aesthetic was king. Both of these Levin conversions are SEMA-quality builds, the white hatch in particular looking like it stepped right out of a scene from Best Motoring.
However, front-wheel-drive Corollas were not to be forgotten. Agustin Silva’s FX-16 is a pristine example of the AE86’s 4A-GE little brother and a set of Enkei black RPF1s turned out to be a great match for the car.
The AE82 sedan is probably the most unloved of all the fourth-gen Corollas, but here’s an example of great creativity with something that even the biggest Toyotakus think is junk. Even the original 4A-C is gone, replaced with the revvy 4A-GE.
Though few in number, this was probably still one of the larger S12 turnouts in JCCS history. Like the Z31, we see it only increasing in popularity in the coming years. In fact, Andrew Harvey’s white, VG33-swapped 1987 coupe (bottom) came in just behind a pair of Z31s to win third in the Best 80s Nissan class.
Before the S12, there was the S110. Amazingly, Mike Sameshima owned all the S110-generation 200SXes at the show (there were only two). The beautifully original two-tone coupe was a recent rescue to go with his custom blue hatch built back in the 80s.
80s Hondas made a big showing this year, making everyone jealous of their pop-up headlights and impossibly low cowls. Though fantastic handling cars for what were essentially Camry competitors, they arrived in the late 80s just a bit too early for the tuner craze. Now, in the post-tuner era, they’re achieving newfound respect amongst the Honda faithful.
Carlos Ochoa went home with second place in the Best Mid-School Honda category for his 1989 Accord hatch. With subtle mods like an Integra front lip, a clean drop on Ground Control coilovers, and flawless paintwork, it’s easy to see why.
It’s hard to believe but the fourth-generation Accord is officially a classic now. Built from 1990-93, it represented the pinnacle of Accord development and became unstoppable in the race for best-selling car in America. Who knew mom’s daily driver would show up at JCCS one day, albeit stanced and running a Prelude H22 motor.
Once darlings of the Honda lineup, Preludes have seemingly dropped off the face of the Earth. It hardly seems possible to fit an engine under the hood of a slammed second-gen ‘Lude. Apparently finding skimpy bras carved for pop-up headlights is a thing now.
Chris Green’s won the JNC Award last year for his immaculate third-gen Prelude. We were glad to see it return in the same condition this year, which is basically the same condition it’s been in every year since 1986.
Robert Dempster must be one of the only people in the world who modified a second-gen Accord. Starting out with a 1.8L SE-i, Robert added a 2-inch drop the car two inches on a custom shock and spring setup, cat-back exhaust and a custom cold air intake. Topped off with some 15-inch Riken mesh wheels, it’s actually a pretty brilliant display of what is possible with a 1985 Accord sedan.
The Honda CRX is pretty much on every “future classics” list, but finding a clean example is the difficult part, especially an Si model. Luckily, JCCS proves that there are some that have not been stanced to death.
Jesse Temores’ mind-blowing 1991 EF8 was decked out in a Spoon theme, loaded with every tuner era JDM part you could think of. The entire Spoon Sports catalog is here, including a Type R B18C5. Apparently Jesse even converted the car to RHD and got the entire thing legalized in California, smog and all. He calls it the Killr-B and runs a license plate that says “SPOON FED.” Jesse took third place in the Best Civic & CRX class.
While CRXes and 90s Civics are getting harder to find by the day, the EA-T Civic is still somewhat attainable. John Cruz’s Wonder Civic appears to be a California blue plate survivor.
Consider the fact that Toyota once built a rear-wheel-drive hot hatch the size of a first-gen Civic. Despite its unassuming beige exterior, Eugene Garcia’s KP61 goes like hell with a 4A-GZE turbo twin-cam with completely built internals. If it wasn’t for the racing seats, you’d never suspect this sleeper of a Starlet.
You can’t spell 80s without a Toyota Van. Zeki Abed’s 1987 Van LE is a 4-wheel-drive model, completely with swiveling captain’s chairs. The restoration won Zeki third place in the Best Toyota Truck & SUV class.
One of our favorites of the show was Leonso Porras’s 1985 Nissan Pulsar NX. As far as we can recall, it was the only N12 that’s been shown in JCCS history. Predecessor to the modular rear Pulsar EXA, these are almost nonexistent today.
It’s wedge shape and pop-up headlights are quintessentially 80s, and just look at the C-pillar motif and thin spoiler out back. The angular and pointy Star Sharks are a perfect match for this car, and check out the graph paper upholstery on the seats. You can’t not love this.
Perhaps the most iconic 80s car of them all is not a car at all, but a truck. Jack Russo’s 1987 Toyota Xtracab is a dead on replica of the pickup featured in the finale of Back to the Future. It’s even signed by Claudia Wells, who played Jennifer, Marty McFly’s girlfriend.
One of the most amazing cars at the show was Sean Lee’s dead mint 1988 Mazda RX-7 Turbo II. Not only is it one of 1,500 10th Anniversary Editions, it has only 1,300 miles on the clock! We’ll have a more detailed feature on this car soon.
Another small, front-wheel drive car that got a lot of love this year was Edgar Briones’s 1982 Tercel. Edgar pulled of the seemingly impossible when his all-original AL12 won second place in Best Toyota. But then, the humble little Tercel, looking like it had just rolled out of the showroom, beat out a field of Zs, Celicas, and rotaries to get third place in overall Best of Show!
If these are the types of cars that get your motor running, the JCCS organizers have created another show just for 80s and 90s Japanese cars. Street Neo Classics will be held at Toyota Headquarters in Torrance, California on October 18, 2015.
To be continued…
We’ll have more 2015 JCCS coverage coming up, but in the meantime in case you missed it here’s Part 01 and Part 02, as well as special features on the Ibarra Bros’ classic Mazda collection and thefirst Honda built for US import.