EVENTS: 2015 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 04 — Workhorses

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This year’s JCCS had a higher turnout, truck-wise, than any other in recent memory. Former workhorses that managed to survive — or evade — decades of hard labor showed up en masse on Queen Mary lawn to enjoy their new status as classics. 

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By far the most well represented were Datsun haulers of the 1970s, including an impressive number of 520 and 521 pickups like Daniel Ramirez’s ’70. We dug the white steelies with whitewall tire look, giving it an old school hot rod feel.

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Raymond Medeiros went with a more modern tuner theme, as is often seen among mini truck builds, swapping in an FJ20 with ITBs

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This was the first showing for Frank Kuba’s 1972 521, which looked mean on black steelies shod with beauty rings.

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The bed sported a wooden bed built to carry a custom scooter and a set of re-finished Weds Auto Bahns.

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Perhaps the rarest body style of them all is the early twin-headlight 520. Salvador Alegria‘s 1966 with a hotted up J13 motor is a perennial favorite around these parts.

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It was Tim Gallagher’s first time showing his pearl green 1971 PL521 with a KA24DE swap at JCCS, but he went home with first place in the Best Datsun Truck class. Beside him, José Hernandez’s restored-to-stock and extremely rare right-hand-drive 1968 520 1300 garnered second place in the same category.

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Ronald Hernandez took third place in the Best Datsun Truck class for his 1969 521, which was running a KA24 — derided as a “truck motor” by S13 owners, but hey, it fits in this case — under the hood. The win gave the 520 and 521-generation trucks a clean sweep of the class.

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That doesn’t mean 620s didn’t represent. Jamie Sanchez brought a rare 1978 King Cab, which he stripped down to the frame before resto-modding it into a Japanese-style street truck.

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James Bowman uses his 1974 Datsun 620 as his daily driver, and proving that these little hustlers are basically indestructible, has logged 300,000 miles on it.

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Alain Montiel picked up his 1974 620 from the original owner. Wearing its original Safari Gold color, it’s an amazing survivor that remains largely stock except for a few easily reversible items like a slight drop, American Racing wheels and Weber carbs.

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A surprising number of stock 620 King Cabs made it to this year’s show, including a pair of Silvester Stoianovici’s all-original orange 1978 and and Taro Endo’s lowered white example.

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This 1986 720 was lovingly restored by Francesca Massarotto, who in the process added some parts from the higher-spec ST trim level, like the gauge cluster, rear bumper and wheels. Though it was the sole 720 at the show, it represented superbly with its beautiful restoration.

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My, how trucks have grown. Joining the official Nissan USA display was an all-new 2016 Titan XD, powered by a Cummins compound turbo diesel that produces enough torque to tow 12,000 pounds. The production version will go on sale late this year.

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On the Titan’s trailer was a very rare 1960 Datsun VG223 panel van. According to Nissan, only 269 Datsun trucks were imported that year, and the majority of them were pickups. It’s unknown how many panel vans were brought in to the US, but since it was sold for that year only, it’s safe to say this is an extremely rare vehicle.

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The Toyotaku also did their part to show off Aichi’s strong truck heritage, like Jeffrey Cerritos’s 1985 Xtra Cab street machine. Beside it, Edgar Arriaza showed off his bone stock 1976 Hilux, which still has fewer than 35,000 miles on the odometer.

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Approaching Walter Nunez’s 1973 Hilux, we thought its used but well-preserved exterior exuded a certain street machine cool, thanks to some wear around its tow hooks and sun-bleached fenders. Up close, it revealed something even cooler — a swapped 18R-G in the engine bay.

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It was great to see some 4×4 Toyota trucks as well, as usually their owners are hard-core off roaders with little in common with owners of TE27s and Celicas. Carlos Hernandez Jr’s blue-plate 1983 SR5 was resplendent in its largely original state, complete with camper shell and solid axles front and rear. It’s an amazingly well-preserved example of something Marty McFly would’ve lusted after had Back to the Future taken place a few years earlier.

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Cabe Toyota of Long Beach, California has been a long-time Toyotafest and JCCS sponsor, and their former shop truck is now a beautifully restored Toyota Stout. If you ever need an obscure part for your old Toyota, they are one of the dealers that will take the time to help you hunt it down.

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Troy and Kevin Desirello’s 1983 Land Cruiser was a father-son project and the younger Desirello’s first car. We can only imagine how cool he’ll be when he shows up at school in a vintage FJ60 with California sunset plates.

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Of course, pickups weren’t the only kinds of workhorses at JCCS. Wagons, too were laborers of a different stripe. Instead of hauling lumber and tools, they were conscripted into hauling an even deadlier enemy of preservation — children. Luckily, examples like these 610 wagons survived long enough to be acquired by tsurikawa enthusiasts.

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Jose Lalamas’s 1973 2-door TE28 is perhaps the ultimate sleeper. The unassuming Corolla wagon packs a turbocharged 2.7-liter 3RZ motor that’s fully blueprinted and balanced, with power put down through a W58 5-speed transmission.

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Cesar Alvarez’s 1985 Cressida wagon was a slick example of a shakotan sled, and took home the Best 80s Toyota award. That it went to a wagon when AW11 MR2s and AE86s were in contention was quite an amazing feat.

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Rockin’ a stroker motor, swamp cooler and longboard on its two-tone roof, Greg Childs’s 1967 411 surf wagon was a crowd favorite. The classic Datsun Competition Parts sticker on the board was a clever touch.

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While it seemed like much of the truck action was dominated by Nissans and Toyotas, there were a few exceptions. At the Motul oils booth, a Mazda REPU with blacked out trim was the display vehicle of choice, along with several vintage motorcycles it would have no problem hauling.

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Robert Malek’s 1976 Chevy LUV was actually a GM-badged Isuzu Faster. Robert bought it from the original owners just three years ago and never touched it. All the customization you see, like the windshield visor, pinstripes, slot mag wheels and square headlight conversion were done in 1978 and are a direct window into the mini-truck culture of the era. When Mattel announced they were making a Hot Wheels Chevy LUV recently, we thought a step-side variation would have been oh so period correct. Well, here’s the living proof.

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The Suzuki contingent consisted of only two vehicles this year. Charles Rose brought a custom-painted 1986 Samurai in a rare fixed-roof variant (or tin-top as the Samurai enthusiasts call it). Meanwhile, Jerry Goulette’s 1981 LJ80 Jimny was an even rarer specimen, and with its 800cc engine it’s actually smog exempt because of its engine size.

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Eric Parsons brought out what is quite possibly the nicest Ford Courier we’ve ever laid eyes on. Couriers were Mazda B-Series trucks rebadged by the Blue Oval for the US market, a piston-engined version of the REPU. This 1974 example is a completely unrestored survivor, right down to its butterscotch paint, an amazing time capsule and one of our favorites from the show.

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Last but not least, Garm Beall brought a black-plate 1969 Subaru 360 rear-engined pickup. The kei-truck shares much of its running gear with the Subaru 360, a car Garm also owns and which was awarded the JNC Award a few years ago. Amazingly, this truck has just 3,600 miles on its air-cooled two-stroke.

To be continued…

We’ll have more 2015 JCCS coverage coming up, but in the meantime in case you missed it here’s Part 01Part 02, and Part 03, as well as special features on the Ibarra Bros’ classic Mazda collection and the first Honda built for US import. You can also take another look at last year’s 10th anniversary of JCCS.

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18 Responses to EVENTS: 2015 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 04 — Workhorses

  1. Kurt said:

    Great selection of vehicles well done!

  2. Nigel said:

    I knew we should have gone to 2015’s show, the plans are in motion for 2016.

  3. sedanlover said:

    Oh man, you guys know how to please. Best blog EVER!!!

    Great work JNC team.

    Question:
    Are they DMC Delorean wheels on Walter Nunez’s 1973 Hilux???

  4. Scotty G said:

    Beautiful! I especially like the ’69 Subaru pickup, gorgeous. And, the red ’73 Corolla wagon! My first car was a ’71 like that, but stock, and I have been looking for another one for years. The Stout is fantastic as is the Courier, and also the ’60 Datsun VG223 panel van, I’ve never seen that model. Thanks for the tour!

  5. Power Tryp said:

    I am so happy that the Nostalgic truck scene is becoming a thing. Being able to see these all in fantastic working order is amazing considering just how many ended up rotting of a farm until they were towed away for scrap.

    As for that Courier, it’s literally the cleanest that anyone has seen in stock form and should be kept in a museum even if that does go against my “it should be driven” instinct.

    Also that burnt orange colour appears to be the most common factory colour to be produced as it seems like half the ones for sale are painted the same.

    Keep up the excellent work guys, I can’t imagine the effort to get through the whole show snapping pictures and being a sponsor.

  6. Ray said:

    Thanks for the great truck coverage, and the cool pics of my truck. Biggest truck turn out yet and to me that is really cool. Good job guys.

    thanks

  7. Censport said:

    Great turnout of the vehicles that rarely survived.

    My family’s life changed for the better when Dad brought home a new 521. We could still carry what we needed without having to feed a thirsty full-size domestic truck. Before long, Mom had her own Datsun, a 210 wagon (with 5-speed, because my mom was cool). Both Dad & Mom drove Datsuns and Nissans for decades after that. Dad still has his ’88 truck.

    People ask me how my interest in Japan began, often expecting the name of an anime or manga. They’re surprised when I instead start listing the cars and motorcycles my parents, sister, and I have owned.

    • VincenzoL said:

      I’m in the same boat as you, brother. For a number of years I was surprised when I would find out that someone got into Japanese cars due to anime or a video game. I thought everyone was just born a car guy. Haha! Times change but that’s ok by me. My pops would always tell me that one day Japanese cars would be considered classics and I’m happy to witness it finally happening.

  8. ya_boy_yeti said:

    dat 76 hilux doe…

  9. Bart said:

    So was the LUV it for Isuzu this year?

  10. VincenzoL said:

    I’ve wanted one of those tin-top Samurai’s since I was a pimply faced teenager. Really cool little off roaders and that Jimny is insane. That Subaru 350 though!!! Vintage kei-truck with less than 5k miles? How do people find these things?

    Seems like this show has gotten significantly better since the last time I went in 2012. Definitely going to make it a family trip next year!

  11. XRaider927 said:

    Sir Ben Hsu…..you have a typo on the Isuzu Faster/Chevy LUV section of this article

  12. Rob A said:

    That LUV just might be my favorite. What a piece of history!

  13. Felipe said:

    Can anyone explain me why the latin people is so inmerse on the oldschool scene over there in the USA?

    Fromo 10 cars showed at least 7 of them have latin owners.

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