EVENTS: 2016 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 01 — Movin’ On Up

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We’ve been going to the Japanese Classic Car Show for over a decade, but this year was undoubtedly the best one yet. In its twelfth year, the JCCS, which took place this weekend at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, has grown into a truly world-class event. 

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One of the main reasons we say this is because of the participation of the automakers themselves. An official presence is nothing new, but in past years automakers were usually satisfied with a nice display of cars from their heritage collections. This year, on the other hand, they actually used JCCS to debut cars never before seen by the public.

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Case in point: Nissan took the opportunity to show the 2017 GT-R NISMO for the first time anywhere in North America. This type of introduction is typically reserved for a major international auto show like Detroit or New York. When Nissan whisks the covers off of their facelifted Godzilla here, it says two things — 1.) that JCCS is an important enough event for the unveiling of a $175,000, 600-horsepower flagship, and 2.) this is the largest concentration of die-hard enthusiasts on the continent.

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Nissan also displayed a very appropriate pairing of 1969 Patrol and a 2017 Armada. This is significant because for 2017 the new Armada is no longer based on the Titan pickup, but the global Patrol platform that is sold in places like Australia and the Middle East.

The classic Patrol was on loan from Lou Bircheff, to whom we awarded the Preservation Award at Nissan Jam. The 19,000-mile, all-original example could very well be the most well-preserved 60-series Patrol in the world.

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The only other privately owned car at Nissan’s booth was a hakosuka Skyline belonging to Rick Ishitani. JNC helped arrange this car for Nissan to coincide with their special giveaway of the new Matchbox Skyline, and is thus identified by the new JNC Shōnin decal on the left side.

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Last but not least, a small collection of Nissan’s race cars was bookended by the legendary BRE Datsun 510, which won the 1971-72 SCCA Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge to define Nissan as a builder of giant-killing sport sedans, and the latest Pirelli World Challenge GT-R GT3. The 510 was delivered from Nissan’s US headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee for this event, proving yet again the importance of JCCS.

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Nissan wasn’t the only one to make news. Honda also chose the JCCS to show the finished restoration of Honda Serial One. A year ago we saw it in its found state, but it has since been painstakingly restored by N600 guru Tim Mings. The car was probably one of the most visited in the entire show and was surrounded all day by media who wanted a glimpse of the first Honda automobile ever built for the North American market. We were honored to have the JNC Shõnin decal so rudely placed on this priceless part of Honda history (more on this car later).

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Honda too had a “then and now” display of an iconic model, the Acura NSX. It’s mind-blowing to consider, but more time separates the original 1990 NSX from the all-new 2017 NSX (26 years) than from the N600 (21 years). The horsepower spread is equally astounding, going from 31 to 276 to 573.

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Mazda showed to the public for the first time its newly restored 929 sedan. Displayed alongside a Eunos Cosmo and 1967 Cosmo Sport, it was a sampling of Mazda’s past premium offerings. The purpose was to draw parallels to cars like the CX-9 as Mazda begins its move upmarket.

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The other half of Mazda’s booth was devoted to sports and race cars, including another recently restored machine. The 1989 767B that raced at Le Mans debuted in Monterey last month, but for many southern Californians this was the first time they’ve been able to see it and its distinctive livery in person. As we walked by, we noticed at least one Mazdafarian very happy to find something that didn’t clash with his JNC “Le Mans” shirt.

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The display also paid tribute to Yoshimi Katayama, the Mazda racing legend who passed away earlier this year.

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Toyota continued its year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Corolla with a variety of early models in both stock and racing guise. There were actually two first-generation Corollas, the KE10 we drove before The Great Race and a beautiful red 2-door wagon from the Toyota USA Museum.

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From Toyota USA’s motorsports collection was an ex-SCCA TE27 Corolla SR5 and yet another incredible Corolla GT-S owned by Janet Fujimoto. Amazingly, it is the AE86 that’s barricaded by stanchions, while the 2000GT is free to approach. That sounds about right, actually, as bone stock AE86s are probably much rarer.

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To pair with the 2000GT, however, we had a surprise visit from Koji Sato, chief engineer of the Lexus LC500 and LC500h. Sato-san himself drove an LC500, which is not yet available for sale, to JCCS to showcase the next evolution of Toyota flagship grand tourers.

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We’re also happy to report that while neither Mitsubishi nor Subaru had an official presence, that didn’t stop their fans. This year saw many more of either marque than in any previous JCCS shows, a trend we hope will continue for these sorely underrepresented badges (more on these individual cars in a later installment).

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In addition to the automakers, though, what really elevates JCCS to must-see status is the fact that private owners are building and restoring cars to debut at the show, cars that continue to astonish every year with their vision and quality (more on these in an upcoming installment).

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Perhaps one of the most important developments this year was the debut Glenn Chiou’s newly restored 1970 Datsun 240Z race car. That’s because this isn’t just any old Z that’s been converted; it was built as a race car in period, won several regional championships against drivers like Paul Newman, and was specifically sought out because Glenn wanted to restore a pedigreed racing Datsun.

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According to Glenn, it has been a race car for all 46 years of its life, having won three ISCC GT2 championships in SCCA C-Production class. Restored to its 1977 VIP’s Restaurant livery, it perhaps marks a new direction in Japanese classics in which motorsports provenance is taken in to account and adds value to a restoration.

These are the reasons why JCCS is bigger and better than ever, and it’s rewarding to see something that we’ve been a part of and covered for so many years grow into a required stop on the calendar. Even better, the trends outlined here are just the beginning, as JCCS progresses into the next decade.

To be continued…

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27 Responses to EVENTS: 2016 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 01 — Movin’ On Up

  1. Aaron said:

    That Hako is stunning.

  2. Dandy said:

    Simply astounding! Loving the attention and direction for JCCS! Hopefully the trend will spread and we will see more events like this in more than just a few places!

    Also, loving the 929! Will we see any JNC ’90s decals soon?

  3. chris said:

    Were there any decals left to go into the shop?

  4. Nigel said:

    Waiting for more !

  5. jamal said:

    It’s 2016 not 2015!

    I hope to see a picture of my kenmeri.

  6. SHC said:

    Enjoyed Part 1 of this event, anxious to see the second edition’s pictures and story.

  7. Myron Vernis said:

    This was my first JCCS and I was absolutely blown away. Ben is right, this truly is a world-class event. I came from Ohio to attend and my only regret was that I had waited until this year to make the trek. Many thanks and congratulations to the organizers and sponsors for making it possible.

  8. XRaider927 said:

    Mr. Ben Hsu the title is misleading it’s 2016 not 2015 and gladly you post it on my bday today 😀

  9. Nihonnotekko said:

    I’ve been wanting to get myself over to JCCS for so long now. Seeing how much it’s grown and become an ever more fantastic event over the past four years I’ve been a reader has been exciting. I feel like I need to finally make my pilgrimage to truly call myself a JNC enthusiast. I WILL make it to next year’s event!

  10. Ant said:

    Wonder if I’ll ever get bored of seeing pictures of the BRE 510? Or the Eunos Cosmo (either generation) for that matter.

    Have to say too, even in the context of all those classics, the Lexus LC looks great. Can’t wait to have a go in one.

  11. Owen said:

    Count me in as a fan of the classic racers. The TE27 and 240Z are absolutely stunning.

  12. Pete wong said:

    More Mazda rotary coverage of attending cars please

  13. Alan said:

    Best JCCS yet, and that’s saying a lot.

    Still, I feel like it’s outgrown the venue–parking and traffic was insane, lines for shuttle buses were equally so, and if they plan on adding more cars next year I think they’ll need to park them in the bay.

  14. cesariojpn said:

    So when are you guys gonna allow the Roadkill guys to bring the Rotsun?

  15. TeqMan said:

    I too used to be a avid JCCS fan and attendee. Until this year when I attempted to enter my my mint ’86 Celica GT-S and was turned down because it isn’t an “approved body style.” Regardless that it meets the 25 year rule, other FWD cars are allowed there, and is easily one of the cleanest examples in California. I formally boycotted them on our Celica forum and will no longer be supporting them ever again.

    • Punto8 said:

      Fight the power!!!! Stop our hobby from being taken over by pretentiousness!!!!!

    • Yuri said:

      They stopped it from being 25-years, now it’s just pre-85, with a dedicated show for 85-90’s. So it wasn’t personally against your car. There were no longer any MA70 Supras at the show either, despite there being some in past years.

    • mister k said:

      yea don’t be a member of the butthurt 80’s & 90’s whiners. instead bring your celi to the neoclassics show and be thankful for the opportunity

  16. Punto8 said:

    Mazda and their 929 sedan <—-is this news worthy? Lol Is anything Mazda really news worthy these days. Good to see all the vintage rides out and displayed.

  17. Scotty G said:

    Great coverage and photos as always, JNC team!
    I love that red Toyota Corolla wagon, dang. And, a Subaru 360!
    On the #1 Honda, it looks like there’s an incorrect part on the left side down where the…er.. HA, sorry, obviously kidding there. What a gorgeous restoration,as always, by the guru: Tim Mings!

  18. Evan Poole said:

    It was a great show and I had a great time meeting all the fellow car enthusiast. JNC team did you take any pictures of of the Toyota Celica supra’s or GTS.???… all the pictures i have seen on the event covered here there inst one picture of my Supra on Wats (that won 3rd place) or the GTS that one 1st in the best of Celica class. it seems we see the same cars every year, Hako’s, S30’s, Mazda, Datsuns.. etc. but no love for the Celica Supra’s XX’s etc…

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