In Part 01 of our coverage of Tokyo’s Classic Car Festival at Meiji Jingu Gaien Park, I had just finished rolling up my tongue back into my mouth from which it had dropped, Tex Avery style, due to the cars brought out by the Toyota Automobile Museum. After their short parade tour of the city ended, the pack filed back to the grounds of the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery, and we were there to watch their triumphant return.
One by one they arrived, with models as diverse as a 411 Bluebird wagon to a Toyota 2000GT. Planted in prime real estate among motorheads, we had short conversations between the waves coming back. All conversations ended with “きた!”, which roughly translates to “Here they come!”
Memorable returnees were the number 34 and 50 Hino Contessa Coupes (1965 and 1967, respectively) that looked to be lowered and on rails as they cornered hard into the compound. Their presence prompted a quick search on used car sites, which turned up one for sale with a price of “ASK”. Sigh, looks like admiration will have to be done from afar.
Seeing some of these classics juxtaposed in a modern setting provided a surprising sense of scale. I mean, look at the size of the Prius in the background compared to a 1970 Isuzu Bellett 1600GTR!
We always get a kick out of seeing the Subaru R2 kei car, especially in motion and especially when it’s a 1970 SS edition.
The beautiful weather following recent snows brought out the soft-tops, including a Mitsubishi-built Jeep, Honda S600, Daihatsu Compagno and the most desirable of the Fairlady Roadsters, a 1967 low-windshield 2000.
Though the event was meant to showcase stock machines as they would be shown in a a museum, a few with period modifications did make the cut, including a TE27 on gold Watanabes, a brilliant B110 Sunny GX on Focus Racing wheels, and a lowered CSP311 Silvia.
Rarely seen and beautifully preserved coupes, including a Mazda Familia 1000 and a 1979 MX41, were all part of the procession.
One immensely rare car was the Griffon — or “Flying Pegasus” if you are a fan of Mobil 1 advertising — was also out for a stroll. Built on a 1965 Honda S600 platform, builder Masao Watanabe created the initial model on commission from Mobil 1 in 1970. That later expanded to, depending on the source, five to ten examples by 1975 under the name Carrozzeria Watanabe.
Drivers were in high spirits as they took to the final corners with a display of free-revving engines and unapologetic puffs of exhaust.
All were greeted by two posh period-correct ladies waving a checkered flag, as they took their spots on the museum grounds. Though it was time to leave, we were reminded that what makes the Classic Car Festival so great is that it brings out classics normal folks don’t typically get to see, and puts them front and center in one of Tokyo’s busiest public parks. The tour through the city does even more to bring classics to the people, and even those who didn’t come to Meiji Jingu Gaien specifically to see cars can’t help but be delighted.