We’ve shown you the JDM rarities, competition machines and museum pieces of JCCS, but we know what you really came here for — Nihon sleds slammed on some vintage barrels. It’s the quintessential Japanese modified car look, and there was plenty of it on hand at the Queen Mary.
This wasn’t always the case. Go back to the first JCCS and you’ll see a lot of tuner-ish cars — Datsuns on 18-inch chrome or Toyotas with turbo vents cut into the bodywork. The influence of Fast and Furious ’00s was still fresh. Today, while we still see some of those cars, the traditional Japanese kyusha has become, dare we say it, the dominant style.
Alex Bircheff’s zenki AE86 is a perfect example. The stock Hachiroku is a blast to drive straight out of the box, so it needs very little in the way of mods. With a slight lowering and classic SSR MkII wheels, it becomes a sharp looking classic that captures the spirit of the car the way its creators intended. Furthermore, we give Alex props for resisting the temptation to JDM-ify his AE86, keeping instead the USDM Corolla GT-S bumpers and trim. There seems to be, especially in zenki form, fewer US-spec than Japan-bumpered cars out there.
We first saw Kirk Hubbard’s TE37 Corolla at Toyotafest when we proclaimed that E30 Corollas were finally getting their due. Well, perhaps we jumped the gun a bit, because they didn’t make quite as strong a showing at JCCS. Still, the factory flared SR5 hardtops are attractive cars that deserve to get the same love as their brethren in the Corolla family tree. Factory flared SR5 models are especially rare and look beautiful on TOSCO-style wheels.
Tommy Dolo’s bagged KP61 Starlet looked pretty slick with 14-inch Casablanca, a modified E70 front lip and custom bumpers. If it looks familiar, it was recently featured in a video from Hawaii. That’s right, Tommy shipped his car all the way from the islands to LA for JCCS, winning him the Farthest Traveled Award for 2017.
Pioneers of the old school modding scene are the guys and gals of Cruise Nisei. Jeff Yee’s Celica Liftback, Mike Nakawatase’s brown 240Z, Raymond Lui’s orange 240Z and Frank Kuba’s 521 pickup are all veterans of JCCS, but the cars are top notch and look even better parked together.
Continuing on the theme are Brian Karasawa’s Celica Liftback on Hayashis, and Janet Fujimoto and Duane Tomono’s 2JZ-powered S50 Crown and AE86 hatch. Janet and Duane took home the awards for second place for Best 70s Toyota and first place for Best AE86.
Matt Kochaon’s 240Z on classic SSR meshies and Rick Ishitani’s Hakosuka Skyline GT-X on neoclassic Watanabes looked absolutely brilliant as a pair of silver Nissan straight sixes. For his efforts, Rick was awarded the Best 70s Skyline 70s (and yes, there are enough Skylines for categories to be split into decades).
One of my personal favorite categories is that of the large Toyota sedan and their long, sweeping expanses of sheetmetal. Though stock appearing, Josh Haven’s MX32 Cressida was powered by a 1JZ-GTE mated to a Nissan 350Z transmission and a Celica Supra rear axle. Vintage SSR MkIs make an excellent wheel for this shakotan sled. Meanwhile, Kiavash Shariloo’s R154-swapped MX62 Cressida looked resplendent in metallic brown with matching Wats.
One car that really caught our eye was Jeff Wright’s 1973 Corona Mark II sedan. Though running its factory M-series straight-six, 3-speed automatic, and lots of patina, the distinctively styled predecessor to the Cressida makes a statement simply with a drop on Longchamp XR-4s.
Though not technically a sedan, there’s something about this original Toyota Celica Supra, a long Malaise Era personal coupe that fits with the four-doors. Arturo Ferrer’s big brown bustleback even had period Shadow louvers covering its massive rear greenhouse. I’m probably biased in my affection for this car since I own one, but it’s rare to see these cars appreciated and not simply stripped for their rear axles.
It is far more common to see non-Supra, 4-cylinder Celicas of this generation. That’s not to say these are plentiful by any means. We still appreciate those who care for them because the supply is diminishing. Anthony Raimondo’s 1981 Sunchaser is a Touge California veteran, and we can vouch for the reliability as we saw it complete a 200-mile rally in 107-degree heat. Ethan Garaud’s 1978 Liftback is lowered on BC Racing coilovers and proudly proclaims just 160,000 miles. That’s just hitting puberty for an A40 Celica.
As our Editor at Large Ricky Silverio is fond of saying, when the following generation A60 Supra came out it was like an alien spaceship had landed. Its sharp creases were incredibly futuristic, a huge departure from the previous generation and anything else on American streets. The addition of 80s SSR aero discs makes this thing look like it’s coming straight out of Blade Runner.
Somehow, the A60 Supra still looks good going old school zokusha style too. Mikey Castillo of the Wild Cards‘s latest build is this one-eyed, Pantera hatch’ed L-Type on SSR MkIIs. The factory P-Type flares were never offered in Japan, so for a true JDM-style shakotan sled the flat-sided L-Types are the way to go.
The A60 generation Celicas have a cohesive look and even though they share the same chassis as the Supras of the era, don’t look like Toyota just lopped of the front end. You can even swap a JZ motor into them, as Jesse Ortiz has done, to get 6-cylinder power with the shorter nose.
While not a big straight-six, Daniel Acosta’s T80 Corona on Star Sharks is still a nice and under-appreciated example of Toyota sedan-ness. This particular example boasts only 80,000 original miles on its 8R-C engine.
Francis Jones’s rare 1973 Toyota Sprinter Trueno TE27 was voted Best Corolla. It’s also completed two Touge Californias, meaning it has traversed hundreds of miles of SoCal’s most challenging roads.
Anthony Vergara has built many Celicas in his day, but this 1974 Celica is the one he’s keeping forever. With an 18R-G twin-cam, Mikuni 44s, and all the visual elements of a 1971-72 Celica, it’s a classic Green Hills style cruiser. The car also proves that you don’t actually need a set of flashy wheels and an ultra-slammed stance to make a car look mean. Widened factory Toyota 4-spokes and a moderate drop can achieve a purposeful presence.
Mark Weber’s 1972 240Z powered by a triple Mikuni 40-fed L28 had a kind of contemporary JDM street look, the kind of Z you might see on an early morning touge drive. The headlight covers, air dam, and Longchamp XR-4s all lend to that no-nonsense style of a car that’s driven.
This sleek 240Z on Hiro V-1 fins almost looks like a completely different model, but is a great example of 80s street style.
This mean, bumperless and flared Z looks once again like an entirely different model to the cars above, proving just how diverse the S30 chassis can be. The aftermarket sunroof was probably added sometime in the 80s or 90s, but its steel race wheels and stripped down look says track monster. We’re glad to see it still serving a strong purpose after all these years.
The members of the PCH Midnight club of Z owners are JCCS regulars. Their club name was inspired by the hugely popular Wangan Midnight manga and anime series, which took place along the Bayshore Route of Tokyo’s expressways. Transplanted to California, these guys cruise their Zs on the famed Pacific Coast Highway instead.
Bob Vargas’s 1978 Mazda RX-3 looks like an 80s street brawler with its Enkei 92s. Amazingly, it had an incredibly completely interior, with houndstooth inserts in the seats, that was either restored or escaped the ravages of time.
Stephen Salazar is one of our favorite people at JCCS, and not only because he shares our enthusiasm of Hot Wheels. This time, we got to see his 1:1 scale car, a very cool 1981 KP61 Starlet with a 20-valve 4AG and ITBs.
This year saw a surprising number of B110 Sunny 2-door sedans. Even one would be a rare sight, but three? Ricardo Ramierz’s 1972 has ditched its 1200cc A-series motor for a considerably more powerful Nissan SR20DET.
We really liked Daniel Hernandez’s pale yellow ’72. He is only the second owner of the car and plans to keep it as original as possible with the exception of a slight lowering and a meatier wheel and tire combo. The original owner purchased it in San Francisco in 1972 for the princely sum of $2,244.56. Daniel has all the paperwork and maintenance records from then until present day.
John Williams brought both of his well known Datsuns. His race-ready 240Z survived the inaugural Touge California and his 510 wagon has gone through many incarnations, from Radio Flyer theme to a replica of Jun Imai’s Hot Wheels design.
Brian Holloway’s 1975 Datsun 710 was the sole example of its kind. Despite its stock appearance, the modifications are actually plentiful and subtle — L20B with 5-speed, SSS carbs and manifold, Mazda 4-pot calipers, an entire JDM Violet front end, 16-inch Watanabe RS8s, and as Brian says, much, much more.
The paint on Brett Stebel’s 1974 Mazda RX-3 appears to have been inspired by the livery on Yoshimi Katayama‘s old race car. Powered by a dry-sump, semi peripheral ported 20B three-rotor, it’s basically a street legal race car with custom oil coolers, electric power brake, custom radiator, electric water pump, Haltech ECU, Racepak dash, a 3-link suspension, and full roll cage. Brett received the Best Mazda award. Second place went to Alberto Medrano’s 1973 RX-2, and third place went to Angelo Angeles’s purple 1973 Mazda RX-3.
Colin Clark’s 1970 Honda N600 is said to have been a daily driver since 1985. With some aero parts and bumperettes and fender flares it looks like an early 70s hot rod not unlike the one that starred in the Showa Era Pentax commercial.
Jorge Guerra’s 1975 1200 may look like your basic first-gen economy hatchback, but is actually a tuned Civic on par with anything from the 90s Honda heyday. Its EB2 motor has been upgraded with the pistons and head, headers, Jackson Racing camshaft, and dual carbs from a second-gen high-performance Civic S. It was resprayed in its original blue in 1990, and has gotten rid of its USDM taillights, shaved the side markers, and tucked the federally mandated safety bumpers.
Greeting all comers by the entrance was Wild Cards’s Dennis Kiyan’s A20 Celica Liftback. Flared and kandy purple, it showcased the new Work Equip 40 wheels in gold with bronze lip.
Gary Narciso’s 1977 Celica Liftback was running a forced induction 22RE setup with GT25R turbo and Koyorad radiator. Sitting on Epsilons, it also wore a JDM RA25 nose and rear and a full roll cage.
Last but not least, there were about half a dozen Datsun Fairlady roadsters at the show, in varying degrees of tune. Tim David’s silver 1969 2000, for example, has the common naturally aspirated SR20 swap, a killer setup in a car weighing less than 1,000 kg (2,100 pounds). Tim took home the Best Datsun Roadster award. Meanwhile, Ray Lim’s 1970 1600 was fully restored to stock, with all numbers matching and sitting on period correct Riken mesh wheels.
We know there are a lot of cars we haven’t gotten to yet, but there’s more to come.
To be continued…
We will have more 2017 JCCS coverage coming up but in the meantime, in case you missed it, here’s Part 01 — JDM Goodness, Part 02 — Race Cars, and Part 03 — Stock as a Rock, as well as a JCCS Spotlight feature.