Recently I was invited to accompany the Prince Driver’s Club to Kyuusha Tengoku, or Old Car Heaven, on the outskirts of downtown Tokyo. With many cars expected, we were asked to assemble on site at 06:00 in the morning. The early departure on a cold Tokyo day was made tolerable though as it provided us — and one snarling Skyline GT-B — with an unobstructed high-speed run out the Shuto-ko and over the Rainbow Bridge to Daiba.
Dropping down into the parking lot and flashing our member pass, we were nicely ushered into the Prince parking area just in time to see a Prince Gloria wagon cruise in under the early morning sky, its glowing taillights setting the scene for one of the best events I’ve attended in a long time.
As we slowly walked the car park looking at the cars that had already turned up, we marveled continuously at the diverse and interesting nature of each new arrival. Just as we were looking at a minty Hi-Ace in period company green, another pair of Skyline GT-B and a Prince Clipper truck arrived.
Following them, a Turbo Leopard and a Kenmeri took places side-by-side.
The next arrival, a New Zealand registered Gloria 6 coincidentally parked next to the previously Australian registered GT-B much to everyone’s amusement.
As further kyuusha were unloaded in the background, we went over in detail one of the rarest of kujira Crown – a last-of-the-series Coupe in dark green and wearing a highly appropriate set of the original grandpa-spec Enkei alloys, it had a tremendous presence.
As we were chatting with the amenable owner, an even rarer coupe from the same period gingerly reversed into the accompanying car spot — a 1971 Skyline GT-X HT four-cylinder. Short-nosed, unlike their bigger six-cylinder sisters, the unmolested rear surf-line making an obvious style statement, lost mostly these days to the wanna-be chop-it-up fake GT-R crowd. In Japan particularly though, more non-faked Skyline HT are appearing, and their values are going up, perhaps as their rarity is recognized. Certainly too, the last few un-hacked HTs we’ve seen have attracted a lot of attention. Plus, blue-tinted glass, air-conditioning, and electric windows are kakoii too these days. Especially if driven regularly.
We spent some time talking to the owner, initially about his super-rare mirrors (possibly worth as much as the car itself), but then about his private joke of carrying a surfboard for his surf-line.
Setting up a short distance away was a small team from Racing Service Watanabe, and their one highlighted car – an extremely tasty and very subtle Celica, wearing of course their recently released reproduction Toyota competition wheels.
Whereas the Celica could be described as discrete, another new machine, the recently named “S54R” Skyline certainly isn’t anything of the sort. Prince/Nissan never made either a coupe from the S54, nor an official R version, instead relying on their conventional passenger saloon four-doors, and the souped-up GT-A, then GT-Bs to take their brand racing.
One enterprising Prince fan though, in asking the “what-if” question built what Prince/Nissan did not at the time, taking a ratty GT-A and, keeping the existing wheelbase, lengthened the doors and moved the B-pillar rearward.
Equipped with an S30 rear-end, R200 LSD, full coil-over suspension, massive AP disk-brakes, and what looked like a big RB-series block running ITBs, in its newly applied silver paint it certainly looks the part.
Equally intriguing though, was a Toyopet work utility truck and accompanying cat-eared scooter.
Parked near-by a “New Silvia,” so identified because of its native badges saying “New Silvia.” This must have seemed so modern in 1975!
Of special interest, especially to the Prince aficionado in attendance, was the unloading of a Michelotti designed Skyline Sport convertible. Supposedly the original Tokyo Motor Show prototype from 1962, it featured a number of rare attributes on an already rare car. It was one of two Michelotti Skyline present on the day.
In what appeared to be the greatest number of single type on the day, the Datsun Cherry X-1. While others unloaded their period trucks and Hakosuka GT-R trunks of parts, the Cherry Club gathered like they were the only group there. It was great.
A military green Honda Vamos sported a matching green Motocompo scooter, and in another case of accessories perhaps worth more than the car, a Nissan Sunny wagon was wearing a set of re-finished Yayois.
Another two un-cut Skyline HTs sat with an early Land Cruiser and a G-nose Fairlady Z, and while an early Subaru Sambar looked purposeful and work-like, parked next to it was a forever-startled Mazda Porter Cab “Gachapin.”
Heading into the Mitsubishi section, we encountered a replica — albeit on a coupe — of the Safari Rally-winning great-great-grandfather of the modern Evo. This livery was immortalized on countless other rally machines, most notably on gladiators in Australia’s Southern Cross Rally.
Deeper into the territory of the Triple Diamond Clan was a particularly fetching Galant GTO GSR planted itself in a bulldog-like stance, ready to launch from gleaming SSR MkIs wrapped in an incredible set of NOS Dunlop CR88 race tires.
In the next row, a loose collective of esoteric Mitsubishi (aren’t they all, though?) gathered — a Colt 1100, Jupiter pickup and Galant FTO — the latter with a rare E70 Toyota Sprinter Trueno. Some of these I’ve never seen before, and never expect to see again.
That concludes Part 01 of our Old Car Heaven coverage. To be continued…