Hello there. my name is Brandon and I currently live in Japan, originally from Seattle, USA. I mostly grew up around Japanese autos with my first car being an ae82 Corolla. I distinctly remember hating it because it was a manual and I could never understand who would want to keep shifting all the time. haha, what an idiot I was back then.
Since then, I've owned a Porsche 914-6 (a real one), Mazda 323 (not GTX, sad), 3 Toyota Coronas (1968, 1969, 1970), and my pride and joy: 1985 Corolla GTS. I first visited Japan in 1999 and was not really a car "nut" but just a guy that liked neat looking designs. I attended the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show after reading an advertisement on my McDonalds tray and decided to give it a try. I was hooked. A few nights later, walking in Kawasaki City, I was walking across the crosswalk when I heard a mean motor barreling towards me. I didn't know it, but it was an AE86 Levin. I never knew these "little Japanese cars" could go so fast. The guy almost hit me dead!
When I got back to Seattle, my goal was to find a cool car offered in Japan that was also in the US. My options were a Nissan 240sx (180sx) and a Toyota Corolla GTS/SR-5. The 240sx was a bit out of my price range so I focused on finding the Corolla. Now, I had no idea of Initial D, Best Motoring videos were not widely known nor Tsuchiya or Orido in the US. I came across a tiny website called Club4AG where we would talk about tire sizes, someone who could get this or that part from Japan, and Friday night trivia live chat. I became friends with most of the original guys off there and still talk to them this day (Lee Slone (Slonie) I have been in contact the most.
After 2 years, and 2 cars that weren't what I wanted, I found a "Corolla Sport" listed in the Recycler in California. Remember, I'm in Seattle. I called the owner and asked it it was a fastback, "yes". I asked if it said GTS on the back, "yes". I said I'll take it and proceeded to drive 700 miles on a rented Kia (unlimited miles) with a mechanically inclined friend as back up. In the meantime the old man had received a dozen calls about it and even someone showing up with cash in hand ready to buy without even starting it up. Luckily, the man was true to his word and held it for "the fella from Washington".
The compression test wasn't the best but after taking it up the street and doing a 360. I wasn't gonna let this baby out of my sight. I brought a tow strap along with me but never needed it for the 700 mile drive back home on expired tabs no less. Between my friend and a new website that started in the Northwest area (NW4AG, later Hachiroku.net), that this little car was going to be take care of.
That was 11 years ago and I still have it to this day, in storage. I learned everything about the car and how to do all the repairs either out of curiosity or necessity. This also spawned my joy in learning about all cars and historical significance. I have made countless write-ups on crazy mods mostly on Club4AG and hachiroku.net ranging from custom Sprinter taillights using USDM model tails to a full-functioning Levin digital gauge cluster to voodoo shrunken head shift knob.
Now, I work for the same company as David (Nakazato on this site). First sitting next to him and modding our Honda Dream 50 cafe bikes in Nagoya, to now in our Tokyo office. In my free time, I like to visit little tuner shops and have a chat with the shacho about their passion and automotive experiences. I will be posting my back log of those in the coming week if anyone is interested. Thanks for reading!