Part 5: The Find
This part might be quite long, so I want to put out a disclosure. My story is the TRUTH. It is what I personally experienced; and I'm not trying to back up any rumors, so to speak. With that said, on with the story.
Driving around in Japan, is quite expensive. Gas is expensive, traffic eats up more of it (not to mention "spirited driving"
), you pay for tolls everywhere you go, and parking is at a premium. Just driving into Tokyo from Yokota AB alone involved getting to the Chuo Expressway, Y600 for then Y700 for the Shuto Expressway, and then parking fees when you get there. Thats one way!!!
So driving all around Japan to find my car was expensive in itself.
I started using CarSensor.net and Yahoo Auctions Japan to help with my search, but it still involved driving out to see the car. Just to get to Rubber Soul was about an hour and a half and almost the same for FLEX. At least S20 was local just out the main gate, left on Rt 16 and then right on Rt 5. Just on the right behind the Chysler/Jeep dealer. Yes Chrysler/Jeep. But they never had any cars for sale. I never asked why but they worked on them and restored them. I still remember a bare chassis HT coupe sitting on a jig without a hint of rust and a few cars hiding under covers in the back warehouse. They were more a source for advice and minor repairs.
Anyway, a car I found on CarSensor seemed hopeful. It was a '71 silver HT GT-R look in Ginza, but there were several others there to check out the car as well, and it wasn't quite polished enough. By this time this was probably, oh I don't know the 15th car I've seen in person. It was very difficult to find the car I wanted. I didn't think I was being too picky, but there was always something not right.
All I wanted was a rust free example with decent body and paint, at least an L28 swapped out, GT-R conversion on the rear completed, and A/C…A/C!!! What was I thinking, well I was going back to Las Vegas, so I made it a priority. Yeah I know, I know…what an idiot
It did however pay off in the end, sort of
I found a car in the Gunma Prefecture, yes I know home of the fabled Takumi and his Tofu delivery special Hachiroku. I can't make this stuff up guys. And it just so happens it was at a shop close Mt. Haruna, the real name of Mt Akina, you Initial D nerds (myself included). Seems they purposely changed the name in the famous manga as to not draw attention to it. From what I understand its covered with speed bumps now. BTW there really are a lot of grasslands out there.
This was going to be a long drive, about 2-3 hours plus, it was an area I'd never been to so I had my friend Chris go out there with me. I set up an appointment and we were off. After getting lost a few times and a few stops for coffee, snacks and gas, we found Garage Katsumi. It looked like a small gated compound, with a home, several garage type buildings adjacent to it, an overhang with a few completed cars and in the middle of all the buildings; cars. So many I can't remember really, all in different levels of repair and all different types. Some are Bozozoku, vintage VIP, K-class, and nostalgic beauties. The whole lot of Kyusha cool. This was just the view from the gate. We rang the doorbell and out comes a very short, very old man to let us in. We tell him we are here to see the Hakosuka, he immediately takes us to the car.
This is the actual pic of the Yahoo Auctions ad:
We approach the first garage that holds what we were waiting for, an Almond White, 1972 Skyline GT, with most of the aesthetic GT-R upgrades completed. The paint is clean and fresh, the interior needs help, and the wheels are different from the ad, staggered Longchamp XR4’s.
We also discover in the same garage a red 4dr Hakosuka with a race track ready 3L engine complete with Weber carbs, a mint old school VIP Nissan Cedric sitting on some chrome 5 star Cragers, 2 or 3 pimped out Bozo bikes and several trophies against the wall. We are then asked to enter a small office, filled with old school racing posters, magazines, collectables and parts.
The older man offers us some tea and asks us to wait. What was about to happen was, well… what happened.
Now I had heard of the rumors. The rumors that certain people in Japan do not like the idea of the precious Hakosuka leaving the their country. I never believed them. Why would I, the Japanese are extremely polite from my encounters.
The old man receives a phone call and hurries Chris and I to step outside and wait. The old man runs around to an electronic gate in the back and bows steeply as it opens. A black fleet of vehicles enters quickly and stops abruptly in front of the building in a large cloud of dust.
. The first car is a complete VIP treatment Y50 Cima; 4 guys step out and one runs to the second vehicle to open the rear door; a black Cadillac Escalade EXT, sitting on extremely large machine finish, chrome lipped wheels. Three people total exit this car. The third car is a black Y33 Nissan Cedric, also VIP Style to the nine’s, and four more guys step out. Twelve guys total if you include the old man, and 2 "Gaijin" asking about an old Skyline.
We are now "accompanied" by what can only be what I would assume them to be. The man that opened the door tells me that he will translate whatever “the boss” needs to ask me. I look this guy up and down. “The boss” is very tall and has a square jaw. He has the largest most perfect pompadour I’ve ever seen, oversize gold-rimmed Ray-Ban Aviators and dangling a menthol cigarette from the edge of his mouth. He’s wearing a dark brown-orange leather jacket with a high collar and a silk leopard print shirt with collar over it that’s even higher. He’s also wearing alligator skin pants with a long silver chain dangling from the back pocket and brown and white ostridge skin Air Force One’s. The rest of his “crew” has equally outrageous hairstyles and all are similarly dressed but not as loud. “He” looks at me up and down, and while looking up at the sky he tells the translator to ask me a question. The translator asks: “Why do you want to buy this car?” Simultaneously “the Boss” snorts, looks over his glasses and says “Hmm?”. I simply, but cautiously answer “Hakosuka, ichiban; neh?” and put my thumb up
. (“The Hakosuka is Number 1, isn’t it?”). He replies “Soda…” followed by a long pause. Chris and I are looking at each other shrugging our shoulders
and the long pause ends with “the boss” conferring with his “crew”. He then asks a few more “why” based questions.
After what seemed like eternity, the 3 black cars leave with a trail of dust behind them. "The boss" leaves one man behind with the old man to for a “test ride” in the Hako, and to strike a deal with me on the price. He explained to me that the A/C did not work and that if I wanted the Watanabes that were in the picture that it would be no problem. He took me to another smaller garage with an S30 hiding in it and showed me the Wat's stacked up in the corner to show they were in good nick. We came to a decision on the price and the deal was made.
Needless to say, a day I will never forget.
For more pics of what I saw at Garage Kutsumi click here: http://s114.photobucket.com/albums/n265/vegasmr2/Garage%20Kutsumi/
Until next time...Part 6: Delivery