EVENTS: 2014 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 04 — Modified Machines

0769-BH2925_Datsun 240Z S30

This year the Japanese Classic Car Show began screening entrants. A JNC editorial on the development generated heated debate, with many assuming that the Queen Mary lawn would be filled with identical, bone stock examples that all looked the same. Turns out, that concern was completely unfounded, because you couldn’t swing a cat-less exhaust without hitting a modified machine at the show. 

0531-BH2845_Toyota Celica A20

One of the most iconic Japanese sport coupes is the first-gen Toyota Celica, and Irwin Aquino’s ’72 is is a great mix of Japanese and US styles. The stance, flares and SSR Star Sharks say JDM, but under the hood there are plenty of American-style mods like an 18R-G with lots of built internals and a Toysport header fed by Weber DCOE carbs. It’s one of our favorite darumas.

It wouldn’t be JCCS without Brian Karasawa’s orange Liftback and Paul Matsushima’s blue Celica coupe. These regulars have flawless builds, and what makes a show like JCCS worth going to.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Peter Vong’s 1977 RA24. There hasn’t been on part on this Celica left untouched, least of all the motor, which has been replaced with a Honda S2000 F22C breathing through ITBs. The rest of it has been slathered in Midnight Purple paint and the cabin upholstered in black suede. Everything sits on a custom air suspension and 3-piece BBSes finished in something called Black Solar Rain. If it looks like something that might be more fitting for a new school show like SpoCom, that’s because it is, where we first saw it. It’s an admirable amount of work, and we’re actually quite happy to see it done to a square-bumpered first-gen Celica.

Dexter Rojas’ Dodge Colt, a captive import second-gen Mitsubishi Galant, was another rare member of the triple diamond clan in addition to the two Galant GTOs we already saw.

Funny story: The day before JCCS on the way back from a T-shirt run, we actually saw the owner on the side of the road with a Galant GT Coupe. We pulled over to see if we could help out a fellow JNC driver and learned that a mechanic had installed a belt crookedly, bending a pulley and rendering the car undriveable. He was understandably upset, but perhaps even more so that he would miss the show. We texted Terry Yamaguchi, one of the organizers, and asked if he could bring his four-door instead. A few minutes later she responded yes, he was good to go. A tow truck picked up the car, and we left. It was good to see that he made it the next day, parked just a few cars down from our booth!

0209-BH2705_Mazda RX2

Kelvin Chung’s 1973 Mazda RX-2 was a big award winner. Though modified with a bridge-ported 13B, coilovers and discs at all four of his 15×8 Work Equip 03s, the overall look is of one that’s mostly clean and original. It’s no wonder Kelvin won the Best Classic Mazda award.

0160-BH2888_Mazda MX5 Miata

Speaking of black Mazdas, this was the first year the Miata was eligible for JCCS. Since it was introduced in 1989, any model from the first generation is allowed. Michael Fleming’s 1996 is a stunning example of a clean vintage roadster-inspired build, with spoilers by Garage Vary in front and KG Works out back, Racing Beat headers, a wooden Nardi and a Nakamae interior. For his efforts, Michael took home the Best Miata award.

0021-BH3102_Datsun 260Z Jun Imai

In addition to Matt’s GTO, we had a second car at the JNC booth, Hot Wheels designer Jun Imai‘s Datsun 260Z, slightly modified since it was last shown at JCCS. The bosozoku-inspired S30 now sports a G-nose and Leyton House-inspired graphics. Look for an in-depth story on this car soon.

As you might expect, S30 Datsun Z-Cars were well represented at JCCS, from early 240Zs to big-bumpered 260Z and 280Zs. Several Japanese-market Fairlady Zs made it over as well. From 80s-style boulevard cruisers to flared out racers, the Zs covered every type of modification.

0779-BH3244_Datsun 240Z S30

Jill White’s Datsun 240Z is a great example of a clean, street modified car you might find bombing around the outer prefectures, but what’s perhaps more impressive is the fact that she bought it in non-running condition, learned how to wrench while swapping an engine and manual transmission, and brought it back to life to show at JCCS. Gold Work Equip 03s provide a good match to the off-white and there’s a pink tsurikawa hanging off the rear.

0936-BH3136_Mazda RX7 FB 0942-BH3140_Mazda RX7 SA22

The only Japanese sports car from the era that reached the S30 Z-like popularity was the first-gen Mazda RX-7. Representation of the rotary rockets were down a bit this year compared to previous JCCSes, but we did find a very clean red SA22 and a silver IMSA-kitted example, both rocking BBS wheels.

0862-BH3071_Toyota Corolla AE86

Traditional Japanese sport coupes and sedans rely on lightness and agility, not sheer power, to reel the enthusiast in. No matter how small or economically designed the car, people found a way to modify and enjoy them. Corollas are the perfect example of this — considered as grocery getters by the majority of the populace, but those in the know understand how much fun can be had behind the wheel.

Toyota’s humble compact was well represented in a myriad of body styles and generations, from Mario Trinidad’s beautiful E70 Sport Coupe on Panasports to Riley Crone’s rare 1969 KE10 with a silvertop 4A-G swap.

0632-BH2607_Toyota Corolla E20

Henry Mendez’s 1971 TE21 was displayed prominently and powered by a cammed and bored 3T-C fed by Mikuni sidedrafts. The stock transmission was swapped with a 5-speed manual and Tein AE86 coilovers drop the front pretty severely. 15×9 Centerlines polished to a blinding gleam are not for the shy.

Moving further down the budget scale, we find the Toyota Starlet, a hot hatch the size of the original VW Golf, but rear wheel drive. 4A-GE Swaps from the original K-series motors are common, as we saw on an excellent tan specimen with SSR MkIIs. Ethan Burroughs’ went a slightly different route with a turbo 3T-C and came all the way from Oregon.

In past years, Toyotas dominated the modified economy car segment at shows like JCCS, but this time around Nissan Sunnys came to the forefront with several modified examples. Javier Jiminez went with a CA18DET swap in his 1974 B210 hatchback, while Ron Sino-Cruz decided to go with an American bosozoku interpretation for his 1978 two-door sedan.

0586-BH2920_Datsun B210 Nissan Sunny

Among our favorites was Enrique Elias’s 1978 B210 2-door sedan, which took inspiration from Japan and looked phenomenal sitting on Work Equip 02s.

0990-BH3170_Datsun 610 Bluebird

Come to think of it, the B210 2-door sedan’s roofline looks quite similar to the that of the Datsun 610. We’re glad to see more of them enter the ranks at JCCS. With a tsurikawa hanging off the rear and mismatched SSR MkI/Longchamp XR-4s, this particular example exuded a budget zokusha vibe.

Last but not least, we have the Bluebirds. The Datsun 510 was probably the best example of a car breaking free from its economy origins to become a sought-after enthusiast’s dream. No other car except maybe the Z spawns as many builds. The car has really become a blank canvas for anything the imagination can conjure. However, as a result very few 510s end up looking like classics. Perhaps the fate of the 510 is to be the JNC scene’s counterpart to a ’32 Ford, all hot rodded and modernized.

Chuck Tomasello’s 1969 probably looked the most classic, finished in its original Kasumi Green and riding on Hayashi Perrier mesh wheels. The engine wasn’t original, but a single-cam carbureted NAPZ 2.4 with a valve cover painted in simple black looks the part.

0376-BH2594_Datsun 510 Nissan Bluebird

Of course, there will always be well done replicas of John Morton’s BRE racer and that’s about as classic as you can get.

Our 2014 JCCS coverage continues, but in case you missed it check out Part 01 — Debut BuildsPart 02 — JDM, and Part 03 — The Sixties.

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43 Responses to EVENTS: 2014 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 04 — Modified Machines

  1. Midship Runabout says:

    I don’t know how I missed the white Celica at the show…what a stunner.

  2. E-AT_me says:

    Surprised the green Pit-crew miata didn’t win the award for best… Huh. Nice photos guys. i really hope to make it some year.

  3. Nigel says:

    That white 610 is very cool. Jun’s Z is looking a bit meaner than last year.

  4. andrewzuku says:

    I’m heavily biased towards Celicas and love Aquino’s ’72 hardtop. But I’m curious about the wording in the article: “American-style mods like an 18R-G with lots of built internals and a Toysport header fed by Weber DCOE carbs”. How is an 18R-G American?

    18R-Gs were never release in North America as far as I’m aware, and Webers are italian. Toysport is in California, so that part’s accurate, but I thought his headers were a TRD copy (I very badly want some).

    Anyhow. Great photos and coverage. I wish I could be there!

    • Ben Hsu says:

      In Japan, it would have been likely swapped with a 2T-G and Mikunis.

      • Drew-ski says:

        Oh Ben,
        Your are not a mechanic, sorry but besides the legal paperwork required to change a engine from one series to another, cost thousands of yen. Since I had to complete this paperwork process, I can tell you that No one would change from an 18RG to a 2TG. the different cross members and the fact that the 18RG was the prized modification due to it limited availability. More after market parts were available for the 2T series engine because they were simple bolt on additions and the 2TG upgrades were easier to hide. This is alone my opinion, you may have addition facts that I am not aware of. Thanks for the ear.

        • Jeff says:

          I think Ben is referring to the fact that the majority of 1st gen Celicas in Japan would have come with 2TC engines, and upgrading/swapping to a 2TG would have been common. Especially since x-members wouldn’t have been an issue. You’re right that no one would have swapped an 18RG out, since that was a top of the line then.

          Even though 18RGs were never brought to the US, that was a common swap for us in SoCal in the 80s. A very prized mod back then, and easily distinguished by the sound during cruising.

          • Jeff says:

            18RGs were also readily accessible in Los Angeles, with shops like K Watanabe showing ads in the recycler for RGs selling for a few hundred bucks.

          • Drew-ski says:

            You are correct. I had a simple T-B (1400cc) Celica ST and had to complete paperwork to account for the upgrade to a 2T-BR (1600cc) which I had installed when I first shipped this vehicle to the US from Okinawa Japan in 1981.

            However upon my returning to Japan in 1983, the vehicles title had to reflect the new horse power, size weight, etc so that the car could be driven again in Japan.

            It did receive the 2T-GR during my second tour which was not documented. Easy swap, easy rebuild and back then, plenty of spare parts, again thanks for the ear.

        • Ben Hsu says:

          Yes, thank you, Jeff. That is what I was trying to get across using far fewer words. Thanks for clarifying!

  5. Bart says:

    So, is this: “any model from the first generation is allowed” a new rule for JCCS? I always thought it was 1985 or earlier or at least body styles from 1985 or earlier. So if a car was introduced after 1985, it is eligible as long as it is technically a “gen1” of whatever it is? As an extreme example, would a gen1 Nissan Xterra be eligible? Just curious of how that works based on your aforementioned quote.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      Sorry if my wording was confusing. Any model of the first gen is allowed as long as that intro year was 25 or older. For example, a 1991 FC RX-7 is allowed because that generation was introduced in 1986. An Xterra wouldn’t because the first-gen came out in 1998.

  6. alvin says:

    Each one of these posts makes me jealous! Thanks for the coverage. I don’t usually give my 2 cents about taste/build style but here goes: On the Jun Imai S30 since the last JCCS it still has wheels that look like 12s(black lip polished spoke), beefy sidewalls and relatively huge wheel gap. Is this style called “Hot Wheels” cool?

  7. Dexter rojas says:

    Found out the water pump I bought was the culprit. … ….. now the Gt is getting a transplant. …4G54T……

  8. Daniel says:

    thank you for the celica/corolla coverage me being a owner of a 1st gen i always feel like they are neglected next to the datsun/nissan fan base but i do have to say those b210 were awesome

  9. Censport says:

    My brain is now melted.

  10. mister k says:

    never fails that i see cars in pix that i totally did not see whilst at the show

  11. Michael Fleming says:

    Thank you to the judges involved for the Miatas, to be recognized the first year the miata was invited to the show, I still can’t believe. Awesome, thank guys!

  12. cesariojpn says:

    “……with many assuming that the Queen Mary lawn would be filled with identical, bone stock examples that all looked the same.”

    I call shenanigans. While there were people bemoaning stock only, I counted more AGAINST modified cars like the drift rockets, the “don’t give a fuck” builds, and such. And cars that had “damage.”

  13. juppe says:

    I’m a bit confused by the sentence “It’s an admirable amount of work, and we’re actually quite happy to see it done to a square-bumpered first-gen Celica.”

    Do you like the build, or don’t you like the style and you also don’t fancy the late 1st gen Celica’s? The latter would be a strange kind of logic?
    I’m probably just nitpicking, but I have the feeling you’re not writing what you really think.

    Anyway, many thanks for a great coverage!

    • Ben Hsu says:

      Personally, the build is not to my taste, as it is a bit too new school or resto-mod. However, I admire the work put into it and the fact that a less-desirable late-model Celica was used for the basis, since most people aren’t preserving or restoring those. If it had been an early-gen Celica, I would have been a bit upset.

  14. nasir says:

    hi ,
    I want to modifiey Honda civic 2014 ,any bbody guide to any website from where I get the ideas to modifiy my car

  15. nasir says:

    hi ,
    I want to modifiey Honda civic 2014 ,any bbody guide to any website from where I get the ideas to modifiy my car.kindly email me

  16. Jim-Bob says:

    The one thing I am curious about with JCCS is if there are ever any Suzuki cars present, such as the Forsa, Swift, Chevy Sprint or Geo Metro? All would technically be permissible due to age (the Metro came out in 1989). I would volunteer my own Metro as the first but I live in Florida. Besides, my car’s interior reminds me a little too much of Max’s Falcon in Mad Max 2- so I doubt I would be admitted!

    • cesariojpn says:

      We’ve seen import captive Pentastars in these articles in the past, so I don’t think having rebadged Japanese cars is out of the question. Whether or not JCCS will accept a bone stock Geo Mtero that hasn’t been fucked around by a Hypermiler is another thing…..

    • Ben Hsu says:

      Chevy Sprint Turbos and Suzuki Jimnys have been shown before. The question is always where are the owners? I can’t speak for the organizers but it doesn’t sound like your car would be rejected based on the interior, Jim-Bob.

  17. slade s says:

    how is a modified 18rg an American touch to a celica?
    I fail to understand.

  18. Peter says:

    Thanks for the coverage on my car Ben, sadly it will be the one and only JCCS for the Celica. I will be bringing out a new car next year.

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