The latest installment of our massive 2014 Japanese Classic Car Show coverage takes a look at the haulers of the J-tin world, whether they be carrying cargo, kids, or chicken tax exemptions. It’s the trucks, vans and wagons of JCCS.
Perhaps the most significant development for this year was the record number of Subarus on display, and by record we mean three. Still, a pair of BRATs was one of the highlights. Vaughn Vartanian’s gray 1978 BRAT, a mildy restored example with Subaru’s optional “mag” wheels looked utilitarian and no-nonsense, with a pair of restored chicken tax import duty-avoiding jump seats in the back.
Scott Coletti’s white 1979 BRAT GL came with a 70s-tastic tape stripe combo very similar to the first US-imported BRAT we saw at in Subaru of America’s attic collection. In fact, it’s a bit more authentic, as the orange wheels and push bar were painted as such because Subaru was using it as a show car. Scott took home the NeoClaasic Award.
Garm Beall has graced JCCS with his collection of kei Subarus before — in 2012 we prized his Subie 360 with the JNC Award — but this year it was a return of his Sambar 360 van. In addition to black California plates, it has the cutest little 10-inch Hayashi Streets we’ve ever seen.
If you were at the show you may have noticed the odd presence of a 1965(?) Econoline SuperVan at the Queen Mary park. What’s a Ford doing at JCCS? As it happens, ages before the Odyssey and before Honda even began selling cars in the US, this very van was used by American Honda for hauling around its early motorcycles and parts. Honda N- and Z-Series restorer Tim Mings found and rescued it. You can still see the faded Honda logos and “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” slogan on its flanks. Who knows, Soichiro Honda’s butt may have sat in those very seats!
Speaking of rare marques, Jerry Goulette’s restored 1981 Suzuki Jimny is a first showing of the model for JCCS. With only 800cc, the LJ80, distant predecessor to the Samurai, is a beautifully restored example.
In a similar vein but several sizes larger were a couple of Toyota Land Cruisers on display, including an FJ40 and Paul Williamsen’s ex-US Marine Corps FJ75 pickup.
Land Cruisers are usually pretty well represented at JCCS, but Nissan’s SUV rival is a rarity. Louis Bircheff’s 1969 Patrol came to him by way of an amazing barn find. He purchased it from the original owner, who had stored it for 30 years with only 18,000 miles on the clock. Despite its tiny imperfections, we hope it stays exactly as is in survivor mode, because as they say, it’s only original once.
Mint condition vans are usually in short supply, but you can always rely on Thomas St. George to bring an immaculate 1986 Toyota Van.
Next up, longroofs, my personal favorite category. Though the selection was somewhat smaller than in previous years, there was a good cross section of mid-level goons from the major marques, from Daniel Silva’s L18-poweed 1971 510 to Robert Medina’s 1979 Corona.
Standouts among the wagons included Josue Elias’ 1973 Datsun 610, which has sprouted a front air dam and period fender mirrors since we last saw it in 2012. John Huckins’ SR20DET-powered 1972 510 was a familiar sight, but still one of the most proper resto-mod 510 wagons we’ve seen, with a classic look on the outside all the modern performance goodies hidden under the skin.
The Datsun 240Z Sport Wagon made its first showing at JCCS. Though its designer, Yoshihiko Matsuo who penned the S30, wasn’t there this time it was still a significant historical note and a great addition to the show along with its builder, Jay Ataka’s immaculately restored 240Z.
Last but not least are the mini-pickups, a category the Japanese practically invented. This year, the early Datsun 520s and 521s were out in full force.
Nissan trucks hailing from the later years tend to be favorites for modification, often with major changes like SR20 swaps. Salvador Alegria won Best Nissan Truck for his dual-headlamp 1966 Datsun 520 featuring a lot of custom work to its J13.
We were extremely impressed with a lineup of early Datsun trucks restored to stock. Brian Omatsu had the lone stock Datsun 620, a beautiful 1974 survivor with one of the purest shades of orange ever produced. John Kennedy’s red 1966 Datsun 520 has added a stakebed rear since we saw it last year. It pains us to think of the holes drilled into the pristine bed, but the rare truck is still gorgeous.
Mark Tallion’s two-tone 1964 Datsun NL320, a rare unibody ute, is probably the best one we’ve seen, and has undergone a ground-up restoration to achieve its current state of beauty. Pedro Medina’s 1960 Datsun 222 was an equally stunning, numbers-matching example with 70,000 original miles on its 48hp, 1.2-liter with a 4-speed column shift.
We’d love to see Mazdafarians take on some more bone-stock REPU restorations. As you know, the rotary-powered pickup was never sold in Japan, making it one of the rare occasions where Americans got the arguably better version (making the “JDM TRUK” license plate a head scratcher). It’s up to us to preserve them now.
Toyota Hiluxes also run the gamut in modification styles, but among them Hugo Saavedra’s “Lo-lux” is an example of how to take a well-patina’ed vehicle and make a cool rat rod out of it.
Taking the Best Toyota Truck Award was Robert Balisi’s 1985 Toyota SR5 XtraCab Pickup. 1985 was the last of the solid-front-axle pickups, when the much sought-after trait overlapped with an EFI-equipped 22RE. Not only does it have the period correct decal package, but the wonderful upholstery covered in “SR5” logos. A wholly deserving win.
Photo Editor: Ryan Sennesky.