EVENTS: 2015 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 08 — Editors’ Choice

575-1775_Toyota CelicaA20Liftback

As is tradition, each year we conclude our JCCS coverage with list of our favorites, and each year it gets harder and harder to choose. I asked the JNC staff to each pick the two cars that they liked the most, and provide a short description why. Here’s what we came up with.


John Roper, Tech Editor, Fort Worth, Texas.

The BRE 240Z replica of Randy Jaffe definitely gets my vote as the coolest thing in the show. It nails the vibe of the original, while sporting just a very few minor updates like upsized wheels and tires, more modern gauges, and what looked to be slightly bigger brakes than BRE had available back in the day. And having a replica of John Morton’s helmet in the boot was going the extra mile. A very faithful homage, beautifully executed.

596-1661_Subaru Sambar

I would so love to own a Subaru 360 pickup. Only problem is that I can’t actually fit into this tiny little thing. Garm Beall’s was in flawless condition and just the cutest thing you’ll ever see on four wheels. The spartan but well executed interior, the monster 10-inch whitewall tires, and the “looking like it’s never been used as a truck” body all added up to a beautiful little ute.

413-JR4027_Datsun 710 JCCS 2015 front 1

Matt De Mangos, Forum Administrator, San Diego, California.

My first choice is Brian Holloway’s 710. Brian is a big fan of subtlety, and it shows on his blue 710 — (stripped down) wiring harness to clean up the engine bay, Violet badges, JDM bumpers, beautiful grille, and NOS taillights. Sensible brake upgrades and a tasteful wheel selection and fitment complete the look. The Evo 8 seats (with custom matching rear) are a bold choice, but they are comfy. This is the kind of car I would love to drive to work every day.


My second choice is Ray Medeiros’ Datsun 521 pickup, because of the professional quality of work and extensive mods, not all of which are visible at first glance. It’s also powered by one of the great unsung heroes of Nissan fours, the FJ20, in this case powered by ITBs.


146-1562_Mazda RX7-FC3S

Dave Yuan, Editor, Oakland, California.

Well-preserved and original FC3S RX-7s are becoming a rare breed. They are sophisticated machines, have a fair amount of old school charm, and are iconic of the Bubble Era. The Series 5 Turbo II is the pinnacle of FC model in the US, and Abel Ibarra’s RX-7 Turbo II was just breathtakingly pristine. All that aside, I picked it for emotional reasons. The FC was my favorite car as a kid; I built the Tamiya kit of this car three times before I finished elementary school. When the Series 5 cars came out, I was mesmerized by the afterburner elements in the taillights, monochromatic paint scheme, and mesh wheels on the TII. I had a chance years ago to buy one just like it, in similarly beautiful shape, but regrettably passed. It was delightful to see this car, and may more examples like it be preserved.


The Lancer EX Turbo 1800GSR is the direct ancestor to the Lancer Evolution. The 1800 was powered by the 4G62, the 2000 the same 4G63 (albeit updated) in the Evos, and are a key part of Mitsubishi’s rally heritage. The design is so 80s Mitsubishi, while the aero bits and the mirror image decal on the air dam make it look badass. I even loved its diagonal-striped interior. I’ve admired this car from afar for years and was very happy to finally see one imported in person.


Ricky Silverio, Editor-at-Large, San Francisco, California. 

Randy Joffe’s BRE Z tribute is very significant. We are finally seeing historic Japanese cars being recreated in exacting detail. It’s what Pete Brock would’ve envisioned. Though it must be said that tribute cars have been done before in the US and abroad, this car is setting the standards higher and hopefully paves the way not only for BRE, but for other famous Japanese race cars.

408-1602_Mazda RX7-FC3S-10thAnniversary


From the Datsun pickups to the Z31s, there were so many good choices this year, but FC RX-7s will always have a special place in my heart. I had a car exactly the same as Abel Ibarra’s Series 5 RX-7 Turbo once, and before that I had a black Series 4 too. It’s impossible to decide, but since Dave picked Abel’s, I’ll go with Sean Lee’s immaculate 10th Anniversary FC.

579-1778_Mazda RX4

Ben Hsu, Editor-in-Chief, Los Angeles, California.

I was stunned by Ken Bone’s 1974 Mazda RX-4, which he rescued in a state of neglect and has been slowly building over the course of several years. If you think RX-2s and RX-3s are rare, trying finding parts for an RX-4. The pre-facelift grilles on these cars are to me the ultimate expression of the 1970s recessed-grille-and-headlight design, and that ornately curved front bumper is a work of art. The Mazda designers knew what they were doing and the great thing about Ken’s RX-4 too is that it’s not overdone. The engine is built, the suspension is dropped, and there’s a ton of work in the unseen parts, but the body and trim are all kept in tact.


My second choice was the snub-nose Hako for many of the same reasons. It would’ve been easy and tempting to clone a GT-R by cutting into the surf line, adding flares and a wing, or extending the nose to accommodate a straight six. Instead, this typically unloved body style with an even less loved four-banger was made cool with just a simple drop and a set of properly sized 14-inch wheels.

601-1664_Subaru GL-LeoneCoupe

And finally, each year the JCCS organizers us to give one special car the JNC Award. This year, there was no debate among the staff that it should go to Mark Nakashima for his 1973 Subaru 1400 GL. If you think it’s hard finding parts for a Mazda RX-4, try finding parts for this thing. The rotisserie restoration would have been amazing for any car, never mind one that is so impossibly rare that many at the show couldn’t even pin down the marque. Mark’s commitment to this project shows that while the the investment potential of a Hakosuka or 2000GT might be driving a lot of the older collectors, the next generation simply likes these cars for what they are.

That concludes our 2015 JCCS coverage, but in case you missed it here’s Part 01Part 02, Part 03Part 04Part 05, and Part 06, as well as special features on the first Honda built for US import, the Ibarra Bros’ classic Mazdas and some very special Z-Cars. You can also take another look at last year’s 10th anniversary of JCCS.

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11 Responses to EVENTS: 2015 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 08 — Editors’ Choice

  1. DanMcD says:

    I suppose eventually a day will come when you can buy an outer/ inner panel kit to restore the Surfline on a Hakosuka that has been GT-R’d. It could come with a standard front grill, tail light panel, 2000GT badges and hood ornament…..

    There was quite a market in selling kits to re-split Beetle rear screens after they had been ovalised to appear ‘modern’

    I don’t know if ovalised is a real word.

    • Michael says:

      I love the standard rear guards on Hako’s….chopped and flared versions really do nothing for me(unless a legit GTR) as it seems so cliched. That one above is stunning in standard form.

  2. Scotty G says:

    I’m stunned, and elated, to see those two beautiful Subarus in the mix! Those are my two top choices, but I’m a Subaru guy at heart. I hope that I can make the 2016 show, it looks like an absolute must-see gathering of fantastic vehicles and owners! Thanks for the great coverage.

  3. Ray says:

    Thanks guys for choosing my 521. To me that’s better than winning a plaque, and the attention it gets every where it goes.

    Thanks again

  4. UCHE says:

    Really loving the FC appreciation amongst your staff : )))

  5. Ryan says:

    That red s4 FC is stunning, also that RX4! My favourite right there.

  6. Nigel says:

    Awesome coverage of JCCS 2015 guys !!

  7. John M says:

    So to pickup some of the highlights; Mangos did not pick Mangos; Ricky was not able to pick Abel’s; the RX-4 was Bone’s stock car; despite the nickname, the Hako was not snubbed this year; the BRE Z tribute made a couple people get Randy; and it came back full circle, dare I say 360, to another Subaru for the JNC award, but people didn’t know Mark’s marque. Enjoyed the show and coverage.

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