EVENTS: 2015 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 02 — Shakotan Boogaloo

570-1792_JCCS CruiseNisei

In Japan, shakotan is simply means a lowered car. Many different styles of car can technically qualify as shakotan, but if we’re going to steal a traditional Japanese term, we might as well apply it to traditional Japanese cars. You know it when you see it — small-diameter wheels, limited use of body kits, and steel instead of composite fiber. Can you dig it? 

406-1596_Mazda RX7-FB407-1599_Mazda RX7-FB

We loved the execution of Alex Bircheff’s FB RX-7. It has a clean body with all the appropriate trim and emblems, a subtle exhaust, and a shiny set of SSRs. The choice of white exterior, maroon interior and red MkIIs make for a perfect color combination, too.

328-1645_Toyota CoronaT114

Lawrence Keller’s RT114 Corona Hardtop is a familiar sight to long-time readers, but we like the fact that he can always be relied on to show up with a car that’s a beautiful as it is rare. It’s perfectly matched with Work Ewing 2-piece fins and an 18R-G under the hood. Lawrence always displays his cars with love and simply doesn’t give off the vibe that he is out to flip it or part with it in any way.

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Work Ewing fins were a classic wheel for the 80s. Richard Law’s A40 Celica running side-draft Mikunis also sits on them. Mike Nakawatase’s 240Z beside it doubles down on brown, the quintessential color of the era.

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Isaias Barrios’ 1980 Celica has steadily improved each year we’ve seen it, resulting in slick RA42 liftback that’s edging ever so slightly towards the bosozoku end of the spectrum. With a set of sexy Hayashi Streets and subtle aero mods taken from a big brother Celica Supra, we admire the love shown towards a body style that really gets no respect whatsoever. Trust me, I should know.

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Another familiar vision to long-time readers is the sight of a beautiful Scandinavian Sky Celica. Celicas are always cool, but again, it’s the perfect combination of body color, red stripe, and red Techno Phantoms that make this car more than the sum of its parts.

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JDM Legends came all the way from Utah to show a Datsun 240Z that’s been recently brought back from a bare, well patina’ed shell. Looking like the Devil Z from Wangan Midnight, it is being built for a customer and is thus not for sale (sorry).

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Inside, the panels aren’t all quite in, but the classic racing bucket, not to mention a beautifully purposeful L-gata side-draft setup provides some indication of the direction JDM Legends is going with it. There are some photos of the build process on the JDM Legends blog.

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Actually, there there were a few more contenders for the title of Devil Z this year. Watanabes or Longchamps? Standard nose or G-nose? Cool fender mirrors or uninterrupted hood lines? It’s impossible to decide!

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Julian Segara’s 1977 Celica Liftback may not be entirely slammed on its SSR Star Sharks, but that’s okay. It looked like a 1970s Tokyo street machine.

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In the Corolla section we found a rare gathering of brightly colored mangos all in a row, starting with the Ramon de la Cruz’s 3S-G-powered Corolla coupe in proper street fighter attire — front splitter and 13-inch TOSCOs.

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Wedged in the middle was a rare RHD zenki Sprinter Trueno with the cross-hair grille. We saw this car at Toyotafest earlier this year, but now its wheels have been changed to painted 8-spokes.

545-1743_Toyota CorollaE70

While some of these Corollas are built in old school Filipino style, like Mario Trinidad’s 1980 TE72 with its Foha lip and rear spoiler and 13-inch Panasports, you can still easily imagine it sliding tail-out with the best of them in the Hakone hills circa 1989.

590-1783_Toyota CelicaA20Liftback591-1787_Toyota CelicaA20Liftback

Jeff Yee’s Celica Liftback is another familiar friend but this time it was freshly fitted with an 18R-G. The cleanliness of a just-installed engine is a work of art for clean freaks. Just glance at how spotless the valve covers and exhaust manifold are and you’ll want to break out the degreaser on your own ride.

584-1779_Mazda RX2

Jeff Chung’s 1973 Mazda RX-2 coupe looks mean on its 15-inch Work Equip 03s. Though parts like his custom front spoiler are carbon fiber, the fact that the car is black hides it well enough that you don’t notice. A bridge-ported 13B fed by a Dell’Orto lies under the hood, and the old school Mazda blue and white license plate is a great touch.

604-1766_Subaru GL-LeoneCoupe600-1663_Subaru GL-LeoneCoupe

One car that caught the eye of every JNC staffer at the show was Mark Nakashima’s 1973 Subaru GL coupe. Mark had just completed a six-year rotisserie restoration, a task that’s hard enough on any car, never mind something as rare as the GL.

605-1666_Subaru GL-LeoneCoupe606-1662_Subaru GL-LeoneCoupe

Subarus are typically under-represented at JCCS, but never has one this rare appeared. In the 11 years the show has taken place, this is the first time a GL coupe has ever been displayed on the Queen Mary lawn. Many casual spectators simply walked by without much of a glance, probably suspecting it to be a old Datsun B210 or something, but proper acknowledgement has to be given to Mark for taking on such a difficult project.

579-1778_Mazda RX4

Speaking of rare, if obscure old rotaries are your jam, you really can’t beat Ken Bone’s 1974 Mazda RX-4. It was truly one of the breakout stars of this year’s show, a multi-year restoration job that was finished just hours before the show.

582-1771_Mazda RX4577-1784_Mazda RX4

There’s just something that looks so cool about a down-draft carb-fed 13B under the hood, especially for a car as large and mean-looking as the RX-4. Most innocent bystanders probably expect a V8. Instead, they find a compact but powerful little rotary with tons of empty space but packing plenty of punch.

576-1776_Toyota CelicaA20Liftback

Brian Karasawa’s 1977 Celica Liftback is another JCCS stalwart. Sitting on Hayashis, it was one of the first new school JCCS builds to go old school in style. If you want more information on it, you can watch this video. We just wanted an excuse to post this badass photo of Toyota and Mazda’s mid-70s sport coupes in a rare joint appearance. And that’s what the JCCS is really all about — celebrating all the various marques from Japan and letting fans of one discover the other.

To be continued…

We’ll have more 2015 JCCS coverage coming up, but in the meantime in case you missed it here’s Part 01, as well as special features on the Ibarra Bros’ classic Mazda collection and the first Honda built for US import.

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26 Responses to EVENTS: 2015 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 02 — Shakotan Boogaloo

  1. Nigel says:

    That TE72 Corolla was very cool. As was the Subaru GL.

  2. Matt says:

    Props to Mark! Didn’t realize you were that close to finishing! Sorry we missed each other.

  3. Scotty G says:

    Being a huge Subaru fan, my hands-down favorite is the gorgeous GL Coupe! Not to mention, it seems like it may have been one of the few vehicles there in factory-original-spec, which seems to be rare at these events for some reason.

    • VincenzoL says:

      True, the trend in the US and other parts of the world is to have the cleanest and best restored example of a car to factory spec. At the same time people need to realize they have a different attitude towards modifications in Japan. Modifying and tuning one’s car was a massive subculture in Japan for decades. It’s only been on the decline recently. In Japan if it has wheels and/or an engine you will see an example of it modified. Everything from bicycles, scooters, trikes, 50cc bobbers, full range of motorcycles in every imaginable engine size, kei cars, sports cars, VIP, mini trucks, vanning culture, all the way up to dekotora (the most insane and unlike anything in the US). As long as modifications are period correct and keeps the original aesthetic from the car’s original era then I see no problem.

      • Scotty G says:

        That’s a good point, I didn’t think of that aspect of it. I thought that I was just plain ol’ boring in liking to see the original or restored-to-original-spec vehicles, it brings me back to those days when I grew up in the 60s and 70s much more so than seeing modified vehicles does. But, I have no problem what so ever with modified vehicles at all. How could I, they’re not mine and each owner is free to do what he / she wants to it. They’re all beautiful, perfect works of drivable art, in my opinion, original or modified! I wish I could have seen them in person. Of course, now I get a couple of photo assignments in San Diego, why couldn’t I have I have gotten them during the time of this show!

      • Savant Young says:

        I say do what makes you feel good!!!!!

  4. invinciblejets says:

    That ra42 celica looks awesome they deserve more respect for sure!

  5. Eric says:

    Great coverage Ben, there were some quality restorations this year as always. That’s what keeps me coming back every year. It’s crazy to think I was at the show but I hardly got a chance to see any of the cars. Next year I’m shutting down the booth for an hour to spectate.

  6. VincenzoL says:

    Can we please stop calling 1981-85 RX-7’s FB’s already??? They are still SA22’s. Even though their VIN stamping reads FB, that is just an export identification that started once they did a refresh for the chuki and kouki models. The car started life in it’s domestic country of origin as the SA22 and was always known as such there. I say you respect the chassis name given to the home market.

    • VincenzoL says:

      Btw, my rant is not directed solely at the use of the term in this article. I can’t really fault you guys since “FB” has been thrown around so much over the last 10 years people just kind of blindly adopted it. I just wanted to bring it to your attention though since you guys have pretty strong influence on educating the fans of these cars.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      No worries. What you said is true SA22 is the proper chassis code. It’s a tough call because we don’t want a flood of comments that say, “It’s an FB not an SA22!” and sometimes it’s easier to say FB than facelifted/chuki/kouki. However, as you point out, it’s our job to parse these things and so we will transition to using the proper terminology when it’s possible without distracting from the content of the article itself.

  7. Randy says:

    Hey, you found my happy place!

  8. Brett says:

    Where can I see more shots of Lawrence Keller’s RT114 Corona Hardtop? It is a beautiful car.

  9. Michael says:

    RX7, RX4 and that Subaru are my picks!

  10. datsunrides says:

    Thanks for the kind words on my Subaru GL. Build thread if anyone is interested is here.

    • Scotty G says:

      Thanks for the link, datsunrides! Add me to the the-car-is-beautiful list. Fantastic job on the restoration, man, what a jewel box. As we all know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I’m guessing that more people than not think it’s a work of art. It’s one of my top 2-3 cars of the show so far, from the photos posted here.

  11. Dennis AE86 says:

    Woah!! Jeff Yee’s Celica Liftback’s engine is super clean! It almost looks like he wore white gloves to install every component.

  12. Alex Bircheff says:

    Thanks guys for the pics and kind words on my “SA22” (just for your Vince ?). Thanks as always for the great coverage!

    • VincenzoL says:

      Nice one, Alex! Haha!

      I originally read the article so fast that I didn’t notice it was your GSL-SE. Should have known it might be you. You and your dad have some great cars. Keep up the good work spread that SA22 knowledge. 😉

  13. Adam says:

    I can appreciate the workmanship that went into the 1973 Subaru GL restoration…but…
    Jesus Christ that is an UGLY car!!!

    Seriously, not one angle looks good! The color isnt doing it any favors either.

    It makes a Gremlin look like an E-Type Jaguar!

    • Randy says:

      It’s “European” styling.

      And *WHAT* is wrong with Gremlins? 🙂

      E-type convertible; yes. Coupe, ehhhhhhhhhhh……. Just can’t love it… Sorry.

      I’ll take the Sube.

  14. WILLIEB says:

    Hope he make some for RLC !

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