For many older Japanese cars, plastic bits are near impossible to find. Or, if you do find them, they cost a fortune. They’re not like muscle cars, where you can open a Year One catalog and basically rebuild a 1969 Camaro from scratch. JNCers have had to rely on the innovation and passion of individual enthusiasts to make up the gap. For example, look at these beautiful Mazda RX-3 taillight lenses made by an owner from Detroit, Michigan.
Jose Gonzalez is the owner of a 1972 Mazda RX-3 and an award-winning 1972 Hakosuka Skyline. He works in automotive design and has had a hand in all types of production vehicles, including trucks and high-performance sports cars, for an non-Japanese automaker that he declined to reveal publicly. However, that experience helped greatly when he embarked on his plastic lens reproduction project.
After joining communities dedicated to those cars, Jose realized that there were many parts that were difficult to find, including Savanna RX-3 taillight lenses. During COVID-19 quarantine, Jose took the opportunity to create the lenses. “I wanted to try my hand at neutral density [halfway between clear and black] for my taillamps,” Jose told JNC.
“I started with trying to cast lenses in clear. It’s fairly easy to build a mold. There are lots of videos available online,” he explained. “I talked with some of my coworkers about how to make prototype parts. I started with Hako turn signal in clear, then the Mazda Savanna RX-3 teacup and regular taillights.”
“All will be casted in clear or neutral density,” Jose says. So far, the response from the community has been overwhelming. The project started out as a way to make parts for Jose’s own cars, but he plans on branching out soon. “I will also be doing Datsun 510 turn signals in clear, and Hako taillamp lenses in neutral density,” Jose tells us. He wants to make lenses for other Japanese classics, but needs only an example of the original part to create his molds.
As we all know, the automakers themselves are trying to remake parts for certain popular models, but movement on less profitable ones will be either slow or nonexistent. For those, we will have to turn to people like Jose. Prices range from $30 for a Hakosuka turn signal to $150 for RX-3 taillamps. Datsun 510 turn signals will likely run about $125 and Hakosuka taillamps $150. If interested, you can contact Jose at his Instagram account, @72gonzuka.
Images courtesy of Jose Gonzalez.