EVENTS: 2018 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 04 — Subaru and Isuzu

One of the clues that JCCS 2018 was history’s biggest was the presence of Isuzus and Subarus. Not a lot, granted, but in past years we would have said there were a lot if even one car of either marque showed up. This year, both did!

We start with one of our favorites of the show, Joel Tan’s Buick Opel sedan, perhaps the only car to have triple billing when it comes to marques. Built by Isuzu, these cars were imported and sold in post-fuel crisis America via Buick showrooms. The official name was the Buick Opel, as the car shared a design with the Opel Kadett C.

In Japan, it was sold as the Isuzu Gemini. At the time GM owned majority stakes in both Opel and Isuzu, and the Gemini was developed as a world car that would sell in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Cars imported to the US were branded Buick Opels, but still carried a little Isuzu logo on the grille.

Of course, US models had safety bumpers, so perhaps Joel will find some slim bumpers to replace them with. In any case, it’s a stupendously rare car.

Alex Membribes’ 1978 Subaru DL Wagon hailed from a similar era. The surf wagon is said to be wearing its original paint and interior. We’re pretty sure this is only the second EA71 ever to appear at JCCS.

We can’t recall ever seeing more than two Subarus at JCCS. This year, there were five! David Barnblatt’s stunning 1997 SVX LSi is in unrestored, original condition. It has only 44,000 miles on the clock.

Another favorite was Marc Oliver’s 1980 Subaru GLF. These coupes are rare, even in Japan, and Marc’s was in stellar condition. Not only that, but Marc’s is apparently a Southrn California Classic, special editions that were finished in black, pinstriped in gold, and had foglamps and a trunk rack added. According to Marc, only 100 SCC models were sold, and this is number 1 of 100, purchased by his wife new in 1980. Marc took home second place in Best Unique, a catch-all category for marques that were not Toyota, Nissan, Mazda or Honda.

Last but not least was Jay Ataka’s 1969 Subaru 360. It won Best of Show last year, and we called it the finest 360 restoration we’d ever seen. That still stands, but this year Jay also added a Star Road 240Z to his display, a recreation of the tuning house’s demo car but in LHD. The quality of his cars never fail to impress.

And that’s it! Sorry for the short post. We wish there were enough cars to make it longer.

To be continued…

We’ll have more 2018 JCCS coverage coming up, but in the meantime, in case you missed it, check out Part 01 — JDM, Part 02 — Toyotas, and Part 03 — Hondas, as well as a spotlight on the Wild Cards and the first Honda race car in America.


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9 Responses to EVENTS: 2018 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 04 — Subaru and Isuzu

  1. Nigel says:

    No Subaru Brat to be seen ??

  2. Scotty G says:

    That GLF! I have never seen one in person. I’m not sure if black was the best heat-soaking paint choice for the Southern California Classic edition, but man what a rare car. There never seem to be enough Subarus or Isuzus which makes me like them even more.

  3. Howard Dreispan says:

    ANY Mitsubishis there?

  4. nlpnt says:

    Wow, I remember one of the houses I walked past on the way to school in the early ’80s had a lime-green Buick-Opel coupe with the same exact grille. I’d seen pictures of I-Marks by that point; they were pushing diesel by then but the only dealer in New England was in Boston and you could get the same powertrain in a Chevette at a time when even a lot of tiny towns had Chevy dealers.

    This was in Vermont so I remember plenty of Subarus too, although they weren’t as ubiqitous as they are now. Hardtops were rare though, 2wd only until their last year, 1984. Wagons were the most popular by far.

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