In Part 01 of our New Year Meeting coverage we concentrated on sports cars and coupes from the 1960s. However, there were many fine four-doors from that era as well, and as the two-doors rise in price the once neglected sedans are gaining in popularity.
No era changed Japan more than the 1960s. At the beginning of the decade most cars were spartan and mechanically simple. Even larger sedans like the full-size Nissan Cedric were pretty conservative in design. Even so, these sedans were still very popular during the mass mobilization that occurred during the Showa Era.
Today, the Cedric Friends Association remains fairly strong, At the show, they exhibited five variations of the first-gen Cedric, including Deluxe and Custom sedans, an eight-seater Estate Wagon equipped with a third row, and a Van for commercial use sharing the wagon body. Of course, because these cars were so emblematic of the Showa Era, there was also on display a blue Sato-chan, the Sato Pharmaceuticals elephant mascot that was commonly seen outside drug stores back in the day.
Since cars of that era offered little in performance value, most owners today elect to keep them stock. Cars like this T20 Toyota Corona serve as reminders of what transportation was like at the dawn of Japan’s part war boom.
By the middle part of the decade, though performance still wasn’t a priority, cars had begun to look more stylish. The Toyota Crown evolved into a sleek sedan that is still a favorite of those seeking a dapper cruiser.
It wasn’t until the late 1960s that more performance-oriented cars began to appear, thanks in large part to the proliferation of Japanese motorsports in the middle part of the decade. Prince and Nissan Skylines were a central part of the movement, and became favorites for tuners.
It’s easy to think nowadays that everything back in the day was on Watanabes, but before the late-70s explosion of made-in-Japan wheels, in the earlier part of the decade widened steelies, accessorized steel wheels, and Japan-made aluminum wheels like Carman, Enkei, or Zona were popular.
If you really had the cash or were more worldy, you outfitted your ride with European-made items like Cibie, Momo, Marchal, Fiamm, and so on. In particular, British Cosmic, Italian Cromodora or Campagnolo wheels were the way to go. The Campagnolos or “Campys” were the most popular, especially the Dino GTS-style wheels as seen on this Skyline GT and 510 Bluebird. In fact, they were so fashionable that when the kouki C210 Skyline debuted there was a special Campagnolo model with these wheels fitted as standard.
Those seeking a more American style went with the many slot mag or Cragar SS-style wheels, like the ones on this Cedric. This mid-60s style of sedan, along with the Crown, became fashionable to mod with American touches in the 1970s.
Heavily influenced by the motorsport trends and exploits of the day, Japan eventually developed a style of its own, the shakotan look that is en vogue today. This Hakosuka GT-R is very proper, but back in the day if you were to run Hayashis they would tend to be skinnier with taller tires. To get this look, you would run racing slicks and rain tires, like the Dunlop CR88.
Early motorsport exploits in Japan were done with 4-door sedans, hence many were also modified for street fighting duty. In addition to the ubiquitous Nissan and Toyota sedans, in the 60s Isuzu Belletts were everywhere. A car like this would have been a very tidy runabout then, updated to gold Enkeis in the 70s.
These days, the cars of the late 1960s adopt many styles. Even with modern diameter wheels and low-profile rubber, they can still look good.
Ultimately, it’s the style of the late-70s, honed and perfected in the 80s, that has become the de facto Japanese look today. But the New Year Meeting is always a good opportunity to study the various styles and trends that have been lost to time.
To be continued…
We’ll have more New Year Meeting coverage coming up. In the meantime, in case you missed it, here’s Part 01 — Sixties Specials. Also, check out coverage from the 2017 2016, 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 New Year Meetings.