At a recent Cars & Coffee event in Tokyo, the usual proceedings were disrupted when a formation of Lexus supercars arrived on the scene. Emerging from the fleet was the most famous man in Japan’s auto industry: Akio Toyoda, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Corp, followed by the chief designers of the LFA, RC, and RC F sports coupes.
I was at a total loss as to who the yumeijin — or possibly just mid-tier talento — that was being followed around by a TV crew, and an enthusiastic crowd of trailing onlookers. Despite having seen Toyoda-san numerous times on television and in the press in recent years, I did not connect the usually suited and sedate Toyoda-san with the youthful, laughing, engaging, and obviously very enthusiastic car fan walking among the cars at the Daikanyama Tsutaya on Sunday morning.
While the LFA is no doubt an interesting car, we passed them over but were curious to inspect closely what appeared to be a vinyl wrapped version, only to resolve it was born that way — in matte black.
A special invitation had been extended by Lexus, welcoming sports car drivers to the Tsutaya bookstore for free coffee and buns of some sort.
We had set out early, as I was meeting a Mangusta-driving friend of a friend. On the way there a hardly ever seen Mitsubishi Cordia Turbo was encountered, a good omen of things to come.
The official hours posted were from 07:00 to 09:00, but I suspected that the warm weather forecast — unlike the last event — would draw a full crowd.
We arrived early at 06:30, only to find the lot already full, and thus parked in the street with numerous other cars of interest.
Inside we slowly investigated an older restoration of a genuine Skyline GT-R four-door on original single-kanji plates.
There was a wickedly over-tired Mazda Savanna RX-3 that perhaps dined on small animals.
Nearby, a beautiful CSP311 Silvia glimmered in its golden green paint.
The presence of a panda Trueno surely must have pleased Toyoda-san. It even has the proper vanity plate.
Hailing from Isuzu’s GM days was a twin-cam 117 Coupe bearing the limited edition black and gold paint scheme reminiscent of GM products of similar vintage, but Isuzu had its own version of the “screaming chicken” decal on the hood.
Parked outside on Kyu-Yamate-dori were our Mangusta-driving friend, a few Honda Beats, and an Isuzu VehiCROSS (wisely parked outside the small lot, perhaps).
There was also an appropriately air-cooled sando (sandwich) of Yotahachi and 911.
With no plans for the rest of the Sunday, we left Toyoda-san to pose with the Toyota drivers as he gave them his signature board with “I Love Cars” and his carefully written well wishes.
As a measure of how much Toyoda-san knows and loves cars, he approached one Lotus driver to talk about the Toyota engine it carried. With one lucky TE27 owner, Toyota-san posed for a photo and gave the guy a story to tell the rest of his life.
The day was turning into a typical glorious Tokyo spring day – 20C (68 degrees Fahrenheit) and blue skies — so we elected to continue our car explorations with a fast run through the newly opened C2 extension, also known as the Yamate Tunnel. down to an island off Yokohama.
Though we’ve been using it regularly since it opened in early March, this was the first time I’d taken the S800 to enjoy the C2’s continual series of snake-like curves. With the windows wound down we had the world’s longest urban road tunnel to fill with the F1-like wail from a little Honda twin-cam at 10,000 rpm.
Arriving off the coast of Yokohama at the well-known Daikoku Futo, a few S2000 drivers eagerly beckoned me over to park with their sanitary collection. Before I had parked properly, one of the S2000 drivers was eagerly pulling out his wallet to show me the photograph he carried of him and his first car — a rather tasty yellow S800, back-dated with an S600-style front grille.
Parked over to one side though, past the Ferrari 512BB, Dino, and Daytona, past the fire-breathing Lamborghini, past a squadron of Alfa Romeos, a set of three matching white JPS Lotus Europas and numerous other interesting machines, was a trio of Toyota 2000GTs.
Perhaps too they were unable to get into the Tsutaya parking area, but it was handy seeing one MF10 (in white), and two MF12 (in green and teal) to compare the two types of 2000GT originally made by Toyota and Yamaha.
The smaller in-board driving lights, larger side lights, smooth door trims, and round-faced clocks set the MF12s apart from the more populous MF10.
After another hour or more of idle car-gazing, more than a few cans of cold Boss kohi, we warmed up the Esuhachi to take off for the 40-minute blast up the Wangan and back into Shibuya.
Skorj is a photographer living in Japan and co-founder of Filmwasters.com.
Skorj, you have a great car life. (Another good story).
Thanks! Tokyo is a great place for car culture for sure.
Great photos. How do I find out when events are scheduled? There doesn’t seem to be any info on the T-site website. I am planning to be in Tokyo the first week in October, and I hope to visit this event if I am there on the right day!
This was a one time event, triggered by the invitation from Lexus. It was not the routine second Sunday of the month event. Which are sporadic and change from Rolls Royce, to Mustang, to anything depending on Tsutaya. We are still waiting for the kyusha one… Daikoku Futo though is just about any time if you are lucky, as we were on this day.
Oh darn. This time, I’ll be in Tokyo the first Sunday of October. Maybe on my next visit I can be there the 2nd Sunday of the month so I can at least see the regular meeting.
Any other suggestions for cool classic car events to do in the Tokyo or Osaka area? I’ve already been to the Honda Collection Hall in Motegi and the Toyota History Garage in Odaiba. Daikoku Futo seems like maybe it would be too difficult to get to by public transit. I’d like to visit the Toyota museum near Nagoya, but that also seems a bit complicated to get to (Shinkansen and two local subways?).
Any other suggestions?
Sakura Morning Cruise is on the first Sunday of the month. A full range of cars, with always a few interesting kyusha, shows up. Like Big International Futo though, you would need a car. Note too, if you come to the Futo by public transport, you cannot get inside as it a locked down expressway PA, so a taxi would be an option. Unless my Hachi or similar is going down…
There’s also the Prince & Skyline Museum in Nagano, and there’s a feature coming up on that here too soon.
” LFA is no doubt an interesting car, we passed them over” .. classic skorj
I want to be Doug Demuro when I grow up…
That matte LFA is actually Toyoda-san personal car.
Sweet, thanks for the tip!
: drool :
NP! There was something good about this day for sure. Not sure why, but even the Futo was filled with great stuff, and it wasn’t even the generally accepted weekend.
Awesome report! That 117 is super cool, and to see a JDM VX, now that is special! I had high hopes to spot one on the road on my few trips to Japan, but never did…
What’s the decal on the hood supposed to represent?
I had always assumed it was the GM lion / griffin… The regular 117 features something similar to the Holden or Vauxhall logo?
I believe that’s correct. It’s an interpretation of this:
To me the decal looks like a trilobite or some kind of Lovecraftian horror god. The lion would make more sense, though.
Perhaps the same vehicle as seen in this report on JNC from Brandon Kelley:
“Looking a little closer, though and that gold graphic is actually the Isuzu Shisa mascot.”
Searching a little more, reveals it does seem to be a lion:
The Isuzu Sports 117 was for sale a year or so ago, so if the same, it looks sold and registered now. I never made the Shisa connection, though we’ve got a pair in our garden too…
Great story, Skorj! I would’ve loved to meet Toyoda-san in person. Perhaps on my next trip I’ll bring my Cressida’s visor everywhere I go in Japan just in case I run into him…
I’ve seen the hood of one Esuhachi signed by Ayrton Senna and Soichiro Honda, so perhaps bring the hood!
WOW! Amazing… I’ve never seen a 2000GT in that teal color before. Love that Savanna, just evil-looking enough! My dream car. That RX-7 is gorgeous (is that a Ghibli or Shamal next to it? I didn’t know they’re that small.) And that Silvia! I want to go to Tokyo now!
We’re waiting for you…
It’s a Shamal, and I only know that because it’s a feature car in the current Hemmings Sports and Exotics.
And before the air cooled purists come out of the wood work, that 911 pictured is water cooled.
Wishful thinking on my part… As an ex-911 driver, I should have known better!
Great article and love the photos, thanks for sharing your experience with us.
What a great gathering of cars, new old and everything in between. I have been going to car shows most of my life and I am easily board with the same old cars. I like to see something different or meet interesting people.
In America, Monteray Auto Week always brings that. But Wow, a car show in another country. That would be interesting even without an auto icon making a guest appearance. It would be amazing to go out for coffee and just happen upon a car show at a Car and Coffee and meet the crew from Toyota. Great photos, thanks for the story.
Wow! That Mangusta is stunning, but I have to say that RX-3 is my favorite. You saw some awesome cars, and I love the green 2000GT!
There’s more on the non-Japanese Mangusta on my Fickle stream – click my name… The best part about it was the smell of the aged leather interior, that and the stunning looks. With the Muira, it is easy my favorite (semi)-exotic Italian. The Savanna though was my favorite attainable kyusha on the day too; those wheels & tires!
What can you say about a BRG 2000GT though? It was gorgeous!
In the Photo of the Vehicross, what is behind the Lotus? A Ginetta? Looks sweet! Great photos. Makes me jealous.
Yes, a G4 I think. For some reason, there is usually more than a few Ginetta at Tsutaya for these days. The G12 being one of my favorites, as parked next to the Silvia.
Beautiful cars. I’ll be in Tokyo the weekend of June 13 and 14, 2015. Am a big fan of cars from Japan and they don’t exist here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Can you tell me where I can go to see any car gathering during that time? Much appreciated and would always return the favor if anybody needs info on San Francisco Bay Area car events. Thanks
I’ll be in Tokyo the first Sunday of September, what would be the best way to get to the Daikoku meet up in Yokohama? I really would like to go to a meet while in Japan.