Today’s guest writer is my friend Mika Latvala from Finland, who sent an event report from the Finnish Japanese Auto Extravaganza. Enjoy! —Ben
The Finnish Japanese Auto Extravaganza, or FinnJAE, is for all Japanese car enthusiasts in the country. All cars are welcome, no matter if they are original, tuned or even close to destruction. The event is held all over the country, depending on the area with the most active members. There were four clubs in the beginning arranging the event — The Toyota Club of Finland, Nissan Club, Mazdago and Honda Club) — and actually 2 of these clubs were even founded during FinnJAE!
The event is completely unofficial. We usually don’t have any agenda (for example, museum visits) but we tend to gather around and have a chat about the cars together. We also have some playful competitions, like going downhill on a sledding (in the middle of the summer, without snow), “know this part” competitions, volleyball games, and so on.
When we first thought about the event, there already were some similar events in Finland, like French Visit, British Car Gathering, and so on, so we wanted one for Japanese cars also. We noticed that in the UK they had an event called “Japan Auto Extragavanza” so we decided just to add “Finn” prefix to tell everybody that the event is Finnish.
As an MR2 owner and Toyotaku, I am a member of the Toyota Club of Finland (or FinToys as we call it), which started in march 2000 when we opened a mailing list. Soon we realized that we had almost 200 members and some of the list members started to think whether to start up a real club. A foundation meeting was held at the end of 2001 and the club started officially in June 2002.
Since the beginning, we wanted the club to unite all Toyota-minded people in the country, no matter if they even really owned a car. During the best years we had about 2500 members from all over the country. The club participates car events in Finland, we usually gather cars from our members and take those to the show.
We also have track days, dyno days, and a yearly Summer Event where all the members car participate with their families. The events are held all around the country, depending where we have the most active members to build the event currently.
As you may have noticed, there are a lot of Toyotas at this show. Why are there so many well restored/preserved Toyotas in Finland? I believe Finland is one of the rare countries in the whole world where Toyota is — and has been — the top selling manufacturer for decades. Finns just love Toyota. The most common car here a couple of years ago was the Corolla wagon in gray.
Toyota also has quite a strong dealer network here and when it comes to customer satisfaction, Toyota service has been top rated for years. Toyota is not the cheapest so during last few years new manufacturers like Kia have been very popular also.
But why do people restore their cars? It’s not only Toyotas; we have many Datsuns, Volkswagens and other older cars also that are restored very well. But as I tried to explain, Toyota has a very special spot in the heart of Finnish people. And it’s also a challenge to restore a Toyota; you can easily find parts for VW Beetles but finding parts for a rare Toyota model is a real challenge. And when you happen to find the part you’ve been looking for a long time, it’s a great feeling!
Mika Latvala is a photographer living in Nummala, Finland. Video by Otso.