At this year’s Nostalgic 2 Days show, we were on assignment to meet a very specific person, a towering figure from the golden age of Japan’s automotive history. Before our appointment — which will be covered in the next installment — however, we treated ourselves to a convention hall packed with kyuusha. We had made our way to Pacifico Yokohama early to assist some friends with their load-in, and took advantage of the early morning displays, pre-crowd.
To start, we enjoyed looking at of one of the most pristine S800 Hondas that we’ve seen in a while. From the well-known Garage Iwasa, it was in the company of an equally gorgeous Lotus Elan. What do Elan and S-cars have in common? Garage Iwasa manufacturers high-quality FRP body parts for each (my S800 wears their FRP hood).
Next door, Nagoya-based exotic car shop UnLimited Kustoms showed off a beast of an MZ12 Toyota Soarer. Still with its fully posh Bubble Era interior, under the hood was a raw ITB-setup 6M with a coil of custom high-rise headers looked more hot rod than haiso.
A second 6M on a stand beside it offered a closer look. With its angled cam towers and old school valve covers, it’s perhaps the last Toyota twin-cam that retains a nostalgic look. Add a bank of Solex 50mm carbs, increased displacement from 3.0 to 3.2, and beautifully crafted stainless headers and the result is a mean mill that makes 1JZ swaps look superfluous. With popularity of 80s Toyotas at an all-time high, the motor could become the default swap for those who want power while remaining true to a nostalgic Toyota straight-six.
Our next stop was the famous Rocky Auto, whose display consisted of several blue chip Japanese classics. All of them, however, had been resto-modded in Rocky-san’s trademark big power style. The rather tasty Grand Prix Maroon Fairlady ZG, for example, had in place of its L-gata a “RB30” consisting of an Aussie 3.0-liter block with the head of an RB26. And then there were the Toyota 2000GT… or were they?
Their be-hatted shacho, Watanabe-san, amicably showed us a number of their recent creations, including of course their 3000GT. While undeniably a very decent fabrication, there was something kitsch about the 3000GT particularly, a result perhaps from its modern auto gear selector and steering wheel.
While is it tempting to be critical of their efforts, you cannot help to admire the skill it has taken to scratch-build a 2000GT, or a 2000GT-like car — very impressive indeed. Time will tell however if there is a continuing market for such recreations. But, based on the replica 356 Speedster and Ferrari 250 SWB market, there appears to always be a niche group of drivers willing to pay for the privilege of driving something that looks almost like an original.
Leaving behind the resto-modded scene, we took some time speaking with Murata-san from Endless, and marveled at his job title: Office of the President, Special Sales Department. “Special” indeed, as in lieu of Endless’s usual 20-pot super-braked R35 GT-R with 400mm disks, the display had something equaling enthralling — a complete restoration of a Toyota Sports 800, fitted of course with a special Endless series of upgraded brakes.
In keeping with the new-style brakes, the interior was superbly finished in red trim, and the overall effect though new, was totally sympathetic with the period feel of the Sports 800. The updated, yet still old-school feel carried over nicely through the whole car, including some gorgeous aluminum low-drag racing mirrors.
In finishing with Murata-san, we asked him if Endless were contemplating a similar set of special brakes for the Honda S800. “Sure!” he said, “Just bring your car up to Nagano, and we’ll be happy to measure it!” As we went off to further admire the Sports 800, another photographer approached Murata-san and asked, “So, you’re making a Honda S800 kit too?” We weren’t sure if he was joking, but laughed anyway.
The crew from Isuzu Eagle Sports brought along a Type-R Bellett and two 117 Coupe, both identifiable as Series II cars with their round headlights, and indicators under the front bumper. Perhaps to appeal to the 117 Coupe`s typical ojisan market, one was fitted with tasteless wire wheels. Your opinions may vary.
Before we waded our way through the inevitable Nissan fanboy-fest, we marveled yet again at the smooth lines of Mazda’s Cosmo Sport. With a number of them on display, it was great to see them in a nicely restored, drivable condition. This will only last another year or so, before all Cosmo Sports are subjected to gross over-restoration and disappear off the roads and, like wagyu cows, only live in carpet lined, climate controlled enclosures. A pity, as though their sometimes fragile early rotaries require attention, they sound glorious.
The rotary Mazda theme continued with an Familia Rotary Coupé in livery from Mazda’s early enduros at Spa Francorchamps, and a similarly prepped Capella coupe on stands. The man in the 岡山 (Okayama) happi ogled the inside of the Capella for ten or more minutes, thwarting my attempts at a clean photograph. Not that Mazda aren’t on their own, but I think he makes the photograph more interesting anyway.
After having photographed tens of thousands of molested Skyline HT (typically their now clichéd conversion from GT to GT-R “spec”), very few of them startle anymore. To keep everyone happy though, we photographed one conversion; stanced to heck on highly polished gold wheels, and color-coded flares. The lurid, far-t0o-modern-for-the-period bucket seats ensured we approached no closer, least we injure our eyes on a dashboard filled with tacky Auto Meter gauges.
From the appropriately named shop Restored, though, was an excellent example of just that — a sympathetic, non GT-R “spec” resto-modded Hakosuka. A four-door too, it proudly wore its 2000 GTX badges and a relatively restrained set of Volk TE37-V and interior upgrades.
Up close, one could see the wares Restored specializes in, carbon fiber panels for kyuusha. In this case, the Hako was fitted with a carbon hood, but painted in green to keep it tastefully subtle. It was one of the few Hako in the hall we would have considered driving home.
That is, unless we were given the option of a genuine S20-equipped GT-R from Takeey’s. With a set of overfenders above only the rear arches, skinny steel wheels, and original ride height, it was much like the original catalog configuration from Nissan. The only thing that would have made it more authentic would have been a lack of a rear spoiler. Though of course fitted these days to most HT Hakos, the spoiler, though a factory option, was a relatively rare addition. However, with that nasty air-disrupting rake they do add a level of aggression, even to a real GT-R.
Vintage Car Yoshino carried the genuine Skyline GT theme well too, with an original four-door hakosuka GT-R. With few outside of Japan recognizing that the first GT-R was a sedan, Yoshino partnered it nicely with the previous Skyline, another four-door of course, in the form of a Prince GT-B.
Also lurking about were a pair of 2000GT. Upon closer inspection, one was an early-production model and one was a post-August 1969 model with updated grilles and larger, amber side reflectors tailored towards US-market regulations,
We grudgingly passed another HT Hako in GT-kai form, and were surprised to see it fitted with a fully prepped OS Giken TC24, a fuel injected L-series with a twin-cam head. This we could get behind, if only to hear all those cam gear whine.
Another twinned set of Skylines, this time from Prince Garage Katori in Chiba, had a Nissan Prince GT-B on Hayashi Street wheels beside a stock four-door 2000 GTX.
Our pal Akio Hirano of Datsun Bros. fame had his 510 Bluebird on display as well. As possibly the first person in the world to put an SR20 in a 510 body, it has more recently been retrofitted with ITBs andstainless tako-ashi in a shaved engine bay.
Rays Wheels selected a somewhat unconventional feature car at their booth, a New Man Skyline sedan. Wearing their ubiquitous Volk TE37-V, the neo-classic wheel design actually looks far more appropriately “at home” on an 80s sled than on Kenmeri and Hakosuka.
To close the vast Nissans-on-display section, we had another stunning S20 on display in a hako GT-R, a great set of pig’s arse Laurels from a shop in Kinki, and a stealth Fairlady Z, which once again sported those ever-present Volk TE37-Vs.
Last but not least, a pair of glorious dekotora graced us with their presence, be-muraled, be-chromed, be-lighted on all sides in top form for the genre. It was an unusual sight at a show put on by Nostalgic Hero, a magazine that typically features stock-appearing blue chip classics on the cover. They’re an indelible part of Japan’s automotive landscape, though, and we were glad to see them well represented. To be continued…
Stay tuned for the next installment of our Nos2Days coverage. In the meantime, in case you missed it, check out articles from 2015 (Parts 01, 02 and 03), as well as articles from the 2014 (Parts 01, 02, 03, 04) and 2013 (Parts 01, 02,03) shows.