JCCS Spotlight: Best in Show goes to the most stunning Subaru 360 restoration we’ve ever seen

The competition has never been harder for a Best in Show award at JCCS. We did the perhaps obvious thing by giving the JNC award to a Datsun 510, but the JCCS judges collectively gave the coveted Best in Show award to Jay Ataka’s fully restored 1969 Subaru 360. It was with good reason, too.

This is almost certainly the finest Subaru 360 restoration in the world. It was flawless. It was possibly even better than when it left Subaru’s Ota plant 50 years ago. The question you might be asking, however, is “Why?”

If you know Jay you know he has been a regular in the vintage Japanese car scene. As a former appraiser of the types of Ferraris and other exotic iron you might find at Monterey, Jay knows how fastidious owners can be.

So as he started his own company reproducing unobtainable car parts for classic Japanese cars, called JDM Car Parts, he took great pains to replicate them in exacting fashion. Jay’s 240Z is already well known among Z circles, but he has since expanded his business to make parts for various Nissans, Toyotas, Mazdas, and now the Subaru 360.

There were many parts parts that Jay created for this car. They would be tremendously expensive for a one-off resto, since the cost of the molds can be in the tens of thousands, but through his company he is able to spread the cost around by making the reproductions for sale to other restorers.

So why the 360? The models Jay’s company creates parts for make a lot of sense — Zs, Skylines, Celicas, Honda S-Series, and more. Those are highly desirable performance models with dwindling factory support. The Subaru 360 isn’t a sports car, but it is still beloved in Japan.

It was the first best-selling kei car, and as such was the first car for many Japanese families. It was the car that put Japan on wheels, and was so popular that its production run lasted 12 years, from 1958-70. There are many clubs in Japan devoted to the tentoumushi, or ladybug, as the 360 is nicknamed.

Jay’s Subaru 360 also had an amazing presentation, with a model train encircling the car while Showa Era Japanese music played from a stereo. The train, of course, was carrying model 360s as well. Incidentally, the wheel cover i one of the many reproduction parts Jay made for the 360.

A picnic set with vintage Coca-Cola bottles helped evoke the 1960s part of the display. The rest of the cabin was absolutely stunning. The Subaru 360 was built to a price point (they sold in the US for $1,297) and did not wear well, but every surface of Jay’s 360 looked brand new.

If memory serves us correctly, this is the first time a Subaru has won Best in Show of JCCS, but the win was much deserved. Jay’s might have been the first Subaru 360 restored to a concours standard, but thanks to him it won’t be the last.

To be continued…

We will have more 2017 JCCS coverage coming up but in the meantime, in case you missed it, here’s Part 01 — JDM GoodnessPart 02 — Race CarsPart 03 — Stock as a RockPart 04 — Shakotan SledsPart 05 — 80s and 90sPart 06 — Datsun 510s, and Part 07 — Trucks, as well as a JCCS Spotlight feature.


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14 Responses to JCCS Spotlight: Best in Show goes to the most stunning Subaru 360 restoration we’ve ever seen

  1. Bill Wilkman says:

    It’s nice to see a vintage Japanese car restored to original spec. Too many cars at the Japanese Classic Car Show have “boy racer” modifications that detract from their original sense of history.

    • mister k says:

      because it’s easier to go low budget, duh

      • Bill Wilkman says:

        So, modifying s car with aftermarket wheels, suspension, etc. is cheaper than keeping it stock?

        • If the original parts are in bad shape. Cheap tuner-parts are often the cheaper Option then finding OEM parts in good Quality, paying collector’s Prices, or restoring them with a certain amount of time and Money needed.

          While i can’t deny that some modifications make sense and are cool, i agree that many of the “tuned” Cars (especially high-volume cars like the Z) are only that way because it was a lot cheaper compared to a Restauration…

  2. Matchthebox says:

    Love the look of this car. When Tomica limited vintage issued this model sometime ago it was now hard to find one without costing an arm and leg. I’m glad I found one on a Japanese online store at an almost reasonable price. Since all TLV issued die cast are 1/64 I was able to compare it to some of their compact Japanese car and this one is really tiny.

  3. Richard Hogg says:

    Just WOW!

  4. Cho says:

    I love the original as they were. I hate to see a coffee can exhaust ,that sound horrible. Big stupid wings. I love them clean,cool and OEM(JDM). Extras that were around at that time or factory options.

  5. Mike in Long Beach says:

    Looks like some Jay picked up a few display tricks from the muscle car/street rod crowd, accessorizing the display with period appropriate props. Great restoration and presentation. I enjoy a well tuned JNC with a well engineered and presented resto-mod look. But I also enjoy the ones that are brought back to near new with perhaps a couple of well chosen and period correct aftermarket modifications. It’s all about balance at a great show.

  6. Mike in Long Beach says:

    Sorry. the “some” (third word in first sentence) should have been removed when I edited that sentence. Just reads kind of dumb as is. I wish the site provided a delete or edit option, at least for a few minutes after posting.

  7. Jan van Kleef says:

    This is a beauty of a lovely classic small car. I Have been looking for one over here, but they where not sold in Europe. Marvelous!!

  8. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    Slowly but surely, these gorgeous solid, muted colors as on the 360 are coming back to new cars. I’m a real fan of those colors.

  9. Scotty G says:

    Beautiful! This is my kind of car, even though I can’t fit in one – bone-stock original spec and perfect. I have been looking for a nice Young S version with front bucket seats for two or three years now but they just aren’t out there anymore. I’d have to relocate the driver’s seat back as far as it would go in order to be able to operate the pedals, these cars were definitely not made for 6′-5″ tall folks.. I’ve been a member of the Subaru 360 Club for a few years and more often than not the chatter is about what parts aren’t available anymore so restoration projects get put on hold, sometimes for years or forever. I’m so glad that someone has stepped up to make at least some parts for these important cars.

  10. Rick says:

    Great article and great restoration!
    Jay Ataka is an incredible professional restorer!
    His restoration work is absolutely an art.

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