Tokyo Auto Salon: Nissan, Mitsubishi show cars with American roots

We’ve seen how Japanese tuners glean inspiration from vintage American styles, but it’s interesting when actual automakers do the same. Though Nissan and Mitsubishi are of the same family now, their branding is still very separate. Coincidentally, both showed cars whose roots came from the States. 

First up is Nissan, who displayed a strange car in the Fairlady Z Heritage Edition, because the car it’s paying tribute to was never sold in Japan. We covered the US-market 370Z Heritage Edition when it debuted in 2017. The cosmetic package was inspired by the 280Z Zzzap Edition, itself a decal package released in 1977, though the one on the 370Z also looks like a Hot Wheel.

Interestingly, it still wears “370Z” decals, even though that’s not what the car is called in Japan. And no, this is not a USDM version plopped onto the show’s floor; it’s RHD and everything. Nissan says this is a reference model, so it’s unclear if it will actually be sold in Japan.

Starring on the main stage was the Nissan GT-R NISMO, a true 600PS supercar slayer and the crown jewel in Nissan’s current lineup. Mecha-Godzilla was also sharing the spotlight with a Leaf NISMO and an Autech Serena minivan. Under a restructure last year, it was decided that NISMO would focus on performance tuning, while Autech would “emphasize premium craftsmanship, with top-quality materials and immaculate attention to detail.”

The Motul Autech R35 GT-R, which won two consecutive SuperGT championships in 2014 and 2015 was also displayed as a reminder of Nissan’s continued motorsports prowess. Apparently it was a hit with kids.

Over at corporate partner Mitsubishi’s booth, the big news was all about the Eclipse Cross. Its name, of course, was taken from the early-90s sports coupe born from the Chrysler-Mitsubishi joint venture known as Diamond Star Motors. The Eclipse was not only built in the US, but only the first two generations were sold in Japan. For the third-gen, only the Eclipse Spyder convertible was sold in Japan — and only with LHD steering.

If functionality is your bag, the Delica D:5 Active Gear might be more your speed. With 4WD and diesel power, it is anything but delicate, and hails from a long line of off-road capable boxes. Remove the all-too-noticeable orange trim and it’s as close you can get to a survivalist van in Japan.

One of the “tuned” Eclipse Crosses at the Salon was the Field Athlete Concept. Meant to be (ever so) slightly more rugged than stock, it rides on 18-inch wheels wrapped in Yokohama Geolandar All-Terrain tires. Oh, and all the chrome has been darkened as well.

While not as excitement-packed as some booths, the manufacturer displays are a good indication of where the companies are going and what their priorities Good or bad, it’s always interesting to see what they’re up to at Japan’s biggest tuner-fest.

To be continued…

In case you missed it, more 2018 Tokyo Auto Salon can be found with spotlights on the Endless Hino Contessa, Alaska-to-Chile Toyota Land CruiserToyota’s Gazoo Racing booth, the TOM’s KP47 Starlet, and Banzai Sports Sunny Truck.

For past Tokyo Auto Salon coverage, see 2017  Part 01 — Legends of RallyPart 02 — Restomods, and Part 03 — The Classics as well as coverage from the 2016201220112010 Tokyo Auto Salons.

Shota Mori is a photographer whose work can be found at @pgm_works and @pgmworks_official.

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3 Responses to Tokyo Auto Salon: Nissan, Mitsubishi show cars with American roots

  1. Mark Newton-John says:

    Hmm. Figured someone would be complaining about the Eclipse name. Don’t.
    The Delica pulls a Porsche Cayenne S Transyberia vibe with the orange trim.
    Would’ve like to see a picture of a Leaf Nismo since yet ANOTHER GT-R picture is what we needed. NOT.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      It took great restraint to hold my tongue about the name but I’ve complained enough about it in previous posts. I’m glad someone likes the name, I truly am. I’d hate to think they revived it for nothing.

  2. Iceman says:

    By the way, all the Eclipses sold in Japan were LHD. The Eclipse was only ever produced at the Diamond-Star/Mitsubishi factory, which never produced RHD cars of any model.

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