I’ve heard about the Japan Classic Car Association New Year Meeting for years. Unfortunately my previous trips to Japan during January usually happen a few weeks prior to the New Year Meeting. But not this year, I thought it was time to go and check out this legendary gathering of Japan’s finest classic and retro cars. A few emails were sent to set up meetings and make arrangements including a ride to the event in a Caterham Superlight R300 courtesy of Justin of Caterham Japan and Aki of Art International Ltd.
My flight arrived on time however I was originally booked on one of United’s new 787 Dreamliner. Battery issues with the new aircraft had me flying the old reliable Boeing 777 in to Narita. No complaints there, I’ll take dependability anytime. Typically I take one of the trains from Narita to Tokyo but this time I chose to take a limousine bus. The service takes you directly to Shinjuku Station and its just s short walk to the hotel. The bus ride is fine but a little longer than the train. But it seems to be a little less hassle because it drops you close to the hotel. I arrived at the hotel around 8 pm but with a 6 am wake up call, there was no partying for me.
Aki explained they would pick me up at 7 am just outside of the hotel in a Caterham. Now remember this is January and Japan is cold in January….freezing cold with predawn temperature hovering around 28 degrees. I knew it was going to be a cold ride over to the show but had no idea how cold it really would be. Standing on what would normally be a busy street corner in Tokyo at 7am on a Sunday morning is somewhat surreal. There are very few people, very few cars, and all you seem to hear are the ravens flying around. I’m not sure why there are so many of these giant black birds but I could see things really turning ugly if you angered one.
So the Caterham arrived on time and the journey began. A few streets later and we were headed down the expressway to Odaiba. Interestingly enough, the Caterham R300 does not have a windscreen to speak of. There’s a small carbon fiber lip that deflects air but no glass. Once up to speed we were able to take advantage of the light morning traffic and open up the Caterham and stretch it’s legs. It’s very fast. With the calculated wind speed and the ambient air temperature, I think it was about minus 10 degrees f in the cockpit. Never mind , for without pain there is no reward.
Once we started to get close to Odaiba, the excitement level increased with more sightings of interesting cars headed to the JCCA NYM. We headed across the Rainbow Bridge to the Odaiba waterfront and landed in a sea of retro delight. It was immediately apparent this event was going to be spectacular.
After entering the parking area, I pried myself from the Caterham and headed to the display area. While there were primarily Japanese cars at the event, there is a good mix of cars from other countries. Cars are organized by make/country as well as the various clubs that display at the event too. There are vendors selling new and used parts, memorabilia and various types of goods. The selection is enormous with people walking out with newly acquired items right from the beginning.
I wanted to make sure I was able to see as many cars as possible. This event is held for only one day so time was limited . One of the first things that I noticed was the number of early Nissan Skylines on display. The 1968-72 “Hakosuka” (Boxy Skyline) is everyone’s favorite Japanese classic and there were some fine examples to see. The Skyline has been Japan’s halo performance car for years competing internationally in various motorsport events with great success. It’s no surprise everyone knows about the car. For this installment, we’ll take a look at the Nissans at this years JCCA New Year Meeting.
This ’71 Skyline GT-X with its mundane appearance was the car for me. Narrow tires on period correct steel wheels looks perfect. There were many versions of the Skyline produced and the GT-X came equipped with L20 inline six cylinder engine.
The R30 Skyline was my first exposure to the model. We produced many upgrade parts for this version during my time at HKS in the 1980′s. Although the car was never available in the USA, it was one of my favorites. This is the later face lift version known as the Tekkamen or Iron mask, named so because of the aggressive narrow grill.
These two early Prince Skylines are the embryos that started the cult like following of ths Skyline. The N54 is equipped with triple Weber DCOE 18 carburetors (no Solex/Mikuni here) feeding the 2.0L inline six. Rated at 125 PS , the car was reasonably fast for the day.
I always enjoy looking at the various engines when I’m international shows. The variety and type are usually far greater than what we see at similar shows in the USA. The Nissan S20 is quite legendary, racking up numerous touring car victories in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Six cylinders, four valves per cylinder, twin cams…yes please. Ranking right up there in terms of exclusivity is the OS Giken TC24-B1. This conversion developed in 1974 for the Nissan L28 produces over 320 bhp, a power level that even by todays standards is impressive.
We can’t forget the Nissan L series and there were many . The L20,24,26, 28 engines were Nissan’s work horse for many years and produce decent power with the right modifications. I noticed a few guys were using these Keihin motorcycle carburetors. It would be interesting to understand the reason for this conversion.
Although dominant, Skylines were not the only Nissans at the NYM. There was also a great collection of other models. However, unlike the USA where you would find many Z’s and 510′s there were just a few at the NYM.
This Nissan Gloria looks like a Chevy Impala police car ..I can see it with a flashing light on the top chasing down some bad guys in Los Angeles. It would make a nice freeway cruiser for the daily commute in California.
Fairlady Roadsters are very popular in the USA but I didn’t see too many in Japan. This car was extremely nice with flawless black paint and compulsory Watanabe wheels.
There was so much to see, I need to divid this into several segments. We will continue to look at some of the other Japanese cars at the New Year Meeting followed by the British and European cars and finally the flea market and culture.
I kept running into this guy during the show and he always called me Boss. This is his Cedric…peace brother.