Category: ‘Classic Cars’

Nissan Figaro: The Retro Open Top Classic Japanese Car

Posted by Stephen On Friday, May 6th, 2016

There’s a reason that retro cars are catch the eye of many car collectors – not only do they get more rare as time goes on, but they represent a bygone era while having underpinnings from a more modern age. This could explain why the Nissan Figaro, a retro car first introduced in Japan in 1989, was so popular during its limited production – and why it remains a collector’s item today.

The Nissan Figaro was originally only sold in Japan, but it eventually became very popular in the UK and Ireland after it was released officially in 1991. It was designed by Shoji Takahashi, who won a design competition for it, and has some resemblance to the 1960s Datsun Fairlady models. Unlike contemporary Mitsuokas, with their bolt-on retro-look parts, the Figaro represents a complete vision of what a modern car styled on 1960s principles would look like.

Nissan Figaro catalog

Only a limited number were produced, with the original 8,000 being supplemented by 12,000 more in order to meet demand. The car came in only four colors, which together represented the four seasons of the year: Topaz Mist, Emerald Green, Pale Aqua and Lapis Grey. Topaz Mist was the rarest, with only 2,000 models produced in this color.

Part of the inspiration for the car came from the theme of the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show, which was “Back to the Future”. Its name, “Figaro”, referred to the main character in Pierre Beaumarchais’ famous play, The Marriage of Figaro, based on the Mozart opera of the same name. A Nissan special projects group called Pike Factory, which specialized in producing niche automobiles such as the Be-1, Pao and S-Cargo, also worked on the Nissan Figaro.

Some features of the Figaro were leather seats, air conditioning, a CD player (which also had a retro radio look) and an open roof; furthermore, special limited edition cars included passenger side baskets and cup holders. The car was so rare that people who wanted to buy it had to enter a lottery, which increased its value even more and led to the modern-day perception of the Figaro as a rare car. Some parts can be hard to acquire, but many are available as they are also used in more common Nissan models of the time.

Nissan Figaro catalog

The fuel economy is an impressive 39 miles per gallon, but the a top speed of 106 miles per hour is somewhat lacking. Not surprising given the 60-horsepower engine. The Figaro’s genuine leather seats are a big draw for fans of this car. Not only do they look classy, but they add to a cabin environment that blends a distinctive complementary style. Adding to this is the low-mount headrest and synthetic leather piping that is used to prevent leather fatigue.

One of the Figaro’s most unique trademarks is its retractable top, which has an external design that is completely hidden in the trunk. The top is equipped with a double lock and warning buzzer as safety features, as well as a secondary hood latch that is designed to prevent the hood from opening while the car is being driven, or if it its activation switch is turned on by accident.

Features of the body include a flush mount apron and flush mount fender, as well as glassfibre resin material used with an outer gel coat for the car’s front fenders and front grill. The materials that are used result in body components that are durable and low-maintenance, which is especially helpful as it is difficult to find places to service and maintain the car. Fluoroplastic paint, which comes in the car’s signature four colors, is used on this vehicle.

Today, the best place to find Figaros for sale is the Japanese car auctions. With 7 to 8 million vehicles passing through each year, even rare vehicles like this one can be sourced with relative ease. Contact us to find out more.


Toyota Corolla Turns 50

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Out of the thousands of cars that have ever been manufactured anywhere in the world, only nine models have stayed in production consistently for 50 years — and only two companies have achieved this level of success twice.

From the U.S., Ford Motor Company — the fifth largest automaker in the world — has done it with the Mustang, which was first unveiled at the World’s Fair in New York (1964/1965); and with their F-Series pickups which came onto the scene in 1948. Not surprisingly, Japanese industry leader Toyota holds the other spot in this lofty statistic. Their Land Cruiser has been around since 1951 when it originated as a military vehicle; and the Corolla entered production in 1966 (which motortrend.com reports incorrectly as 1968), making it the newest member of a very elite few.

Don’t be confused by the 50th Anniversary Edition Camry, which, in 2007, was a salute to the number of years that Toyota had been doing business in the U.S. and had nothing to do with the production history of the Camry.

50th Anniversary Edition Corolla

To celebrate this stellar accomplishment, Toyota has produced a 50th Anniversary Edition Corolla to be offered this fall in the U.S. as a way to emphasize the worldwide love for this car. Primarily based on the 2017 Corolla SE, the anniversary design introduces a delicious new black-cherry color scheme on the interior dashboard panel and door trim, contrast stitching of the upholstery, and the eye-catching new exterior paint (which is also available in Classic Silver and Blizzard Pearl).

Fifty years is a significant length of time to produce an automobile, and Toyota’s ability to remain at the top of the car game is directly linked to their unwavering pursuit to out-perform themselves. Here are the highlights on how the engineers approached each new Corolla generation:

1. 1966-1970

With a name that means, “crown of flowers,” the Corolla quickly became a favorite family car all around the world. It was almost as if the ad campaign tagline, “The most wanted car by the market …” was in truth, a prediction because three years later, the car reached the number one position in domestic sales.

2. 1970-1974

To change, or not to change? After realizing such a boon with the first generation Corolla, engineers rolled the dice on a new design that valued the feel of the previous model with a whole new set of bells, whistles and curves. Their gamble was rewarded immediately; by June 1970, Corolla’s cumulative production totaled one million units. Very impressive,considering it had only been on the market for a few years.

3. 1974-1979

Strict vehicle emissions regulations were implemented around the globe, so Toyota started a company-wide project that resulted in the perfection of a catalyst-based exhaust gas purification system, that to this day, remains the standard.

4. 1979-1983

Quality of life was taking a front seat in the fourth generation design which was reborn as a luxury family car with a superior performance overall. From January 1983 to March 1983, Toyota saw Corolla sales reach 116 nations, and go from 4.75 million units to 10 million.

5. 1983-1987

Always leading the way in technical innovations, Toyota offered a choice of drivetrains this time around. Front wheel drive conveyed a spacious, comfortable interior, and rear wheel drive provided an exciting, sporty experience. Once again, Corolla held the number one position in domestic sales.

6. 1987-1991

Satisfying the heart and mind, appealing to all five senses, was the primary focus of this generation’s design that sought to set a new global standard.

7. 1991-1995

A downward turn in the Japanese economy led consumers’ focus to shift from quality to price, and, despite the economic struggle, the Corolla maintained the top market share in its class.

8. 1995-2000

Energy savings and resource conservation paved the way to top-level fuel efficiency by way of substantial weight reductions, and environmental awareness by improving recyclability. Diesel engines were added for cleaner emissions.

9. 1997-2002

The basic Corolla concept was wiped away, and a European exterior design was adopted to rival the allure of higher grade vehicles. Talk of changing the Corolla name was quickly dashed by the developer.

10. 2006-2013

Providing customers with a “Happy Corolla for Our Planet” was the driving force behind the 10th generation’s design that relied on a global point of view with attention placed on safety, reliability and the environment. It was during this time that the Corolla was overtaken by the hybrid Prius as the top selling car in Japan. But did that mean it was now curtains for the Corolla?

11. 2013 –

The design goal is to stimulate wakudoki — a state of excitement about having fun derived from Japanese words waku waku and doki doki, and a heart that beats faster because of it — by exceeding customer expectations. The 11th generation Toyota Corolla is counting on this to keep this model delivering the same amazing results as the previous models in the last 50 years.

Japanese Car Auction Find: 1985 Toyota Corolla

The first car I drove in Japan was a 1992 seventh generation model. I was so impressed with its durability that I bought myself an eighth generation model. But when I went to look in the upcoming auctions, the oldest one I could find was nothing like 50 years old — it was a mere spring chicken from 1985 — a relatively young 31-year-old 5th generation model, but with an impressive mileage of under 26,000 KM on the clock. Let’s see what the auction sheet says.

“Grade 3.5, interior C, first registered October 1985, five-door model, five-speed manual gearbox, AC, gasoline engine, stone chips in front windshield, interior grime and cigarette burns and cigarette burn holes, steering wheel worn, rust underneath vehicle, left side has medium waves, rear gate damper is no good, radiator support and left front inner panel wrinkled, left front side member end has panel beating marks, scratches and dents and faded paintwork, paintwork worn on bonnet and on roof and on front fenders, right front indicator lens cracked, replaced panel and other marks as per map”

Its not in the best of conditions, but that is an impressive average mileage of under 1000KM per year.

1985 Toyota Corolla at auction in Japan -- interior

1985 Toyota Corolla at auction in Japan -- rear

1985 Toyota Corolla at auction in Japan -- auction sheet

1985 Toyota Corolla at auction in Japan -- front


Toyota Prius: The Car That Started A Revolution

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

With the Toyota Prius now being reborn in its 4th incarnation, it’s a great time to look back at the original Prius – the car that started the hybrid revolution. Now hybrids are so common that we have forgotten just how revolutionary this powertrain was when it was launched back in 1997. I remember my first ride in an early model on some hilly roads in Japan, and how it was such a different experience to what I had been used to up to that point.

Throughout history, cars have traditionally been damaging to the environment through the release of greenhouse gases that come about through the burning of fossil fuels (such as gasoline). The rise of “gas guzzlers” and their huge engines that came with the primarily US car culture of the 1960s and 1970s saw carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide and other nasties spewed into the air, causing the global climate damage leading to adverse health effects in large cities where pollution was rampant.

As time went on, however, more and more people began to realize that this was a serious problem – and thus, as global awareness of climate change and the dangers of pollution rose, car companies began to consider alternatives to the traditional gas-fueled vehicle.

Enter the hybrid car: a solid compromise between the gasoline-hungry polluter and the (as yet impossible to produce) all-electric car. Although the concept of hybrid cars has been around for a while – almost since the start of motoring itself, in fact – one car really set the trend for others to follow in the automobile industry, and became a favorite with consumers and critics alike: the Toyota Prius.

The first generation model was launched in Japan in 1997 and went on sale worldwide in 2000. Manufactured by the Japanese auto maker Toyota, this mid-size hatchback is currently sold in over 90 markets, of which Japan and the United States are the largest. In 2008, the Prius reached the global cumulative sales milestone of 1 million vehicles; from there, it grew exponentially, selling 2 million cars by September 2010 and 3 million mark by June 2013.

There is a reason that the car is so popular: its environmentally-friendly nature is appealing to many people who feel that they have an obligation to pollute as little as possible, but don’t have the means to purchase an all-electric car (or to not drive at all). Currently the United States Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board rank the Prius among the cleanest vehicles sold in the United States based on the quantity of emissions it releases. In 2016, the new Prius Eco has become the all-time most fuel efficient gasoline-powered car available in the US without plug-in capability – making it not only environmentally conscious, but accessible for many everyday working-class citizens.

The first-generation Toyta Prius, however, had not yet achieved such lofty heights. When it debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1995, no one was quite sure how well the Prius would sell or whether it was even ready for the market; several more years of research and development went into the car before it could be sold in Japan. However, the car’s designers did have some inkling of what this vehicle could mean for the world; that’s why they named it the Prius, after the Latin word for “before.” According to the Boston Globe, a Toyota spokesperson stated that “Toyota chose this name because the Prius vehicle is the predecessor of cars to come.” Now, that name Prius is almost synonymous with tree-hugging – an eco-brand in its own right – loved by Greenpeace, hated by Jeremy Clarkson.

When it launched, the first generation Prius became the world’s first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car. Its acclaim among critics was almost instantaneous: it won the Car of the Year Japan Award in 1997, and the Automotive Researchers’ and Journalists’ Conference Car of the Year award in Japan in 1998. Since then, the sales figures have spoken for themselves, as have each subsequent model’s new hybrid features and increasing move towards alternative, rather than gasoline-powered, energy.

The Prius, more than anything, prides itself on fuel efficiency – and it has achieved many of its goals in this regard. While the current fourth generation Prius is expected to achieve ratings of up to 116 MPG, the first generation vehicle already stood at an impressive 52 MPG, and thus was revolutionary for both the fuel economy and environmental benefits that it offered. Although it was not the first mass-produced hybrid in the U.S. – the Honda Insight came first – it was by far the most popular.

While there are still questions asked about just how environmentally friendly it actually is, considering all the exotic metals and materials that go into it, there is no doubt that the Toyota Prius is an iconic Japanese car.

Early Prius are very hard to find. I was not able to find any 1997s at auction or at dealers, and only 2 1998 models for sale by dealers. So instead I decided to go to the other end of the spectrum and check out the very latest model, of which you can already find many examples for sale in the Japanese car auctions. Here is the auction sheet translation:

“Grade S, interior A, exterior A, first registered April 2016, first time in auction, S Navigation Ready Package model, 3KM, in-dash AT, AAC, moo roof, maker option LED fog lamp, LED headlights, smart key, reversing rearview camera, steering wheel switches, vehicle proximity warning system, original alloy wheels, sunroof, airbag, power steering, power windows, hole where there is no stereo fitted, marks as per map”

2016 Toyota Prius at Japanese car auction -- inside

2016 Toyota Prius at Japanese car auction -- rear seat

2016 Toyota Prius at Japanese car auction -- rear

2016 Toyota Prius at Japanese car auction -- front

2016 Toyota Prius in Japanese car auction -- auction sheet


Japanese Car Auction Find: Toyota AE86 — The Drifter’s Dream

Posted by Stephen On Monday, April 11th, 2016

The Toyota Corolla today is one of the most popular cars in existence, due to its small but durable size and budget-friendly pricing. However, few people know much about its history or what kinds of models went into making the final product. One of these earlier types was the Toyota AE86, which was introduced by Toyota in 1983 as part of the fifth generation Toyota Corolla, with the final models rolling off the production lines in 1987. As such, it is just one generation of the Toyota Corolla Levin and Toyota Sprinter Trueno spanning the years from 1972 to 2004.

There were some differences between the Levin and the Trueno, but to the general observer they were almost indistinguishable. The word “Levin” means “lightning” in Old English and “Trueno” means “thunder” in Spanish, making the two models an interesting play on words. Other than the names, the main difference between them was the headlights: while the Levin had fixed, rectangular headlights, the Trueno offered pop-up headlights instead.

1984 Toyota Sprinter Trueno at auction in Japan -- front

One of the unique aspects of the AE86 was that it maintained a rear-wheel drive at a time when most other cars – particularly small hatchbacks – were switching over to front-wheel drive. As such, it is one of the last rear-wheel drive cars of its time. The AE86 body type was offered as either a 2-door coupe or 3-door liftback, which can also be called a hatchback. Other specifications included the 4-cylinder engine that was also used in other Toyota models of the time, as well as a 5-speed manual gearbox (although an automatic model was offered later as well).

Stopping and cornering on the AE86 was handled by ventilated disc brakes, as well as a MacPherson strut independent suspension at the front and a four-link live axle with coil springs bringing up the rear. Stabilizer bars were present at both ends of the car to make for a suspension system that was relatively sophisticated for what was a low-end model. All of this attention to detail lead to the fun handling that makes the car a stand-out model today in the minds of Japanese classic car enthusiasts.

During its production lifetime, the AE86 was well known for its achievements on the racetrack as well as the highway. The model was a popular choice for showroom stock, Group A, and Group N racing, and was found especially frequently in rallying and circuit races. Privateer teams continued to race the AE86 even after it was discontinued, and you can even find teams that race with this vehicle today. What makes it so appealing is its rear-drive configuration, which is not found in many other cars of the era and especially not in modern models of lightweight coupes.

The car was popular in races in Ireland and Finland, and also did well in international touring races where it competed mainly with Honda Civics and others lightweight vehicles of its type. In 1986, it was entered in the European Touring Car Championship and won the Manufacturers Championship, beating out larger cars including the BMW M6, BMW 325i (E30), Rover Vitesse, Volvo 240 Turbo, Merkur XR4Ti, Mazda 929, Holden Commodore (VK), Alfa Romeo 75 (turbo V6), and Mercedes 190E.

Japanese street racers, known as hashiriya, prized the AE86 as well for its light weight, relative strength and especially its rear-wheel driving configuration, which made it popular for races through mountain passes where downhill corners were particularly suited to the capabilities of this car. In particular, the AE86 was well adapted to drifting, or the process of controlled sliding through corners. Japanese drifters like Katsuhiro Ueo, Toshiki Yoshioka, Yoichi Imamura, Koichi Yamashita, Hiroshi Takahashi, Tetsuya Hibino, and Wataru Hayashi made the AE86 famous in the drift scene in the 1980s.

As a result of its popularity in Japan, the AE86 was found in many episodes of Japanese anime and manga; the model also made a brief appearance in Fast and Furious 4 and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, indicating its popularity in American popular culture as well. It is also featured in a number of video game series, including Gran Turismo, Tokyo Xtreme Racer, Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V. It also appears in several video games and movies in the Need for Speed franchise, including Need for Speed: Underground 2, Need for Speed: The Run (where it can be used in challenges and multiplayer events), Need for Speed: World, Need for Speed: Pro Street, and Need for Speed (2015 movie).

Here is a 1984 Sprinter Trueno GTV that is in the car auctions in Japan. The mileage is high, but that is typical for cars of this age. This car has a lot of aftermarket parts, and seems to be in relatively good condition considering its age:

“Grade 3.5, first registered March 1984, 204,874KM, GTV model, five-speed manual gearbox, AC, front adjustable suspension, rear lowered suspension, Watanabe magnesium 14 inch wheels, strut bar, earthing system, aftermarket shock absorbers, super muffler, aftermarket radiator, aftermarket upper hose and lower hose, Apex air cleaner, TRD plug courts, Tein front adjustable-type upper mount, AC does not work well and needs repair, interior grime, ???? (unreadable) hole in body work, seats sagging and cut, dashboard loose and cut, front cross member dented, rust underneath vehicle, corrosion and other marks as per map”

1984 Toyota Sprinter Trueno at auction in Japan -- inspection report

1984 Toyota Sprinter Trueno at auction in Japan-- rear

1984 Toyota Sprinter Trueno at auction in Japan -- interior


1968 Datsun Fairlady in the Japanese Car Auctions

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

This has to be one of the best looking Japanese sports cars ever, with the closest rival being the original MX-5 Miata. Along with its Japanese sport scar contemporaries, the Honda S500 and Toyota Sports 800, SR311 Fairlady encompasses the essence of a genuine sports car. Not the bludgeoning horsepower warfare of supercars and hypercars, and not the cubic inch overkill of the North American muscle cars. No, this car is about the fun of driving. The pleasure of a winding road with the top down and the wind in your hair.

40,000 of these little gems were produced between 1959 and 1970, with this one being one of the latest SR311 configurations that featured a 5-speed manual transmission that replaced the previous 4-speed. With a standard 135 PS engine configuration (in a car weighing only 940KG), a top speed of 120 MPH was attainable, which was quite spritely for its time and represented excellent value for money.

Let’s take a look at this one that is in a Japan car auction in Tokyo. Here is the translation of the auction inspectors report:

“Interior C, first registered 1968 (month not stated), five-speed manual gearbox, ODOMETER CHANGED, marked as odometer changed vehicle as this is an old car, fender mirrors, steering wheel worn and has minor cracks, canvas top cut and has repair marks, possibly aftermarket seats, seats torn, rust and corrosion and paint marks underneath vehicle, interior grime and wear, dashboard loose, rust and corrosion in places, corrosion repair marks, scratches and dents and repairs, exterior paintwork cracked on bonnet and on right side sill and on left rear side panel and on rear boot lid, marks as per map”

Datsun Fairlady SR311 at auction in Japan - auction sheet

Although it says that it is an “odometer changed vehicle”, this is very common among cars of this age, simply because the seller cannot be hundred percent sure that the mileage is completely accurate. This would really only be possible if there were full-service records available. So in this case as well, the seller is probably erring on the side of caution by marking the car as such.

There is a reasonable amount of rust and corrosion on this car, so this would be more of a project vehicle. However, it’s not so bad that it is readily visible in the photographs. Take a look for yourself below:

Datsun Fairlady SR311 at auction in Japan - front

Datsun Fairlady SR311 at auction in Japan - rear

Datsun Fairlady SR311 at auction in Japan - interior


Japanese Car Collectors Predict Upcoming Trends

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, February 25th, 2016

Global trends do not only exist in the world of gaming, fashion, and animation. Japanese car collectors seem to have the inside scoop when it comes to the global car collector market. In the collector’s inventory lies the innovated limited production vehicles from the 1960s such as the Toyota 2000GT and Mazda Cosmo that are now priced at six and seven figure numbers. Even the humble vehicles like the Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 of the 1960s have become $100,000 cars.

Toyota 2000GT with Toyota 86

“We’ve seen a huge spike in certain great, collectible Japanese cars,” says David Gooding, the CEO of the Los Angeles-based Gooding & Co. auction house. The information does back his statement. Study results from classic vehicle valuation experts Hagerty shows a 57% hike in the prices paid for Japanese collectibles during the last three years alone.

With increases like this, many Japanese collectors have been priced out of their own iconic history. Since Japanese trends have been foretelling of global styles like the infamous Fast & Furious “tuner” craze from the early 2000s, where cars were customized with wildly colorful cosmetic and mechanical accessories—the Japanese collectible market has become a good source for analyzing emerging trends.

The top collectible cars in Japan may line up with those that are popular globally, but there’s a significant difference. Japanese car collectors seem to be drawn to cars from the 1990s era and later while Ferraris from the 60s and 70s are a hot ticket item in America and Europe. European and American collectors currently fetishize purist 60s to 80s Porsche 911s that look like they just rolled off the assembly line; the Japanese clearly like their 911s customized. (Although the auctions in Japan can be a great place to find clean, low KM Porsches as well).

“The Japanese have never been shy about modifying cars,” says Ben Hsu, founder, and editor-in-chief of Japanese Nostalgic Car, the most notable English-language publication about vintage Japanese cars. “Interest in Porsches in Japan has just skyrocketed in recent years, largely due to a tuner named Nakai, who grafts on flared fenders and giant rear spoilers—inspired by modifications done by the Japanese Bosozoku, which were the old local bike and car gangs. He runs a shop called Rauh Welt, which is German for rough world.”

This love for modification is, among many Japanese collectors, ingrained in a particular aspect of their culture “There is this Japanese word, otaku, which means hardcore—obsessively enthusiastic about something,” says Hsu. According to Hsu’s, otaku is also the motivation behind local collectors’ love of oddball and underappreciated cars.

What do you predict will be the next classic? The Nissan Figaro? Honda Beat? Whatever classic Japanese cars you are after, we can help.


Subaru Alcyone / XT6 Trip Down Memory Lane

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, February 20th, 2016

Before you pull out the in the meantime gloves and tools to work on your favorite project car this weekend, let’s take a trip down memory lane. Our throwback Thursday car of choice is the 1988 Subaru Alcyone, known as the Subaru XT6 in the US. The very same car that boarded the EA 2 flat-4 that were found in all Subarus of that decade. If you know your old school cars, you know this engine is great for standard wagons and sedans but for a sports car, the engine was sadly underpowered despite the fact it was turbocharged when compared to the Supras and Zs.

Fuji Heavy Industries got smart in ’88 when they released the XT6 with a 150-horseoower 2.7-liter flat-6 to make sure this model was something to be reckoned with against competitors. The light 2,200 pounds combined with the engine allowed the XT6 to fly like all sports car should. A lot of sports car drivers get pumped with adrenaline when they hear a powerful engine on the road, but that’s one thing this Subaru Alcyone didn’t have because this engine whispers, so they don’t hear you coming!

So what made this old time favorite Subaru model stand out? Well, we know it wasn’t a loud engine so it must have been the full-time 4WD system that helped its power delivery in the handling department and off the line. It definitely beat the Supra and 300ZX in those departments! Another bonus this Subaru Alcyone held over the old XT models was the newly added 5×100 lug pattern hubs compared to the earlier 4×140 lug pattern. The 5×100 definitely helped with aftermarket wheels which weren’t possible before then.

If you remember the XT6 when it was equipped with air suspension that improved your ride but it was prone to leakage later on down the line. If you so happen to own this old beauty, and the air suspension doesn’t fly for you, you could always swap it out with standard coil springs which are a sensible choice.

The XT6 also came equipped with extremely durable wheels and a sporty interior so it was easy to fall in love with this car and I’m sure most owners gave this baby its own name. With all this glory, it’s no wonder that old Subarus seem to be a quite popular buy in 2016 when you check online listings of old and used cars. SO if you’re looking to rekindle an old car flame to make it your next car project, the XT6 is an excellent choice! You never know, you may even be able to find one in the Japanese car auctions.

In the meantime, why not enjoy this retro review of this retro Japanese car?


Retro Sambar/ VW Bus Lookalike At Auction in Japan

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Mitsuoka tries to do retro, but never seems to pull it off. The Nissan Figaro, now that is true retro. But what about this — a Suzuki Sambar kei van converted to look like an old VW bus? Personally, I think these are incredibly cute and look even better in the metal.

Watch the video to see more detail of this particular one we found at auction here in Japan.

VW-style Subaru Samar Dias - auction sheet

VW-style Subaru Samar Dias - front

VW-style Subaru Samar Dias - interior

VW-style Subaru Samar Dias - rear


Ultra Rare Nissan Skyline GT-R Nismo Z-Tune For Sale in HK

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

One of the rarest R34’s in the world popped up for sale this morning in Hong Kong, according to Contempt Concept HK motors. The 2005 Nissan Skyline GT-R Nismo Z-Tune is being sold at a bargain of a mere $510,000.

Nissan Skyline GT-R Nismo Z-Tune For Sale in HK

What makes this rare?

Let’s paint the picture. Not many R34 GT-Rs were ever manufactured. They stopped production in 2003. The, R34 V Specs represented only a handful of them – 1308 units to be exact. As far as the Nismo Z-Tune is concerned, there were only 17 production models. Two of them were never sold.

That makes this vehicle one of 15 in the world in private hands.

Although the R34 program ended in 2003, Nissan authorized an exclusive version of the R34 car dubbed the Nismo Z-Tune in 2005. Kinda like the Beatles getting back together for one, final concert in 1979. And only 15 people were lucky enough to get tickets. There have been more multi-million lottery winners in the world so far this year than that. That’s how rare these cars are.

At an original price tag of $108,500, they sold out instantly. This particular car is No. 9 of the bunch.

The entire car is handmade. Nismo purchased (20) secondhand Spec V’s and stripped them down. Each car was sprayed with a unique color called Z-Tune Silver and given an exclusive 2.8L twin-turbocharged engine. The car was given the ability of over 500 hp and could achieve 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds. It maxed out at over 203 mph.

The bodywork comes straight from their GT500 racing program. It has both a vented hood and fenders. Let’s not even get started on the suspension set up.

This car has hardly been driven in the last 10 years. It has less than 2000 miles on the odometer. One might think that the asking price is a bit high at $510,000 – but not really. Think about it: This is one of the rarest Japanese supercars ever made.

The steering wheel features the signature, iconic red and black leather that matches the front and back seats. The front seats feature the bucket seat race car design. You got racing paddle shifters and the red leather on the insides of the doors. Honestly, the car has a look of a Japanese supercar straight out of the Kill Bill film franchise.

Everything’s been verified, right down to the nameplate and identification tag.

Take a good, long look. This may be the last time you’ll ever see one for sale, and it won’t be for sale for long.


2016 Pinehurst to Include Japanese Collectibles

Posted by Stephen On Friday, December 4th, 2015

In a bold new move, the 2016 Pinehurst Concours Best in Show will include a brand-new category of vehicles: Japanese vehicles. The car show is young – it is only in its fourth year. However, it is attracting fellow car enthusiasts from around the world.

Breaking New Ground

According to the Pinehurst Chief Judge Nigel Matthews, nobody in the United States has featured Japanese classics, making Pinehurst one of the first. The highlight of the 2016 car show is the inclusion of Japanese cars, but some prewar French Curves as well. By adding the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupes and Roadsters (1954-63), they have one of the most interesting lineups any car enthusiast can hope for.

Some Japanese Cars Never Made It to the American Market

Collecting Japanese cars is a growing interest among the younger generation. Some cars, such as the Honda Coupe 9 and 7s were only made in limited quantities – about 35,000 were built. They were domestic vehicles that were kept within the Japan’s borders. A little over 1000 these vehicles ever made it outside the borders, with the majority of them going to Australia. Today, only 16 of these vehicles are said to be on record as still in existence – nine Coupe 7s and six Coupe 9s.
12 Announced Car Classes to Be Judged.

Pinehurst is promising an excellent show to be held this year April 30: Prewar American (Open & Closed Until 1942); Postwar American (Open & Closed Until 1974); Prewar European (Open & Closed Until 1942); Postwar European (Open & Closed Until 1974); Ferrari (Until 1975); Porsche (Air-Cooled Cars) Until 1988; Corvette (Until 1972); Prewar French Curves; Future Japanese Collectables; Racing Cars; Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupe & Roadster (1954-1963) and Indian Motorcycles.
If that’s not enough to get you excited, they also have live bands. As of right now, Pinehurst is expecting over 300 cars to be present at the show.

Tickets Are on Sale Now

Tickets will run you about $30. “There really is something for everybody, young and old,” Matthews said. “The Ferrari class will continue to be absolutely amazing with just multimillion dollar cars. That’s where the collector car market seems to be right now. And the interest in Porsches is really strong as they are commanding skyrocketing values now.”

The Pinehurst Concours Best in Show winners have included a 1919 bright purple Pierce-Arrow Model 66 A-4 Tourer (2015), a midnight blue 1931 Cadillac 452A (2014) and a rare 1938 Steyr 220 Glaser Roadster (2013). “They are pretty amazing champions for a concours that is only heading into its fourth year,” Matthews said.

Who knows? Perhaps the 4th year will see a Japanese car take the honors for the first time?