Japanese Classic Car Show

Japanese Classic Car Show

"Old school" sport compacts
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While the '57 Chevy and the '32 Ford have long been the staples of classic car shows around the U.S., time nonetheless marches on. As hard as it may be to believe for those stuck in the past, certain Eighties cars are now considered classics or, in more modern nomenclature, "old schools." In the case of classic Japanese cars, the few little gems there are here in this country from the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, ironically vastly outnumber those in their country of origin.

Advance to Go

The reason is so obvious it is almost invisible. Since the cars and trucks of Japan motor around on the island nation surrounded by the salty sea, they rust. The salt air does a number on the steel the cars are made from. Anyone who lives where the roads are salted in winter can see similar vehicular disintegration without traveling to faraway lands. That said, it also makes perfect sense that the Queen Mary Park in Long Beach, California was the host to the Japanese Classic Car Show. A lot of these cars probably hit U.S. soil for the first time as they rolled off a ship at the Port of Los Angeles, so in a way it was a bit of a homecoming for the group of early Hondas, Datsuns, Toyotas, Mazdas, Mitsubishis and Subarus.

As ubiquitous as Japanese cars are on the roads of America today, it wasn't always that way. During the salad days of American automobile manufacture, gas was cheap, and the big V-8 stuff ruled the road. The musclecar legend was born. Then, as gas prices increased and pollution standards became ever tighter, the mighty V-8 was choked with stopgap emissions systems. Whether these early smog solutions cleaned up the air was debatable, but they certainly sapped the V-8 of its legendary power.

Import Niche

Consumers began asking themselves what the point was of driving something that was not only gutless, but also got terrible mileage. With the U.S. automobile industry in its dark days of the late Seventies and early Eighties, smaller, more efficient and well-built Japanese rides carved out a niche with the American consumer that has grown steadily larger. The cars and trucks that rolled into the park under the shadow of the Queen Mary ocean liner ran the gamut from the very first Mazda ever made to the absolutely stunning Toyota 2000GT, a sports car so cool that James Bond felt it was ok to merely ride shotgun in "You Only Live Twice."

Some cars were amazingly original down to the last nut and bolt while others were total sleepers, like one with a twin-cam turbocharged engine in place of the carbureted single cam naturally aspirated mill. All of the cars were great examples of early Japanese automobile manufacture, and a testament to the people who have hung on, restored, or hot rodded their classic Japanese cars and trucks over the years. For more information on this and next year's show, along with pictures of the winners and awards, head on over to the Japanese Classic Car Show website at: http://www.japaneseclassiccarshow.com.

Japanese Classic Car Show, Mazda R360, 1964 Maxda R360
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