CC Outtakes: T87’s Singles Collection (December 2020) – Part 1: Japanese Cars

It may be a new year and all, but we still have to sift through the finds of 2020 – which were pretty plentiful, as far as I’m concerned. Let’s kick things off with this lovely Honda City. That’s an early first-generation model (still has the gawky fender mirrors), probably from 1982. The nameplate is still used, albeit in a different category.

Dust has well and truly settled on this early ‘90s Accord wagon, and air has left its tyres. But that interior looks like it was sat in only yesterday. Strange isn’t it? I found another one of these that month, but it will be featured in its own post, just as soon as I can get to it.

I also snapped another Mitsubishi Jeep 4-door wagon, not unlike this one, which I will write up. I’ve already found and posted one of these beauties in 2020, but the more the merrier.

More Mitsubishi oddity: a 1994-2000 FTO coupé – this one is a late model GPX, which means this FWD folly has a 200hp 2-litre V6, if you please.

This month’s madcap Mitsuoka moment: another K12 Viewt, by far the most common representative of the marque. Still makes for a nice photo or two, on a sunny morning.

At last, something a bit novel: an ɛ̃fini MS-9, sold only from 1991 to 1993. The Sentia was already badged as the 929 for export markets, but Mazda figured they needed one more clone to flesh out their ɛ̃fini (pronounced “Anfeenee,” I believe) brand, which along with Autozam and Eunos, was their lame attempt at making a Japanese Sloan ladder, along with the marketing of Fords and Citroëns. What were they on?

An interesting derelict duo: on the right, a late model first-generation (1989-93) Subaru Legacy wagon – probably the best Japanese sports wagon of the era.

On the right, a mid-‘80s Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 notchback. It seems these are less popular than the hatchback Levins, so it’s a welcome change from the mean. Speaking of which…

Here are this month’s hatchback AE86 Corolla Levins. This one was caught on an early morning, still bleary-eyed but about as pristine as these can get. And with an oh-so-appropriate license plate, to boot.

Almost identical, this other Levin AE86 was also very clean, if a little less obsessively detailed.

Distantly related though it may be in terms of design, the E90 Sprinter Carib is nonetheless part of the great confusing flustercuck of Corolla derivatives that appeared in the ‘80s.

The mighty V12 Century, in gloriously understated dark blue. I’m planning to do a long-form CC post about these, as I’ve now caught a number of unattended ones and was able to photograph them up close and personal. Just another one to add to the slate for 2021.

Just as mighty in its own way, this quad-eyed Land Cruiser looks a lot younger than its 30-plus years.

Finally found an early model (circa 2000) Crown S170 wagon that is not an “Athlete” series car. I like this grille better than the Athlete’s…

This 1985-88 MasterAce Surf hasn’t moved in a while – it doesn’t even have its license plates any more. A pure ‘80s vehicle through and through.

This month was a very good vintage for X70 Mark II wagons, made between 1984 and 1997. Not sure why, but I ran into three of the beasts, including one topped by a cat. Sheer purr-fection.

Two of those sported fender mirrors – almost de rigueur for big Japanese wagons of that era. But that was just an option, as the X70 Mark II arrived after the law changed in 1983.

Without the goofy fender mirrors, these old gals somehow lose some of their sense of occasion. Still a very nice car, but slightly more anonymous.

On the Nissan front, the Mark II and Crown van/wagon were met by the 1983-99 Cedric / Gloria Y30 van/wagon, which I’ve covered extensively already. But I keep finding them, and cannot help but capture them.

This one had its hubcaps taken off, gray paint and unadorned flanks, so it really looked workmanlike. Until you glanced inside, that is, where it is about as Brougham-tastic as anything.

This fully-loaded SGL wagon, on the other hand, displayed its gingerbread on the outside as well. The more of these I find (and there are quite a few about still), the more tempting they are.

I’m also quite besotted with the Pao. Two crossed my path this month – a rather tatty one (top pic) and a much cleaner example. In some ways, this would be a more reasonable ride in this tightly-packed metropolis than a Gloria wagon. Hmmm… Decisions, decisions…

On the other hand, there are these abominations. The 1999-2003 Nissan March (K11) Bolero was one of Nissan’s attempts at making a cut-rate Mitsuoka, I suppose. Looks like a Fiat 500 was date-raped by a Mercedes.

The K11 March is a fine-looking car if you leave its face alone. In this instance, the transformation took place on the roof. This variant is rare – as I understand it, it was only made for a couple model years (1997-98) and only for the JDM, though a few have since found their way to places like the UK.

Is there anything more plain-vanilla than a silver B12 Sunny/Sentra saloon? This one is a real time-warp, too.

This R31 Skyline wagon is a contemporary to the B12 Sunny, it just has about 150% more personality.

We’ve already seen the Gloria version of the Y31 hardtop (and in a far more stock condition than this), but still, these genuine hardtops are not as common as all that any more.

Funny how Japanese customizers work, sometimes. That interior is void of the usual doilies and has a few mods here and there, but keeping it in shades of gray like that seems like a wasted opportunity. Go wild, dude! Pastel blue leatherette with fluorescent piping, or red polka dots on purple velvet, I say.

Ye Olde Sunny Pickups of the month – this one was a well-worn worker, clearly…

Followed by a nicely restored one, parked next to a Mustang, a.k.a the only US-made Ford that does any sizable business abroad these days, as far as I can tell.

Last Nissan in store for now: a very tired mid-‘80s Caravan of the “SGL Silk Road” variety, i.e. the deluxe version.

Well, when I said “last Nissan in store”… there was also this place I passed by one day. I did a double take: what was that staring at me from inside the shop?

Why, it was an ancient Nissan Patrol, living out its retirement years as a display case. And with that crucifix, it kind of doubled up as an altar, too.

It was mission impossible to take photos of the car underneath all that stuff, but fun trying. There were a bunch of old tools on one side and various things on the other, including model cars. Not sure how they squeezed this Patrol into the building, but it’s done patrolling.

That was pretty rich, so let’s keep it small and sweet for the finale – by which I mean, a couple Daihatsus. This is an L500 Mira (1994-98) TR-XX Avanzat R, the first kei car featuring a turbocharged 4-cyl. 16-valve engine. Something of a pocket rocket, in other words.

Similarly, this Charade Turbo was a small revolution when Daihatsu launched it in 1983: in some markets, it was the first small and affordable turbocharged car. The 1-litre 3-cyl. churned out a very respectable 80hp.

The Charade is no longer registered, but right next to it, sporting the same two-tone colour scheme, was this Suzuki Hustler. If turbocharged, this kei car has a 63hp 3-cyl., so it’s a bit tamer than the Daihatsu, but not a million miles from it.

Just a couple extras that didn’t fit anywhere to see us off. This is a sort of integrated sidecar of unknown make and model. Looked pretty alien on the street – I caught sight of it as the owner was parking it.

Finally, this old Honda CN250 Fusion – the most iconic Japanese scooter, and still being made even though the design is 35 years old – really caught my eye. I had never imagined that woodgrain sides would ever work on a two-wheeler, but on this, it kinda does!

See you tomorrow for the foreign cars.