For whatever reason, the singles haul was rather lackluster in February, so I elected to hold on another month to bring the whole thing up to a reasonably decent level. Quality assurance is always our priority, here at Curbside Classics. The domestic car finds ended up being good enough, though the foreign stuff (to follow tomorrow) was even better. Fair warning though: there are over 100 photos in this post alone. Let’s start in the deep end with Mitsuoka – I assume we’re all on nodding terms with the K12 Viewt.
But here’s something I only discovered relatively recently about the Viewt: it’s pretty damned expensive and the tacked-on Jaguar butt makes it a lot longer (by 50cm!) than the Nissan March / Micra it is derived from. So Mitsuoka made a cheap version, which had hitherto escaped my notice.
Behold, the Viewt Nadeshiko, launched in 2015. It has the same front clip as the other Viewt (though with smaller chrome bumpers), but has the March / Micra’s rear hatch, so it’s under 4 meters long, and a much simpler interior than the bigger model. Yours for just over ¥2m – garish yellow is an optional extra…
I wish I could photograph other angles of the Yuga, but only the full frontal shot was available. These Nissan Cube-based faux FX4s were only made in 2000-01 and are not exactly common. Impressive amount of grille decorations on this one.
Onwards to the executive-class Mitsuokas – motto: “Because clown shoes require ample rear legroom.” The guy who climbed in and drove off this late model Galue was dressed like he came off a samurai film. He was even wearing wooden sandals. Didn’t seem to hamper his driving…
This is a 2nd generation (2001-04) Ryoga, based on the Nissan Sunny. I’ve been seeing this one regularly since I arrived in Tokyo, but never in motion. It’s seen better days…
By contrast, this Corolla-based Ryugi (2014-present) was very much in use. I normally avoid occupied cars, but the backdrop kind of made it impossible for me not to take a few pics. It’s hard to beat cherry blossoms and traditional Japanese houses for photogenic settings…
Last but certainly not least, here’s one we’ve not seen before: a first-generation (2004-08) Nouera. If the Galue was too much for you and the Viewt wasn’t up to your exacting standards – or if you plain didn’t want a Nissan in drag – you could get this fuglified Honda Accord. “Enough with the deep-sea fishes and make with the real classics, for crying out loud!” I hear in the back. Sure, let’s hit the Toyotas.
Oops! Looks like the deep sea theme has seeped through. I documented one of these a few years ago, but this one was in much better nick. Horrid thing, but you have to admire the workmanship. Same folks who make the Century, doncha know.
The final Crestas (X100, 1996-2001) are fine-looking cars, in my opinion. Especially the rear end, with that unusual concave trunklid. I really should write one up, for the half-dozen CC readers who care.
I don’t know what it was about this early ‘90s TownAce – the cheapo hubcaps, the fading paint or whatever – but I found myself compelled to snap it up.
From now on, I’m going to try and avoid featuring Land Cruisers and some other commonly-seen older models too frequently, but I will make an exception for the X70 Mark II wagons.
Ubiquitous, but so charismatic. The only one that comes close is the Nissan Y30 – and you better believe I won’t stop featuring those, either.
But all in good time, this is still the Toyota bit. There are a number of these early ‘90s Hilux pickups still hard at work in Japan. Fender mirrors are a common feature. The extra rear doors, on the other hand, are not.
I’m trying to quit the AE86s. Honestly, I am. But every time I swear off them, another one shows up demanding to be photographed. In the present case, a Sprinter Trueno with terminal body rust… A rare sight in Tokyo, actually.
I’m also trying to cool it on the Crowns, as I’ve documented plenty of these by now. But this mint S130 Hardtop Royal Saloon – with the supercharged 3-litre 6-cyl., if you please – tugged at my heart strings. I recently bagged another S130 Hardtop for a proper stand-alone post, so consider this an amuse-bouche.
Finally, an interesting twofer shot: an arch-conservative V12 Century G50 (1997-2018) serenely rolling down the road, preceded by a slammed Nissan Laurel C35 (1997-2002). Japan, land of contrasts.
Guess that means we’re on to the Nissan side of the farce, starting with this Herbie March. Worst wannabe Beetle ever, but still kind of cool.
The Nissan Crew (1993-2009) is pretty much the opposite of cool, but it’s become rare in Tokyo nowadays. I saw many up in Hokkaido still working the taxi trade, but this is the only one I’ve ever caught close to home since I’ve been here. Still employed, too.
The ubiquitous B120 pickup is usually over-restored and/or modded to hell, but there are so many around that it’s just like seeing a lowered Beetle: predictable, but short of lamentable. Lots of work went on the interior in this one.
By contrast, this younger (early ‘90s) Sunny pickup was nice and stock. Unexpected bonus was the open driver-side window, which allowed unparalleled access to the dash – a CC hunter’s dream.
At last, the glorious Y30 Gloria wagon! Here in 100% blue collar van guise, sans woodgrain sides or any of that bling. OK, the dolled-up ones do look more attractive, but there is something to be said for this more proletarian version.
There were several Skylines of note this month, spanning the entire decade of the ‘80s – starting with these R30 saloons. First, a sharp-looking 1983-ish Turbo, being driven spiritedly by an older gent.
The Holy Grail of the hard-core R30 fanboi is, undoubtedly, the late model 2000 RS-X Turbo. They had those in 2- or 4-door guise. A bit over the top for me personally, but there’s no arguing its significance – and potency.
Also caught this lovely R30 coupé, in passing. Like literally.
Probably the cleanest and least molested R32 coupé ever. Even here, where these are still relatively abundant, this is a particularly fine example of the breed. And in black too, when 90% of the rest are in some shade of gray. Setting myself up for egg all over in three… two… one…
Splat! I had no sooner written the previous paragraph than I found the R32 coupé above – also unmolested, though a bit less perfect than the black one. And of course, it’s wearing that stupid gray.
Not the best U12 Bluebird (1987-92) saloon, but then these are not exactly common any more. And judging by the surroundings and condition of this one, it’s not going to be here for too much longer either.
So let’s take a couple extra snaps, just to document this top-level “Super Select” version properly. That interior is a symphony of beige.
Similarly, this B12 Sunny (1985-90) is probably going to be junked in due course – likely when whoever owns the dilapidated house behind it sells the land.
Something a little more substantial from the same era: a rare second-generation (1986-92) Leopard. This was Nissan’s rival to the Toyota Soarer, the Honda Legend and the Mazda/Eunos Cosmo. The Honda and the Toyota were the clear winners in that particular skirmish.
Under this rather handsome big coupé body, the platform is identical to the R32 Skyline. I understand that Nissan sold a few thousand of these Stateside as the Infiniti M30.
Let’s punctuate the Nissan chapter with a couple of the Fair ladies. (Younger) age before beauty: a Z31, also known as the 300ZX. Those were made from 1984 to 1989 and are V6-powered, like the Gloria and Leopard above.
But this late-model Fairlady 2000 (1967-70) was the star of the show – for me, at least.
Moving on swiftly to the Honda side of things. It was a pretty good couple of months for first-gen (1985-90) Legends, though only one of these two looks like it’ll keep on being a living one for much longer. It’s like a before-and-after picture.
This adorable and extremely clean Acty pickup was at the opposite end of Honda’s mid-‘80s range.
Remember the Accord wagon I posted a few weeks back? Well, here’s another US-made (and -designed) Honda for your viewing pleasure.
North American readers may know this as the Acura TL, but it was sold in Japan as the Honda Saber between 1998 and 2003. Same eagle badge on the C-pillar as the Accord wagon, except in silver this time.
Just one Mazda (or is that a Eunos?), but it’s a whopper: a 4th generation (1990-95) Cosmo. These could be fitted with the only triple Wankel ever offered on a production car. I don’t know if this one had that famous feature, but given that they only made fewer than 9000 of these big coupés, just seeing one on the road was pretty special.
I’m preparing a separate post on kei vans, because I’ve been catching a few doozies of late. But this highly amusing-looking Suzuki Lapin “Blow” is a pickup, so I’ll just park it here.
Finally, the Mitsubishi section – and let’s just say these past couple of months were under the sign of the triple diamond. Some exceptional finds! Let’s start with this race-ready 1973 Galant FTO. Truth be told, I had already caught this one ages ago, but it was partially covered. It reappeared recently – without the cover.
Raising the roof (and the stakes) with a late ‘90s Minica Toppo Town Bee.
I was being watched while I photographed this one, so I didn’t dare take a photo of the interior. Pity…
First-generation (1982-91) Pajeros, though damn near indestructible, are getting scarce. Certainly compared to Land Cruisers of that era. This high-end one seems to have led a sheltered life.
OK, now we’re getting serious: this 2nd gen (1979-87) Lancer EX was an absolute time-warp. The fender mirrors make this a pre-1984 model.
Drum roll please for the Starion attraction! I was unable to get an interior shot, unfortunately. Isn’t this as late ‘80s as a coupé can get without donning a mullet?
This car had clearly been restored and re-sprayed (pretty amateurishly, might I add) recently, so I cannot vouch that this is a true GRS-VR. Those were the most elaborate and powerful of the JDM Starions, sporting the 175hp 2.6 litre “Astron” 4-cyl.
The Mitsubishi madness continued beyond the realm of passenger cars, as attested by this stark-raving dekotora delirium dubbed “Gilgamesh Night.” Ours is not to reason why…
Ours is to gawk and take photos. Or the other way around, depending on the day. The SEV-Marchal feline on the face of this monster or a truck were a nice touch – I’m sure Daniel Stern would approve.
Speaking of felines and trucks, I’ll leave you with this animé-inspired creation. See you Totoro tomorrow for the foreign stuff.
Even more magnificent than usual, so much to love here!
The Cosmo is stunning, those Skylines are full of presence and I just adore the little Acty. Just so much JDM goodness!
My favourites though are the TownAce, because it reminds me of the one I owned, and the hilarious yellow March/Mitsuoka, which I would buy in a heartbeat.
Thanks for sharing!
I love these photos of vehicles which for the most part we do not see in America. Some of them are horrid and others are quite nice. Nothing different than what manufacturers do all around the world. That faux Jaguar is on the horrid list!
About that Minica Town Bee, I had no idea that driving in stove-pipe hats was a thing in Japan.
Ah, the Starion. Still kind of like those, haven’t seen one in ages.
As a stock Beetle owner I for one lament every predictably modded vintage VW I see.
You saw a vintage VW? I didn’t. Hmm.
A Starion always brings a smile to my face. I loved mine. It pretty much defined my early 20s: Fast, Impractical and Temperamental. But so much fun.
That ’69 Chevy inspired Suzuki Kei pickup is calling my name very loudly. Can’t wait for the extended post on the kei vans, I am always drawn to them. Just so cute, with a hint of practicality.
I love the Suzuki pickup. I am always tempted be the kei pickups but this one is even more fun.
A couple of missed opportunities seen here;
I still say the Toyota Classic’s 100-unit run exclusivity worked against it, dictating a BOF design and modified Hilux crewcab. If it had been planned for a full production run on a Corolla platform with global export, a PT Cruiser made by Toyota would’ve hit the spot for a lot of people.
Too bad Nissan wasted *all* of the LWB Sunny Truck’s stretch on the bed. They really should’ve given it a cab stretch; keep the B-pillar identical and dig up the tooling for the B110 2-door sedan doors, combine that with the raised roof that late-model South African ones had.
Many great catches and finds there. The Cosmo coupe is almost surreal. They must have used the longest sedan platform to base it on. Amazing.
I love all the Mitsuokas. What a great opportunity for folks to buy something a bit different. Our carscape would be a lot more interesting and amusing if we had similar options here.
I am surprised that you didn’t mention the unique feature of Nissan Cedric/Gloria Y30 estate: the cargo window on the left side does roll down. This is to access the cargo area for small stuff such as grocery bags without having to open up the tailgate in the tight space.
The grille on Mitsuoka Nouera is splitting image of Scream mask…
Lots of goodness and for once even stuff from the underbelly, i.e. with rust, dirt, and parked on grass etc. Why, it could be the NorthEastern seaboard of the US! Next you’ll be showing us a cinder block or two.
The Mitsuoka paradox is not just that they did something interesting and different, but that they seem to be thriving and having lots of success, and that this is occurring in supposedly conformist Japan is doubly astounding. And then basing things on humble and generally derided as boring Nissans on top of all that.
I do always love me some MarkII wagon but that’s too predictable. I think I’d let my mullet grow a little and dust off the Members Only jacket for the widebody Starion, it’s just 80’s perfection. And I do like the Leopard, I never found the M30 objectionable (its crime was being the polar opposite of the Q45), and this one looks great lowered a little, not being a Soarer adds a little too.
Ooer, a Toyota Trueno. Those could be had with these self-uncovering fog lamps:
Especially chosen for Prof. Tatra, an R32 Skyline that is neither grey nor modified. 🙂
Nor a GT-R, for that matter, but a “lowly” GTS-t.
That Trueno will get someone arrested
What’s the Box with a Bar that extends cross-wise under the Station Wagon for? Anti-Theft? Timer for Parking?