March 2020 will probably not be remembered fondly by most of us, yet it’s been a very good month here, CC-wise. So numerous were the sightings that I’ve had to divide this post in two – home and away. I’ll probably have to stop photographing these AE86 Corollas, as they are really getting to be quite common. But this one was irresistible. [Edit: it’s a FWD AE92 (1987-91), so I’ll keep taking photos of both AE86s and AE92s until I can tell them apart.]
Keeping it Toyota and in the ‘80s, here’s an S130 Crown Hardtop. Looks like a pretty high-end one, unlike the saloon I caught a while back.
And this is the S130 wagon. This one is a post-1991 facelift base-spec model according to the chrome bumpers, with a few mods. Not sure whether these quad headlamps are strictly stock, but a bit of an online image search shows other S130 Crowns wearing these.
Toyota’s other long-lasting wagon was the X70 Mark II Van, made between 1984 and 1997. This one looks a little worse for wear, but much more to my liking than the one I caught last year. The “three ellipses” Toyota logo on the tailgate makes this one a post-1992 model.
I’m still not used to seeing Centuries wafting by. Or rather idling at a curb, which is what they seem to do most of all. This V12-powered G50 has aftermarket alloy wheels, which don’t really suit it all that well.
That’s better. Still quite a few of these about. Well, not so many that they would become boring: according to my investigations, Toyota made about 9000 of these in 20 years. But I’ve been seeing more of the new G60 models about.
For instance, this silver car. These are really massive automobiles. Black suits it better, though I have yet to see the other two colours (a dark red and a blue)… And speaking of black G60s, I found something of a unicorn the other day.
I couldn’t believe it when I saw it: could this be a Century GRMN, a car still shrouded in mystery? Nobody seems to know how much it costs, how many are likely to be made or how they differ with the “standard” Century exactly. But, as a CC exclusive, here is evidence these mythical machines do exist.
As far as I know, only two have been documented so far – a white one for Akio Toyoda and a black one with a red pinstripe seen at the Tokyo Motor Show. This seems to be a third example, let loose in the streets of Ikebukuro. You saw it here first! [Edit: this might also be a special-order Century with GRMN-like characteristics, as there are some differences between this one and the genuine article…]
You don’t see the Nissan President PGF50 all that much, by comparison to the Toyota flagship. It figures, as these V8-powered luxobarges were produced in minute quantities from 2001 to 2010. The earlier generations look much better than this bug-eyed disaster.
While we’re looking at the more challenging side of the Japanese automotive spectrum, let’s not forget Mitsuoka. The Series I Galue is always a sight for sore eyes.
The K12 Viewt is not a rare sight around these parts, either. Always amusing.
This is some kind of Mitsuoka light: a 1996 Daihatsu Opti Classic. The interior is full of wood and leather, as befits a car with a fluted chrome grille. At least it looks happy.
In a similar vein, we peer in wonderment at the continentally-kitted rump of a 1999-2004 Mitsubishi Minica Town Bee (H42A). The front end of this thing, which I could not capture (but hope to someday), is even stranger, with a big gaping mouth of a grille an oversized vertical quad headlamps. The stuff of nightmares…
Keeping it in kei car mode just for a second, I will echo my fellow CContributor and eminent Nipponophile Jim “Lincolnman” Brophy in hailing the Honda S660 as one of the only good-looking keis being made nowadays. Especially in this electric blue, it’s really a car you notice.
I also caught the S660’s earlier incarnation: a scrumptious Honda Beat. Same mid-engine layout, same drop-top two-seater body, same kei class, but two decades earlier. Perfect colour, too.
Passing a garage at lunchtime, I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. I processed it a bit slowly, for some reason. Did I just see a Volga? I retraced my steps and snapped a quick photo. No, it wasn’t a Volga, it was much worse than that: a late model Isuzu Florian. Few facelifts this side of Hollywood have gone as awry as this.
I could not remember the last time I saw a late ‘90s Subaru Legacy that wasn’t a wagon. Not a bad-looking car either, for the time. Love the quintessentially Japanese rear wiper.
Nor could I recall the last Subaru SVX I’d ever seen. But I have an excuse: few made it to Europe, where I was based when these were being made (1991-1996). Most of these were sold in the US.
And it seems in Japan, where these were known as Alcyone, buyers didn’t warm much to them either. They were a bit too big for Subaru’s boots – and were heavily taxed due to their 3.3 litre flat-6. Very distinctive car nonetheless.
One last Subaru for old times’ sake. An uncharacteristically tatty 2nd generation Leone “Skiers Special” wagon. Seems this is a 1983 model, given the placement of the mirrors. Ice-cool, even in this condition.
Some Japanese car parks can present an insurmountable paradox to the CC writer. In the present case, the distinctive shape of a Jeep Station Wagon was visible from some distance, but was harder to make out the closer I got to it.
Such a tease, that J30. I understand that these were made by Mitsubishi from 1961 to 1983, nearly all of them with a Diesel engine. And they had a column gear change and other local oddities that, alas, will remain mysterious for the time being. I’ll just have to find another one that’s more grounded.
Here’s another one that was made for eons – the Datsun B110 Sunny pickup. This looks like an early ‘70s example, under all those extra bits.
And here’s the same thing about twenty years later, not unlike the one I bagged back in Burma.
Roundabout the same time as they made these B122 pickups, Nissan were also making the 1989-93 C33 Laurel. Straight-6 engine, “hardtop” sedan, same RWD platform as the Siliva and the Skyline, plenty of gadgets and luxury inside – looks like a decent proposition.
Speaking of Skylines, here’s a R34 coupé made sometime between 1998 and 2002. I hope to catch the four-door version of this someday. But I did catch another two-door Skyline that was quite a looker.
This is a 1977-81 Skyline C210 – unfortunately somewhat modified, but still quite a sight.
Given the sounds that came out of this vehicle, I’d say it didn’t have a puny 4-cyl. engine, unlike most of the half-million C210s made.
Saving the best for last as always: a Datsun Bluebird 510. Nothing much to add – just a superb little car. Seemed quite peppy, too!
Which one of these would be your pick? I’m voting Bluebird.
See you tomorrow for part two – the imports.