Here’s a little sampler of the array of funny furrin jobs I’ve seen in Tokyo over the last 30 days or so. Let’s kick it off with the Mini of the month, which is a real beaut. A tad over-restored and cluttered with add-ons – not to mention those seats – but still pleasing to the passerby.
Small city cars are naturally quite popular here. This is not the first time I’ve seen a Mk I Golf here, but this black LHD Cabriolet, driven by a lady, was simply too nice to pass up.
This Mk II Golf would have just blended into the background in Europe, but out here it gave yours truly the briefest whiff of nostalgia.
Ditto in this case, but even more so: I caught an identical one last month. It’s Groundhog Day, but with Renault 4s.
Beetlemaniacs will be able to ID this one’s exact year, I’m sure. My wild stab in the dark: 1967.
This is the first Citroën 2CV I’ve seen in Japan. This is an early Dolly limited edition, too. Not super rare, but specific enough that one can pinpoint its model year, which is 1985.
Peugeot-wise, the pickings were slimmer this month. It’s still weird to see so many new ones in the streets around here. This 206 CC, made between 2000 and 2008 by Heuliez, is on the older side and has just enough of the cool, cute and cuddly factor that Japanese folks love to both blend right into Tokyo traffic and gain a place in this post. But enough with the small cars.
Bam! No transition, so segue, just a big old Humvee sprawl across your screen. The H3 is seen here on occasion, but this is the first Hummer H1 I’ve caught in the wild.
With the exception of heavy tanks and Korean cars, it’s hard to think of a less appropriate vehicle for Japan in general and Tokyo in particular. But I’m sure we can try.
How about a Lincoln Town Car? Can’t even fit in the parking spaces. I couldn’t get a pic of the rear, but it seems there were no amber turn signals on this thing. Looks like a standard US model to my untrained eyes, except for those turn signal repeaters.
Just a few modern Italian exotics, to spice things up a bit. Ferraris are not a common sight here…
But Maseratis are, for some reason. Japanese folks love these, as well as the latest four-door or SUV variants.
Lamborghinis are rare anywhere that’s not called Monaco or Dubai. Not really my cup of espresso, but impressive nonetheless.
Oh, and I just had to take a pic of this long-roof Alfa. Love the way some folks here manage to get the perfect number plate for their cars.
This LHD Porsche 968 looks a bit dejected. Shame to see a relatively rare 25-year-old blue-blood seem so forlorn, stuck beneath an overpass and covered in guano.
By contrast, this E30 saloon may be rather more common, but it’s obviously used and cared for.
Benz-wise, this month has been pretty good, too. These W124s kind of leave me cold in saloon form, but a mint-condition black wagon such as this does catch the eye. Left-hand drive, too. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be a prestige thing, but look at the cars in this post – they’re all foreign and some are fancy, but not always with the steering wheel on the wrong side (for Japan). Just sayin’.
Case in point: this Benz W123 is RHD. And it was about as clean a member of its species as I’ve ever seen.
However, this one was LHD. Just can’t make this stuff up. Pick a side, Mr Japanese Customer!
More classic Volvos. These were really everywhere popular here back in the ‘80s and ’90s, it seems. And since they never die…
Including in wagon form, which makes sense, as these are probably the most capacious European wagons of their kind, along with the big Citroëns. And Japanese folks do love their wagons.
They also seem to like Jags. Then again, who doesn’t? Yes, even the XJ40 has a smidgen of the old magic left in it. But enough of the ‘80s four-doors. Let’s keep it British, but kick it up a notch in terms of rarity and randomness.
OK, there’s definitely something about Lotus in this country. This is the second Europa I’ve seen here in two months, after maybe 20 years of not seeing a single one. What is the deal with the Lotus fetish, Japan?
This one came towards me like some sort of weird fever dream. It was near Ginza, in a completely different neighbourhood than my usual Lotus-infested area, on a Sunday – always the best day to witness classic cars in traffic here. Took me a few moments to identify it.
Yes, this is a Jensen Interceptor, entirely dipped in mat black paint. My initial “Wow!” was immediately followed by a quizzical “Why?” Outlandish. Sure made it tough to photograph this sucker, too.
This turned out to be an inspired choice for an outing. A short while earlier that same day and about 50 yards away, I caught this lovely MG Magnette ZA or ZB.
Designed by Gerald Palmer (who also did the Jowett Javelin), these were made from 1953 to 1958 and were the first MG to feature unit body construction. This is probably my pick of this post.
And just to finish things off on a flat, yet air-cooled note, here’s a Porsche 356 I saw on my street the other week-end. What’s your flavour of the month among this smörgåsbord of automobiles?
I don’t know whether April will be as fruitful as this month was. As I write this, there is talk of a possible “second wave” of COVID-19 in Tokyo, so we may have to shutter ourselves up like some of you. Fingers crossed, we’ll all come out of this situation in due course and in one piece. All the best to you all in the meantime!