CC Outtakes: T87’s Singles Collection (March-April 2024) – Part 2: Foreign Cars (British, French & American)

The term “British Invasion” is usually used in reference to ‘60s pop groups making it in America (unless you live in the quarter of the globe that the British actually invaded, that is), but there was another type of invasion taking place in Tokyo recently: classic British cars. Cue my terrible Ed Sullivan impression: “And now, leizanjennelmen, for this evening’s big entertainment, a hundred-plus photo collection of the best things ever to come out of Coventry, Oxford, Abingdon, Crewe and Dagenham – The Brittles!”

We need to start this post with the requisite amount of Elan. Fortunately…

…Tokyo seems awash with these impossibly cute roadsters.

Europas have their fans too. A polarizing design, but one that still has potential. Just think: if you could fit an electric engine in the front and hollow out that rear deck, you could make a true rival to the Cybertruck. Same dodgy panel alignment, but much less visible rust.

But looming behind our two-seater plastic pickup is the real star of the Lotus crowd (for this post, at least)…

Esprits were out in force – and in spirit. As they should.

The smoothed-over later ones are more common, but don’t look as though Roger Moore would drive them off a pier. And that’s what one does with Esprits, right?

There we go! Two identical 1987 “Limited Edition” HC Turbos. Race those to Tokyo Bay. Last one in the drink’s a rotten egg.

Joking aside, these are two of a batch of 21 cars. They weren’t kidding when they stuck those “Limited Edition” decals.

“What’s with all the Morgans?” Asked no one, ever. Until today.

Burgundy works well on these. BRG is a bit cliché.

The license plate tells us this one is at least 25 years old. You’d never guess it, would you?

Finally, the famous three-wheeler! This incredible machine has a 70hp 2-litre S&S V-twin sitting out in the open, mated to a Mazda 5-speed.

Is it worth its own CC? Maybe. But maybe there are literally dozens of other cars ahead of the queue. Pick your battles.

Triumph roadsters aren’t my thing, but the TR2 is a legend in its own right.

Pretty wild camber on this Spitfire. Swing that axle!

As I said, Triumph roadsters leave me kinda cold, but a 1969 Vitesse is a whole different kettle of fish. Also a swing axle, but those Mk2s had a revised design that was able to keep the camber to a reasonable degree.

Somebody bought wisely. Not the usual choice for a sporty Mini, though it makes a nice change from all the fugazzi Coopers often seen in this country.

Most ADO16s seen hereabouts are of the VandenPlas variety, so catching a Wolseley-branded one was definitely out of the ordinary. Great colour, too.

There we go, that’s the one. Not seen much action lately, have we, Princess?

It’s time for us to have the talk. You know, about the birds and the Bs.

This one looks like a more recent US market import. Triple wipers, too!

Much better to opt for a very early model in BRG with wire wheels. Classic.

Quite a few little Frogeye Sprites putter about. Unamphibiously cute.

The Big Healey is a more serious proposition, of course. Stylish and impressive, but I’d still rather go for a Sprite, personally.

Jensen-Healeys I’m less keen on – it could have been a great-looking car if it had been launched a couple years earlier, but the 5mph bumpers really did it no favours. Not that they did favours to any car.

The overall impression, to me, is one of British roadster hodgepodge. Mix in styling cues and interior designs from Triumph, MG, Jaguar, Lotus and a touch of Fiat… All in all, it lacks personality.

Ye olde English Fordes are present in this country. Not in droves – some are literally kept under wraps…

Now this one was unexpected. Cortinas, yes. Old wagons, sure. But a Cortina wagon? Didn’t see it coming.

This one also took me by surprise. Why would you go out of your way to buy a British-built Honda as a Japanese person?

The cleanest Range Rover in the world – it’s official – has been found.

I found a nest of those, by the way. Or would that be a free range? One or two were worth a closer look…

This one was almost as clean as that other one. But the matte grey was not the best colour choice.

Kahn… KAHN? This is bound to incur someone’s wrath.

OK, here come the Jaaaaaaags. Lots of E-Types. Not that I’m complaining.

Sublime machines in all aspects – at least, in this two-seater Series 1 version.

Oooh, don’t that look nice in black…

I think that’s the V12 roadster I wrote up a few months back.

The V12s are less beautiful, of course. The dash remained mercifully unaffected – or arguably got even better, thanks to those toggle switches.

To balance the E-Types, here are a few Mark 2 saloons. This one’s a 2.4 litre, if the license plate is any indication.

A British market 3.8 litre saloon in beautiful condition – missing its rear spats, too, which made it look even better!

Not that it looks bad with the spats on, per se… The light green of this example looked pretty similar to the Daimler V8 250 I wrote up last December.

Daimler Sixes look right at home in Ginza. Uncharacteristically, this one was ordered new in Japan in RHD.

Who drives a DS420 in this day and age? Folks who can afford one, whose Cadillac Seville is being serviced and who like a bit of extra legroom, I guess. The ugly plastic bumpers make this a final series (1987-92) vehicle.

I followed this Corniche II as it wafted along on a lazy Sunday morning drive. The license plate (and the car) seem to indicate the driver is second to none.

When owning a Phantom VIII is just not enough to make you stand out of the crowd, you have to implement some pretty extreme measures. Now reflect on that.

First Spectre sighting. Yours for a mere $425k or thereabouts. Or you could just get an electric BMW… Or a nice house in the country…

That’s what a Rolls-Royce is, to me, and always will be. If that’s not flashy and luxurious enough for you, I don’t know what world you live in.

A well-preserved mid-‘70s Silver Shadow is all the Rolls you need. And it’s a lot cheaper than that Spectre.

I keep catching glances of this Bristol 400. It’s frustrating. Here’s the back end, this time. Never knew the backlight could be opened!

I finally found a Rapide that can be used for a future CC post. This one, being surplus to requirements (and white), will fit nicely right here.

I had to chase that one. Totally worth it. Aston Martin made just over 100 of these DB2 dropheads between 1950 and 1953. Best catch of the year so far? Maybe. Let’s see what the Frenchies can bring to the game…

The Renault 4 remains one of the most popular classic French cars here.

Alpine wheels do not an Alpine make, though. The engine is in the wrong place, for a start.

Are Smart cars French? Sort of. That’s where they’re built, at any rate. The Roadster, which shares the ForTwo’s rear-engined platform, was made from 2002 to 2007 in 43k units. Very few have made it here, but I’ve always had a soft spot for them.

The colour on this 2CV is known as “bleu celeste.” The sky was the limit.

The 2CV did change quite a bit over the years. The gray car is a ’59 model; the white one is about 25 years younger.

What a pity this Ami 8 wagon did not stop for a spell on the side of the road.

Just like all Volkswagen T1 Transporters, Japan seems to have hoovered up every roadworthy Citroën Type H in Europe…

Final Froggie: a stunner of a Series 2 (1987-93) Citroën BX. Those wheels, man…

A few tons of American steel to see us out, starting with this fine 1966 El Camino.

Pre-rubber bumper C3 Corvettes really look the part. Aside from this one, I caught a very nice ’71 coupé that might have its day on CC this year.

Don’t think that all classics are well-cared-for and kept in heated garages here. Finding a garage in central Tokyo large enough to house this beast would take some doing…

I keep finding these “Regals” in wagon form, but they were also imported as sedans. Maybe someday…

Superb condition for this Caddy…

…whereas this one has seen better days. Get well soon.

If you feel that the Toyota Century is just too common and the Maybach S560 is too expensive, there’s always a GM-based solution.

Classic full-size American vans are venerated here, but Chevy and Dodge are usually preferred. This time around, Ford get the upper hand.

No idea if these were sold here new. Stranger things have entered the Japanese market, though…

Mustangs are the most popular of all US Fords, but it’s the first Fox Mustang I’ve seen here.

First generation Mustangs have a tremendous following here, as they generally do the world over.

Minor mystery with that “23” plate – in Japanese, this is pronounced “Nee-San,” so obviously, the cars that usually have them are not Fords.

Just one Wagoneer was found over the past couple of months. A bit less than we’ve been used to, but this one was particularly well preserved.

Nearing the end here, so we’re going to have to get the F out of Dodge. A Viper would make for a capable (dis)mount…

I suppose a rather rough-looking ’67 Coronet would also be fine for this task. But I think we can do better.

Perhaps a 1972 Challenger would be the best. Certainly looks the part, doesn’t it?


See you tomorrow for the best of the rest!