It’s been a good month in old Tokyo, CC-wise. I trust I will be able to provide you with a few in-depth posts, but for now, here are some of the ones I caught only one or two photos of, usually in traffic. This month, for some reason, was placed under the sign of Lotus – I bagged three, including this stunning early ‘70s Elan S4 coupé.
But let’s not dwell on the other two John Player Specials just yet. I’ve been seeing a few nice Volvos about, too. Always pristine, obviously. I noticed this late model 240 a couple times in my neighbourhood, always with an older gentleman at the rear and a chauffeur in front.
Is this an appropriate car to be chauffeur-driven? In Tokyo and in this condition, I’d say yes.
This older 244 DL seemed more of an enthusiast’s car. The dead giveaway is the license plate, which (I’m assuming) is informing us of this Volvo’s model year, a common enough trick folks do here.
Incredibly well-preserved, for a 40-plus year old automobile. I saw a wagon of similar vintage also on the same street days later, but was too slow to catch it. Ah, the ones that got away…
Caught this Mk1 VW Golf on the same street as the previous two. Seeing this one was positively heartwarming, as these earlier ones are now getting scarce, even in Europe. Great to see one (at least) is thriving in Tokyo.
While we’re looking at red German cars, how about this mouth-watering late ‘60s 911S?
Seems like this one was imported from the UK at some point. Love the fact that the current owner kept the original painted license number on the front end and that D-for-Deutchland at the back.
Here’s the second Lotus, then. This one I photographed at about 7am on a Sunday, from my balcony. Hence the fuzzy pics. You don’t exactly see Europas everyday, so I though it warranted a mention here.
Very weird-looking cars, even by Lotus’ standards. Quite a shock to see one just as I was having my first cup of coffee… Couldn’t focus as well as I might have, for all these reasons.
In Europe, and especially in the UK, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid (or stopped to take a photo) when faced with a Rover 75. But it’s all about context. Who in their right mind would have ordered one of these new back in the day in Japan? There must be some dyed-in-the-Wilton-carpet Anglophiles in this town.
The Renault 4 was never imported in Japan when new, but I’ve been seeing quite a few around. They have a strong following here, though I cannot fathom why exactly. Nigh on impossible to find one in this condition in its country of birth.
Nor was the LHD-only Renault Twingo ever imported back then, either (as far as I know). But this late ‘90s car really didn’t look too out of place in this setting…
…Which is more than one could say about a 1970 Corvette next to a Cadillac CTS Wagon, eh?
Yes, these pre-5mph bumper Stingrays are gorgeous beasts. But I think we can do even better, Chevy-wise…
OK, it’s seen better days, and it’s wearing weird wheels (though there’s a lot worse out there), but it’s still a 1965 El Camino. Fancy seeing that here!
While we’re on the subject of American metal in strange places, here’s a happy motorist who has two transportation options, both of which could be qualified as extremes.
These two, however, seem like a better match. Soft-top or coupé? Verdi or Wagner? Chianti or Eiswein?
It woldn’t be Tokyo without a classic Bimmer, of course. This E28 looks like it’s had a few vitamins, courtesy of Hartge. Alpinas are so common, don’tcha know…
Let’s switch to the JDM stuff, shall we? Even kei cars have their specials, not just retro grilles and tacky chrome. The Subaru Vivio (1992-98) came as a 5-door and a 3-door, but in 1993, to celebrate Subaru’s 40th anniversary, this notchback T-Top variant was made by Takada Kogyo.
The targa top is (obviously) removable and the rear window stows itself away electrically. Legally, this car is a four-seater, if you can believe that. Only 3000 were made.
Not far from that Subaru, I found this sweet 1975 Corona GT coupé, again in mint condition. Pity it was parked behind a locked gate, I sure would have liked to get more pics of that one.
This is the third Corolla AE86 I’ve caught in the wild (plus one in a museum), so I’m starting to think that hese are not exactly exceptional. This one was the dustiest yet!
I also scored another Mitsubishi Flying Pug. Considering how few of these were put together (139 to be exact), that’s quite a coup. Many more Toyota 2000GTs or Mazda Cosmos were made, but for some reason, the universe wants me to document these atrocities. Sigh…
Nissan-wise, the month started well with this lithe R32 Skyline saloon (1989-94). I hope I’ll find one standing still some day. I’m more partial to four-door Skylines in general, and this generation is no exception.
But I will admit that the two-door version is also quite the looker.
Remarkable cars, the R32s — especially for that era.
But maybe not quite as remarkable as this mid-‘70s C110 Skyline “Kenmari” saloon, pictured on the same street as the previous two.
This was Nissan’s more challenging period, esthetically, but I will admit that this Skyline looks pretty good, at least in this form (the wagon is downright ridiculous) and compared to most other ’70s Nissans.
Let’s end this edition with the final Lotus – an uncharacteristically dirty (and characteristically non-running) Esprit X180. These were made from 1987 to 1993, with a new nose by Peter Stevens grafted on Giugiaro’s original shape.
That’s it for this month’s Tokyo sightings. Personally, I’m torn: the Porsche was sublime, but the Kenmari was quite a sight and the Elan is probably the only truly beautiful Lotus. Tough crowd.