CC Outtakes: T87’s Singles Collection (Summer 2020) – Part 1: Japanese Cars

Yes, the singles collection is back, after a small climate-related hiatus. Summer in Japan is uncomfortably hot and humid, so there are fewer folks about driving interesting cars. Not only that, but the monsoon that usually lasts until early July lasted till early August this year, so I wasn’t really motivated to go CC hunting. That’s one of the reasons we escaped to Hokkaido, where I discovered this 1st-gen 1990-95 Mitsubishi Diamante, amongst other noteworthy finds.

Which doesn’t mean there weren’t the odd encounters on my doorstep every once in a while, such as this perfectly serviceable 2nd generation (1986-92) Debonair. I’m still holding out of bagging a 1st-gen one, though – easily the coolest four-door Mitsu ever.

Out on the hills near Sapporo, this lovely SWB Mitsubishi Jeep beckoned me over. How could I say no?

Keeping it Mitsubishi, this is the third Flying Pug I’ve documented in 12 months. Given that they made less than 200 of these horrid things, that’s quite a feat.

Here’s another Mitsubishi rarity: the dog-themed 2003 EK Wagon “Mifil.” Only 200 were made, thankfully, according to Japanese websites. Still, Japan wouldn’t be Japan without the odd weirdo retro kei cars here and there.

Just like this thing. It’s a Nissan March/Micra with a special “Herbie” kit that really makes it look like an Eastern European car. I’ve run into one of these already, but they’re pretty rare, so I thought an extra showing wouldn’t be amiss. And the backdrop made this one even more photogenic.

Looks like we’ve progressed to the Nissan part of the post. This C33 Laurel (1989-93) is typically lowered and shod with gaudy rims. Could be worse. At least, someone out there still cares for these.

Just love the way this non-taxi Y31 Cedric saloon is parked. No wonder vehicle width is subject to strict regulations here…

Speaking of Nissan taxis, here is something that I haven’t seen in a while (and never featured on CC before, I believe). Behold, the original Nissan taxi, better known as the 1993-2009 Crew. I remember seeing a few on occasion a while back, but they have now disappeared from Tokyo. But they do survive in fairly consequent numbers beyond the Kanto plain.

Case in point: these über-basic cars, which are a blend of C32 Laurel and Y31 Cedric and use the immortal RB20E 2-litre straight-6 (or a 2.8 Diesel), are still in operation out in the boonies of Hokkaido. Some of them showing pretty advanced rust, but they soldier on.

Turning to Toyota, we start with an uncommonly derelict 1991-95 Sprinter AE100, captured at a seaside town in Hokkaido. That part of Japan sees the kind of weather some might associate with places like eastern Canada: -20 Celsius and huge amounts of snow in the winter. Unless they’re really pampered, cars don’t live too long in that sort of climate.

Here’s a pampered one: a Sprinter Levin AE86 – caught in Sapporo, the largest city in Hokkaido.

Aaaand here’s another one but white, caught in Tokyo this time. I know, I know, it’s getting tiresome. I’ll stop documenting these, there are just too many about.

There were lots of these old Land Cruisers in Hokkaido as well. Not too surprising, but seeing a relatively pristine one like this was interesting.

They also drive the good old Mark IIs, up there. This high-trim 1988-95 Grande (X80) hardtop was quite fetching.

Back in Tokyo, a few days ago, this pillared version was discovered. Actually, it’s the Mark II’s fraternal twin, the X80 Cresta. And like the previous car, this one seems like a fully-loaded deluxe model, judging by the markings I saw on the back. It’s not just a Toyota Cresta, it’s a Super Lucent Exceed Cresta. So there.

Here’s the Cresta Super Lucent Exceed’s interior. Looks comfy. A wee bit boring perhaps, but comfy.

Our obligatory Mark II (X70) wagon. These are immortal, it seems. Hope you don’t mind seeing these so regularly (I think I’ve featured those on every Singles Outtakes post I’ve done so far), but I kinda like them. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

It was in dire need of a wash, but this third generation (1986-92) Supra A70 still had a lot of presence.

Topping it off with a Crown. This is an 11th generation (a.k.a S170) saloon, made between 1999 and 2003. There are still plenty of these about, but this one caught my eye due to its fender mirrors. This is the first S170 Crown I’ve ever seen with these. No idea if Toyota made it like that or if it was modified later.

I’m not sure whether this is a Toyota TownAce (R10) or a Daihatsu Delta Wide (B10), but it’s a pre-1981 model. Or what’s left of it, anyway. Also seen in Hokkaido, on the outskirts of Asahiyama.

Normally, I wouldn’t bother the CCommentariat with a lowly 1995-98 Daihatsu Move L600, but this one was decorated with a bunch of “rising sun” navy flags, battleships and other odd symbols and writing. The valiant patriot who presumably owns this car was inside taking a snooze, parked on the curb in a relatively narrow street, his 3-cyl. engine idling. The mind boggles, the blood pressure rises and morale plummets.

What else is there but Mitsuoka to raise the spirit? This is a very recent Himiko drop-top, based on the Mazda MX-5 ND. The Himiko was made from 2008 to 2018 on the MX-5 NC platform and had a retractable hardtop. They switched to a soft-top when the second generation arrived, but little else changed. Not a common sight even in its home country, this one.

This Ryoga is more familiar territory. Photographed in Otaru (Hokkaido), this is a very decent-looking example of a 2nd series car (2000-04). But the kicker was the profile shot below…

I didn’t really pay attention to it at the time, but the bicycle handlebars behind the Mitsuoka lined up almost perfectly with the hood. If you squint a bit, it ends up providing this retro faux-Engrish automobile with a gigantic Spirit of Ecstasy-type ornament.

Before I close this little shop of horrors, here are a couple of old heavies. This Hino bus hasn’t seen the road in a very long time, but at least it’s still in one piece. As far as I can make out, this is a Hino Rainbow RL made sometime between 1970 and 1980.

And to see us out, here’s a rickety Mitsubishi Fuso Canter. Looks like an earlier model, probably 1979-80. Those forty years of labour in central Hokkaido look to have been pretty rough on the old thing… Anyway, tomorrow will bring foreign cars – and some pretty cool ones, too. So see you there.