I’m not sure why, but I’ve been seeing quite a few Mk2 Golfs lately. Not more often than Beetles, of course, but still. These are getting on in years now. How do the Japanese VW connoisseurs even find these mint examples? This one, being LHD, might have been imported somewhat recently – though with the Japanese “LHD snobs” ordering their cars new with the steering wheel on the wrong side, who knows.
And if brown’s not your colour, how about a red one in RHD guise? Cool-looking neighbour, too.
On the rear-engine front, one noteworthy find this summer was this pre-1968 Transporter. You can’t beat that classic angry unibrow look. It’s particularly popular in this country: two-tone Japanese vehicles of all sizes regularly sport this frontal feature frown.
I’m always at a loss as to what these are called, exactly. Transporter, T3, Vanagon? This one was badged as Caravelle, which reminds me more of old French jets. Or Renaults. Very nicely preserved example in any case.
Another W123 long-roof. I see so many saloons that I’ve decided to omit them from these posts, but the wagons are still able to make the cut. I saw (but haven’t yet caught) a very nice coupé as well on more than one occasion around my neighbourhood.
This early model (pre-1995) Mercedes R129 hardtop is also a frequent visitor, parading its three-pointed star corner pole.
Saabs are rare here, it’s always something of an occasion to see one. There may be some later ones about, but they look so anonymous to me that I often don’t notice them as Saabs. The late ‘90s ones such as this 9-3 cabriolet were the last of the breed to look distinctive, in my opinion.
This was a disappointing month for French cars, sad to say. Only managed a fuzzy shot of a Renault Super 5 – Gandini’s reinvention of the R5 / Le Car for the late ‘80s.
But for some reason, there were Minis everywhere I looked. It was like that British invasion thing all over again.
Literally a lot of Minis. This was a specialist shop in Hokkaido. Even way up there, they have a dedicated following. This place even had a Moke in the back, but I didn’t manage to capture it.
Not sure if this is a Mini front end grafted to something else, a local modification or a congenital malformation.
I originally caught this exact Rover 600 in-motion a couple months back, but I hadn’t captured its front end. Then I happened upon its lair. Strange to see a glorified Honda made in the UK and sold back to Japan, but then the Brits were always very good at badge-engineering.
I’m almost surprised I haven’t run into more of these here. I had to go all the way to Hokkaido to finally catch one. But talk about iconic! This FX4 cab is so veddy British and precious, they kept the GB plates and built a pedestal or it. Not keen about the colour, though.
Ditto for this Bentley Turbo R – yellow is rarely a good hue for cars, but for a big brute like this, it’s downright dreadful.
One the other hand, olive green fits this 1994-96 Range Rover perfectly. It somehow looks even better than if it had come out of Solihull only yesterday.
This is the first Rolls Cullinan I’ve had time to really look at in the flesh and I must say I find it much better-looking than the rest of their current range. The massive chunky styling that Rolls-Royce have adopted since the early naughties can only really work on a vehicle that calls for massive chunky styling – an SUV. It just took them about 15 years to pull the trigger. Baby steps.
Onwards to the Detroiters. There were plenty over the summer, starting with this adorable Dodge Tradesman 100 van. More mid-‘70s than a pair of bell-bottoms.
Turns out this was a good season for old Dodges. I caught three, though one of them deserves (and shall be hopefully granted) its own post. This Durango was sure nice too. It must look like a boring appliance those of you on the other side of the Pacific, but over here it’s a rare sight – one I hadn’t set eyes upon in many years. As I photographed it, it struck me that this is a rather good-looking SUV. Words I never thought I’d write.
While we’re on the subject of unlikely SUVs, a bunch of old Ford Broncos were sighted this summer around Japan. Can’t quite explain it. It started with these two representatives of the 1st-gen, seen here frolicking about in Tokyo traffic.
One wet evening in the town of Otaru, near Sapporo, I happened upon a 5th-generation (1991-96) Bronco. Less interesting perhaps, but uncommon in these parts for sure.
Certainly less common than the older Broncos are in Tokyo, apparently…
I snapped this one in late August. According to the license plate, I’d hazard a guess that it could be a ’71. Very nicely restored, with that signature V8 burble… I can’t say I wasn’t moved.
I guess calling this an American car is borderline insulting, but it does say Chrysler on both ends. I have seen the Lancia-badged version in Japan on at least one occasion as well. No idea why that would be. FCA is a mysterious multinational, isn’t it?
To make up for that, here’s a couple of fine pure-bred USDA-approved Chevys, starting with this 1970 Nova. Not necessarily my cuppa, but a welcome change from kei cars and hybrids.
There are many Astro vans around Japan, but the gargantuan G-series Chevrolet Van is much less common. I’m far from being an expert on these, but this looks like a high-end late model (1992-96), complete with bullet-hole stickers.
I have a theory about Maserati Quattroportes: only the odd-numbered ones are any good. The second one was a bland rebodied Citroën SM, the fourth was a stretched Biturbo and the current sixth is, to me, a flavourless Benz S-Class clone. By contrast, the first QP was Fruatastic and cutting edge, the huge QP III was the only good thing De Tomaso ever did when he ran the place and the fifth, as seen above, was a sleek, yet characterful beauty. I don’t usually like “new” cars, but there are exceptions.
Hey, the cheapest Ferrari ever! It’s also the only prancing horse I’ve ever had the honour to board, back when I was a teenager. Even back then, Mondials were known to be a rather limp kind of penis substitute, but hey, it made the right noises and that gated gearchange looked the part.
I came upon a colourful trio of trikes in Hokkaido. I didn’t catch what the make and model was for this first one, but it clearly wasn’t what the other two were.
Those were Harleys, of course. I haven’t seen so many H-Ds as in Japan – they really like big bikes here. Trikes are nowhere near as popular, so catching all of these in one go was a cool occasion.
Finally, a bit like yesterday’s bus restaurant, here’s the Airstream café. Because this is a special two-month recap of every CC I’ve managed to catch during the summer months, there will be a special-edition part three, so see you again tomorrow.
The third generation Ypsilon, sharing its platform with the Fiat 500, was marketed also as the Chrysler Ypsilon in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Japan.
That explains the Chrysler badges, but it does nothing to explain “why” market the car as a Chrysler in those markets, rather than the presumably more desirable Lancia? I can possibly see the idea of not using Lancia in the UK and Ireland, as the brand had a horrible reputation for rusting, but it also had a reputation for really interesting cars. Heck, Jeremy Clarkson has said that one should own at least one Lancia at some point. They may break your heart long term, but they often make your heart sing when they work.
Agreed on the niceness of early Broncos – their appeal is hard to pin, as they don’t really have much styling as such – and agree entirely on the Theory of Alternate Quattroportes.
But I can’t concur on the Rolls Called Inane, having also just seen one in the excess of its flesh. The front looks like the gaudy mausoleum in which its rich owner will soon enough be interred, whilst the side looks like a rather uninteresting minivan, for those those rear-opening rear doors that DO have enough exoticification to look a bit cool on a big sedan just look awfully like ye olde sliders from an ’84 Dodge Caravan when the sedan shape is tallened and tailgated. Oh dear. Incredibly dear, ofcourse, and given that it is a corpulent BMW 1-series in an awful lot of makeup -well, almost – it could not be considered value.
Anyway, the BMW connection also assures that the (absurd) price will not be forgotten long after the quality is also found to have been forgotten, as that price will likely be repeated in repairs a number of times over after a while.
The T3 VW Caravelle for me, despite reliability doubtless like that of five year old Inane. It is a late one still with chrome bumpers, and in gorgeous order, and it can’t have done too many miles in Tokyo – they are wide things that feel twice as much so from the driver’s seat and if it had been driven much, it would have visible pieces of the city scoured along the sides.
No helmet law in Japan? Call me a bit surprised.
Gen1 Broncos have become a really hot thing for some time now.
Certainly in the UK helmets are compulsory for Motorbikes, but not for motor trikes and quardricycles. Perhaps that’s the same in Japan.
…which is one reason some city centre police officers are using them, and also as they do not require a bike licence if the user has a car licence IIRC
Indeed – the helmet law is strictly enforced for motorcycles and scooters, but doesn’t apply to three-wheelers…always thought that was strange here in Japan.
This post sparked a lot of ruminations on color. I actually like the yellow on that Bentley. I loved the similar shade used on Volvo’s 750 T5 as well. The Volvo wears it better, but the big square Bentley does it justice too, I think.
I agree wholeheartedly about that green on the Land Rover. That is my favorite shade for that generation. I’d like to see more non-metallic shades like it come back into fashion. There’s so much depth to it. I feel similarly about that not-so-far-off color of the W123.
It’s also nice to see those two pastel colored Broncos. This was a cheerful group, all in all.
Unfortunately that looks to be the exact same shade of yellow they use on taxis here. And with the boxy shape of that Bentley, only the size gives away that it’s not one. 🙂
Never would have expected to see one early Bronco, let alone 3! All uncut (or repaired) and 2 of the 3 with the fancy hubcaps.
I was a bit curious about the big Chevy Van, so I enlarged the picture and saw a “Deez Crew” sticker on the rear. I had no idea what that was, so I looked it up.
Turns out Deez Crew is a dealer in Yokohama that specializes in big US conversion vans. Looking up their website, and checking out the StreetView of their shop confirms this. It appears they try to either import and/or outfit their vans to be almost stereotypically American, which may explain the fake bullet holes.
On a different note, on the W123, I have no idea what that pea-soup-green color was called, but I find it’s my favorite color for these. Actually, I’m not sure this color was offered in North America because the two recent examples I’ve seen have been European-spec cars — regardless, it’s a unique color, and I like it!
Eric, your curiosity is contagious.
Looking at their Facebook page shows all manner of conversion vans along with an early Pinto and second generation Blazer.
However, this picture caught my eye. It appears there may be a lift for the front of the rollback. I cannot imagine that Dodge as being so heavy as to lift the front of the truck – but you never know!
There’s clearly two large hydraulic rams to raise the front of the truck in order to tilt the whole truck instead of just the flatbed. A different way to accomplish the same effect.
That is an interesting way to avoid the need for a tilting bed.
Makes much more sense than Landoll’s short lived Centerfold.
I saw a W123 in Germany a couple of years ago -great condition and in that pea green. It just looked so “at home” it was uncanny
This is one of the pea green European-spec cars I’ve seen — it’s a 230E. The other was a wagon, but I couldn’t get a photo of that one:
The VW bus is a 67 at the latest the bay window version came out in 68, I had one, Minis yep popular in Japan a friend was exporting them from here when the the jap used import boom started yet there are still thousands of the here, those later VW vans were badges Carravelle here too not many around they were horrendouly expensive to buy and keep going compared to Japanese vans or European Transits and Bedfords,
Airstreams, A friend of mine has two here one is an up scale 31 fott wine bar on wheels the other is the living in variety not really good caravans they weigh as much as the moon and have dreadful ground clearance at the too long overhangs but look cool.
I have driven on vacation several times in England and have have not hit anything….yet.
But I’be deathly afraid to attempt the same thing with a LHD Dodge Durango or Chevy Van considering how narrow the streets are in Japan. My hat is off to them
Pretty sure that weird Mini van thing is the nose of a Mini grafted onto the “walk through van” body that would usually use the floorpan and nose of an 80s/90s Daihatsu Mira (or maybe Suzuki Alto, not sure what differences there are between their box van back ends). I’m led to believe that isn’t an uncommon modification judging by googling “Mini walk through van”.
As for the Chrysler Ypsilon, that is how it was sold there. Here in the UK, there were some owners who swapped the Chrysler badges out for Lancia ones, so maybe some in Japan did the same thing?
It seems Golfs are reasonably popular in Japan. Importing pre-owned JDM cars is fairly common in Ireland ( in the UK they only import the interesting stuff) but a few years ago a work colleague imported a fairly recent Golf Estate from Japan. Automatic of course – perhaps that spec was hard to find on our domestic market.
Eh, I think the Rolls Cullinan has about the same proportions of a Rolls golf cart. The greenhouse is awkwardly tall and the tires seem proportionally small. I liked this style when it first appeared on the sedans however many years ago, but it is pure kitsch at this point.
I love the Dodge Van, I was born way too late to witness Van culture but I always liked the wide fuselage van shape combined with all the great looking aftermarket mag wheels of the 70s(those deep dish slots are my favorite). Making a vehicle that would seem the anthesis of performance look and sound like a Muscle car, and be a rolling bedroom is pretty cool.
I know first gen Broncos get all the love and attention, but for the value I like the OJ Broncos just fine, back half of the roof unbolts(in an admittedly inconvenient manner) so you still can get 2/3rds of open air SUVing and in my opinion the styling on that generation has aged incredibly well. Engines are solid and with overdrive and EFI about as efficient as the classics, chassis is rugged, they’re just bigger (so is everything now a days). Whenever I see first gen Broncos heavily modified with huge mud tires bulging several inches past the fenders, I can’t help but question the impetus of cutting one up in lieu of buying an F series based one that would be about as useful and more accommodating.
The Ferrari Mondial is the only Ferrari that looks legitimately worse than a Fiero. It surprises me that some defenders of it will say it’s better than the similarly packaged Bertone designed 308 Dino, which I find far superior aesthetically.
Anyone else see a resemblance between the Renault Super 5 and garbage truck?
That Range Rover is terrific, in one of the original colours as well. Persoanlly, waya head of any Bronco.
Yellow does not work on a Bentley.
“A bland rebodied Citroën SM” is a bit harsh (and sounds oxymoronic), but having checked it out, the Rover P8 alike rear styling doesn’t work. Love to see and drive one though.
Great selection Tatra. I’ve never seen a Gen 1 Bronco here in 30 years. Two following each other – that’s a find!
The walk-thru K-jidosha is a Daihatsu Mira with an aftermarket front end – I did a post on one about a year ago…
Aha! So it’s a Daihatsu, not a Mini. Fooled again by those crafty Japanese. My new motto will be: when I doubt, browse Jim-san’s previous posts.
Those ATS Cup wheels as seen on the brown one were quite popular for the MkII Golf/Jetta for a while there, they seemed to be one of the few that could give a decent amount of lip. It is surprising how many very nice condition but still fairly mundane spec vehicles are found over there.
As you said, the yellow Bentley is just ghastly. It’d look so much better in the excellent hue gracing the RangeRover, which just looks amazing, another that is rarely seen in such good a shape anymore.
I’ve come to terms with the Mondial, while not nearly as interesting as the regular 308/328 it serves a purpose with the (admittedly not very inviting) back seat though. It’s far from the only not-quite-a-looker Ferrari and the 80’s creases help it these days.
But the Dodge van may be the star of the show here, not normally a fan, this one looks quite good and must present one of the greatest contrasts as compared to the rest of the traffic while intrinsically having the least “going on” with it, custom touches such as rear side windows and wheels notwithstanding.
Oh, and it cracks me up that the Durango was of such interest, these are finally thinning out a little over here although in the right spec like the one you found they do look fairly muscular, while not being so large and overwhelming as the full-sizers. Did you notice those tail lights are shared with the Dodge Caravan minivan? Looking forward to tomorrow’s surprise!
Yes, those taillights did look mighty familiar. Those Durangos were not widely exported, so they do look pretty exotic to me. Just like a Toyota Crown would in the US, I guess..
Time has been kind to the Mondial, IMO. It’s still not a great design and the least powerful Ferrari since the 50s, but hey, it’s 40 years old, so it looks interesting by comparison. It’s a real 4-seater, though. I remember it being capacious enough for a pair of 6 footers (over a short distance) in the back. But then whoever asked that of a Ferrari?
The T3 Caravelle was an Option for up to 9 Seats. It was used by Taxis, Rentals and so on. It got an AC in Front and Back. In newer T4’s and T5’s it has also electric Sidedoors.
The 1994+ Dodge vans are known as “Dajiban” in Japan, and have a significant following, but the earlier models, not so much. The shortest-wheelbase models are naturally preferred.
let me explain the most popular VW T3 versions:
Transporter = standard, cardboard roof liners, cardboard door linings, no glove box lid et cetera, no noise insualtion
Caravelle = up to 9 seater (South Africa 12 seater) but cloth roof linings, nice cloth seats and so on, noise insulation
Vanagon, Westfalia, California = several versions of camper van
Multivan = camper van but less kitchen
Carat (later Business) = no bench seat in rear but big wonderful single seats
Eika = Single cab pickup truck
Doka = Double cab pickup truck
This one has about 955,000 on the clock now
Thank you for this – now I’ll know what’s what when I see one of these.
I had my ’86 GTi when I first went to Japan in 1989, still had it when I was there last in 1998. My favorite car I’ve owned was my ’78 Scirocco, but I really like the high mount
for the radio and heater and the tall seating that my current ’00 Golf doesn’t have.
Mine had the aerodynamic halogen headlamps, instead of the round ones. I also had vent panes (fake) on the front side windows, and the mirrors mounted on the door rather than on the base of the A pillar. Noticed that the windshield wipers are same mounting as in the states (guess they could change this but need different panel under the windshleld) Alsowas last car I had with aluminized exhaust system…used to have to replace every few years (plus the cat converter), but my Golf has stainless, which I’m sold on…still has original exhaust system 20 years later.