Sometimes, the title pic for these Singles posts is self-evident. Such was the case here: I only managed one good shot of this passing monster, the first Countach I’ve seen in this country. This was no replica on an MR2 chassis, either, judging by the noise it made. These later models are ugly, but impressive nonetheless.
That same day, a couple blocks away. So here’s the problem I have with present-day Lambos: I believe this is a Huracán, with the 5.2 litre Audi V10 and something like 600hp. All very impressive as well, but utterly soulless. Besides, can you tell the difference between this and the V12 Aventador? Because I sure as hell can’t. The Countach and the Silhouette/Jalpa, however, were clearly different. Seems that made more sense than the current range.
We could play a similar game with the Fiat 500. The original (well, the postwar version anyway) 500 had character and pretty rudimentary creature comforts. That was acceptable in the ‘60s…
But the present-day Fiat 500 Abarth has become so chubby and expensive that you can add a Maserati badge, and it almost looks like it belongs there.
Finding a Saab in this town is always a small event. Pity this one was inhabited – this guy was just parked on the curb, chilling in his 900 Turbo. The Norwegian wood, but the Swede just won’t.
Only one noteworthy French car in this edition – finally, an Alpine in the correct shade of blue! There will be a lot more Gallic delicacies coming soon, though, so let’s move swiftly to the German stuff, ja?
Second generation Golfs still look kind of out of place to me in the Japanese context. Not sure why. The fact that most of the ones I see are near pristine might have something to do with it: I saw a few of these in France during my recent stint there, but they looked 30-plus years old. This one seems to have arrived in 2021 via some quirk of the space-time continuum.
I kinda fumbled getting a photo of this one, but it was an utterly gorgeous (mid-‘60s-ish?) Beetle. All I could manage was this rear shot. But you can see the chromed roof rack, which really added to this VW’s glitzy finish.
There are more bodykit-wearing Suzuki vans paying homage to the VW Transporter than actual Type 2s about, but you do run into them on a fairly regular basis. This one was getting a bit scruffy around the edges, but it was also still working for a living.
Here’s one I really wasn’t expecting: a VW Kübelwagen, a.k.a Typ 82, in what looked like Afrika Korps livery. I wondered whether this might be an actual wartime survivor, but then saw the Intermeccanica script on the rear end. I had no idea, but the very same Intermeccanica who had made exotic-looking sports cars in the ‘60s and ‘70s (the Apollo GT, the Italia, the Indra) are still in operation in Canada making various Porsche 356 and Kübelwagen replicas.
Speaking of which, a late model Porsche 356 coupé was sighted on the outskirts of the imperial palace. This turned out to be a good season for vintage Porsche-spotting…
Another 356 was caught — this one looking less busy with accessories, thankfully.
This early 911 was apparently getting a bit of a tune-up done. Judging by those taillights, this one probably started life in North America. Love the creative use of the umbrella, too.
This one’s a little younger, but still pretty respectable. Never understood why some 911s have a big “PORSCHE” decals on their doors. Surely, this is one of the most recognizable shapes in automotive history?
I ran into this W126 more than the two occasions seen above – I even featured it in a previous T87 Singles installment, if memory serves. It’s a neighbourhood car. And with its stately presence and distinctive pale yellow hue, it makes for an irresistible subject to capture in motion.
This big white Benz, on the other hand, was standing still, but its owner seemed determined to make it look like it was on the move anyway. A bit too much for my taste. If it’s a genuine AMG W126 (stranger things have happened), I bet it’s a pretty rare sight nowadays.
These older S-Class are getting scarce, especially this version. They made just over 40,000 450 SEs between 1973 and 1980 — the least popular (but most luxurious) standard-wheelbase W116 variant, except the North America-only 300 SD.
The second Hummer H1 I’ve caught in this city renowned for its extremely narrow streets. Some people obviously see something in these that escapes me.
The same applies to big lifted pickup trucks, in my opinion. The point of these (in Tokyo or pretty much any city) is not immediately apparent, though seeing one, every once in a while, is amusing. And at least these older Rams look great, unlike the very recent rigs, which are aggressively ugly.
Big old ‘70s Caddies, on the other hand, I can relate to. The fuzzy dice are a cliché too far, though.
If I’m not mistaken, this looks a lot like a 1982-83 Chevrolet Malibu wagon.
Had I been able to photograph more of this nice example of a Malaise Era family hauler, it would have had its own post. But the dash was not reachable, nor was the whole rear end. Pity. Fine-looking car nonetheless.
Time for some Firebirds. Yes, plural! I never liked the face of these late ‘70s Trans-Ams – the square headlights and that plasticky split grille just don’t work for me. Unfortunately, this look spread to other members of Pontiac range in the ‘80s. The rear end, on the other hand, is one of the best of the decade.
Knight Rider lives! The car was a tad far away for me to do it justice – or to catch the red LED bar on the front end, which it did have in working order. A true TV star encounter.
The final Detroiter for this edition will be this modest 1st-gen Neon. It’s badged as a Chrysler, just like the ones we had in old Europe, where Plymouth is a town in England and Dodge a truck brand. Given the product placement for these, Neons were the first RHD Chryslers ever sold in Japan. Wikipedia says that just under 1000 of these made it over here in 1996, after which Chrysler let the matter drop.
What ho, chaps, let’s end this on a British note, shall we? Starting with the Mini of the month, so to speak – a 1966 Traveller, if the license plate is to be believed.
I must say this one caught me by surprise. I’ll use that as an excuse for the sub-par photography anyway. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.
I don’t think I’d ever seen one of these new Vantages before. Quite attractive rear end design, with a clever LED echo of the Aston Martin grille. These apparently pack a 4-litre Mercedes-AMG V8, which is also news to me.
There is a strong following for these things in this country. I guess these appeal to people’s affinity with zen minimalism. Not my cup of tea, but it was interesting to see one up close, which I hadn’t done in a long while.
I saw this Morgan on the same street at the same time in the morning on several occasions during the month of June. This is the same car that I posted about last year, and it’s great to see it in daily use.
Let this be a foretaste of many a Rolls-Royce- / Bentley-themed posts to come. I’ve been catching quite a few of these magnificent machines lately, almost all from the same source, which also yielded a Bristol 406. More on these soon, though this particular Bentley is not on the menu yet.
There will be a part three, because sometimes there needs to be. See you tomorrow for that!
I think the most impressive thing here (and that’s saying a LOT) is the rear seat of that Malibu wagon. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one since the 1980s that wasn’t festooned with footprints, spilled juice, animal cracker crumbs and that’s just the things I can discuss in this family-oriented website…. I can almost see the appeal of the car when new – judging solely by the apparent richness of the material.
I believe the white TransAm is actually a rare Turbo model – that’s usually denoted on the little piece of text hanging just below and to the right of the M on the back if you can blow it up enough.
What sort of person drives a Kubelwagen around? I guess there’s every sort.
The Turbo model wasn’t introduced until 1980 with the 301, the text at the bottom corner of the M is Pontiac. If the Shaker sticker is accurate though TA 6.6 denotes a Pontiac 400 and not the Olds 403 which is rarer and desirable
Ah, thanks for the explanation.
Or, the east way to spot a Turbo at a glance, is that the hood bulge was a different shape and offset significantly to the driver’s side.
Let’s just say that there are noticeable lacunae in the Japanese curriculum, a source of grave irritation in South East Asia (and even here, given that the Yasukuni Shrine, for example, still venerates a number of war criminals responsible for the murder of Australian prisoners on the Burma railway). It is possible that someone driving an immitation Axis wartime car today in Japan has no idea of the history.
Well, that is certainly unfortunate and potentially embarrassing for the owner. Now I can’t decide which is worse, knowing or not knowing… 🙂
Just notice from the shoot of gen 2 Golf next to the new Comfort Taxi, the new Comfort is large, size of Pirus Five?
Also curious to know if it is expensive to register those large displacement vehicles in Japan. I am told Japan taxes engine size of vehicle accordingly.
I love to see the magnificent variety of classics that they have there. Too eclectic.
A Lotus or Caterham 7 in Japan screams “Mario Kart” to me.
Sure, but why bother when in Japan, that supposedly restrictive place re automobiles, you can legally drive a real MarioKart.
And zoomed in, same setting.
You can rent them. Yes, any tourist can drive around Tokyo and mix it up with traffic…
I strongly disagree re the Trans Am’s front end, I think the 77-78 nose was the best front end of the second generation, yes, over the original 70-73, gaining more of a distinctive identity over the single round headlight Camaro, which we’re looking closer and closer related (compare a 77 Camaro with its new endura bumpers to a 76 Firebird with its single round headlights). The grille/headlight assemblies have a really neat reverse symmetry with the taillights, making the design seem a bit more cohesive than it was in the immediate previous years
I like the Mini best on this menu. We got the wagon, but not the Traveller woodie, and I can’t recall ever seeing one in the timber.
As for the Caterham thingy, I’d love to try one on for a day as I’m sure they’re huge fun, though not for any longer than a day. I got into one a motor show years ago, and there’s surprising gobs of legroom – felt as if my feet were on the radiator – but to my great embarrassment, I couldn’t easily get back out of the bloody thing. It felt like sliding into a metal sleeping bag that’s lying down and not unzipping it.Try that in reverse order! The snooty sales dude was not pleased to be ruffling his suit by heaving a sweaty late teen out of a car he clearly couldn’t afford and wasn’t going to buy.
Anyway, I certainly understand how detachable wheels came to be a thing.
I agree with Jim K. above that the Malibu wagon’s condition is rather remarkable.
I’ll see wagons like that occasionally, but in most cases, their condition is similar to the example below:
Your posts of the cars of Tokyo is great and brings back fond memories of my year there. I’m not only checking out the cars in your photos but the background scenes too.
I wonder how those owners get the single-digit licence plates?
Having seen a restored Kubel recently I could see that one is fake, different though and that Mini must be a rarity in Japan, A Humvee is only as wide as a regular truck but I’d rather drive a full size Hino or Isuzu than that.