Junkyard Classics: A Quick Walkthrough In Asahikawa

How’s about going to a Japanese junkyard on the outskirts of Asahikawa, a town nestled in the middle of Hokkaido Island, for a little visit? Just head south for a few kilometers on the road to Furano and you’ll see it, literally by the road. Whaddaya say? Knew you’d be up for it. I advise putting a hat on – it’s pretty warm and sunny out there.

The place is active. There are a number of people in the garage(s) working on cars, and a couple outside with a tow truck, so one has to be quick and discreet. Just walk, take a few snaps and be on your way. We wouldn’t want to intrude.

There are quite a few Mazdas in this place, which is great, as it’s probably the most interesting Japanese marque. Also, I’ve not been seeing many interesting ones on the streets. Take this Savanna saloon, for instance (a.k.a RX-3). No idea if it has a Wankel or a standard piston engine, but judging by the other cars here, rotaries seem to be a house specialty. [Edit: it’s a rotary, as it’s badged as a Savanna. Standard piston cars were called Grand Familias in Japan.]


So let’s start off by taking a closer gander at the Mazdas. Quite a few RX7s (of all generations) present, of course.

This is a 1990-95 Eunos JC Cosmo, one of two I saw there. It’s the last Mazda product to bear this legendary nameplate and the only triple-rotor car ever marketed. The optional twin-turbocharged 2-litre 300hp Wankel was akin to a 6-litre V12, or so Mazda liked to claim. It was the most expensive car they ever made, but it was mistimed to coincide with the Japanese bubble bursting, so only something like 8000 units were built.

I’ve not been seeing many of these 1986-91 Luce hardtops, either. These had Mazda’s first V6, though a 1.3 twin-rotor was also available. Contemporary Nissan Glorias and Toyota Crowns are still about in fairly high numbers, but Luces are really rare now. First one I’ve seen, anyway.

Here’s something you don’t see everyday either: a 1970 Daihatsu Fellow Buggy. I now wish I’d have taken a couple more pics of it, as it appears only 100 of these oddball keis were made.

This one is more familiar to me. It’s a 1977-82 Suzuki Cervo, one of the most distinctive-looking kei cars of the ‘70s. Giugiaro design, two-stroke engine in the tail, red paint – this one wants to be noticed, and it certainly is.

Nearer the garage buildings, this superb Datsun 311 1200 Deluxe looks like it just needs an oil change or a new battery to get going again like it was 1961 all over again.

There are two forecourts about the place; the busier of the two has a lot of interesting metal within. I’m drawing a blank on that silver coupé with mismatched wheels – but this is CC, so I confidently predict that this mystery will be elucidated soon enough.

Aside from said mystery car, a lovely Datsun 510, more RX7s and another rarity: a Honda Life.

Let’s zoom in on that one. Those took over from the N360 in 1971 and lasted until 1974, when Honda pulled out of the kei class entirely for over a decade. Just ahead of the Honda, an R30 Skyline, a Ferrari and something up on a lift with lots of headlights peeking from within the garage, like some deep-sea creature…

The next building also has a few cool cars. The damaged R32 Skyline GT-R and a “Fairlady Z” coupé (as these are known in this part of the world) are easy enough to identify, but that gray pickup is intriguing.

Looks like an old Toyota Stout. These were popular in other parts of the globe, but sold slowly in Japan, so they were only made for export or CKD kits once Toyota swallowed Hino, in the late ‘60s.

Speaking of Hino, there’s a nice classic one next to a Nissan Cedric / Gloria Y33 that might well belong to one of the mechanics.

This Mercedes W126 coupé also looks suspiciously pristine and mildly customized, though it has no license plates, so it might be a newcomer to the yard. Thinking back on it, there were not many foreign cars about. A Cadillac Escalade, a Ferrari and a Benz. Sounds like the start of a bad joke set in south Florida.

Oops, make that two Benzes, then.

Oh, and there’s this, over in the wooded area. Yes, that is a GAZ Volga M-21 and no, these are not a common sighting here. But then if you look at a world map, you’ll see that the Russian Far East is right next door to Hokkaido, so perhaps a few Soviet relics are to be expected.

Continuing on the random theme, that wooded area also has a couple of late ‘70s Nissan Civilian buses.

Many more interesting vehicles, such as this ancient ToyoAce truck, are sadly out of reach, either because they were parked behind others, or because of the vegetation. Still, hope you enjoyed this little tour.