EAST MEETS WEST
A TRIP TO JAPAN PROVIDED A MEMORABLE RIDE IN GINPEI-SAN’S NOT-VERY-QUIET ONIKYANSTYLE FERRARI 348 AND A COUPLE OF CHATS WITH THE FUZZ
The Japanese are into their imports too…
The sound of Ginpei-San’s F1 sounding, onikyan-style Ferrari 348 reverberating off the buildings as he approached my hotel had been my alarm clock for the past two days. Today will be the last day of my trip. Wanting to show me all of Kitami, a small city on the island of Hokkaido, had to offer, he’d made arrangements for us to take part in a Sunday morning cruise and BBQ event.
The only thing Ginpei-San had told me before picking me up was that the meet was going to be specifically a USDM car meet. Similarly to how people in the US lust after JDM parts and right-handed vehicles, the opposite is going on in Japan, with people wanting USDM parts or importing left-handed vehicles.
As we pulled up to the meeting location, I was immediately blown away by the sheer number of cars, and the vast variety of USDM cars, that showed up. Everything ranging from left-hand drive Acura NSXs, vintage American iron, to a lifted dual-cab Ford F350 – something I bet is quite difficult to drive and park in the small streets of Japan. “Everyone wanted to meet you since I told them you were coming on Facebook”, smiled GinpeiSan. “So more people showed up!”
Humbled by his kinds words, I grabbed my camera and got to work. However, as soon as I started to take pictures, Ginpei-San told me it was time to head to the other meeting location before the cops showed up. The cops in Kitami are surprisingly strict and often come to these meets to check everyone’s cars and see if they are road legal – something I’d experienced first hand the previous day. Thus I hopped back into the 348 and headed off to the next location.
The cruise was a journey in itself, riding around in Ginpei-San’s 348 with his custom X-pipe exhaust system unsilenced and screaming for about an hour, all the while being physically beat up by the incredibly harsh custom-hydraulic suspension system. I wouldn’t recommend driving the 348 for long distances and Ginpei-San admits he normally wouldn’t drive it for a long time, but he wanted to have a little extra fun that day, even though technically the Ferrari doesn’t fit the USDM guideline.
It did however, make everyone incredibly happy to see it and as we drove along, everyone would take pictures as we rolled by. Some people even took pictures while
driving, which I strongly wouldn’t recommend doing. But as the old saying goes, you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes.
Arriving at the next location, everyone gathered around to discuss the next plan of action, the rules they wanted everyone to follow as to avoid drawing even more attention, and the BBQ. Once again, the stop was a brief one. We hadn’t made reservations to use the area, so if we stayed too long the local townsmen would wonder what was going on and call the cops to investigate.
Back on the road, we reconvened at the next checkpoint, a random U-turn spot in the middle of nowhere. With the vast number of cars in our group needing to make the U-turn, it gave me some time to hop out of the 348 and take more pictures.
After another 30 minutes on the road, we arrived at our final destination. A little park with a BBQ pit area that we had reserved for most of the day. It was here I could finally take my time and get a closer look at all the cars. Stance and extreme camber seemed to be the popular trend among everyone, but the cars I had been eyeing most of time were the vintage American ones.
It’s simply amazing the amount of time, energy and resources the Japanese will put into restoring these cars and you really can’t
appreciate it till you get up close and personal with them. Beautiful Chevy Fleetline, low rider Impalas with all the hydraulic switches, bagged C10 trucks. It was all there.
After drooling over some beautiful looking cars, it was time to drool over some excellent BBQ (yakiniku and yakitori) which happened to be all you can eat!
After lunch, there was still time left to take some more pictures and meet the other owners before our reservation time was up. Ginpei-San came up with the brilliant idea of taking the two NSXs and his 348, and having a small photoshoot away from the other cars.
It’s not everyday you get to play with two NSXs and a Ferrari, so I immediately agreed to the idea and started to arrange the cars. However, as our time limit was quickly approaching, the police arrived and used up the remaining time we had.
Fortunately, they were more interested in looking at the cars and having fun than yelling at us, so it was a nice change. We used that good fortune and decided it was time to make the journey back home to Kitami.
These kind of USDM meets near Tokyo are a lot of fun, but the owners tend to stay near their own cars and only talk with their close friends. However in Kitami, maybe because it’s such a small city, everyone treated everyone as if family. Everyone talks with everyone, helps each other work on their cars if something needed adjustment after the long drive, and even accepted me into their family. For that, I am forever grateful. Shitakke! (したっけ!)
In Japan you’re allowed to park in the middle of the road (probably)
A left hooker NSX in Japan, because USDM Yo
East meets West Well, why not?
… see! Everyone’s got one Old school Chevy is epic
There’s always one (or in this case two)