NOTH­ING BUT THE Clas­sics

THE 13TH AN­NUAL JA­PANESE CLAS­SIC IN LONG BEACH

NZ Performance Car - - Mode - WORDS: MAR­CUS GIB­SON PHO­TOS: DAVID NGUYEN

While us Ki­wis have al­ways been ex­tremely wel­com­ing to the Ja­panese va­ri­ety of tin, it has never been quite the same in Amer­ica, and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the clas­sics is some­thing that we could call a work in progress com­pared with back home. The fact that bar­gain Ja­panese clas­sics can be found on Craigslist is a good in­di­ca­tion that the level of love has not quite got there. But events like Ja­panese Clas­sic Car Show — first held in Long Beach, South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, 13 years ago by a pas­sion­ate group of en­thu­si­asts — is do­ing its best to hike those prices. Why? Be­cause over that time, the show has grown ex­po­nen­tially, to the point that it re­ally has out­grown its lo­ca­tion. It has be­come the big­gest Ja­panese car meet out­side Ja­pan, with peo­ple trav­el­ling from the far cor­ners of the US to at­tend. This year saw manufacturers Toy­ota, Honda, Nis­san, and Mazda all bring along a se­lec­tion from their fac­tory col­lec­tions — Mazda, in par­tic­u­lar, play­ing homage to 50 years of the ro­tary en­gine.

Think of the show as a mix of con­cours d’el­e­gance and the Na­tion­als all rolled into one. It’s a laid-back out­door show, as, un­like here in New Zealand, it never rains in South­ern Cali. Sprawl­ing out over the lawn and in among the trees, it is a smor­gas­bord of proper JDM. Just as we would say the Ja­panese do Amer­i­can lowrider cul­ture prop­erly, the Amer­i­cans seem to do clas­sic Ja­panese prop­erly, with a re­spect for pe­riod parts and mod­i­fi­ca­tions, and with­out too much mud­dling of home­grown in­flu­ences. But along­side the rare 14s, chin spoil­ers, and over-fend­ers, a huge por­tion of the show is fo­cused on fac­tory re­stored ma­chines. This sec­tion alone is big­ger than our lo­cal con­cours d’el­e­gance, and fea­tures lots of mod­els that were sold new in New Zealand but are trea­sured rare finds or im­ports on US soil. Many of these are il­le­gal to im­port to the US, and those who want them are forced to jump through hoops to get spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion from the gov­ern­ment.

If the show con­tin­ues to grow as it is, those Craigslist bar­gains will soon dis­ap­pear, and they will need to look for a big­ger venue for 2018 — al­though los­ing that wa­ter­front lo­ca­tion would be a huge blow to the vibe if you ask us. If you’re plan­ning a trip to the US next year, this is one event that is a must visit.

Pat Soli­man’s Ken­meri, rock­ing a set of su­per-rare River­side Su­per Rivers, took out sec­ond place in the ’70s Sky­line class. Lurk­ing un­der the bon­net is a built RB26 with sin­gle-turbo con­ver­sion

While the Del­ica might have been a com­mon sight here in New Zealand, they were never mar­keted in the US, so this will have been draw­ing a crowd, no doubt Be­lieve it or not, the front lip is re­tractable and, bet­ter yet, a fac­tory op­tion. One flick of a switch sees it fold in three and tuck away for drive­way ac­cess

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