NOTHING BUT THE Classics
THE 13TH ANNUAL JAPANESE CLASSIC IN LONG BEACH
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