To quote a friend, “And so it begins…”
That friend, along with a few others, is gleefully watching me succumb to the temptation they call Japanese diecast. For so long, I have stayed focused on Matchbox, my first love, and Hot Wheels. There was the occasional looksy at a Majorette, a Johnny Lightning, even a Greenlight, but I have stayed focused.
But there was an aspect of my love for cars that I had not really applied to my diecast collection. And that element starts with this:
This is a 1982 Honda Accord in signature baby blue. This is the exact same car that my father drove from 1981 to 2001. Now that is not a unique thing. Many kids my age grew up in 1980’s Honda Accords. But this car was bought by someone who grew up on GMC, Buick, and later Ford car lots. His father owned those dealerships, and engrained in his son a full appreciation of the American automobile.
So imagine the shock in the family when my father replaced his tan Ford Maverick with a Japanese car. Of course in 1982 Japanese cars were firmly entrenched in American culture, but they were just making it to the suburbs, and finally right into our driveway. And we thought my accountant dad’s foray into auto counterculture was super-cool. (This was a man who lived one block from Haight-Ashbury in the late-60’s, and just saw it as an intersection.)
I loved that Honda, and participated in its funeral in 2001. Three years later I participated in my father’s funeral. I have a billion good thoughts and memories about my father, but nothing represents him better than his 1982 baby blue Honda Accord. He was not a car guy, but he loved things that worked well.
Nonetheless, as my interest in cars grew over time, I saw aficionados for American muscle, European exotics, early and mid-century classics, and on and on. What I wasn’t seeing was love for classic Japanese. I remember telling people how much I regretted not keeping my dad’s Honda and getting it completely refurbished. I remember people laughing at the idea. Surely there were others who shared my love of these cars. They just weren’t out there. I will admit to not looking as much as I should have. I just kept collecting my Matchbox and Hot Wheels.
And then Jun Imai made a Datsun 510 for Hot Wheels.
Wait, what!?! A Datsun 510? By the company that never met a Camaro they didn’t like? I mean a Fairlady Z, I can understand, but a 510? I can even understand an AE86, but clearly there is a reason for the 510.
There was. The reason is because there is an enormous group of folks out there that love classic (make that “nostalgic”) Japanese cars. It may not be rooted in baby blue Accords, but it is there.
So I started learning terms like Initial-D, kenmeri, BRE, bosozoku, and on and on. Jun followed up his 510 with two Skylines last year, then an RX-7 and the eye-opening Mad Manga this year. I was introduced to Japanese Nostalgic Car. I am late to the game, but I am definitely in the game.
Alright, can I make this introduction any longer? Yes, I can.
The Nissan Skyline H/T 2000GT-R is my favorite Hot Wheels car, the GT-X is not far behind. With the kenmeri and hakosuka helping introduce me to these cars in diecast form, it was only a matter of time that my collecting tastes would expand, and they have. I have been introduced to brands like Tomica, Aoshima, Kyosho, and Choro-Q, and have enjoyed seeing the enormous world they occupy.
And with my interest in this side of diecast growing rapidly, this blog will be logically infiltrated. It won’t take the place of my love for Hot Wheels, and I am the Matchbox Ambassador, for heaven’s sake.
But look for an infiltration of Japanese cars and brands. I hope that many of you who already enjoy these cars will share what interests you, and that others will gain an interest in many of these models.
Well, let’s get on with it. I figure I should show some photos. I have blabbed on long enough. Since this post has been about classic Japanese, how about a classic Japanese?
Kyosho does amazing work, no matter if the car is Japanese or not, as you will see later when I post their Ferrari 458.
But here is one of their Hakosuka Skylines, the first generation Skyline GT-R. I think this is a good place to start.
(And if you need scale, this model is slightly smaller than the Hot Wheels version.)
Kyosho Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-R (KPGC10):