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JAI: Japanese Automotive Invitational 2019

JDM classics invade Monterey Car Week for the second year in a row

Sam Du
Sep 9, 2019
: Dan Coria

I attended my first Monterey/Pebble Beach Car Week in 2016 and I couldn't have felt more out of place. Picture're surrounded by multimillionaires, you're likely to find more Huracans on the road than Civics, and meeting an enthusiast who has modified a Japanese car before, let alone owned one, is a bit of a rarity. But after taking a step back from all the flashiness and pretentiousness, I realized there's still a ton of amazing automotive history and culture to appreciate, from the Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion at Laguna Seca Raceway to the Japanese Automotive Invitation (JAI) just outside of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

JAI Japanese Automotive Invitational 2019 toyota sports 800 01 Photo 79/79   |   JAI: Japanese Automotive Invitational 2019

JAI is special to Super Street because it's put on by our parent company, MotorTrend, and we've also been consulted during its development. Now in its second year, the three-day event makes its home at the Infiniti Pavilion, is free for the public to check out, and features around 50 Japanese classic cars that have been curated by the MotorTrend staff. JAI is really the first of its kind at Car Week, as there hasn't been anything that officially recognizes Japanese cars. And with legendary Datsun race cars on display, along with super rare vehicles like a 1963 Prince Skyline, 1966 Nissan Silvia, and a Toyota 2000GT on hand, how could you not take a moment to applaud such gorgeous vehicles?

JAI Japanese Automotive Invitational 2019 bluebird corona Photo 79/79   |   JAI: Japanese Automotive Invitational 2019

As for myself, I was somehow elected to offer guided tours at JAI this year. While I was hesitant to at first, it was a fun experience informing folks about some of the more important vehicles in Japanese history, many of the cars, which led up to the ones we modify today. To my surprise, there was even a Mugen CRX there, which I don't think anyone besides a handful of visitors knew what they were looking at!

JAI Japanese Automotive Invitational 2019 sam du Photo 79/79   |   JAI: Japanese Automotive Invitational 2019

So if you ever find yourself at Monterey Car Week, while the parades of Ferraris and Lambos might attract all the attention, take a step back, discover what else is going on, and you just might stumble across some of the coolest and most authentic cars in one place, like JAI.

By Sam Du
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