The 15th annual Japanese Classic Car show was bigger and better than ever—a fact proven by the 10,000-plus visitors that made their way to Shoreline Drive in Long Beach, Calif., to take it all in. With that much attention and interest in these iconic Japanese chassis, you know owners put everything they have into getting their builds looking their very best for the big day.
Shuffling through the grassy park that played host to hundreds of classics from your favorite Japanese manufacturers, there's a little something for every automotive taste, from exquisite restorations to your basic street car with a handful of mods and maintenance used to keep it street-worthy—sometimes 50-plus years after rolling off of the dealer lot. With that said, two standouts that had me coming back for a second and third look during the late morning are listed below. Forget points, show categories, background stories, etc., this pair simply grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go.
Vehicle: 1972 Nissan Skyline HT 2000GT
Owner: Roy de Guzman
A 2000GT restomod would catch anyone's eye even at an event peppered with multiple showstoppers. This version, a '72 model, uses a little of the present and a lot of the past for an incredible finished product.
Starting with a razor straight, flawless body and fresh paint, the most noticeable factor is, without question, the stance. Void of any signs of excessive camber, the aggressive squat comes courtesy of Parts Assist M.Speed coilovers that allow de Guzman to dial in the car's height and greatly increase the handling compared to the aged factory legs. Rubber Soul tension rod urethane bushings update the ancient stockers and the same brand was called upon for their anti-roll bar and upper shock tower bar.
You almost expect to see Watanabe or Panasports accompanying a build like this, but instead you're greeted by rather unique 15-inch Colin Cross Fe'ver Racing wheels. Produced by Enkei (rather than Speed Star Co. like some of the other Colin wheels you might have seen), the original gold color is used and sits well beyond the incredibly deep step lip. Of course, on their own, wheels this wide would literally stick out like a sore thumb along the Skyline's chiseled body lines. To add some cover, both front and rear received modern flares.
Whether you're for or against the often-wild styling of the Pandem craze, the kit developed for this generation Skyline is as simple as it is timeless—comprised of just 5 pieces that include the aforementioned flares and a steep front lip. Painted gunmetal and set against the off-white body and light grey stripes that run down the flanks, those gold/polished wheels make for a perfect combination of colors and textures that transport you to the past but with a slightly modern twist.
Lift the hood forward and you're met with a splash of purple and red spread throughout a spotless engine bay that houses an F54 block mated to a P90A head. An almost required set of carburetors measure in at 40mm, produced by Solex, the trio of side-drafts are fed by a GT-R-spec fuel pump and the spent gases are sent through a Trust exhaust system that's been customized.
Vehicle: 1972 Datsun pick-up
Owner: Raymond Medeiros
Our second pick from JCCS 2019 doesn't feature a picture-perfect finish polished to a high luster isn't 100-percent finished. In fact, you might spot some surface rust and character-building bumps and bruises that come with decades of service (some of those marks surrounded by some rather uncommon Datsun 521 trim pieces from overseas). That's sort of what this era of Datsun trucks are all about; hard working, reliable, and loveable.
This particular version separated itself from the others with the goods under its hood, most notably of which involves Sheepey Race. Based around an FJ20 swap, an engine that served as Nissan's workhorse flagship in the '80s, the DOHC mill is fitted with a complete turbo kit from the skinny-legged Sheep mascot. The fuel system is updated with Aeromotive products, the ignition system and electronics greatly improved with AEM Electronics' pencil coils and various sensors, and to manipulate the incoming air and turn far more power than the FJ20 was ever intended is a Precision turbo.
Though more of the attention has been turned toward the nicely-executed engine bay, the exterior's been treated to a set of Watanabe wheels, window visors and a bed cover and the owner notes that this is a "work in progress." We typically see restomods that start with the appearance end of the equation before moving into power production but in this case, it's the opposite, and it's refreshing. Here's to hoping this work in progress shows up to JCCS next year so we can see its progression!