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1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

Keeping Up With Old School Life

Charles Trieu
Apr 27, 2010

People,Personalities & Interviews Old schools, classics, retro rides, vintage, jalopy, J-tin, bosozoku, shakotan -- whatever you call it; it's all the same. I'm talking about the older Japanese cars that rooted this industry overseas. When you think of our import culture, most people assume a new modern car with an aero kit and cutting edge aftermarket technology for absolute performance. Well, just like the domestic or European car scene we have our classics too.

Sstp_1005_01_o+choke_and_rumble+rear_wheel Photo 2/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

The 510s and Z cars have been popular stateside since they came out but lately we've been getting a new wave of old cars and enthusiasts. First generation Celicas, TE27 Corollas, RX-3s, Datsun 210s and 610s all seem to be growing in value and popularity. More and more Hakosuka Skylines ('68-72), Ken & Mary Skylines ('72-77) and other models that never made it to the US market are being shipped over. These cars are neither cheap nor easy to import, yet I still see new ones being brought over.

Since the first JCCS (Japanese Classic Car Show) in 2005, vintage JDM cars are becoming more and more popular. Everything circa 1985 and prior are quickly disappearing and tuners are out there trying to salvage whatever chassis aren't completely rusted out yet.

I wanted to find out why some of these guys are willing to spend so much money, time and headache on their projects for so little performance. I sat down and talked to two older guys and two younger guys. All of which have different backgrounds yet all have the same spirit for a certain era of cars that most people leave to junkyards.

PJ Bonifacio
Age: 46
Occupation: Owner of PJ Bonifacio Motorcars Auto Design and Auto Body
Source:
www.pjbonifacio.com

Sstp_1005_02_o+choke_and_rumble+autobody_shop Photo 3/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

SS: What was your first car?
PJ: A 1972 Toyota Corolla with a 2TG engine.

SS: What cars do you have right now?
PJ: Porsche 550 Spyder, Mercedes Benz, Lexus, recalled Toyota Tundra (smiles), '78 Toyota Cressida Station Wagon and a '70 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40.

SS: We've featured a lot of your cars over the years. But for our newer readers, can you tell us some of the cars that you've owned in the past?
PJ: A '79 Toyota Starlet KP60, a '79 Toyota Corolla, Toyota Celica GT, Toyota Levin AE86, '77 Toyota Cressida, '69 Mercedes Benz 280 SL, '79 Mitsubishi

Lancer, '67 Mini Cooper, '71 Mini Cooper S, '69 Ford Escort Mexico GT, '90 Mazda Miata and the list goes on.

SS: How did you get into old school Japanese cars?
PJ: Ever since the teenage days I was into restoring Toyotas and classic cars.

SS: Do you think these cars will ever become classics like the domestics at Barrett-Jackson?
PJ: Absolutely, as long as there is a strong following and/or fan base for Japanese classic cars.

SS: Do you feel that it is harder to build an old car versus a newer car?
PJ: Yes it's harder to build old school cars because some parts are no longer available. You can't just buy any part you're missing.

Sstp_1005_05_o+choke_and_rumble+table Photo 4/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

SS: Do you think the Japanese cars of the 70's mimicked the American cars of the 60's as far as styling?
PJ: I don't think it mimics in terms of style. The Japanese classic cars started designing medium to small efficient cars in the 70's. While American muscle were into big cars with a lot of horsepower.

SS: Once you've decided on a particular chassis, what's the most important thing to look for when trying to find one?
PJ: I look for chassis that is as complete as can be with original parts.

SS: What's your definition of bosozoku or shakotan?
PJ: Bosozoku to me is a Yakuza ride or gangster car in Japan.

SS: I think all the cars, I've seen you build has had fender flares bolted or welded on. Do you prefer fender flares or stock fenders?
PJ: It all depends on the car.

Sstp_1005_06_o+choke_and_rumble+auto_shop Photo 5/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

SS: EFI or carbs?
PJ: Carbs are limited but original. EFI can be modified and upgraded. So depending on the cars originality, it can go both ways.

SS: What's your favorite old school wheel (whether in possession or not)?
PJ: Tosco TRD wheels, Minilites wheels, ATS wheels, Campagnolo wheels and Cromodora.

SS: I can definitely see the old Tosco wheels, Hayashis, and ATS looking like Cromodora wheels.

SS: What do you think about new younger guys getting into old cars?
PJ: I'm happy that the younger gereneration appreciates older Japanese cars because the expectation from the younger generation typically concentrates more on newer and stronger cars with high performance parts.

Sstp_1005_03_o+choke_and_rumble+tires Photo 6/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

SS: What advice would you give someone who wants to build an older Japanese car?
PJ: Have patience, passion and dedication.

Paul Bischoff
Age: 39
Occupation: Mechanic
Source: www.myspace.com/507491717

Sstp_1005_07_o+choke_and_rumble+passenger Photo 7/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

SS: What was your first car?
PB: A 1970 Ford Mustang.

SS: What cars do you have right now?
PB: '71 Skyline, S14, S13 and a Datsun 510.

SS: What cars have you owned in the past?
PB: Let's see, a '70 Mustang fastback, a '69 Mustang fastback, a '70 Mustang Mach 1, a '72 Datsun 510 4-door, auto crossed and Solo1 raced a 240Z, a '72 510

2-door, a '72 510 rotary street racer, a Datsun 510 drag racer, a '85 Mazda RX-7, a '90 5.0 Mustang, a '67 SS 396 Chevelle, a S13 coupe, a '90 R32 Skyline (which was taken by the feds) a S13 hatchback, a '73 Kenmeri Skyline and a '71 4-door Skyline. I think there are more but these seem to be the most memorable.

SS: How did you get into old school Japanese cars?
PB: I lived in Japan in the late 70s and then was stationed there in the late 80s. My dad had a KGC10 Skyline and later had a C210 Skyline. In 1984, while watching the late night drifting in Japan, I would see these Box Skylines and Kenmeris roll up and down the hill. Everybody would cheer and point at them. The Skylines get so much respect in Japan, I just knew I had to have one.

SS: What do you consider old school?
PB: Anything early 80's and prior.

SS: Why old school Japanese cars and not domestics or European ones?
PB: I just love working on them. And they have a style that is just unexplainable. Living in Japan played a part as well.

SS: What's your favorite or unicorn car?
PB: My 1971 Skyline GT coupe.

SS: Do you think these cars will ever become classics like the domestics at Barrett-Jackson?
PB: Yes, I do. The Toyota 2000GT and the early Skyline GT-R I think will appear sooner or later.

SS: Do you feel that it is harder to build an old car versus a newer car?
PB: Good question. Old cars seem to be unlimited in what you can do, especially in California, where pre-1976 cars are smog exempted.

Sstp_1005_11_o+choke_and_rumble+racing_sticker Photo 11/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

SS: Do you think Americans are getting more into older Japanese classics? If so, why?
PB: Yes, I do. Muscle cars will never die, but I think the JDM classics are more of a challenge than the muscle cars right now.

SS: Do you think the Japanese cars of the 70's mimicked the American cars of the 60's as far as styling?
PB: Some, like the early Celica coupes look like the Camaros and the Celica hatchbacks look like the Mustang.

SS: How about the C110 Kenmeri Skyline and the C210 Skyline, do you think they resemble a Plymouth Barracuda?
PB: Yes, in some ways.

SS: What do you think about older cars with newer motors and newer wheels?
PB: I like the newer motors, but don't like the newer wheels. Wheels 17" and larger just don't look right.

Sstp_1005_12_o+choke_and_rumble+ornament Photo 12/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

SS: What's your favorite old school wheel (whether in possession or not)?
PB: Watanabe!

SS: What's your favorite old school part (whether in possession or not)?
PB: A clean set of Mikuni 50mm side drafts. Whether I use them or not, I want them.

SS: What advice would you give someone who wants to build an older Japanese car?
PB: Think about the car, the budget, how you want it finished, what it takes to get there and what you are really capable of doing. Some people bite off more than they can chew and projects never get done.

Henry Nguyen
Age: 22
Occupation: Student at SFSU
Source:
www.jumbosandbox.blogspot.com

Sstp_1005_13_o+choke_and_rumble+rims Photo 13/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

SS: What was your first car?
HN: I got into cars way after I got my drivers license. I never understood why so many kids were into cars in junior high and early high school since no one

could even drive. My first car was a '95 Toyota Camry LE, a car that makes sense!

SS: What cars do you have right now?
HN: A '85 Nissan 200SX S12, a '72 Datsun 240Z and '07 Honda Ruckus.

SS: What cars have you owned in the past?
HN: A '98 Honda Prelude and a '02 Honda S2000.

SS: How did you get into old school Japanese cars?
HN: My earliest memory of anything car related is probably about 7-8 years ago, my friend Hanh tried getting me into getting cars through his collection of

Sstp_1005_14_o+choke_and_rumble+rear_tire Photo 14/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

Best Motoring videos. And at the time, it totally didn't interest me. He even made me borrow his copy of Gran Turismo 3 to try out and I gave back the game

after one night of playing. After continuous attempts, I suppose it stuck. Sophomore year of high school, I noticed my friend, Francis' cool looking 80's car with his 'TURBO' badged spoiler. I told him that if he were to ever sell it, he'd have to sell it to me and that's exactly what happened. I bought the S1 immediately after I graduated for $800 and drove it around for a year before it died and the project began. I suppose after the first project, my confidence in building cars lead me to the current 240Z project.

SS: Why old school Japanese cars and not domestics or European ones?
HN: I love domestics and European cars, but the vast majority of influences I've taken in have been Japanese.
SS: What's your favorite or unicorn car?
HN: 1965 Ford GT40.

SS: Do you think these cars will ever become classics like the domestics at Barrett-Jackson?
HN: As for Japanese classics, I would imagine only the 240Z or 510 could since they are big icons that helped the Japanese car industry make an impact in the US.

SS: Do you prefer a clean and fully restored car or old and original?
HN: Clean, restored, and tastefully modified. Simply because old and original can be bought with money. Though money can buy both I guess. But you can usually tell when someone has passionately wrenched on their car.

Sstp_1005_16_o+choke_and_rumble+front_fender Photo 15/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

SS: Do you feel that it is harder to build an old car versus a newer car? HN: Older car is harder, definitely, especially if you want to do one right. There's rust, holes, faded paint, hard to find parts, classic taxed parts; it's metal and restoration work compared to simply bolting on parts.

SS: Do you think Americans are getting more into older Japanese classics? If so, why?
HN: Yeah, slowly but surely. It's a trend everyone knew was coming as car culture progressed, especially since more and more examples are being featured online.

SS: Do you think the Japanese cars of the 70's mimicked the American cars of the 60's as far as styling?
HN: Nah, I think the Japanese cars of the 70's were influenced by the Europeans. Take the Jaguar E-Type for example.
SS: The E-Type definitely has some similarities with your 240Z.

Sstp_1005_17_o+choke_and_rumble+chassis Photo 16/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

SS: Once you've decided on a particular chassis, what's the most important thing to look for when trying to find one?
HN: The usuals for any car, straight body, no (little) rust and the best overall condition/price ratio. I looked at a ton of S30Z's and I asked myself (with the big project pictured in my mind) which car would cost the least to restore and which cars will allow me to skip some steps.

SS: What do you think about older cars with newer motors and newer wheels?
HN: Love it! I love seeing all these classics with an unusual F20C, RB or LS1. As for wheels, it's harder to pull off and look correct. It just depends on style and purpose.

SS: EFI or carbs?
HN: Carbs! I'm rebuilding a set of triple
Weber DCOE carburetors for my S30Z...I'm in love with them. The response, the sound, the sound! I'm really big on things being more mechanical, more simple, less electronics and less headache.

SS: What's your favorite old school wheel (whether in possession or not)?
HN: I'm really unsure, there are so many that I love. Probably Impul Hoshinos or Work Equip 02, they're a similar design. I had a set of Hoshinos before on the S12 to follow suite the famous silhouette race car, but I ended up selling them since I wanted bigger sizes. They were a measly 15x6.5+17. And second to that would be Hayashi Streets, timeless and still obtainable.

Sstp_1005_15_o+choke_and_rumble+side_view Photo 17/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

SS: What advice would you give someone who wants to build an older Japanese car?
HN: Do the research! And definitely work on or even project an 80's or 90's car first before building something older. It's all about attitude and mentality

(recklessness). When you know you're responsible for every single bolt on a vehicle while going over 100 mph, you're probably ready. Even better if you stop

caring about trivial things like paint scratches and chips.

Yuta Akaishi
Age: 21
Occupation: Hotel worker
Source: www.yuta-akaishi.blogspot.com

Sstp_1005_19_o+choke_and_rumble+side_view Photo 18/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

SS: What was your first car?
YA: My first car was an 240SX S13 fastback.

SS: What cars do you have right now?
YA: I currently own a TE72 Corolla and an S30 240Z.

SS: What cars have you owned in the past?
YA: Three S13s, a MX73 Cressida, a TE31 Corolla and an EK Civic.

SS: How did you get into old school Japanese cars?
YA: I'm not sure if you would consider an S13 old, but I have always wanted one since I was a kid. When I was around 15, right before purchasing my first one, I saw a red S13 at a local cafe. Its style was really ahead of its time and made a huge impression on me. That really pushed me to save up for my first car. I did the whole modern style with a couple other S13s and even built an EK Civic and drove those around for a while. Then one day my friend Henry offered me a low mileage bone stock 240Z with super-clean interior for a really good price. So I jumped on the chance and I promptly destroyed it.

SS: Why old school Japanese cars and not domestics or European ones?
YA: I'm too poor and not even close to being cool enough to build a 60's American car, and to be honest European cars never appealed to me.

SS: What's your favorite or unicorn car?
YA: I'm gonna say the R32 GT-R, like everybody else in the world.

SS: Do you think these cars will ever become classics like the domestics at Barrett-Jackson?
YA: I doubt it. They don't hold the same cultural significance. A S30 Z or even 2000GT will never be on the same level as a '69 Camaro or Ford GT40.

Sstp_1005_21_o+choke_and_rumble+open_hood Photo 19/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

SS: Do you think Americans are getting more into older Japanese classics? If so, why?
YA: I think so. The appeal of having a pre-smog car is quite substantial, and to be frank it's a cheap way to feel classy (LOL). Even from a performance

SS: How do you pick your project cars, by performance, by styling or by rarity (and uniqueness)?
YA: Basically style. (LOL)

SS: Once you've decided on a particular chassis, what's the most important thing to look for when trying to find one?
YA: The obvious things you would look for when buying any used car applies here. Clean quarter panels, straight frame, the interior parts and exterior trim pieces to be in good condition. I feel that paint is not as important, nor is the condition of the drivetrain.

SS: What's your definition of bosozoku or shakotan?
YA: Bosozoku are loud street gangs - usually on some sort of personal transportation. Shakotan just means low chassis.

SS: What do you think about older cars with newer motors and newer wheels?
YA: I can dig that. I mean, 17" wheels and a RB in an older Z is awesome. Eighteen-inch wheels on a 510 is not. I guess everything has a balance, and finding that balance is what creates a visually appealing car. As far as engines go, whatever is cool. Newer Japanese engine such as the SR, RB, JZ, F20 are cool in any car. I feel the same about LSx and Ecotec engines.

Sstp_1005_20_o+choke_and_rumble+race_cars Photo 20/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

SS: Fender flares or stock fenders?
YA: Fender flares on curvier cars and stock fenders on boxier cars to generalize. But it really depends on the application and of course the style I am going for with that particular car.

SS: EFI or carbs?
YA: Carbs sound really cool but I'm going to have to say EFI. EFI is just too efficient to even debate this.

SS: What's your favorite old school wheel (whether in possession or not)?
YA: HAYASHI motherf-ing STREETs!

Sstp_1005_22_o+choke_and_rumble+rims_2 Photo 21/21   |   1972 Toyota Corolla - Choke And Rumble - Garage Life

SS: What advice would you give someone who wants to build an older Japanese car?
YA: You don't buy pubes, you grow them naturally! Have a garage or some sort of enclosed building where you can work on your car. I've never had a garage and I wish for one every day.

By Charles Trieu
161 Articles

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