Sometimes, the simplest ingredients are all you need to build the tastiest concoction. Too many components can complicate the flavor, rendering the sweetest bites seemingly ordinary, and can create a jumbled mess that’s far too busy for its own good. The straightforward honesty of a few well-chosen ingredients can arouse the palate, and the flavors are allowed to show off their inherent goodness. Getting your hands on those elements may be another thing entirely, when your local supermarkets don’t carry the ingredients you’re looking for. It makes the resulting dish all the tastier for it.
And so we come to Lance Harano of Waipahu, Hawaii (on the Island of O’ahu, within the city and county of Honolulu), and his JDM ’73 Sprinter Trueno. His recipe seems easy enough to wrap your head around... if only it were that simple to get his hands on the ingredients in the first place. The guys at TR Trading were advertising it for sale on the Club 4AG message board, Lance admits. I took a gamble. Lance was forwarded a set of detailed photographs letting him know just what it was he was in for. One $1,500 non-refundable deposit to start the paperwork later, the Mango was on a train to the port of Yokohama, then on a boat to Cerritos, California, where Lance flew to meet his new baby. Yes, Lance flew to LA. Yes, we’re aware that the boat chugged right on by his house on the way, and that there was a whole lot of wasted back-and-forth going on. Ssshhh.
It was a factory 2TG machine and had all of the Japan-spec stuff on it, like the sheetmetal and bumpers. The badges were gone, though. So most of the tasty JDM stuff was already there; Lance didn’t have to worry about things like swapping out fat American bumpers with rubber over-riders, because this one didn’t have any of that. It had also been lowered, rode a set of 13x8" Watanabes, and sported the AE86 front strut/disc brake conversion he was planning on doing anyway. The odometer read just over 50,000 kilometers (barely 30,000 miles). Barely broken in. And it had also been painted; more on this crime anon.
And yet, Lance is considered the first owner. How? TR Trading took care of customs, taxes, duty fees, whatever it took to get it out of Yokohama and into the US as a new citizen. That includes an export certificate; it’s like a green card. The certificate is created as it leaves port in Japan, and the original title is terminated. So I’m the original owner of this car now, even though I was three years old when it was built and rolled onto a new-car lot in Japan. He giggles at the ridiculousness of it.
Once home, Lance rolled up his sleeves started poking around the bodywork, and discovered rot beneath the repairs. Yokohama must salt their roads; the rear quarters and rocker panels looked like they were rusted from salt spray, not rainwater. Salt isn’t a helpful ingredient in this particular recipe. I started knocking Bondo out, and I discovered that the previous repairs didn’t cut out the rust, they just covered it up with new steel. It was a weird repair. And one that didn’t really solve the structural rot that was slowly expanding.