Automotive enthusiasts are a funny bunch of people. Consider this: people are spending a great amount of their
wealth shipping obsolete pieces of technology around the world when newer, faster, safer, more efficient and cheaper options
can be found a few miles away. It’s not rational, it’s not pragmatic and it’s not always explainable to
people that never caught the “car bug”. It is, however, a lot of fun!
Hot rodders, salt flat racers,
speed junkies and gearhead pioneers deserve to have their history chronicled and catalogued, but as a “young’n”
in the industry that grew up with a vastly different vision of automotive culture I feel the duty to highlight one of the
new eras of automotive nostalgia – millennials and vintage Japanese cars.
Are you aware that enthusiasts
in their 20’s & 30’s are importing classic cars from Japan to United States? Enthusiasts from around the world
have been importing classic American cars to far off reaches of the globe for decades, but now the transfers are no longer
Take this 1967 Chevrolet Camaro from Akira Yamamoto. Mr. Yamamoto belongs to a large and deeply passionate
sub-culture of hobbyist and mechanics from Japan that import and customize American muscle. The same scenario can be replayed
throughout Europe, South America, Canada and most parts of the world where enthusiasts have resources.
On the newer side of the spectrum are the young enthusiasts that are lining up to import, modify and restore Japanese cars
that were, like Akira’s Camaro, never sold domestically in large numbers; some not at all. For example, urban-apparel
storeowner and automotive community founder Mark Arcenal has obtained a 1972 Nissan Skyline from Japan much like the one below.
He is part of a growing crowd of enthusiasts that are taking it upon themselves to collect cars that embody the history and
lineage of the Japanese marquees. These are rare, expensive, moderately difficult to import and especially challenging to
repair. But the passion easily overrides the obstacles because these are the ancestors to the cars of the scene we grew up
with. Car shows, magazines, retailers, custom builders and racing associations have begun to embrace and nourish the swelling
appreciation of these vehicles, but manufacturers have not yet matched the support.
When the Japanese brands launched operations in the United States the reception was mixed. Some of the cars ultimately
earned a cult-like following with a few notable models receiving museum-like accolades. It is very common for the Toyota 2000GT
sports car to bring auction prices above $200,000 and some historic racecars like this 1974 Datsun 240Z IMSA GTU Championship
car have appraisals even higher.
This is Barrett-Jackson territory; this is also a great thing for the specialty equipment industry as it keeps the momentum
going for another generation. Make no mistake, those of us in the under-30 crowd are still interested and fascinated by traditional
hotrods, street rods and musclecars and we would like to add them to our garages, but they do not hold the same nostalgia
as previous generations and we have a heightened sense of connection with cars from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.