Japanese Classic Car Show – Celebrating a Lesser-Known Hot Rod Scene
When thinking of Japanese cars, some hot rodders will picture 1990s compacts with large diameter chrome wheels, outrageous paint jobs, and a few alterations of questionable taste such as scissor doors. Southern California’s Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) celebrates a very different type of automobile: older models restored to showroom condition, mixed with cleverly modified examples – many packing some serious power.
Founded in 2005, the one-day event came to be thanks to Koji and Terry Yamaguchi, a Japanese couple with a deep appreciation for such vehicles. The JCCS takes place in a nicely groomed park, set between Long Beach’s beautifully painted arena and the city’s harbor, with the 1930s Queen Mary cruise ship seen in the background. The venue also resides right along a stretch of asphalt used during the famous Long Beach Grand Prix.
One of the show’s main surprises was the huge crowd that descended on the park, including a number of younger car enthusiasts – an encouraging sign for the car hobby’s future. They came to check out close to 500 pre-1995 vintage vehicles, together with pros of the industry such as Mooneyes. Pete Brock of Shelby American fame remained busy most of the day signing autographs; Japanese car buffs know him best for his involvement with Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE). His company created numerous track-prepped Datsuns in particular.
On the high-performance front, the field ranged from 900-plus horsepower street-driven Toyota Supras to Nissan Skylines covering various generations – with a few more RHD versions again. Engine swaps? Yes, plenty, including a handful of American V8s. Fans of turbochargers had plenty to enjoy, especially when looking under the hood of numerous Datsun 510s. We should additionally comment on the fantastic black ’72 Toyota Celica, a Pro Street animal fitted with 325/50-15 rubber in the back.
A group of vintage Japanese motorcycles joined the festivities as well. This two-wheel area turned into another crowd pleaser. In fact, the Japanese Classic Car Show was definitely a day to remember, not only for fans of classic Japanese automobiles but also hot rods – as long as you keep an open mind.
2022 Japanese Classic Car Show Photo Extra!
Photos by Stephan Szantai