Automotive History

It is with some regret that I recently learned of‘s impending closure. For those who have never heard of the site before, it’s one of the interweb’s longest lasting repositories of original showroom Japanese car catalogues, founded in 2001 by a chap who lives in Hiroshima by the name of Takeshi Kubo – once upon a time it was the only place online where anyone not living in Japan could directly obtain hard-to-find vintage and nostalgic car catalogues from, as well as modern ones.

SP310 catalogue

SP310 Fairlady, anyone?


’80s turbo talk: Mazda B6T

January 29, 2009

Hands up if you, or someone you knew, ever owned a BFMR or BFMP Familia at some point. Now keep those hands up if you’ve ever blown a gearbox in one of ‘em before… just kidding.

it’s not hard to see how the humble Familia managed to garner a reputation over here as being the “Evo” of their day. when import laws were first relaxed in the early 1990s they were one of the most popular hi-po vehicles shipped to our shores directly out of Japan, purely due to their ubiquity and bang-for-buck value – at a time when most 2-litre turbo vehicles still remained the domain of rich middle-aged folks, the Familia with its smaller 1600cc B6T engine offered a sizeable chunk of the experience for comparatively little money. The fact that a locally-sold version (the Ford Laser) also shared the Familia’s mechanicals and drivetrain further added to its perpetuity.


1985 BFMR Mazda Familia GT-X

And as the decade wore on, the natural rate of devaluation brought them within easy reach of many an 18-year-old amping for their first taste of performance car nirvana.


Classic Plastic?

January 13, 2009

Nowadays, there’s so many FRP (Fibreglass Re-inforced Plastic) and Carbon Fibre panels, components and different styles of bodykits available, it’s seems almost commonplace and it can be hard to remember a time when all these things weren’t really a concern for most.  Afterall there was a time when having the car was enough, but of course, with affordability and access to cars becoming so much greater over time, in order for people to maintain some form of individuality over their friends and co-workers who had bought the same car. If you had no fabrication or mechanical skills to speak of, what on earth would you do?!

You’d buy something from manufacturer’s of body-kits and styling products such as this…

Mk 3 Ford Escort with Kamei Body Stlying

Mk 3 Ford Escort with Kamei Body Stlying

They became the thing to have, they could be ordered from many local “speedshops” and/or where a local automotive or bodywork retailer had managed to snaffle the distribution rights.  Generally, as it is now, they were able to be bought in pieces for you to affix yourself or bought as a kit and installed by the retailer.  As you can see by that picture with it’s colour coded wheels as well as kit, taste is a fine thing and you can almost taste that car just by looking at it.

Of course, Kamei wasn’t the only manfacturer of bodykits during the earlier days, there were plenty of others…


Skyline History, Part 7.

January 12, 2009

Continued from “Skyline History, Part 6.

The C110 series and 4th Generation of Skyline was released for sale in September of 1972.

1972 Nissan Skyline 1600 (4th Generation Skyline)

1972 Nissan Skyline 1600 Hardtop (4th Generation Skyline)

The lineup was very similar to that of the previous generation, with both 4 and 6 cylinder options in a range of either Coupe/Hardtop, Sedan or Wagon/Estate.  The engines were again the G16, G18 in 4cylinder and L20 in 6cylinder form for the Japanese Domestic Market and as with the previous C10/3rd generation Skyline…


The eternal idol(s)

January 7, 2009

if there’s one endearing thing about Japanese car culture, it’s that they never seem to forget the classics.

'80s Hero

Hachimaru Hero, vol. 1: Eternal Idol AE86

Hachimaru Hero by Geibunsha Publishing is one of the few Japanese automotive magazines to focus entirely on the cars of the ’80s. From beloved highway stompers such as the Fairlady 200ZR to the humble family wagon Civic Shuttle, a bewildering array of cult to cooking cars are covered in ten incredibly well-produced volumes.