Japanese Classic Car Show Had Something for Everyone

Crowds were almost as thick as the early morning fog at the 18th Japanese Classic Car Show - Anne Proffit photo
Datsun and Nissan Z coupes were heavily represented – Anne Proffit photo

They started lining up before dawn, Saturday October 7th in heavy fog to enter the 18th annual Japanese Classic Car Show, held at Marina Green Park in Long Beach adjacent to both the Pacific Ocean and the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach main straightaway.

Motorcycles large and small were on the green – Anne Proffit photo

Entries were color-coded for entry to align with their manufacturers, vintage and type of vehicle. They ranged from Hondas and Acuras at the west entry point of the green space to Datsuns/Nissans/Infinitis at the eastern end. Toyotas, Lexus’, Mazdas, Suzukis, Subarus, a stray Mitsubishi or Isuzu were sprinkled into the central area, joined by the 12th annual Japanese Classic Motorcycle Show, with a bit more than 20 motorcycles, large and small. The 70 vendors on-site were relegated to the parking area adjacent to the green space.

By about 10:30 the fog began to clear and massive crowds began to arrive, at one point so overwhelming that there was barely space to see the displayed cars. The area had people of all ages who were there to celebrate the long history of Japanese vehicles, both those imported to the United States and those that stayed in Japan, exported later in their lives. Several OEM manufacturers took over central dedicated spaces to celebrate old, new and racing cars; those exhibits – especially Mazda’s show of its historic racing cars – were mobbed most of the day.

Mazda’s entry in the 101st Pikes Peak International Hill Climb – Anne Proffit photo

It was easy to get lost with the number of entries and the crowds, but we did find a few unusual vehicles that called to us. One was a 657-cc 1992 Mazda Autozam Az-1, a tiny coupe with gullwing doors. This mid-engine sports car was designed and built by Mazda under its Autozam brand, while Suzuki provided the 657cc turbocharged engine. According to a friend of the owner, it lives in Riverside, CA and was driven to the show on a local freeway Saturday morning. How slow did it go? He was following the Mazda at, oh, about 75mph. No slouch!

1992 Mazda Autozam Az-1 coupe – Anne Proffit photo
657cc Suzuki turbocharged engine in Az-1 Mazda coupe – Anne Proffit photo

It was especially good to see a number of Datsun sports cars, from Fairladys, 1600s, 2000s and of course 240, 260, 280Z coupes. Datsun and Nissan sedans were well-represented, too, with a good number of 510s on the grounds, together with B14s and 16s normally seen across the street at Formula Drift events. Vendors ranged from wheel/tire manufacturers to engine upgrades and suspension pieces, with plenty of Japanese-cuisine oriented food trucks taking part.

Speaking of across the street, the parking lot for this event had almost as many interesting cars as those that made the cut to be in Marina Green Park. By noon, the parking lot was turning people away; it was filled to the gills.

Great weather; great vehicles; great management of entries, fans and vendors. The 18th annual Japanese Classic Car (and Motorcycle) Show had it all.

About Anne Proffit 1264 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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