Those of you that follow us on Facebook might have been aware that we took another trip out to Japan recently that was based around the JCCA Classic Car Festival “New Year Meeting” that is held annually in Odaiba. If you’re in to vintage Japanese cars this is THE place to be in January.
After a freak ice storm in Salt Lake that had one airplane sliding off the runway and delayed my transfer by 4 hours I was eventually able to get some flights switched around and finally get on that long flight to the Haneda airport in Tokyo.
We had a day to kill before the actual JCCA meet so we decided to head down to Bikoworks in Chiba since it’s relatively close to where we were staying in Shinjuku to see if we could have some better luck this time than on our last visit. To my delight, the bay doors were up this time and they were open for business!
From my initial impression, Bikoworks seemed to be more of a used car dealer and parts store than what I would consider to be a full restoration shop. They had a a few Sunny’s, 2 and 4 door Hakosukas, a Yonmeri and even a N2 kitted, 20v powered Starlet for sale but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any pictures of those. I have found that in Japan (or anywhere for that matter) it is always polite to ask before you start snapping off pictures in someone else’s shop, and for one reason or another the owner did not want me taking any pictures of the cars for sale.
He was however, very kind and more than happy to show me his own personal KPGC10 GT-R that was better than all of the others combined.
You will have to excuse the quality of pictures because of the odd lighting and very limited space to get a clear shot but that’s Japan so get used to it. This car was very well sorted and built with a bias towards the occasional circuit venture as most GT-R’s seem to be in Japan (for good reason). I have found that you very rarely find GT-R’s in stock form here, 95% are usually modified in one way or another and that is just the Japanese way and a big part of why I fell in love with these cars in the first place.
Brembos up front and the rarely utilized Watanabe center caps. I like them either way but the cool thing about the Watanabe’s is the fact that you can run them up front whereas a normal style center cap would usually interfere with the spindle cap. It’s a little hard to see in the sun but this car also uses the Protec, works-style chin spoiler that I have become very fond of lately. It’s a little more costly than most but the fit and finish are second to none and it’s the only one that was modeled after the exact front spoiler used on the race cars from 71′-72′.
And the there’s this… as much art as is it function.
And as if you needed any more proof of it’s place on track here’s a little reminder of a few of the events this car has taken place in.
On our way out I couldn’t help but take a picture of another used car dealer that was right down the street, this one dealt with a little different type of import. Sort of Ironic some of the things that end up changing hands between different countries… please, take all the Escalades ans Navigators you want!
You won’t see me get excited about BMW’s too often except for the occasional 2002 or CSL but I’ve always had a soft spot for the box-flared E30 M3′s and when this nicely modified example cruised past while we waited at the light I couldn’t help but snap a pic.
Our next stop was back into Tokyo and along the way we came across a cemetery right in the middle of the city. Quite a contrast to the massive surrounding urban structures.
Something I wasn’t previously aware of is that 99.9% of Japanese people are cremated after death and that some local governments even go so far as to ban burials altogether.
After that little detour we ended up making our way to Hakosuka specialists, Victory 50.
I haven’t dealt with these guys before but I know they sell quite a few restoration parts so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. As you can see they seem to be a much larger, full-service type of operation than merely a simple parts store.
There were quite a few Skylines there receiving attention from the multiple technicians on hand.
This Hakosuka pulled around from the back of the shop and sounded pretty mean although it’s exterior was a bit on the rough side. It was awesome to see on the streets with the tuned L-series echoing off the surrounding buildings amidst a sea of Kei cars nonetheless.
We poked around a bit but without our friend (and translator) there with us on this particular day all we could do was watch. It seemed that everyone was scurrying around and loading up parts and supplies for the big new Year Meeting that was taking place the next day. There was a sign labeled “showroom” in plain English above a wide open door so we decided to head up the long set of stairs to see what was available.
As soon as we reached the top and turned the corner into the “showroom” I was greeted by the craziest array of vintage parts and memorabilia I’ve ever come across in my entire life. You could tell by the way the parts were strewn about that this wasn’t a typical showroom, or even a showroom at all… sure enough, right as we were trying to figure out if we were even supposed to be up there (and before I had a chance to take a single picture) we heard the sound of footsteps hustling up the stairs and were greeted by a guy that was shouting something to us in a tone that was pretty obvious that we weren’t supposed to be there so we made our apologies and made our way out. What a shame.
So as a warning to anyone wanting to visit Victory 50, the sign labeled ”showroom” is obviously not one… at least in the American sense of the word anyways. And to the owner of Victory 50, don’t leave your showroom door wide open and call it a showroom if it’s a secret room you don’t want gaijin wandering into. That is all.
I wasn’t to keen on the way we were treated at Victory 50 because I would never treat anyone coming through our shop that way but I understand the feeling of mayhem before a big event (I was the exact same way before we left for JCCS) so hopefully that’s all it was. Next time I’ll be sure to bring our translator LOL.
After that little adventure made our way back to our hotel with a quick stop at a coffee shop near the closed streets of Shibuya.
And following a short night sleep and still accustoming to myself to the Tokyo time change it was up bright and early the next morning with the sun for the New Year Meet. This is the view from outside the hotel window and what a beautiful day it would be.
We made the crowded train ride out to Odaiba while I waited patiently for the event I’ve been looking forward to for years. The first step outside the train platform and I was greeted by the parking lot off to one side, full of an incredible array of vehicles of all types.
As much as I’m sure I could have wandered around the parking lots for hours on end, we were on a mission, and it was this…
Japanese vintage car nirvana, and it was huge!
And unfortunately that is where we’ll have to end part 1. I’ll be doing my best to cover the massive, packed show in part 2 so make sure and check back.