It’s a bit cliche to say Tokyo is a city where traditional things from the past meets cutting edge modernity. Few cities in the world have a striking contrast of century old shrines and temples nestled in the centre of one of the world’s most advanced metropolis.
Japanese culture itself is a reflection of this, where deep rooted traditions and rituals are still respected and maintained today. Japan has moved forward by remembering and keeping its past in mind.
This admiration and love for all things classical can be seen in the way classic and vintage cars are loved and cared for in Japan. Go to any car meet and you’ll very likely see a 40+ year old car in showroom condition, if not better.
That has been one of the biggest impressions I’ve had since being in Japan, the condition of their old cars here is second to none. So it makes sense for a show to celebrate Japan’s love for both old and new cars to exist. Enter the Automobile Council show.
Taking similar shows such as the Retromobile show in Paris and Techno Classica in Essen as inspirations, this show is a celebration of all things classic and modern. In its debut year the Automobile Council show impressed and showed promise to grow bigger and better in the upcoming years.
Exhibitors included domestic and foreign car manufacturers, specialist classic car dealers, and car clubs. What this meant was there was something for everyone to see and enjoy. And that’s the point of this show.
It’s meant to shine a spotlight in the lesser seen part of Japan’s car culture; classic cars. We all know supercars and tuner cars get their fair share of attention, shows, and events but classic cars rarely get focused on when people think of “Japanese car culture”.
Automobile Council aims to provide a platform where Japanese manufacturers, and manufactures from abroad, to showcase their heritage and history to petrolheads in Japan. With more than 100 cars on display and 18,572 visitors in its first year, this show has a lot of promise and potential for the future.
It was great to attend the very first of this show as it clearly showed promise and even had some Japan debuts. McLaren, Mazda, and Abarth took this show as the perfect opportunity to give their latest models a public debut in Japan.
McLaren unveiled the new 570GT, which tried its best to share the spotlight next to the legendary F1 roadcar. Abarth showed their new 124 Spider alongside the original 124 Spider with excitement and curiosity from the Japanese press. Mazda showed off its new MX-5 RF, one of my highlights from the show.
Mazda went one further than the other brands by having a walkthrough exhibition of some of their most beautiful designs over the years starting with the Cosmo Sports and ending at the utterly gorgeous RX-Vision Concept.
Nissan had their new 2017 GT-R on display alongside the ‘Hakosuka’ Skyline GT-R and R380 race car. Strangely, Honda didn’t have the new NSX. Instead they had the S660 with its ancestors, the S360 and S600.
Subaru had a 1000 2-Door Deluxe on display with the 2016 Impreza hatchback to celebrate 50 years of their boxer engines. Unfortunately, not many people seemed to care as their stand looked empty for most of the show. Also celebrating 50 years was the Toyota Corolla. A ’66 1100 Deluxe, ’72 Levin 1600, ’79 1600GT, and the current Corolla Hybrid were on display at the Toyota stand.
As well as Abarth and McLaren, other foreign manufactures that were on display were Volvo and Mercedes. Volvo had blue and yellow cars on display, a touch I really liked. The beautiful 1800E, 850T5 Estate, S60 Polestar, and XC90 R-Design showcased some of Volvo’s most popular and beloved models.
Mercedes had four generations of their SL convertible. It can’t have been that difficult to source the missing two generations. But it’s always nice to see a 190SL. Tucked away in a corner was perhaps the biggest surprise of the show. As part of the Cornes Motors Ferrari display with a 360 Challenge Stradale, Testarossa, and 512BBi was a matte black (wrap) LaFerrari.
The car dealers that were invited to display some of their stock list didn’t disappoint. Most of the classic cars in the middle of the exhibition hall were for sale and completely drivable. Highlights included a Ferrari 308 GTB GR-4, two Toyota 2000GT, a Mazad Cosmo Sports, a Lotus Elan Shooting Brake, Lancia Fulvia, Porsche 993 Turbo, and a BAC Mono.
It was interesting to see some of the current market value prices of the classic cars on display. Who knew a 356 Carrera 2 would be worth close to NZ$700k? Or that one shop offered a Toyota 2000GT for NZ$1.2 million while another had it for a mere $1 million.
One random display was an Aston Martin DB5 at a lifestyle clothing shop stand. But I think it was there to draw people into their shop. After all, sex does sell. Speaking of hidden gems, in another corner of the show was a stunning Maserati Mistral Spider displayed at the Maserati Club of Japan stand. Another interesting car was an Austin Seven with NZ plates. Just proof that you’ll never know what you’ll come across in Japan.
The Automobile Council has been renewed for another show on the 4th-6th of August 2017. I hope this show will keep going for many years as it’s a much needed addition to the motoring event calendar in Japan. Considering more than 18,000 people and 100 cars were on display in its first year, this show like the cars it celebrates, will only get better with age.
One thing I have to say about the organisers of this show is that they’ve done a great job promoting the show on social media, something many Japanese companies and organisations have been slow to do. Embracing modernity and tradition, it’s what this show is all about.