If these New Year meetings at Daikoku PA we’ve been covering for years aren’t testament to how special Japan’s love for cars is, I don’t know what could be. They’re nothing short of overwhelming, and 2019’s event was one of the best yet.
After a few days of rest and relaxation, time with family, pondering over the last 12 months of work and experiences, and getting ready for the year ahead, you’re bombarded with an automotive selection that you can barely describe with words. Seeing so much before you is something that really has to be experienced in person, a moving and ever-evolving motor show of everything that is cool on four wheels. Old domestics mixed with the best JDM from the ’80s and ’90s, air-cooled, supercars, collectable rarities, colorful exotics, lifted Hummers, the latest hypercars – it’s all paraded in front of you. It really makes getting up so early on a national holiday all worth it.
I only had around three hours at Daikoku PA before needing to return home for celebrations with the extended family, but it was the best three car-related hours one could ever hope to have. Not to mention another opportunity to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.
In an attempt to perfectly portray how my walk through Japan’s craziest highway rest stop went, I’ve laid out these 60 images for you in the order I shot them.
It was just past 8:00am when I took my first shot; Hidaka-san’s 3.8L 911 was glistening in the warm winter sun, the low rays playing with that stunning one-off Mary Stuart RSR-inspired rear wing treatment. This is one of Japan’s most unique Porsches, and it’s always nice to see it at this meet and idlers club events over the course of the year.
While we’re on the subject of beauties basking in the sun, here’s an NA1 NSX on RAYS Volk Racing CE28Ns looking absolutely stunning.
Club BNR34 was beautifully represented by an impressive line up. A certain green example would have completed the mix, but that’s something I’ll be getting to during the course of 2019.
I was, however, at Daikoku with another six cylinder project car. You may spot it in a few pictures here, and I’ll be officially introducing it to you once I come up with a fitting name.
I see this Alfa Romeo Montreal at various meets throughout the year, and it’s one of those cars that I’ve always admired for its uniqueness. The model was penned by Gandini at Bertone to give Alfa traction in the North American market, but by the time it went into production it was less of a sports car and more of a stylish coupe. It’s definitely one for my dream collection though, along with another Gandini-styled car that arrived later on in the morning.
There was so much 911 awesomeness to see, more air-cooled oriented than the newer stuff. My pick of the bunch was this blue 993 RS we’ve encountered a few times before.
As cars kept arriving at the PA, I continued my quest to hunt out as much variety as possible. This Toyota 1600GT was a welcome addition, a curiously-styled coupe from the late ’60s that’s a bit of a rarity compared to cars like the Hakosuka Skyline GT-R of the same generation.2019 Theme: The Wedge
My affinity for overly angular, Italian-styled cars from the good old days was really being satisfied, and I literally sprinted (something I only do on very rare occasion – usually when food is involved) to get a shot of this DeLorean being parked.
I noticed the sun really highlighted the poor attempt that was done at cleaning that stainless steel body, making me wonder what you’d actually use to keep such a peculiar metal surface (for a car at least) nice and clean. I already struggle to keep my stainless steel-bodied espresso machine smudge-free; maybe some other DMC-12 owners can enlighten us here.
The owner of this Vanquish took me for a quick ride from one area of the parking area to another, and showed me just how poorly put together the hand-built, first gen model was. Still, these cars certainly have a charm you can’t help but admire. I suddenly felt the urge to have a Martini, shaken – not stirred – obviously.
But there was no time for that – there was more sprinting that had to be done in order to catch some more unique cars that were driving in, including this one-off Star Road S30 creation which was built as a TAS demo car.
Just 200 examples of the Tommykaira ZZ were made, but this Japanese version of a Lotus Elise, lightweight and powered by an SR20DE, was such a great idea. I’ve never driven one, but I would love to. Maybe that will happen this year…
Oh my, here we go again, yet another Gandini design, this time a 208 Dino. This was the smaller displacement version of the 308, specifically made for the Italian market which levied tax on engine capacity, and still does to this day. This first mid-engined V8 Ferrari was supposed to become the affordable entry level offering from Maranello and sort of set the direction for many cars to come after, right up what we have today – the 488. It’s hard not to fall for that wedge design.
From Italy in the ’70s we move over to the USA and even earlier eras – or at least that’s what it felt like in this corner of Daikoku.
I don’t think anyone could have achieved a broader mix of cars even if they tried.
You see what I mean? It’s just down to the fact that everyone into anything knows that Daikoku is the place to go and show off your car, or truck, or pickup or supercar, on the first few days of the New Year.
The contrasts are pretty epic.
More wedges rolling in meant more sprinting – it’s hard work this Speedhunting gig How can you possibly not fall instantly in love with a Ferrari Testarossa, a black one at that.
Seconds later a low frequency hum got closer and closer, followed by some commotion. The sound in question was the idle of a Detroit-built V10 with pistons the size of ramen bowls displacing the sort of capacity more commonly associated with canal boats. Ah yes, it can only be one car, the beautifully unique and impossibly American Dodge Viper, seen here in its last incarnation and ACR version with the wild aero and a time attack-inspired rear wing.
Daikoku PA in the light of day was certainly proving to be quite the different beast to what we are used to seeing at night. Different, but equally entertaining.
The surprises kept coming, here in the form of a trio of 246GT Dinos in convoy.
If that’s not impressive enough, they were going to meet with the other two that were already parked up.Exotics Meet The Best Of JDM
Glistening in the sun, its copper orange paint making it stand out from all the other colorful Lambos of every type and generation, was this – one of 80 Diablo GTs. I have a very vivid memory of this model dating back to the early 2000s when I was still in university in the UK. I was driving on a long stretch of the dual carriageway in front of Maranello Sales in Egham, Surrey when a black Diablo GT overtook my little Citroën AX at a stupid speed with its 6-liter V12 absolutely screaming.
That’s always made me look at the GT version of the Diablo in awe, and this thing was looking like it had just rolled out of the factory at Sant’Agata. It’s also refreshing to see a Lamborghini in Japan that hasn’t been stickered up and overrun with Swarovski crystals and LED lights. Sorry Morohoshi, we love you, but that style should be kept away from the rarer cars.
The ramp that cars descend down into Daikoku PA from had a fixed group of supercars spotters ready to fire their cameras at anything brightly colored and worth more than a house. I found it hilarious that during my live stream on our Instagram page a lot of people started asking for less exotics and more JDM cars.
So that’s precisely what I did; I steered away from conversations about bespoke stitching and carbon fiber optional packages and hunted out the stuff that I know you guys want to see.
Hopefully, I showed you just what you wanted to see.
As the live stream ended, my walk resumed to other unexplored reaches of the parking area where I spotted yet another Italian-designed wedge from the ’70s, this time one penned by Giugiaro – the Lotus Esprit. There was also this Ferrari 360 Modena trying really hard to look like an F430.
More rare cars, how about a Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth on SSR wheels?
I posted a picture of this on my Instagram account, and a few people commented that it might not be a genuine RS500. I’m sure with our collective knowledge we can figure it out here in the comments section, so let us know what you think.
The 7s crew are never too far away, and I don’t mean the RX guys.
Here’s a thoroughly well used E30 M3 on white BBS wheels. Much love.
It was nice to see this Porsche Carrera GT again. If you recall, I ran across this particular car up in Nikko last spring on the Marronnier Run, one of two that came up to check out the classics. It’s so great to see a rarity like this actually being driven and enjoyed.
As one car left the PA even more arrived, and by 11:00am the place was packed.The Best Is Yet To Come
It meant the police made an appearance, but on this particular morning their presence was pretty passive – they just blared out a few messages every 20 minutes or so asking people not to park in the truck spaces.
Still, it did mean some guys decided to leave and cruise to other parking areas.
I managed to grab a profile shot of this drag-spec Willys Coupe before it disappeared.
Can a Japanese meet ever be complete without at least one RWB car? I don’t think so.
Later this week RAUH-Welf Begriff will be throwing their annual New Year get together, which of course we’ll be covering. So prepare yourself for some more 911 action of the thick and wide variety.
It was at this point that my heart skipped a beat, or 10.
In the presence of one of the most beautiful cars ever penned by Marcello Gandini, the Lancia Stratos, I felt my time at Daikoku PA was well and truly over. Because how could this possibly be topped? I felt satisfied, my love of wedges well and truly having been fulfilled. It was even sitting on ‘Coffin Spoke’ Tecnomagnesio Group 4 wheels.
Then something else arrived and drove right past the Stratos…
More sprinting was in order – this was getting tiring indeed. Still, it was worth it, as this is only the second Chiron I’ve seen on the road in Japan and it looked so good in JDM-esque white. All it needs now is a set of Work Meisters with some deep dish barrels – how sick would that look?!
The selfie-stick-armed supercar spotter crowd began their catalogue-reciting conversations, trying hard to get a glimpse of the color coordination of the cabin. That was my cue to leave.
On the way to my car I spotted this pink Ferrari 360, which made me giggle.
I then turned around to be greeted by possibly the most recognizable wedge of them all, the Countach. This is of course that 25th Anniversary version that Horacio Pagani designed during his time at Lamborghini, and one you probably had in poster form on your bedroom wall if you’re of the same generation as me.
My final stop was a look at the back side of the Stratos – wow. Content beyond belief, I jumped in my new project car and headed back to the in-laws to eat and drink more.
I pretty sure that New Year in Japan cannot be topped. All of this kicks off an amazing month of Speedhunting from the Land of the Rising Sun, starting with the aforementioned RWB meet, Tokyo Auto Salon, a cool drift event at Nikko, and then the HKS Premium Day. Are you ready?
Dino Dalle Carbonare