Euro Love At Zoom Car Collection Japan

Is the grass really greener on the other side? Or are they just using grass which suits that side better?

Whether it is indeed greener is definitely subjective and really depends on what you’re going to use the grass for. You wouldn’t want to exercise your dog on a synthetic lawn, and you’d be out of your mind to play rugby on Creeping Red Fescue. But that wouldn’t stop you from pawing over the latest issue of Turf magazine and drooling over some premium Emerald Zoysia Grass, would it?

Oh, are you not into that kind of thing? In that case, let’s take a look around Yokohama-based import car specialist Zoom Car Collection, and see if foreign cars really are greener on the other side.


Are these cars better because they’re faster, more reliable or more beautiful? Do we only lust after them because they’re different? Or perhaps because they might be rare or unattainable domestically? In Japan, it’s fair to say that foreign cars – both new and old – are seen as a symbol of prestige.

Of course, true enthusiasts love a BMW Alpina like this B9 3.5 for a multitude of reasons: The styling is tough yet elegant, it’s built like a tank, and being rare bragging rights are high. This was a Zoom customer car, and the owner had just popped in for a coffee.


Initially, I was going to say that you would have to be barking mad to drive this big German tank around Tokyo, and that Japanese cars are more suited to Japanese roads. But while that may be the case for modern saloons, this German coupe actually fits right in.

To prove my initial point, I also had an idea to compare the B9 to the Japanese equivalent of a late-’80s grand touring comfort coupe – the Toyota Soarer Z20. But when I checked the body specs for both cars, I found the BMW to be only three inches longer and the same width as its Japanese counterpart. Well there goes that theory.


The plush leather interior of the B9 coupe adds to the 100kg weight disadvantage it has over the Z20 Soarer though, and that is quite a lot considering the stock power outputs of these two cars are near identical.

Mitsuo Komada, the owner of Zoom Car Collection, has a small but charming collection of European classics, and I was interested to find out why he chose to specialize in these sort of cars. The shop is full of parts and memorabilia, and Komada-san didn’t hesitate to pose behind this 1972 BMW R75/5 LWB.


While I couldn’t get an exact answer as to why Komada-san is so in love with European cars, when he began showing me around this pristine 1959 MG MGA Roadster his gentle touch and boyish enthusiasm made it very clear.


He guided me through the MGA’s certified MGB 1,800cc engine swap in detail, and while much was lost on me (mostly because of my limited Japanese), I could see that he really loved the mechanical side of these exotic time machines. I’m sure there are differences in technologies which, if you like that kind of thing, can be immensely exciting and enlightening.


This MG even has a certificate of authenticity from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, which is prestigious indeed. This is undoubtedly a beautiful car, but I can’t help but think the body work is a bit bloated compared to the delicate lines of the Datsun 2000 I found last month.


No European car collection would be complete without something from BMW and this rare 1967 1800TI was a welcome sight.


When this family-sized saloon was introduced in 1963, it offered German drivers sports car power in a classy package, winning races on Sunday and commuting to work on Monday. It did remarkably well in rallies of the time, winning the German championship in 1964 and leading lap times at the Nürburgring.


Zoom Car Collection also specializes, weirdly enough, in secondhand Alex Moulten fold-up bicycles. These quirky bikes are quintessentially British, born through necessity during a global economic crisis. Alex Moulton, as it happens, also played a large part in the design and development of the iconic Mini’s suspension.


As I wrapped up the shoot, Komada-san said “Don’t forget to photograph the toilet…” I didn’t know if he was yanking my chain, but lo and behold it really was a nice place to sit and think.


As I was packing away my camera, Komada-san told me of one more car I might be interested in. He led me out of the shop, around the side and into the rear parking area, flicked on the lights and asked: “What do you think?”


I’m not really a beach person, but I think I’d be down to the shoreline every day if I owned this canary yellow 1973 Volkswagen Thing, AKA Type 181.


This car is about as different as you’ll get in Japan. A successor to the infamous Kübelwagen, the VW Type 181 was originally built for the West German Army. However, the function-first model eventually became part of Volkswagen’s line-up, sold domestically as the Kurierwagen and with other names for different markets – ‘Thing’ in the United States and ‘Trekker’ in the United Kingdom.


Whether you’re a foreigner or not, I definitely recommend paying Zoom Car Collection and Komada-san a visit if you are ever in the Yokohama area.

As for why people love foreign cars? I think it’s as simple as ‘different strokes for different folks.’ There are so many factors at play and so many are subjective to one’s personal experiences. The element of ‘it’s cool because it’s different’ is, in my opinion, a big factor. What do you think?

Toby Thyer
Instagram _tobinsta_

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im sorry guys but im breaking down:

the R34 is the ugliest overhyped machine this side of japan. i've seen so many photos i dont even want one anymore... utterly ruined and i hope when it comes and goes the bubble POPS.. terribly sorry but after 2 decades of seeing it. the hype needs to end..


seeing articles like this washes my brain of seeing so many R34 skylines.

seeing non doctored up normal photos on facebook really shows me that its not worth the money for an R34

i am getting older and really moving into EURO cars and mercedes and stuff like that as it just feels mature and less like a kids car

an R34 would of been cool if i was 21 or 16 in the 90s

but i'm nearly 30

what do you suggest for good euro car?


and J'm really sick of all internet trolls! it's like living with bunch of monkeys.


im not in HS anymore, i want to grow up. i dont want a skyline anymore, im 30, peoples tastes change, if your tastes dont change then you should relookin the mirror.

im getting older i dont want to look like a kid or a drug dealer or a street racer, i want maturity, i want a nice suit i want to showcase to the world that im mature and dont do hooligan stuff anymore.


Reading your comments, i had you pegged at 17 tops, and i had assumed you stumbled upon your dads collection of Sport Compact magazine, which would be cool, and also explain the immaturity of your posts. At 30, with these posts, i think you're the one that may need to look in the mirror.


Have you ever driven a GT-R?


R32 and not GTR but VW. Or MB Black series. Any of them.


Get 15 Cobalt SS's for the same price of one R34 and take em out one by one to walk R34's around the Nurburgring. Maybe if it happens enough people will get over it.


the R34 is just supposed to be a cheap mustang knock off,

it you look in japan at all the weird retro wheels for it, you will realize that.

tis just a reall ybad AWD mustang Supra THING. which a supra is supposed to be an aston martin or something.

its like japanese cars are really bad.

there engines are great but there design language is really poor.


You should really read a book. The R32-R34 GT-Rs weren't meant to be Mustang knock-offs. They were originally meant to compete with the Porsche 959. They weren't cheap or knock-offs. You're conflating a bunch of different things to make a point that so far is unclear. You want to buy a European car, go for it. But to find something with the performance, dynamism, and history of something like a R34, you'll going to be paying the same amount of money. And if you think Euros will make you look less "childish" tell that to GT2 RS or Black Series owners.


in all honesty bud....if you claim you are a car enthusiast you would appreciate every car for what they are and what they stand for, yess there are alot of cars that would overthrow the mighty R34 in performance wise and looks maybe but to appreciate the Gt-R you have to be a enthusiast and you sir by the way you are throwing hate at it says alot about you.

Kind regards.


an R34 v-spec Nur edition will satisfy your euro needs


sorry i dont have 100k, and bitcoin is long sailed to be affordable and betted on at 60k.


you know without paul walker.

we wouldnt of had an entire generation of car people and his passing is sad but we should not live in the shadow of his death.

we should live in the shadow of his life and try to do better if not as good as him in the future.



i wish paul walker drove mercedes and made them more reliable...


What a fantastic collection of Euro classic!
Super clean too!


That yellow volkswagen that is in a basement i think is very interesting.


Thanks for this.... What an interesting shop! I hope you both keep up the good work.


I love the way this article starts in reminds me of my vw golf cti. Jamie Orr came to south Africa to build the citi the Cti is a gti version of the citi . There is a secret language of cool and rare that all car guys seem to understand. great article


@TobyThyer I really enjoy your coverage of these niche dealerships in Japan, keep it up! I was already hooked from your article on Flex Car Review (because lately I have a Kyusha addiction) :D




That is the One and Only VW Thing Type 181 I've ever seen with air conditioning! How weird and unique. Seen plenty of "Things" at aircooled shows-never A/C'd. A 1 of 1?


I really couldnt say, It gets pretty hot in Japan...


... the body work is a bit bloated compared to the delicate lines of the Datsun 2000 ...

Are you high son?


Thanks for the very interesting article, Toby. So much Euro goodness in such small space.

I think the toilet should have a huge window (with one-way glass) offering unperturbed views of Euro cars.
Ah, imagine sitting on the porcelain throne, looking, and thinking Euro rides. What enjoyment! ;)


That's a great idea!


@TobyThyer good stuff Toby! but already the second article is not available full-screen photos. In the article about Civic too

Samvel Rostomian

Hello. tell me where you can find a photo of this Honda in full size?


I'm trying to point out to Toby that the gallery is not working in his recent articles. I would like to enjoy the photos myself

Samvel Rostomian

The gallery isn't working properly.


That MGA!
Thank you for showing this, that is one epic example.