Old Is Better Than New: Nostalgic 2 Days

Is my title statement true? Are older cars better than newer cars? I’ll leave you to figure that out by yourselves, but only after you’ve checked out some of the cars that we came across at this year’s Nostalgic 2 Days.

Classics fuel a massive slice of the love for cars we all have, but the thing we’ve got to figure out here is what ‘better’ actually means. I’m pretty sure the answer will be different and dependent on what you prioritize in a car.

Are your senses tickled by the beauty of an older design, maybe spiced with a few modern day touches to give it a bespoke yet contemporary feel?

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Or perhaps you are all about function and go nutty when thinking about all the wonderful upgrades tuners and part manufacturers continue to develop for older cars? Both approaches are there to improve, embellish and add performance.

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Then again, you may be a purist. If this is the case, factory perfect is what it’s all about; keeping important models from the past as stock as the day they rolled off the production like.

Each is a way to enjoy cars, and this enjoyment – in my eyes at least – is what continues to make older cars ‘better’ than new ones.

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But let the classic car indulgence begin. Once you’ve reached the end of this post, tell me what you think. I’m keen to see how your opinions will vary.

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For the benefit of those that haven’t seen coverage from this event before, let’s start with a brief run down of what it’s all about.

Like many other big events in Japan, it all spans from a magazine. Nostalgic Hero is regarded as one of the country’s top kyusha-oriented magazines, and one that every classic car owner aspires to have their car featured in.

I’ve always heard that if your car lands on the cover, its value is instantly boosted, and is worth as much as $10,000 to the right collector.

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Although using only half the space that the Mooneyes Hot Rod Custom Show takes up at this venue, Nostalgic 2 Days’ organizers always manage to squeeze a lot in to the Pacifico Yokohama Convention Center, creating a show that has its very own feel and is far from repetitive.

Well, maybe you do see some similar stuff year in and year out, but it all seems to continuously change and evolve a little.

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It’s also the place to become more acquainted with the rare classic racers that we see at Nismo Festival every December. Here, they’re all polished and waiting to be admired up close. Just look at that Tomei motor in this Sunny.

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Star Road always has the most prominent booth at Nostalgic 2 Days. It’s always the first one you see when entering the convention center, and on top of having this Hakosuka and Z pairing we saw at TAS a little over a month back, Inoue-san brought along his yellow wide-body S30, which you can see in the second image of this post.

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If you’re searching for the rarest of the rare Japanese classics, this is one show you cannot miss. There are always a few 2000GTs on display, although probably less this year than previous. For me, this car is always a reminder of Toyota’s overly conservative approach, which once in a while seems to spawn some mind-blowing machines.

Ninety-nine percent of the time they’re about creating affordable and reliable cars for the masses, but every now and then they create something really special. The 2000GT was the first such car, a project developed by Yamaha that Toyota took on to show that it wasn’t boring. They sort of did the same with the LFA when needing to inject excitement into Lexus decades later.

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And if you ever wondered what the 2000GT’s underpinnings look like, you can get a very good idea looking at this running chassis.

Recently restored, it shows what a great layout the 2000GT had; a rigid structure onto which the 3M 2.0-liter straight six was longitudinally mounted and mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox, which then powered the independently sprung rear wheels.

There was a choice of three final drives and disc brakes at each corner hidden behind magnesium alloy wheels. All of this, plus the limited production number, was the reason the 2000GT sold for more money than most sports cars of the time; a true first halo car for Toyota.

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From a rare Toyota to a rare Nissan, and a very daring one at that.

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The S20-powered 432Z version of the S30 Fairlady is as sought after as Japanese classics can get, so this one wearing carbon fiber fender flares and sitting on deep-dish RS Watanabe wheels may have given the purists heart palpitations.

It didn’t bother me at all as this thing looked astonishingly good. Its engine was also running larger carburettors and an exhaust manifold that can only be described as sexy.

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Like pretty much every car at the show it was up for sale. I’d hate to think what something like this would fetch; half a million US dollars isn’t unheard of, but maybe the modifications will detract from its true potential value.

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Here’s another rare car from the same era, an Isuzu Bellett GT Type R. It’s crazy to think that back in the day Isuzu was a pretty exciting car manufacturer, often linking up with Italian design houses to create unique and upmarket coupes and sedans.

Ask anyone today what Isuzu makes, and the answer will almost always be ‘trucks’.

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Daddy Motorworks is always on our top list of tuning and fabrication shops pushing the Japanese scene. These guys seem to have endless cool ideas and this Corolla wagon really got a lot of people talking.

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There was no 4A-G, 3S or even a 1UZ swap, but a far more curious 1.5-liter four banger from another manufacturer. It was also sporting ITBs and a beautifully crafted takoashi (octopus legs) exhaust manifold.

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Guessed the engine yet? The Suzuki Swift Sport catalogue says it all; there was even a handwritten message saying: “The engine from this!” Pretty cool, huh?

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Right next to the Corolla was this 510 Sunny from S&A Auto Create, a shop I visited some time back. To this day it remains one of those little places that pushes the boundaries of Japanese tuning and ingenuity.

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S&A aren’t shy to drop different engines into different cars, which explains why this 510 is running Honda S2000 running gear. Look at those headers – wow!

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From the Japanese classics we move to the European side of Nostalgic 2 Days. Japan has really stepped up its game when it comes to restoring classic Euro cars, but with that has come silly asking prices.

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This 912 was on sale for 21 million yen. That’s around US$190,000. Am I missing something here?

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The 50 million yen (US$450,000) being asked for this yellow Dino is more on par with what these cars go for globally.

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Right, back to more of our sort of stuff with R31 House, a company that continues to play more and more with other generations of the Skyline. Take this BNR32 everyone was dying to get a look at, for example.

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What was the big deal?

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The stock motor was mated to an RB26 version of R31 House’s iconic 6-into-1 low-mount exhaust manifold design.

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It’s a kit they developed along with GCG and comes with this Garrett turbocharger. It’s small enough and packing modern bearing design to offer great low-end response but still big enough to push enough air for an easy 500hp.

The boss told me it sounds unlike any other RB26 I’ve likely ever heard, and that I must go and try the car out for myself. Maybe Ron and I should do another trip down to their shop…

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Don’t worry, they are still doing their beautiful R31 GTS-R rebuilds.

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As well as starting to properly play with R30s.

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And speaking of FJ-powered Skylines, I certainly cannot forget to mention Utilitas, who are still doing great complete car restoration work.

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Nostalgic 2 Days is a great place to be reminded of certain cars, models you may have forgotten, but ones that somehow left a mark in the back of your mind.

The Subaru Alcyone/SVX is definitely one of them for me. This model came from an era when Subaru wasn’t afraid of trying out exciting visions for cars.

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It wasn’t a success or anything, but it did strike a chord with enthusiasts that appreciate a big sporty GT powered by a flat-six engine running all four wheels.

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There was even a beautifully tuned example with gently blistered fenders. Subaru is doing rather well these days, especially in the US, but I bet you in 20 years no one will remember any of the cars it’s making right now, but all will recall the SVX.

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Much like the JCCA event a few weeks back, Nostalgic 2 Days is very much about parts. And there was a lot of cool stuff to choose from, like this bottom end set for Nissan’s S20.

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Or how about a rare set of 50mm Solex carbs for the equivalent of US$10,000?

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These Showa-period coasters were phenomenally awesome – the perfect mix of cars and pure cheese, all hinting at the obsession Japan had with the Western world at that time.

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Not too far away there was a booth selling dry fruits and nuts. Again, it just seemed to fit in so well with the overall atmosphere of the show.

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When it comes to modern day classics the AE86 reigns supreme, and there were some pretty special cars to check out.

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But the thing that caught my attention was the Restore R display, which showed off the stamped steel body panels they offer for older cars like the Hachiroku and R32 Skyline.

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These are as close to stock factory rear quarters as you will find – perfect if you are rebuilding a car, or drift a lot… badly.

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It’s hard to share such a high level of awesome in one post, so the approach I’ve taken with this event – as in previous years – is to separate the coverage into more detailed spotlights of the cars that truly made the difference.

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Mid Night Lamborghini Countach?

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You think that’s cool, but then you notice it’s a Wolf version.

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It isn’t a 21-window version, but this VW Bus from Flat-4 was definitely one of the cleanest I’ve come across in Japan.

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Simplicity. Perfection.

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I’ll finish up this first post with a little ensemble of Kawasaki bikes, stunning examples of a two-wheeled scene I’d love to visit at some point this year.

I’ll get onto the spotlights next, starting off with an old MR2 that I just couldn’t stop looking at.

Check back soon for the rest of the coverage from the 2019 Nostalgic 2 Days.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino
dino@speedhunters.com

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