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Japanese Old School

1978-1982 Mitsubishi Mirage: Fantasizing about Turning a Twin Stick into a Turbo

One of our online readers, who posted under the pseudonym Bertong Kulas, recently inquired about the restoration costs of our red 1976 Mitsubishi Celeste project car that is owned by ROPALI Chairman Roberto “Bob” P. Alingog. The reader was asking about the expenses we incurred during the restoration of the Celeste because he is planning to restore his own Mitsubishi ...

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60-Year-Old Kei Car from a 100-Year-Old Company: Electrified 1960 Mazda R360

Last January 30, 2020, before the COVID-19 virus became a global pandemic, Mazda Motor Corporation celebrated its 100th anniversary. Mazda began as the Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd., that was founded in January 30, 1920 in Hiroshima, Japan. The company was renamed Toyo Kogyo Co., Ltd. in 1927. From manufacturing machine tools, the company shifted to vehicle manufacturing with the ...

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1970-73 Datsun 240Z: Datsun Rises in the West

In October 1969, Nissan Motors, Ltd. of Japan introduced the first-generation Datsun 240Z to the American market as a 1970 model. Internally designated as the Nissan S30, the 240Z was designed by a team led by Yoshihiko Matsuo, the head of Nissan’s Sports Car Styling Studio. The Japanese sports car’s introduction in the American market was spearheaded by Yutaka Katayama, ...

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1968-81 Isuzu 117 Coupé: Rare Japanese Collectible Classic

Here’s something for the classic Japanese car connoisseur: Have you ever seen an Isuzu 117 Coupé? A compact Gran Turismo (GT)-type 2-door fastback that was produced between 1968 and 1981, the 117 Coupé was styled by the famous designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro. It was one of the first Japanese cars designed by an Italian stylist, among the first Japanese cars with a double ...

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1978 Mitsubishi Celeste 1600ST: The One That Got Away

Some years back, before I had my own 1977 Mitsubishi Celeste 1600ST, I was hanging out with Lito Galvez, a friend and fellow car enthusiast at his MSG Garage in Cubao, Quezon City, and we were talking about cars that we’d like to own and keep. After going through a wish list that included my dad’s 1952 Chevy Styline Deluxe coupe ...

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1967-70 Toyota 2000GT: The First Japanese Supercar

The Toyota 2000GT was a sports car produced in very limited numbers by Toyota Motor Company in cooperation with Yamaha. First seen at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, production 2000GTs were built between 1967 and 1970 and it revolutionized the automotive world’s view of Japan, which was formerly seen as a producer of imitative and stodgily practical vehicles. The Toyota ...

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1970-1977 Toyota Celica (A20, A30): Celestial Sports Coupes

During its conception in the late 1960’s, Toyota Motor Corporation executives literally looked to the heavens to name their new sporty hardtop notchback coupe. The name was derived from the Latin word coelica, which means “heavenly” or “celestial”. Displayed at the October 1970 Tokyo Motor Show and marketed in December of the same year, the Toyota Celica was a personal car ...

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Isuzu Gemini SL Coupe: Missed Opportunities

Sometime in  November 2010, I was at the parking lot of the Home Depot in Ortigas taking pictures of cars and the participants of the 7th anniversary of the Old Schooler Car Club when I found myself gravitating towards a well-restored Isuzu Gemini SL 2-door coupe with plate number NRT-798. Its orange hue must have pulled me to it since I ...

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1965-69 Toyota Sports 800: The Giant Beating Yota-Hachi

Can a cute little sports car with a small boxer engine provide the same driving exhilaration as the larger ones with more powerful engines? Well, with the 1965-69 Toyota Sports 800, the answer is a resounding YES. Nicknamed the “Yota-Hachi”, which is Japanese short form for “Toyota 8”, the Sports 800 is Toyota’s first production sports car. The prototype debuted ...

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