in the late 1960's and early 1970's, when the first Japanese cars
started coming to the U.S., no one thought to much of it. Except
they were small, different, and probably under powered for the
Of course, when the 1973 gas embargo happened, everything changed.
Suddenly, small cars, with smaller engines, were sought after
by millions of Americans. My own mother traded in her Impala and
bought a new Mazda RX3 Wagon. Just 3 years earlier, our neighbor
across the street had bought a brand new 1970 Datsun 240z (in
a silver color, though I would say that was more of a sports car
purchase than out of necessity).
That was the foot in the door that the Japanese automakers needed,
and suddenly they were almost everywhere. Especially the small
pickups, like the Nissan D21s or the Toyota Hilux.
As time went by, most of these cars were traded in and ended up
in junkyards. But today, things have changed, very much so.
The collector cars market has embraced the older, small, compact
Japanese cars from Asia. Sure, most don't have comforts, like
power steering, or air conditioning, but their body designs are
timeless. And now, classic.
Toyota Corollas, Datsun 510's and 710s. Mazda RX3's. The '78 to
'85 Mazda RX7s. Datsun 240 and 280Z cars. Now they are looked
upon as cars folks remember them, they and want to own and upgrade
At the same time, the Japanese car companies continued development
on new types of cars. Nissan created a new GT-R, based on a long
history of Skylines from Japan. Now they had a super car on their
started their TRD (Toyota Racing Development) programs. Honda's
have their V-Tec engines. The world was exploding with reliable,
but fast machines based on a long heritage of Japanese car models.
Now you can build model kits of a lot of these cars, from the
classic older models to the latest Lexus LFA and Subaru BRZ.
Companies such as Tamiya, Hasegawa, Fujimi, and others, keep making
new kits of our favorites. In the past, most of the kits were
curbside models, but not anymore. Now you can get them with full
engine bays and engines, extra wings and hop up parts, and even
If you've been wanting to build a classic kit, or just want to
explorer some Japanese culture, building one of these model kits
can be a lot of fun, and will give you a new model building experience.
you might also be building a car you grew up with, or remember
a neighbor owning.