Old but gold: Tokyo’s retro car owners revel in modern classics

TOKYO, Feb 5 — Fast and furious they aren’t, but for a group of Japanese retro car enthusiasts the sleek lines and high shine of their old-school models hold a much more special charm.

A loose club of fans rolls up most weekends in central Tokyo to show off their Cadillacs, Chevrolets and other modern classic vehicles from the mid to late 20th century.

“Each time I drive it, I still get a thrill. There aren’t many vehicles that give you that feeling,” Masamune Isogani told AFP of his Knight Rider replica — a Pontiac Trans Am, the car made famous by the hit 80s TV drama.

Japan's modern cars are a world away from the group's painstakingly maintained wheels
Japan’s modern cars are a world away from the group’s painstakingly maintained wheels Photo: AFP / Philip FONG

Sliding into the driver’s seat — which he calls the cockpit — he is surrounded by futuristic displays, illuminated buttons and a wheel that looks like an oversized gaming controller.

These sci-fi touches were installed to give the ride the look and feel of the show’s AI-powered talking car called Knight Industries Two Thousand, or KITT.

Hasil carian imej untuk Old but gold: Tokyo’s retro car owners revel in modern classics
This picture taken on January 31, 2021 shows cars lined up during a gathering by auto enthusiasts in Urayasu, an eastern suburb of Tokyo. — AFP pic

“I speak to the car when I drive,” laughed the 46-year-old, who has owned the streamlined black vehicle — complete with sound effects and a “KITT scanner” light on the front — for around a decade.

These days Japan is known for its practical cars that economise on fuel and space, and rarely break down — a world away from the group’s painstakingly maintained wheels.

The casual society has around 10 members and the oldest cars they own are a 1941 Cadillac and a restored 1929 Ford Model-A.

People cheer and take snaps as the cars go by, from the 1956 Ford F100 Pumpkin to the 1961 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.

“The shape of old cars is very charming, impossible with today’s mass production,” said Hiroyuki Wada, 49, next to his red 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville.

Hiroyuki Wada says his heart belongs to American vehicles
Hiroyuki Wada says his heart belongs to American vehicles

Hiroyuki Wada runs a vintage car service company
Hiroyuki Wada runs a vintage car service company Photo: AFP / Philip FONG

“When you get older, you are more likely to appreciate a car that requires lots of care,” Wada said.

“Old engines often need 10 minutes or so to warm up before you can drive them. That’s what’s really charming about them.”

The sleek lines and high shine of old-school models hold a special charm for the enthusiasts
The sleek lines and high shine of old-school models hold a special charm for the enthusiasts Photo: AFP / Philip FONG

Masamune Isogani gets a thrill every time he drives his Knight Rider replica
Masamune Isogani gets a thrill every time he drives his Knight Rider replica Photo: AFP / Philip FONG

Wada, who runs a car valet business near Tokyo, will spend three to four days on each old-fashioned ride to give it a shiny new look.

He says his heart belongs to American vehicles including old police cars, which he rents out for film and photography shoots.

“Someday I want to valet old fire engines in the United States. That is my dream,” he said.

AFP

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s