Sunday, January 10, 2021

New Year Meet at Daikoku PA

On January 1st Tokyo feels almost surreal, with empty streets and closed shops as most people still indulge in the festivities. But give it 48 hours and on January 3rd the New Year meet at Daikoku PA will serve as a good reminder of how Japan offers one of the most unique and diverse car cultures in the world.

My day started with an early 6AM rise and smooth drive on an empty expressway, with thick cold winter air feeding the engine and a serious need for caffeine. I cruised along a R35 Nismo for a bit, until the owner decided to show me the difference another 300ps make when you floor the right pedal.

I arrived relatively early and parked my Fairlady while the sun was still rising behind the famous concrete pillars that surround Daikoku.

After running into Dino (who was there taking proper photos for Speedhunters) I spent the rest of the morning watching the parking area fill up with all sorts of metal.

This was my first time attending the meet and it surely did not disappoint. As a car enthusiast it can hardly get any better than this.

The diversity and variety of cars that showed up was simply fantastic. What’s even more remarkable is that this is not an organized event, but a tradition passed down by word of mouth, with owners from all over Tokyo and surrounding cities simply showing up at the PA throughout the day.

This Z33 35th Anniversary caught my eyes, not only for its bright paint job (fittingly named Premium Shining Yellow), but also for its impeccable condition. It’s so rare to see clean Z33s around.

The Stagea 260RS is not a totally uncommon car to see in Japan, especially around Tokyo, but I think I counted three or four during the course of the morning.

This particular one had a nice set of LMGT4 in bronze as well as a few modifications.

Remember the R35 Nismo I encountered on the expressway? I later ran into the same car at the meet, although I suspect the owner arrived a few minutes ahead of me.

Taking about diversity, I think the photo below sums it up quite well. I have no idea what car it is, and hot rods are not exactly my cup of tea, but it was very, very cool.

Italian cars have always been a favorite amongst Japanese owners and collectors, so it was no surprise to see quite a few Lamborghinis, like this Countach 25th Anniversary.

Or this heavily modified Lancia Delta. I am not sure if it was a replica or a genuine one, but not much of the original base car was left anyways.

The 458 Italia has one of the cleanest designs amongst the modern Ferraris; the owner of this specific example decided to add a very tasteful gold contour to the center tricolore stripe.

I didn’t see as many Skyline GT-Rs as I would have expected but there were still a few nice examples. 

Is it a sign that owners are driving them less now that they are so valuable? Well, admittedly I didn’t take mine down either, but this owner pulled up in his almost completely stock example.

This Mine’s tuned example looked all-business, with massive Endless rotors and calipers and a stripped down interior.

There were also quite a few older Skylines, but I always get confused and have a hard time recognizing what’s what. Dino obviously didn’t.

It seemed that the more the morning went on, the more diverse the cars that rolled into the PA would get. TVR Sagaris in bright orange anyone?

Dino and I reflected on how there seem to be two parallel trends amongst Japanese owners, with those who strive to keep their cars as good and impeccable as the day they left the factory on one hand.

And those who simply decide to go all out and modify their rides without holding back, nor consideration for future value, on another one.

Unfortunately this sometimes translates into controversial (or rather plain dumb) ideas, as this poor Pagani Zonda is proof. Somehow the owner succeeded in the incredible feat of permanently disfiguring one of the most beautiful, rarest and sought after cars on the planet. 

Around 10AM the meet was still ongoing, with no sign of slowing down and plenty of cars coming and leaving, but I felt it was a good time to head back and avoid traffic. Also, I had planned to hit Tatsumi PA in the afternoon where, again, there was no shortage of unique cars.

Unfortunately Tokyo is back in a (soft) state of emergency due to COVID cases increasing, but the New Year meet was a refreshing way to kick off 2021. 

Until next time.

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