Today, I was in Odaiba, the man-made island in Tokyo Bay. The island is known for its futuristic buildings. Today, it was home of the Japan Classic Car Association’s New Year Meeting. It celebrates the imported car. During the next days, I will show you the nicer ones. We start with the Americans, and a Dodge.
The tonier places in America, like Pebble Beach and Hilton Head, are known for their Concours d’Elegance, something the organizers wanted to bring to Tokyo. It looks like it was damaged in transit.
Some of the first cars in Japan were American, just like this early Dodge Brothers model. The first car made in Japan, in 1902, was powered by a gasoline engine, hand-imported from the U.S. by Komanosuke Uchiyama. Five years later, he produced the first entirely Japanese-made car.
Detroit pretty much owned the Japanese car market before the war. Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors all had production plants in the island nation. Between 1925 and 1936, the Big Three produced 208,967 cars in Japan. Japanese automakers, and there were many, made only 12,127.
Cars imported to Japan, mostly from America and England, did set the style for Japanese cars.
After the war, American makers liked to use their British subsidiaries to export cars to Japan. This is the egg crate grille of a Nash Metropolitan Roadster, built between 1953 and 1961 at Austin’s Longbridge plant.
Except that this Nash has the steering wheel on the left. Must have been the export model.
This is a Ford Prefect, built in the UK.
It looks like the 100E (1953 to 1959). Its steering wheel is at the right left, I mean, it was left at the right side. Next to the Prefect sits a BMW 2002, the predecessor of the 3-series. I had one of those, also in Bavarian Blue.
Wedged between a Porsche and a Triumph, a Shelby GT350. When this car came to Japan, the glory of American imports in Japan began to fade, and the Europeans took over. We will look at them tomorrow.