The WCS challenge: What's the best Japanese sports car you can find for £20,000?
Challenge number six is upon us, and rest assured, the land of the rising sun has plenty of options for you to display your ingenuity with
Aaah, Japan: the land of neon-lit cities, achingly beautiful nature, supremely creative origami, and many, many more things. It's a quite fabulous nation, and one that's surely on the hearts, minds, and bucket lists of almost everyone. Whilst its surreal landscapes, incredible architecture, and ''something for everyone'' attitude to life is great, there's something else that Japan is known for that only petrolheads like me, and you lot on DriveTribe, will appreciate: their automotive industry.
Questionably, Japan may not be creating as many thoroughbreds as they once did, and few (if any) of their manufacturers set out to develop their cars to, quite literally, be Ferrari-killer's, like Honda did with their maiden NSX. There's no doubt that they still remain a fundamental cog in the automotive spectrum, but they set the bar so high during the 90s, the world is probably yearning for more of the same. If you want to read up about why that decade was such a defining one for Japan, click here to be forwarded to a previous article I wrote.
Unicorn. Image credit: Talha Farooqui on Flickr.
It's not that Japan don't make interesting cars anymore - the Nissan GT-R, the Honda NSX, and the Lexus LFA can all challenge that claim - but there just aren't enough of them. Cars like these would be coming thick and fast during the 90s, and even the early 2000s, for Japan. Sadly, their go-to business model now seems to prejudice quantity over quality.
One such car which has been extensively redeveloped to suit this thinking is the Mitsubishi Eclipse. Remember that glossy green, black bonnet, massive exhaust-tipped car that Brian O'Connor fried when he was chasing Dominic Toretto's Mazda RX-7 in Fast and Furious I? Here's an image of what the Eclipse used to be:
Image credit: Pinterest.
And here's what it's become:
Image credit: Wikipedia.
I don't know about you, but that's just not right to me. The Mitsubishi Eclipse is just one of many great Japanese cars that have had their image and personality changed to the extent of unrecognizability. And that brings me onto this week's challenge, which will surely whet the appetites of anyone that's even remotely interesting. Let's get the formalities out of the way:
This is the sixth week of ''The Weekly Car Sale Challenge'', but if you're a newbie to this, please click here to get caught up to speed.
Last week, I set a rather odd challenge for everyone: What's the best ''white car'' that you can find for under £3,000? I'm not sure what my thought process was before pressing publish - only that it felt quite unique and should spur up some really unique finds. Maybe even a hidden gem or two: something that's becoming synonymous with these weekly challenges. Here's a few from last week:
This may be a quite personal choice for me, but I am an absolute sucker for Mazda's - particularly those that've gone through their Mazda-Sport divison. Lovely choice, but I can't give it the win this week because it is somewhat common. Well played, but sorry Beth!
Similarly, I loved this 14-year-old Toyota Crown posted by Melissa Wheeler. Look at those alloys! It's just got so much presence, and unlike most Toyota's from the mid-2000s, it actually looks quite good. But just like Beth's choice above, it's a bit .. humdrum.
Edging closer to the top, and continuing the Japanese theme from the previous two shout-outs, is this semi-busted RX-7 Turbo .. convertible. When you talk about great Japanese cars, the RX-7 lineage will be in the conversation every single time. Again, I was hard-pressed to not award Onious W for this brilliant post.
Just before I show you the winner, this is a must see. Porsche 944's are becoming increasingly difficult to find, let alone one in good condition like this one. Originally, this was set to be my winner, but another entrant had an overwhelming amount of support for it:
It was only a matter of time before Onious won one of these challenges. It was a tough call, choosing between this Volvo 480, the aforementioned RX-7 convertible, and Nate's 944 - but in the end, I just had to choose the 480. The main reason was because it was certainly a car I didn't expect to see entered, let alone one that's got no sign of mistreatment. If that wasn't enough, Onious saved a thousand pounds on the target price, and in Top Gear maths, that means he earns 1010 points immediately. Congratulations to Onious W for winning last week's challenge!
ON TO THIS WEEK'S CHALLENGE:
You're tasked with driving the length of Japan. Your journey will begin in Japan's most southernly big city, Kagoshima, and take you through Kumamoto, the narrow tip of Kitakyushu, Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto, Fuji, and Tokyo. Once you inevitably detour, and spend a few days around the illuminated capital of the Land of the Rising Sun, you continue to ascend north: into the icy regions of Yamagata and Iwate, before meeting your journey's end at Aomori.
With a total stretch of over 2,000km, and a journey time of several days, this adventure will have everything: gorgeous touge roads, mountain climbs, velvet-smooth city streets and B-roads .. really, there's no question over whether or not you'll enjoy this. The only question is what your choice of chariot will be. So, here are the details:
With a budget of £20k, pick a Japanese sports car to take you across Japan.
You can pick any vehicle from any time period, it doesn't have to be from the 90s (though, I may be bias toward you if it was). For some reference, here's what I'd do:
This, to me, is old testament. It's where my passion and infatuation for the automobile began. A wide-eyed five-year-old sat on the floor of his living room, playing Granturismo 1, and ALWAYS opting for a bright white Mitsubishi GTO Twin-Turbo: that was my beginnings. 20 years later, I'm still as in love with the GTO as I was when I was a kid.
Everyone has one, or a few, cars that they really, really, REALLY love. I don't mean the, ''I saw a Ferrari 458 and I really want one'', kind of love. I mean the, ''it makes my heartthrob and my stomach-fizz'', kind of love. A love that you can't quite put into words - that is what the Mitsubishi GTO is to me.
At £9,450, I'd have over ten grand to refurbish it with. I wouldn't touch the mechanics, or try and increase its power in anyway - that would take away from the experience, and make it entirely artificial. Rather, I'd spend all my money updating its interior: new seats, a new infotainment screen, and so on. I wouldn't touch the exterior either, this one's in the correct colour combination already, not to mention, it's one of the most mint examples I've seen.
Memories .. Image credit: GTPlanet.
As always, I'm eagerly looking forward to what you guys can find. Japanese sports cars (especially those from the golden era) are one of, if not my most, favourite genre of automobiles. I just know there's going to be some really special entrants.