Tag Archives: Japan

Beat It

‘Sports’ cars today have about a thousand horsepower and weigh sixteen tons. Except when they’re EVs, and then it’s double that. Which is why we love the Honda Beat.

Built to Japan’s kei-car regulations in the early ’90s, the Beat had only 660cc, 63bhp, and weighed in at just 760kgs. Which means your Mom could double the kerb-weight just by getting in. Not that she’d fit.

This neat Speed Champions Beat was found by one of our Elves on Flickr, coming from Ilya Muratov who has captured the ’90s kei icon wonderfully. Jump in via the link to Ilya’s Flickr album above. If you fit.

*Today’s title song. Of course.

Crossing Japan

This is a Japanese National Railways Class EF66 electric locomotive, which we definitely knew for ourselves and aren’t just quoting the builder KMbricklab. Rather than show off our considerable and extensive knowledge of all things trains here, we’ll simply direct you to KM’s excellent ‘JNR Class EF66 Electric Locomotive’ album on Flickr. Click the link above to journey across Japan.

Elf.

The Elf. Green, weird looking, and rather small. Of course we had to publish this one.

First produced in 1959 and still sold today, Isuzu’s Elf light truck has seen six generations, been built in over twenty manufacturing facilities, and worn a multitude of badges on its nose, including Chevrolet, Nissan, Mazda, Hino, GMC and Bedford.

This is the first, as built from 1959 to 1968, and recreated here beautifully by regular bloggee 1saac W. 1saac’s model wears the marks of its life wonderfully (much like our own Elves), and there’s more of it to see at his photostream via the link above. Take a look whilst we award an extra Smartie to the Elf that found it.

Not a WRX

Subaru don’t just make the WRX. In fact they’ve made all sorts of weird things, from trains and planes, to wind turbines and generators.

From a vehicular perspective Subaru’s products vary widely too, some of which are rather further from the WRX than you might think.

This is one of them, the dinky Sambar micro-truck. A ‘kei’ car in Japan also badged as the Daihatsu Hijet and Toyota Pixis, the Sambar first launched in the ’60s, and today is on its tenth generation, powered by a 660cc engine and available in a variety of body-styles.

This is the pick-up variant, as built rather nicely by Joey Klusnick in Miniland style, replicating a Sambar owned by his local model shop. There’s more to see at Joey’s Flickr album, where his model is pictured alongside its real world counterpart.

Click the link above for a Subaru that’s not driven by an irritating bro with a blow-off valve.

Mangacycle

Confession time; this TLCB Writer has never seen, read, nor understood ‘Manga’. However TLCB has featured this apparently iconic Manga motorcycle several times over the years, and today ‘Kaneda’s bike’ from the Manga series ‘Akira’ arrives on these pages in mini-figure form courtesy of Dan Ko of Flickr. Dan’s bike complete with cleverly photoshopped decals and cunning techniques can be seen at his photostream – click the link above for more Manga motorcycle.

Pre-SUV

Mazda have just launched their most powerful production car ever. And it’s a crossover SUV. Because of course it is. Is anything not a going to be a crossover SUV these days?

Back in the ’90s things were far more varied, with a whole array of sports and GT cars available from mainstream brands. This was one of the most interesting; the rotary-engined Mazda RX-7.

Powered by a 1.3 litre twin-turbo twin-rotor wankel engine, the third generation RX-7 was produced from 1992 to 2002 during which, in TLCB’s home market at least, only a few hundred were sold. Sigh, perhaps we only deserve crossover SUVs…

Of course subsequent popularity meant thousands more RX-7s were ‘grey imported’ from Japan, and the car now enjoys a cult following with prices that go along with it, so the closest most of us will get to one now is in brick form.

Fortunately Flickr’s Fuku Saku has got us covered, with this glorious Speed Champions style third-gen. Mazda RX-7 for which building instructions are available so you can create it too. There’s more to see at Fuku’s photostream and you can take a look via the link above.

Poor Man’s Ferrari

The second generation Toyota MR2 wowed the world when it arrived in the early 1990s. There was simply nothing more exotic looking for even twice the price, earning it the status as a ‘Poor man’s Ferrari’.

We’d say a ‘Sensible man’s Ferrari’ too, as – being a Toyota – the MR2 was infinitely better built (and – dare we say it – better engineered) than anything coming from Maranello, and the turbocharged version was even pretty quick.

After a period of ‘banger’ status, SW20 MR2s are rapidly becoming sought-after classics, and Daniel Helms (aka danielsmocs) is the lucky owner of one in real life.

Capturing his car in Lego, Daniel has recreated the second generation MR2 in brick form, complete with working pop-up headlights via a switch in the cabin, opening doors, front trunk, engine cover and luggage compartment, sliding seats, and removable ‘glass’ roof panels.

There’s much more of Daniel’s build to see at both his ‘Toyota MR2 (SW20)’ album on Flickr, and via the Eurobricks discussion forum. Join us and other poor men via the links!

Accessibly Interesting

Having just posted a hugely valuable exotic car built from another hugely valuable exotic car, you might be surprised to learn that at The Lego Car Blog, we rather prefer the ordinary. So much so we’re running a building competition in search of boring vehicles.

You see, it’s easy to make a squillion-dollar supercar that precisely eight people will buy, not drive, and park in a garage hoping it will one day be worth two-squillion dollars, but it’s much harder to make something hum-drum fun.

It’s even harder these days, when the only thing that sells are angry-looking crossover-SUVs with too much power and too little handling finesse, but back in the 1980s, a number of affordable, interesting, fun cars could be had from car manufacturers who today wouldn’t know fun if it ran them over.

Honda were one such company, who – at the peak of their engineering brilliance – created a small 2+2 front-wheel-drive coupe built from standard economy-car parts and powered by a dinky (but clever) 1.5 or 1.6 litre engine. And that was the ‘sports’ model, base versions had a 1.3!

The result was fabulous, and a car that was infinitely more fun to drive than a BMW X7M or whatever the hell they’re trying to pass off as as a ‘sports’ vehicle this week.

Flickr’s Mihail Rakovskiy has captured the humble CRX beautifully in Creator style, recreating its ’80s aesthetic brilliantly and including opening doors, tailgate and hood, a superb interior, and a realistic brick-built version of the little Honda 4-pot that powered it.

It’s a fantastic homage to a Honda’s proof that power and price are no match for cleverly engineered affordable fun, and there’s much more to see at Mihail’s ‘Honda CRX’ album via the link above.

Tofu Delivery

Delivering tofu in a Japanese economy car doesn’t sound like the type of story to create an automotive legend, but then stranger things have happened. The Toyota Corolla AE86 Trueno did indeed become an automotive all-star thanks to a cartoon tofu delivery driver, and they’re now worth approximately a $billion.

This wonderfully accurate 8-wide Speed Champions version by Jerry Builds Bricks captures the famous two-tone Trueno superbly, and there’s more to see of his Initial D legend on Flickr. Click the link above to place your order. What even is tofu anyway?

What’s in a Name?

This is the Mitsubishi Pajero. Except in Spanish-speaking countries, where it’s definitely not.

Nor is it in TLCB’s home nation, where ‘Pajero’ isn’t an exceptionally rude word, but where ‘Shogun’ just sounds cooler.

Anyway, whatever it’s called, this Lego recreation of the ’90s Pajero/Shogun/Montero by regular bloggee SP_LINEUP is rather excellent, and there’s more of it to see at his photostream.

Click the link above to take a look. Unless you’re Spanish.

Every Wagon

The Suzuki Wagon R was roundly mocked when it arrived in TLCB’s home nation in the late 1990s. These days though it’s, well… still roundly mocked, but we think Japan’s kei cars deserve to be taken seriously outside of the country that created them.

After all, as the population rises and urban dwelling intensifies homes have become smaller. Appliances have become smaller. Even chocolate bars have become smaller. So why not cars?

Oh yeh, because size somehow signifies social importance, and f*** the planet. Sigh.

This is the Wagon R’s successor, the Suzuki Every Wagon, and whilst the name is undoubtedly silly, we’d happily take one of these over a BMW X7. We could probably take three of them for a BMW X7 and still have room left over to be honest…

This one comes from previous bloggee Ralph Savelsberg, and there’s more to see of his kei creation at his photostream. Click the link above and think small. It’s all you really need anyway.

VTEC Just Kicked In Yo

The car of nine thousand memes. And nine thousand revs. Which is a lot.

The Honda S2000 was quite a special thing when it debuted in 1999, taking Honda’s VTEC system to the max, and fitted with a naturally-aspirated engine delivering a higher specific output per litre than anything that had gone before. Supercars included.

It also had rather spiky handling and a gauge cluster from a 1980s microwave, but none of that mattered when you reached peak power output at 8,800rpm.

This one was discovered by one of our Elves on Flickr, and comes from Mihail Rakovskiy who has captured it near perfectly in brick form.

Take it to the 9,000rpm red line via the link above.

Tada!

Sounding a bit like an Italian magician pulling a rabbit from a hat (and thereby adding both Italy and Japan to TLCB’s long list of offended nations), Tadano are Japan’s largest crane and arial platform manufacturer, dating way back to the 1940s.

This is their TL200M mobile crane, or rather, a Lego version of it as built by TLCB newcomer Marco Gan.

Posable stabiliser legs and crane boom, plus a working winch all feature, and there’s more to see at Marco’s ‘TADANO TL200M’ album on Flickr. Click the link to magic your way over.

Bwaaaarp!

If it’s red, with fart-cannon exhausts, and a giant wing on the back, then TLCB Elves will probably like it. Cue this Honda Prelude by Flickr’s SP_LINEUP, which is red, with fart-cannon exhausts, and a giant wing on the back. See more at the link, whilst try to stop the Elves running around the office making engine and tyre screeching noises.

Half-Size Supercar

This is an Autozam AZ-1, and it’s awesome! Produced from 1992 to ’94, fewer than 5,000 units were built across all three brands that marketed it (Mazda, Mazda’s kei car brand Autozam, and Suzuki, who supplied the engine), with sales hampered by a high list price, collapsing economy, and it being weird even by the standards of the Japanese kei-class.

Effectively a 1:2 scale mid-engined gull-winged supercar, the AZ-1 we have here is even smaller, at 1:11, but it’s as packed with interestingness as the real thing. Built by syclone of Eurobricks, this brilliant Technic recreation of the coolest kei-car of them all features remote control drive, steering and headlights, a working steering wheel inside a detailed cabin, independent front and rear suspension, a working piston engine (in there somewhere!), and – of course – opening gull-wing doors.

Building instructions are available and there’s much more to see of syclone’s brilliant Autozam AZ-1, including a video of it in action, at the Eurobricks discussion forum. Take a look at this fantastic 1:11 recreation of a 1:2 supercar via the link above!