Tag Archives: Japan

Fuji ’88

Lego Porsche 962

The All Japan Sports Prototype Championship (JSPC) was one of the world’s wilder race series. Running from the early ’80s to the early ’90s it pitched various classes of endurance racers against one another on Japan’s fastest circuits. Porsche dominated the series, winning seven of the eleven Championships, with Nissan, Toyota and BMW taking the remaining four.

The Porsche 962 proved the car to beat, and yesterday’s Guest Blogger Prototyp has built three of the 962s that raced in the 1988 Fuji race. Each features the livery from a different team running the Porsche 962 in the late ’80s and there’s more to see of all three versions at Prototyp’s Porsche 962 Flickr album by clicking here.

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Wings (Part I)

Lego Datsun 240Z Drift

Drifting, as we learned earlier this week, has been around for some time. Today’s favoured drift weapons are 1990s Japanese cars, being relatively cheap (although the drift tax is now causing values to rocket), rear drive, and – most importantly in the modern drift scene – cool.

We’d prefer this though. It’s a glorious 1970s Datsun 240Z, one of the prettiest cars to come out of Japan, and one of the prettiest cars to come from the ’70s too. Flickr’s Simon Przepiorka is the builder as he’s fully driftized (what – it’s a word!) his 240Z with the addition of a wide-arch kit, what looks like a front-mounted intercooler, and an enormous rear wing.

Why drift cars need rear wings we don’t know, seeing as they’re going too slow to generate any downforce, they’re sideways so the air isn’t flowing it in a straight line, and surely downforce (and therefore grip) is the opposite of what helps cars to break traction anyway.

If you know drop us a note in comments, but we strongly suspect it’s to do with that ‘cool’ thing mentioned above. Anyway, Simon’s lovely Speed Champions scale be-winged Datsun 240Z can be found on Flickr – click the link above to get sideways.

Lego Nissan 240Z Drift

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White Lightning

Lego Nissan 300ZX

White is strange automotive hue. Found on boring builders’ vans at one end of the spectrum and yet looking awesome on sports cars at the other. It’s the latter we have here for you today courtesy of Simon Przepiorka and his brilliant Speed Champions style Nissan 300ZX. So far dodging the ‘drift tax‘ the 300ZX makes a great classic Japanese buy at the moment too, especially in white. You can see more of this one on Flickr at the link above.

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Catching Some ‘Z’s

Lego Datsun Fairlady Z

Nothing beats catching some ‘Z’s. Fortunately we can do just that thanks to Simon Prezepiorka and these three brilliant Datsun Fairlady/240Zs. Simon’s Speed Champions builds have become firm favourites here at TLCB Towers and you can check more of this trio as well as his past creations via the link to Flickr above.

Lego Datsun Fairlady Z

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Toyota 2000GT

Lego Toyota 2000GT

Back to cars now, and to one of the most beautiful ever produced. The Toyota 2000GT was built for just three years between 1967 and 1970, with only 351 ever made (plus two very special convertibles). Today 2000GTs are worth over $1million at auction, taking them a little over TLCB’s budget (£4.50 and tube of Smarties in case you’re wondering…), so we’ll have to make do with this one, but that’s OK, because it’s rather lovely. Built by previous bloggee Jonathan Elliott it recreates the iconic Japanese sports car beautifully in Speed Champions scale and there’s more to see on Flickr via the link above.

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Formula Drift

Lego Nissan 240SX S13

1990s Japanese cars are rocketing in value. Now that the generation brought up on Playstation racing games are old enough to afford the cars they drove digitally as kids, demand for twenty-year-old Japanese boxes is at an all-time high. This is one such car, the Nissan 240SX/S13 fastback.

Lego Nissan 240SX S13 Foruma Drift

Easily modifiable, the 240SX has become a staple of the drift scene, even though in standard form it was (whisper it) quite a bland box. This brilliant Speed Champions style 240SX fastback in full drift spec comes from Flickr’s Simon Przepiorka, and it features probably the most perfect use for LEGO’s new quarter-tile pieces that we’ve seen yet – it’s almost as if LEGO designed them specifically with the S13’s rear lights in mind.

Lego Nissan 240SX S13 Foruma Drift

There’s more to see of Simon’s superb S13 at his Flickr photostream – click this link to get sideways and this one to view the other excellent Speed Champions style cars in his online garage.

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Perfect Pajero

Lego Technic Mitsubishi Pajero

This little red box is a 1980s 3-door Mitsubishi Pajero, and we want one. Launched long before the SUV/crossover craze arrived, the humble Pajero came from a time when Japanese off-roaders ruled, and they really could go off-road. This made them horrible to drive on-road of course, but back in the ’80s if you bought a Pajero there was probably a good chance that you did actually want to take it away from the black stuff.

Lego Technic Mitsubishi Pajero

This brilliant Technic recreation of one of the finest ’80s 4x4s comes from Kevin Moo of Eurobricks, and not only does it look absolutely spot-on it’s packing some neat functionality too, with remote control drive and steering, LED head and tail lights, working suspension, and an opening hood, doors and tailgate. There’s lots more to see of Kevin’s remote controlled Mitsubishi Pajero model at the Eurobricks discussion forum – Click the link above to make a jump to 1982.

Lego Technic Mitsubishi Pajero

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Bug-Eye

Lego Subaru WRX STI

Some cars wow the motoring world upon their release, causing a ripple of appreciation for their design, engineering progress and beauty.

This is not one of those cars.

The second generation Subaru Impreza had a lot to live up to. The original was the WRC poster car for a generation, and whilst it may have been a fairly boring Japanese box underneath, turbo-charged engines and all-wheel-drive turned the first generation Impreza (in WRX/STI form at least) into a cult car overnight.

By 2000 though it was time for the difficult sequel, and with the motoring world eagerly expecting something spectacular Subaru launched…. this.

It’s safe to say that the second generation Impreza was not positively received. It was a slightly better car in every respect than the original though, and it still found buyers thanks to its rally pedigree. A much needed facelift in 2004 and again in 2006 lessened the aesthetic stupidity, but the damage was done, ushering in a long decline in Europe that sadly for Subaru shows no sign of abating.

Lego Subaru WRX STI

As a result the second generation Impreza is now worth about £50, meaning you can pick up a car with genuine rally pedigree that will beat pretty much anything away from the lights for next-to-nothing. Unfortunately this means the WRX has become the favoured tool of the Donuts-in-a-Parking-Lot-Pikey, ruining Cars & Coffee meets for everyone else the world over.

Which is a shame, because catastrophically ugly though the second generation Impreza WRX is, it’s still a fantastic performance car. It’s just you can’t drive one without wearing a paper bag over your head.

We’ll settle for this one then, a rather delightful Model Team style replica from previous bloggee Alexander Paschoaletto. Alex has captured the second-gen Impreza’s, er… ‘unique’ look brilliantly, and he’s included a detailed engine and interior accessible via an opening hood and four opening doors.

There are lots more images of Alexander’s 2001 Subaru Impreza WRX STI to see on both Flickr and MOCpages – Click the links above to do some donuts in a McDonald’s car park.

Lego Subaru WRX STI

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Honda NSX – Picture Special

Lego Technic Honda NSX

After over a decade out of the supercar game Honda’s new NSX supercar has just gone on sale, a near-600bhp hybrid-powered torque-vectoring computer with wheels. But that’s not the one we have here today.

Launched in 1990 the original Honda NSX was designed to take on the established supercars from manufacturers such as Ferrari, only at a lower price point, and to upset the supercar order through the virtue of it, well, being a supercar that actually worked.

Honda F1 driver Ayrton Senna helped to tune the handling in the final stages of development, and although the NSX was powered by ‘only’ a transversely mounted naturally aspirated 3.0 V6 making 270bhp (albeit with an 8,000rpm redline), it quickly gained a reputation for being one hell of a drivers’ car.

Lego Technic Honda NSX

Lightweight (the NSX was the first mass produced car to be made from aluminium) and beautifully nimble, Honda showed that you didn’t need all-wheel-drive, turbos, or a prancing horse on the hood to build a superb supercar. And unlike pretty much every other supercar at the time the NSX was reliable, because above all else, it was a Honda.

These days something of the original NSX’s simplicity is missing from the latest crop of overpowered, over-assisted supercars – the new NSX included, and arguably the same is true for their Technic equivalents. Packed with Power Functions electric motors, remote control, and bluetooth, we seem to have lost the joy of hands-on mechanics. Luckily for us though, Nico71 has not only recreated one of the finest old-school supercars ever made, he’s done it in a profoundly old-school way too…

Lego Technic Honda NSX

This is Nico’s Technic Honda NSX, and it’s as delightfully manual as the real car. An accurate transversely mounted V6 engine is turned by the rear wheels, which are independently suspended along with those at the front. The front wheels also steer by hand, thanks to a connected steering wheel plus a ‘hand-of-God’ connection mounted on the roof. The pop-up headlights are also manually raised and lowered via lever mounted on the dashboard, and the seats can slide fore and aft manually too. Lastly the doors, hood, rear window, engine cover and glovebox all open by hand, and there isn’t a Power Functions motor in sight.

Nico’s Honda NSX is – much like the real car – a triumph of mechanical engineering, and well worth a closer look. Check out the full details at Nico’s discussion topic at the Eurobricks forum, and you can find all the images, a video of the model’s features and instructions (yes, really, so we we won’t be getting the usual ‘Can I have instructions?’ messages for once!) at Nico’s own excellent website – Click here to take a look.

Lego Technic Honda NSX

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Sittin’ Pretty

Lego Datsun 240Z

This TLCB writer is going to poke his head above the metaphorical parapet that is the internet’s comments and state that the prettiest sports car of the 1970s is not a Jaguar, Porsche, or Alfa Romeo… but a Datsun. In particular, this Datsun – the wonderful 1970 240Z.

This lightly JDM-modified 240Z comes from Jonathan Elliott and it captures the Japanese sports car’s curves beautifully. There’s more to see on both Flickr and MOCpages via the links, and you can find today’s title track – by none other than The Datsuns – by clicking here.

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Not A Car…

Lego Nakajima Ki-84Eagle-eyed readers of this blog post will have noticed that this is not a car. It is in fact a Nakajima Ki-84 ‘Hayate’ World War 2 fighter, as flown by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service in the last three years of the war. One of the fastest, most formidably armed, and highest flying fighters of the time, the Nakajima Ki-84 was a feared adversary.

Over 3,500 Ki-84’s were produced between 1943 and 1945, although towards the end of the conflict the crippling effects of the war on production meant that defects rose dramatically and quality dropped. After the Allied victory several Ki-84’s were captured, with Indonesia the People’s Republic of China operating the aircraft within their own air forces, and America using two for evaluation.

Lego Ki-84 Hayate Fighter

Today just one Nakajima Ki-84 ‘Hayate’ fighter survives, an ex-U.S evaluation aircraft now located in the Chiran Peace Museum in Japan. However thanks to previous bloggee and military-building specialist Daniel Siskind we now have double the number of Ki-84’s available to view.

Daniel’s superb mini-figure scale recreation of Japan’s fastest Second World War fighter is a beautifully detailed build and includes authentically replicated Imperial Japanese roundels and tail markings, as well as a custom IJA airman mini-figure shown in the first image above. See more of Daniel’s Nakajima Ki-84 ‘Hayate’ fighter and its custom mini-figure pilot on Flickr by clicking here.

Lego Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate

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‘Initial D’ AE86

Lego Toyota AE86 Initial D

Once every so often a car comes along that, for reasons mysterious and illogical, becomes more than just another metal box, a car that captures the imagination, and that becomes more than the sum of its parts. This is one such car, the legendary 1980s Toyota Corolla Levin AE86 / Sprinter Trueno.

If you’re a Japanese drift fan though, you might want to skip this next bit…

The Toyota AE86 was not a special car.

It was in fact a humdrum hatchback designed to take people from point A to point B reliably and at a reasonable cost. Just like every other humdrum hatchback at the time.

But it’s a manual with rear wheel drive we here you cry! It was indeed, but so was pretty much everything else on sale in Europe and Japan back then. So far so ordinary.

Lego Toyota AE86 Initial D

But then something strange happened. Moderately successful motorcycle racer / moderately unsuccessful car racer Kunimitsu Takahashi had started to throw cars sideways on track in Japan a few years earlier. Rookie racer Keiichi Tsuchiya liked what he saw, and applied the technique to the illegal street races that he was participating in, becoming a legend in the process.

Keiichi went on to forge a successful professional racing career following his antics on the street, and the car from his illegal racing days, his humble Corolla Levin AE86, became a legend as big as the man that drove it.

Japan’s illegal drift scene exploded, and the arrival of the Initial D manga cartoon in the mid ’90s, featuring a hero driver at the wheel of a Toyota AE86, did nothing to lessen the legend of both the man and the car credited with creating it.

The result is that the little Toyota Corolla Levin AE86 has become one of the most iconic and sought after cars of the ’80s, and as such prices have gone stratospheric. Pretty good for a humble hatchback designed to go to the shops.

If, like us, you don’t quite have the loose change to get your hands on a real AE86, Technic builder RM8 might have just the answer. This is his beautifully engineered AE86 model, and it captures the details of the real ’80s Corolla Levin brilliantly in Technic form. It’s also as fun to drive as drifting a real AE86 up a Japanese mountain pass (probably), with a Power Functions L Motor driving the rear wheels, a Servo Motor powering the steering, and a third-party SBrick bluetooth receiver controlling the signals to both.

There’s lots more to see of RM8’s Toyota Corolla Levin AE86 / Sprinter Trueno at MOCpages and the Eurobricks discussion forum, but much like the real car RM8’s model is something more than the sum of its parts. Take a look at RM8’s enthralling video below to see why…

YouTube Video

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Godzilla!

Lego Nissan GTR Nismo

A huge reputation, a legend of the car scene for almost as long as there’s been one, and incredible attention to detail… Firas Abu-Jaber and the Nissan GT-R have much in common.

This, as you may have guessed, is Firas’ latest build; a faithfully recreated replica of Nissan’s 2017 Nismo GT-R. The current GT-R is an old-age pensioner by car design standards, but like that elderly ex-marine at the bus stop, or your Mom in the buffet queue, you wouldn’t mess with it. Launched a decade ago in 2007, Nissan’s replacement for the much-loved R34 Skyline GT-R took the well known all-wheel-drive turbocharged formula and thoroughly Spinal Tapped it.

A hand-built 3.8litre V6 engine fitted with twin parallel Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries turbochargers gave the GT-R just under 500bhp at launch, a figure which when combined with Nissan’s trick all-wheel-drive system allowed the GT-R to obliterate almost any other car off the line and in the corners. Hypercars included.

Lego Nissan GT-R Nismo Firas Abu Jaber

Since its launch the GT-R’s power has steadily increased, with standard models up to 545bhp by 2012 and this, the 2017 Nismo version, reaching almost 600bhp. That extra 50bhp doesn’t come cheap though, as the Nismo GT-R costs around 50% more than the standard model, making it surely one of the worst value-for-money special editions in automotive history.

We’ll stick with the standard car thanks Nissan, which is genuinely still something of a bargain, and we’ll leave the Nismo GT-R, its mad carbon-fibre aero, and its even madder sticker price, to Firas Abu-Jaber’s spectacular Model Team recreation.

Firas has made an extensive gallery of stunning images available, including several showing the interior inside the opening doors, and the realistic twin-turbo V6 engine under the opening hood. See more of the legend for yourself at Firas’ photostream, and you can read our interview with the builder as part of the Master MOCers series by clicking here.

Lego Nissan GT-R Nismo

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Ferrari-Lite

Lego Toyota MR2

It’s hard to do justice here to just how amazing the second generation Toyota MR2 was when it was launched in 1989. Toyota, like most of the Japanese manufacturers at the time, were on a roll. Even so, the arrival of the ‘W20’ series MR2 was one of the most shocking the automotive community had seen in ages. Looking like a mid-engined Ferrari and – in turbocharged form – going like one too, the effect would be like Hyundai launching a 458 rival today. Of course most people at the time didn’t know it was only humble Toyota with a four-cylinder engine…

Lego Toyota MR2

This brilliant Model Team recreation of the early ’90s Toyota MR2 is the work of serial bloggee Senator Chinchilla, and he’s absolutely nailed it. Featuring opening doors, a well-replicated interior, an opening engine lid and a realistic engine, Senator’s MR2 is packed with quality detailing. There’s more to see at his photostream via the link to Flickr above, and if you can find a good second generation MR2 for sale – buy it. Their values are only going to go one way…

Lego Toyota MR2

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Jap Rod

Lego 1932 Ford Deuce Coupe Takehito Yamato

Japan’s product design may not have a reputation for originality, but the Japanese can take almost anything pioneered by another part of the world and make it better. See the Mazda MX-5 Miata, the Toyota Land Cruiser, the Nissan GT-R, and pretty much every electronic device ever invented.

We can probably add hot rods to that list now too, thanks to this gorgeous 1932 ‘Takehito Yamato’ Ford Deuce Coupe. This Lego recreation of the real-world car comes from Master MOCer and previous bloggee Andrea Lattanzio aka Norton74, and he’s replicated the original vehicle superbly in Lego form, even building a beautiful period-correct workshop in which to house it.

There’s more to see of the Takehito Yamato at Norton74’s photostream – click the link above to head over to somewhere inbetween America and Japan.

Lego 1932 Ford Deuce Coupe Takehito Yamato

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