Morning arrived, and I was up at 6:30 AM. and found Mr. Barry Hughan walking about outside. I decided to take a little walk myself, and shot a few pictures of the still morning.
We were off to the show. as we arrived, a drizzle turned to a light but steady rain.
When we arrived at Kuragari (N 34° 56.431' E137° 23.868'), it began raining pretty hard. I translated "It's raining cats and dogs" into Japanese, and it comes out something like " Neko to inu ga futte imasu.". The Japanese had never heard this phrase, and found it pretty amusing.
A familiar scene, the Front Row members arranged their cars along the grass on the eastern edge of the parking area.
Isuzus began arriving at the Ravine. It was a beautiful sight to see these classic Isuzu cars on the road.
A Piazza owner who either spent the night in the parking area, or arrived early and
decided to take a nap. Those wheels look familiar. I have a set on my Impulse.
Definately an owner with good taste.
It looks like an early model, 1981-1984. But it is hard to tell with many of the cars in Japan, mixing and matching of panels, bumpers, spoilers, and badging is common.
Mr. Hiroshi Oyama took first shift checking in cars as they arrived. That is a 1992-93 JT191F HBL with Speedline wheels and round driving lights in the front bumper.
This faux VW Van was a real crowd pleaser. Mr. Barry Hughan explained that it is actually a Daihatsu Kei class mini van with a fiberglass nose panel and dress up kit.
A pair of Bellett GTRs, both shod in Watanabe wheels (similar in appearance to Panasports and equal in reputation for light weight and durability).
As the valley filled up with Isuzus.
Over at the main tent, the trophies and Jan-Ken prices were put out for display.
Lamborghini style Scissor doors (misnamed by the Japanese as Gull Wing doors), were the new vogue at the show this year.
More and more Isuzu cars continued to show up. Mr. Imura Yoshiyuki's son checks in members of the Piazza club.
A row of Vehicrosses.
Some very clean Elf trucks, and an Elf Camper. But, conspicuously absent were the Art Trucks.
Mud tires and lift kits are apparently available in Japan, too. All that is missing is the windshield banner proclaiming "It's a Vehicross thing, you wouldn't understand".
And then it started to rain...
And the umbrellas came out.
Plenty of yakisoba being cooked at the tent restaurant.
An aqua color Bellett GT with yellow Watanabe wheels.
Carbon fiber, it's not just for new cars anymore, and doesn't look bad on this early model 117 Coupe.
Yes, that is a Whipplecharger strapped to the top of that 3.5 liter direct injection Vehicross engine.
Another Piazza owner with excellent styling taste. This is a 1988-89 turbo model, with round driving lights, oval corner markers, and side skirts.
A racing style Bellett GT. Without the bumpers, the form looks more like a tightly stretched skin of an animal ready to pounce.
Young Mr. Ken Oba's Rodeo Sport (I believe that is the Japanese market name). He was surprised to hear that in the US, this model was called an Amigo.
We convened for lunch at the little restaurant up the hill from the Ravine. The group included (beginning at the left, counterclockwise around the table) Mr. Imura Yoshiyuki (of the Gerald shop, Team Sports, and Gemini Front Row), Mr. Masaya Nakajima, Mr. Taka Mochizuki, Mr. Masaaki Mochizuki (president of the Bellett Owners Club of Japan), Mr. Barry Hughan, the two translators and their escort, Mr. Ken Oba's girlfriend, Mr. Ken Oba, and Mr. Oba (president of the Bellett GT Club). I looked at Mr. Yoshiyuki and said "We have 90% of the Isuzu enthusiast royalty sitting at this table, heaven help us and the Isuzu community if this place burns down while we are eating lunch".
I was still feeling a little under the weather from the previous evening's festivities, which was out of the ordinary for me. The restaurant had run out of the sandwich entree, so I ended up with a kiddie meal. And, yes, everyone did laugh at me.
Back at the show field, the 117 Coupes had been grouped together.
This Gemini Irmscher AWD Turbo got a few chuckles because of the paint scheme. This car was available in red, white, and dark metallic blue, so this color was the choice of the owner. Everyone kept saing the green with yellow trim was a Lotus color scheme, which is a little out of place because none of the AWD Turbo Geminis had Lotus suspension, they were all Irmscher.
After Noon, it stopped raining, and was partly cloudy.
There were busses, I understand they were not the same busses as previous years. I managed to miss the bus ride this year.
A mix of Bighorns, Fargo Vans, and Mus.
A Piazza owner shows off his composite brake rotors and Wilwood calipers.
Mr. Tsuzuki was showing off his diorama model, a police station with Isuzu Piazza and Vehicross patrol cars. The station house and cartoon figures are apparently from a popular police themed anime.
An early 80's Gemini PF. There weren't a lot of these at the show this year. The Opel and Vauxhall styling similarity really shows on the RWD Geminis with the aerodynamic headlights and the sloping grille.
117 Coupes in the foreground, Piazza trunk lids standing at attention in the background.
A Bellett 1500 Sedan.
A very nice later model 117 Coupe, which appears to be a special edition.
Looking west across the show field, and all those 117 Coupes.
A rally styled Gemini JT191S Irmscher AWD Turbo. Orient Speed sport grille, Funny Factory front lip and side skirts, clear turn signal lenses, and a Subaru Impreza rear spoiler. GAB, Tanabe, OZ Racing, HKS, and Recaro round out the equipment under the hood and inside.
Worried about being environmentally friendly? Well, Isuzu is the worlds foremost expert in diesel technology, so who would be surprised to see this gentleman filling his Fargo Van with the used oil from the yakisoba tent restaurant? The good news is it's bio diesel and this guy drove home for free. The bad news is that they closed the restaurant and there was no more fried food to be had.
Remember Darth Vader's Bathroom from the 2006 show? It was back. Custom grille and headlights, side skirts, color keyed Panasport style wheels, and aero headlamps. This is one sharp looking Piazza.
This highly customized Piazza Turbo JR 130 is owned by Mr. Suzuki, a regular participant
in the Isuzu Circuit Meet track events. Not many people with a car that has this much
custom body work would put it out on a race track to fight it out with Gemini JT191S and
Impreza STi cars.
A new feature for Mr. Suzuki's Piazza since last year is the addition of the Lamborghini style Scissor doors. Also of note is the two light headlight conversion and custom grille, side skirts, Skyline hybrid rear spoiler, rear under spoiler beneath the rear bumper, custom tail lights, accent red upholstery on the seats, and Ferrari style wheels. Parked with the doors, hood, and trunk all open, it looks as if it would be at home in the showroom of a Lamborghini or Ferrari dealership.
A valley full of Isuzus. A little before 3 PM, the sun came out, and it became an absolutely beautiful day.
At the beginning of the closing ceremonies, the awards were given out to the Isuzu owners
who won each of the classes voted on by the crowd. On the far right is the owner of the
red Piazza with the scissor doors.
The crowd was pretty relaxed, I think they were saving their energy for Jan-Ken.
And the ever popular Jan-Ken or Rock-Paper-Scissor competition.
This went on for half an hour to forty five minutes, giving away prizes piles high on a
table under the main tent. Prizes were typically grouped together and the crowd number
reduced until it matched the number of prizes in the group, then everyone in the winning
group received a prize.
Among the prizes were the ever popular Isuzuperformance Racing Team flame style baseball caps.
But there were some larger individual prizes given, which required whittling down the
competition to a single winner.
A duel between the last two for the big prize. This got really serious and started looking more like an old west gunfight than a children's game.
This is my adopted Japanese family. The Yamagishi and Kazu Families. They made sure I was well taken care of all day long. I spent the whole day running back and forth, photographing and videotaping the show, and meeting with Isuzu enthusiasts. Every time I came running by, these kind people waved me down and made sure I was not hungry or thirsty, made me sit down and take a break before I collapsed from exhaustion, and generally looked after my well being.
The Yoshiyuki Family, Mr. Barry Hughan, and one of the language translators. One last picture before shoehorning the gaijin and all his stuff into a car headed for Yokohama.
I compiled the video I shot at the show into a little 10 1/2 minute movie.
Mr. Eiichi Nakaoka was to be my ride from the Isuzu Owners Meeting in Kuragari, Okazaki, to Yokohama. But Mr. Nakaoka was sick in bed at home. So another Front Row member was recruited for the task. I was to ride back with Mr. Mitsuaki Nito and his wife Mrs. Mariko Nito in Mr. Nito's white JT190. Mr. Nito is very protective of his car, which is in extremely good condition, and he wanted absolutely nothing to do with putting my gift laden suitcases into his car. This caused a little bit of friction, some delays in leaving as I had to pull a days change of clothing out of my suitcases to take with me as arrangements were made for my suitcases to be forwarded by Yamata / Kuro Neko (Japanese UPS). The first half hour or forty five minutes of the ride was pretty silent, and Mr. Nito never did seem to cheer up or participate much in conversation. Mrs. Nito, however, was quite colorful and really surprised me with some very candid questions.
Passing through little towns between Kuragari and Okazaki.
Mr. Nito piloting his JT190 through one of the many tunnels between Nagoya and Yokohama.
Mr. Nito's Gemini JT190. Sporting a header and performance exhaust system, strut brace, aftermarket Recaro seats (SR series?).
We arrived at Mrs. Nito's work and Mr. Eiichi Nakaoka arrived after a few minutes and we headed back to his apartment, stopping for some take out on the way, and another long day ended
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