If you are a regular visitor to this site then you are well aware of the impact that Japanese cars have on the current car culture.
Here’s the thing though… this impact actually isn’t all that current. Sure, as we know it now, the “tuner” aspect of Japanese car culture started in the 80s but Japanese cars have had an effect on the industry since the 1930’s
“The Roots Of Monozukuri” exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum honors this history by highlighting some of the most influential Japanese cars from decades pasts and even pays homage to the current tuner culture.
“Monozukuri” roughly translates to “the art, science, and craft of making things”, which certainly comes through when you get a close look at the classic Japanese cars selected for the exhibit.
The Petersen Museum invited me to a private media preview of the exhibit before it opens to the public this weekend and I have to say, it was pretty impressive.
There were plenty of Japanese cars there that I previously had no idea existed and a few that I am quite familiar with.
I wanted to give you guys a taste of the exhibit with some photos and a gallery below but I highly recommend checking it out in person if you’re in the area.
If you aren’t local to Southern California, I still have good news, “The Roots Of Monozukuri” exhibit will be on display from tomorrow (May 26th 2018) all the way until April 14th 2019 so you have plenty of time to plan a trip and see it in person.
For more info and tickets, go to Petersen.org but for now check out a few of the cars and some fun facts below.
The “Flying Feather” built by Suminoe in 1954
This car is a result of the lack of the result of fuel and raw materials in the post-war period. From its bicycle style wheels to its soft top, this car was all about using as little material as possible but was also a pre-cursor to the lightweight sport cars to come. Though with its 350CC 2-cylinder 12.5 horsepower engine, the Flying Feather wasn’t setting any speed records in its day.
1967 Honda N600
This car may look familiar to you. This specific Honda N600 hatchback is actually the very first Honda car imported to America. About a year and a half ago a team from Honda tracked this car down and restored it back to its original glory. You can actually follow the restoration process on its official website SerialOne.com.
1955 Fuji Cabin 5A
This “car” was one of the most crowded pieces of the exhibit. The Fuji Cabin is more of a enclosed scooter than it is a car but either way, its cute space-ship like design makes it hard not to pay attention to. This little three wheeled vehicle is powered by a single cylinder engine that made just 5.5 horsepower. This car was designed by Ryuichi Tomiya, the same designer of the “Flying Feather”. This car has a monocoque fiberglass chassis and is extremely rare. Only 85 of these cars were built.
1969 Nissan R382
This is easily one of my favorite cars from the exhibit. Nissan took cues from Can-Am race cars and built two of these particular cars for the 1969 Japanese Grand Prix of which those same two cars took first and second place. The R382 was also powered by Nissan’s first ever V12 engine.
Papadakis Racing 1998 Honda Civic FWD Drag Car
If you’re familiar with the car you see in the foreground then you’re truly an OG. Before drifting was the biggest craze in the tuner scene, it was all about drag racing and Steph Papadakis was a pioneer of that sport. Way back in ’98 when I was just a junior in high school, this car was the first front wheel drive car to break the 9 second quarter mile barrier and then later broke the 8 second barrier. Steph would later carry all the engineering and fabrication experience from his drag racing days to building championship drift cars in Formula Drift.
There you have it. A small taste of some of the cool pieces of automotive history you’ll find at the Monozukuri exhibit at the Petersen right now. You can see more of the cars by checking out the gallery below but as I mentioned before, I highly recommend you check this out in person if at all possible.
I want to give a big shout out and thank you to the Petersen Automotive Museum for the invite!
Roots Of Monozukuri Exhibit Gallery: