A massive turn-out of 1,248 Japanese cars of every marque, age and model drove into Beaulieu to join the fifth Simply Japanese rally, which nearly 2,500 visitors came to watch.
Glorious summer sunshine greeted the scores of participants and visitors for this colossal celebration of cars from the Land of the Rising Sun, with Nissans, Mitsubishis, Hondas and Subarus filling the attraction grounds and events fields on Sunday 31st July.
With more than 35 car clubs showcasing their members’ vehicles, ranging from the Micra Sports Club and International MR2 Owners’ Club to the Celica Club and Dorset Japanese Car Club, the rally’s remarkable line-up brought together a diverse range of Japanese autos. Club members’ cars ranged from sports cars, coupes and family saloons, to 4x4s and even motorhomes, while individual Japanese car owners also took part.
High-performance cars made up a large proportion of the treasured vehicles on show. The Skyline Owners’ Forum brought along an impressive selection of Nissan Skylines, while GTO UK gathered a selection of Mitsubishi GTOs and 3000GTs. South East Scoobies proudly displayed its members Subarus, while most variations of the legendary Mitsubishi Evolution could be found parked up in the show.
The RX-8 Owners Club stand was the place to see rotary-engine Mazdas, while the Z Club put on an amazing display of sporting Datsuns and Nissans, dating from the 240Z coupe of the early 1970s right up to the modern 350Z. A low-cost favourite with sports car fans and customisers alike, the hugely popular Mazda MX-5 was represented by numerous factory-spec and modified examples. The mid-engine Toyota MR2 was also popular with show-goers.
City runabouts such as the Nissan Micra and Toyota Aygo rubbed shoulders with quirkier machines such as two retro-styled Nissan Figaros, an unusual S-Cargo delivery van and three examples of the unusual Toyota bB mini MPV.
Camping fans loved the Mazda Bongo Owners Group stand, where no less than 21 Bongo Friendee campers were lined up, with their elevating roofs raised and awnings extended. Another eye-catching machine was a first-generation Honda Insight ZE1 petrol-electric hybrid, which contrasted with many of the performance-orientated cars it was parked up with.
Classic Japanese cars were also represented in the varied line-up, with enthusiasts treated to rarities such as a sun-bleached 1970 Datsun 1600 pick-up, which had started its life in Nevada, and a 1977 Datsun 120Y Sunny GL. An eye-catching machine was a charming 1972 Honda N600T, one of just four left on British roads. This diminutive economy saloon, with its 599cc two-cylinder air-cooled engine, has covered just 19,000 miles during its lifetime.
Visitors were also able to browse a selection of trade stands, while admission included all of the features of the Beaulieu attraction.
Throughout the day, visitors had the opportunity to vote for their favourite car of the show with the People’s Choice Award. The winner was Joel Pickering from Essex, with his Nissan 300ZX. Simply Japanese regular Joel has owned his twin-turbo Nissan for nearly 10 years and had carried out many upgrades during that time. “I have upgraded some of the components to modern standards,” he said. “I like to make sure that the car is in tip-top shape.” Joel was presented with a commemorative Beaulieu trophy and a special Autoglym prize by Beaulieu’s Commercial Director Steve Munn.
Also scoring highly were runners-up James Girling and Steve Riches. James has owned his highly original 1975 Toyota Corona MkII for six months, having had this time-warp machine imported from Japan. Finished in a very 1970s colour scheme of brown paintwork and beige upholstery, it is even still fitted with an eight-track stereo. Steve also imported his car, a Honda NSX Type R, from Japan, where it had been raced extensively. He then converted this race car to road spec, fitting interior trim in the process.
Hendy Mazda, which had its own stand at the show, offered its own prize, a weekend’s free use of a new Mazda MX-5, which was won by Alan West.
Simply Japanese is just one event in Beaulieu’s 2016 Simply rally line-up, which includes Simply Land Rover on Sunday 7th August and Simply Smart on Sunday 13th November. For the full list of Beaulieu events, see www.beaulieu.co.uk/events or follow @Beaulieu_Hants on Twitter.