08-02-2018 – Laurie Southern
Dusting Off The Cobwebs With Jap2Jap

I know I’m not alone when I say the worst thing about car culture in the UK is winter. Forget the potholes, sky high insurance quotes and obscene fuel prices. None of that matters when it’s so cold and wet outside that the automotive world grinds to a halt for months. That probably stands for any country north of the hemisphere, though.

December is no doubt the worst for this, however the first month of the New Year usually isn’t much brighter. Luckily, the clouds held back and Jap2Jap’s first meet of the year at Botany Bay turned out to be a relatively warm and dry affair.

The turnout from MMX5 alone was pretty impressive – I think I counted 16 cars at one point. That’s not the focus for the day though. Jap2Jap are known for attracting a wide range of machinery. Japanese cars are obviously the focus, but anything is welcome so long as you’ve a smile on your face at the gate. Pictured here are two cars Grip’n’Slide readers are probably well aware of by now. There’ll be plenty time to go into detail with both of them in future I’m sure.

Still, I can never help sneaking in a shot of that wing on Dan’s MX5. Gets me every time.

The first car to catch my eye right off the bat was this mean looking Impreza. There’s plenty of them around, but it’s rare to see such a well presented example. Like all cars it’s easy to find one that’s been questionably modified, but the owner of this car has got the aggression just right.

The blob-eye is definitely my favourite variant of the 2nd Gen Impreza. It suits the lines of the car so much more than the bug or hawk equivalents in my opinion. It’s only made better by the canards and lip, not to mention the intake on the driver’s side. Aggressive arches help, too.

Those of you that are paying attention will have also noticed the FD sat next to it. I, like a lot of other car enthusiasts, would do silly things to own one of these. A quick walk around the car confirms that it’s super clean, the attention it was getting all afternoon only cementing the fact. I love how simple the car has been set up, utilizing the stock wheels wrapped in some fairly meaty tyres and sporting subtle skirts and a wing. Just look at the size of that exhaust. 

A front lip and headlight covers round of the front end perfectly. Where do I sign?

Whilst on the subject of Mazda’, it would be rude not to give you a look at this MX6. The lesser seen relative to the MX5 isn’t something you see on the roads very often. It’s worlds apart from it’s tiny cousin, with some models hiding a 2.5L V6 under the bonnet. Early 2000s era Fast & Furious styling cues aside, part of me quite likes the shape of these cars. I’m probably biased however as I’m a sucker for anything JDM and left field. The main question on my mind is – Would you drive one?

It’s easy to pick out the burble of a Scooby in a crowd. I’ll always enjoy seeing a first generation Impreza. There’s just something about them.

The more time you spend at a Jap2Jap meet, the more you realise that every corner of the Japanese car world is represented. I counted three different R32s in the short hour or so I spent there. In a muddy car park. In January. The standard of cars in attendance is testament to the guys who organise the monthly gathering.

The R32 is just one of those cars, isn’t it? You always need another look. With such a beautiful car, subtle mods are all it takes to bring the car up a level. A set of wheels, some coilovers and the large protruding exhaust all hint at the fact that the owner likes the car to be driven as it should be.

Speaking of ‘one of those cars’, have you ever seen an RB26 shoe-horned into a Datsun 240Z? It’s arguably one of the best looking chassis to come out of Japan, so bringing it up to date with modern power and reliability seems like a sensible thing to do when you think about it for a minute. It’s not been done on a whim either, the car was clean. Keep an eye out, I’m going to have to track down the owner for a full feature in the coming months.

I didn’t really think it was possible for a van with such stature and presence as an Elgrand to ‘hide’. I must have walked past this thing at least 5 times before even spotting it parked on the entry road.

Each time I see an Elgrand I want one more and more. I didn’t think I’d ever find myself lusting over a people carrier but they’re just that cool. The van has a super active community here in the UK too, with some real interesting builds happening. Check the owners’ club stand out if you catch yourself at JAE this year. They’re easily one of the largest groups!

It would be rude to not give you a glimpse of the Audi A3 sat behind it. The craze of lowering European cars over huge Bentley wheels has lapsed somewhat – and I’m not even sure what they are I’ll admit – but I can’t deny the fact that I like it. Whilst obviously not a Japanese car, the quick-release bumper ties hint at where the owner’s heart really lies so I’ll let them off this time.

The A3 wasn’t the only non-JDM car in attendance. Fans of the retro flavour will enjoy this MK4 Escort for sure. Borrowing cues from the old rat-look scene with the roof rack full of junk, the car looks spot on. I’d love something like this for a daily.

And what do you do when you turn up to a Japanese meet in your Ford Escort? You park it pride of place in the mud. Hats off to ’em.

I was pleasantly surprised with the turnout for the day. I guess not even a British winter can stop a group of people coming together to share a common belief. The feeling around the place was a positive one; there was no hiding the excitement people had to be out doing what they love again. The same goes for me too…

…Even more so when you spot someone that enjoys what you’re doing out in the wild.

If there’s anything I can take from the afternoon, it’s that this year’s ‘car season’ is going to be a good one. I’ll be there with you all every step of the way. Let us know what you’re excited for this year!

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Laurie Southern