Cliff's Top Buys for Japanese Classics

By: Dave Morley

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We asked our resident car nuts to nominate their top three choices of Japanese classic cars. Here's Cliff Chambers' top picks...

 

1. Datsun 1600

Datsun -1600

It’s a cliché but for boys (and some girls) who got their licences during the 1970s, owning a Datsun 1600 was very much a rite of passage.

‘Dattos’ were affordable and everywhere. The original colours were awful and so were the tyres. If not watched they went rusty as well but all of that could be fixed by a mate who could weld and use a Little Beaver spray kit. For some extra honk, add a pair of Webers or transplant a two-litre. Maybe even enter your beast in a rally or two.

Times changed and pretty much all of those cheap cars have been modded. The few that survive in original trim now sell for ridiculous money but as a design that this year turns 50 they remain astonishing.

| Read more: Buyer's guide - Datsun 1600

 

2. SUBARU LIBERTY RS TURBO

Subaru -liberty -rs -turbo

Bit introspective this one because in 1990 I was among the privileged few to drive the very first ‘Type Approval’ Liberty RS to arrive and be astonished by its abilities.

This was a beefy, roomy family car that growled like a caged grizzly. You could take it shopping and barely get a glance then chuck into bumpy bend at the advisory speed plus plenty and come out wearing a big grin. Subaru thought they would sell a thousand a year but as Nissan discovered with its GTR, Australia wasn’t ready for cars with way more talent than their drivers.

Now 30 years later the chances of any RS Libertys surviving in decent shape might seem unlikely, but not so. Finding one takes patience but when you do the money being sought for these incredibly classy cars is pathetic.

| Read more: 1990-94 Subaru Liberty RS Turbo - Buyer's Guide

 

3. HONDA S2000

Honda -s 2000

If I owned an S2000 I would likely call it Susan Boyle – bit dowdy to look at but what a glorious noise. Early ones are just a year away from turning 20 and that alone qualifies them as a ‘classic’. Then there is the amazing engine with 176 non-turbo kilowatts from just two litres and its associated bolt-action gear-shift.

Don’t even look at the tacho. Not yet anyway. The fun doesn’t start until the point at which most engines are giving up and then runs all the way to 9000rpm. Yep, NINE grand in a road car.

Today you can find good ones for $20,000 which might seem pricey until you turn off the music, drop the beautifully finished hood and just drive it.

 

See more staff picks:

- David Morley's top three

- Guy Allen's top three

- Glenn Torrens's top three

- Mark Higgins' top three

Alex Affat's top three

 

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