Japanese Car Staff Picks - Alex Affat

By: Alex Affat

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toyota celica toyota celica

Alex Affat nominates his three top choices of Japanese cars

1970-1977 Toyota Celica

Toyota’s first-generation Celica is a far cry from the bargain shed-find it once was.

But they’re a muscular little coupe with pint-sized US-influenced design. They were somewhat prohibitively expensive when new ($650 more than a Torana GTR) but are now sought-after items for those after a 70s chrome-bumper Japanese toy.

If you can find a manual, it’s a joy to drive with its throaty 1.6lt single-cam unit. It won’t be fast but stringing it out with those carbies on song is an absolute pleasure that won’t land you in the back of a divvy van.

Examples needing work can be had for around $10,000, but $20,000 should land you a useable turn-key package – with restored examples pushing the higher extremities and closing in on $30,000.

Value Range: $10,000-$30,000


1991-1998 Suzuki Cappucino


Have you ever looked at a first-generation MX-5 and thought: "It’s just too big"? Well then try this adorably named Suzuki Cappucino on for size! The Cappucino was born of Japan’s famous Kei car movement. It’s almost the exact same dimensions as a Frogeye Sprite, with power drawn from a 660cc turbo three-cylinder. It also tips the scales at just 700kg. They’re quite rare, only being brought into Australia as grey imports, though they are out there and often found for a touch over $10,000.

Value Range: $10,000-$13,000


1972-1977 Datsun 240K/C110 Skyline Hardtop

It was marketed here as the Datsun 240K, but was known more famously in Japan as the C110 Skyline. Prices vary wildly but are quite affordable – the hardest part will be finding one!

In Australia, 240Ks arrived with a 2.4lt single-cam L-series engine. The Japanese market debuted the second-generation GT-R based on the same chassis with a DOHC 2.0lt; flexing their competition intent with a race-prepped concept car at the 1972 Tokyo Motor Show.

Unfortunately the Oil Crisis reared its head the following year, and the program was binned after just 197 C110 GT-R road cars escaped the factory. It’d be hard not to rivet on some over-fenders and build a GT-R clone with this one…

Value Range: $5500-$20,000


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